Mathematics discipline-specific personal epistemology of Thai university students: Cultural influence on mathematics-related beliefs

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Enhancing Higher Education, Theory and Scholarship Vol. 30

July, 2007, 651 pages
Published by
Geoffrey Crisp & Margaret Hicks
ISBN
0 908557 72 8
Abstract 

Objectives: The purpose of this study was (a) to investigate the nature of beliefs about mathematics and mathematical problem solving of Thai university students and (b) to examine whether these beliefs are significantly different among students with different cultural and educational backgrounds, mathematics achievements, and subject majors. Methods: A questionnaire, adapted from the Indiana Mathematics Belief Scales combined with the Fennema-Sherman Usefulness Scale (Kloosterman & Stage, 1992), was administered to 160 Thai undergraduate students who were taking one of the compulsory mathematics courses at a Thai university. The participants were asked to indicate how they agree or disagree to 36 statements on mathematics and mathematics problem solving. Results: Scale reliability analyses indicated similar results as the other studies using the same instrument, except the two dimensions about word problems. Students graduated from different types of secondary schools differed only at one belief dimension regarding the effectiveness of individuals’ efforts in increasing mathematical ability. Students varying in previous mathematics achievements and subject majors were significantly different only at one belief dimension about the usefulness of mathematics. Higher achievers and science majors appreciated mathematics more favorably. Conclusions: This research demonstrated the reliability of the measurement instrument and its potential applicability to non-Western population such as Thai. The mathematics-related beliefs were likely to be shared among Thai university students, regardless of their different secondary educational type, except the aspect regarding individuals’ efforts.

Keywords: Beliefs about mathematics, domain specific epistemology, Thai university students

Mathematics discipline-specific personal epistemology of Thai university students: Cultural influence on mathematics-related beliefs

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Fujiwara, T.