An investigation into the Influence of Affective Factors in Mathematical Performance in a Sample of Irish Post – Primary Pupils
Mc Bride, Paula
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The aim of this paper is to investigate the influence of affective factors in the mathematical performance in a sample of Irish Post-Primary Pupils’. Affective factors in mathematics are a popular topic of research for many in the educational sector. This is due to the fact that emotions, beliefs, motivation and attitudes are seen to influence on the mathematical achievement of pupil. This study measured the attitude of second and fifth year post-primary school pupils’ in a vocational school in Donegal. A total of 102 pupils were involved in this study, both male and female. Participants overall attitude to mathematics was measured using The Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scales (1976). It was found that the majority of participants, 79% in this research paper held an overall positive attitude to mathematics. Mathematical achievement results for participating pupils were gathered from school and used in order to establish if there was a correlation between overall attitude to mathematics and mathematical achievement. Data was analysed using SPSS software. Calculating the Pearson product moment correlation coefficient, showed a medium positive correlation between mathematical achievement and scores from the overall attitudinal scales. There was a positive correlation between the two variables, r = 0.327, n = 102, p = 0.001. Data analysis showed there was no significant statistical difference in the correlation results for male and females or second and fifth year pupils’. Findings did indicate that females in fifth year mathematic achievement result were more influenced by their overall attitude to mathematics. Mathematical confidence was identified as a key element to an overall positive attitude to mathematics. Conclusion from data are that more research needs to be done in to affective factors in mathematics and how this research can be used to raise the overall attitude to mathematics of pupils. It is also recommended that research in this area goes beyond its current level of calculating coefficients between mathematic attitudinal scales and mathematic performance, and explores meaning and uses behind these numbers in order to improve our education system.
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