A longitudinal study of students undertaking a mathematics major: Changes in attitudes, learning behaviours and achievement

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 39: The Shape of Higher Education

July, 2016, 391 pages
Published by
Melissa Davis & Allan Goody

How do a student’s attitude, learning behaviour and achievement in mathematics or statistics relate to each other and how do these change during the course of their undergraduate degree program? These are some of the questions that were addressed in a longitudinal study at a major Australian university. The study spanned over three years and used a mixed method approach selected from the pragmatism paradigm. The questions were addressed by soliciting comments from students several times during their undergraduate degree programs; through an initial attitude survey, course-specific surveys for up to two courses each semester and interviews with students near the end of their degrees. Attitudes and learning behaviours of the mathematics students that were followed through the three years of research are outlined. The student responses to the completed course–specific surveys are discussed. This research has highlighted differences in attitudes and learning behaviours of students taking mathematics courses, more specifically between those who are majoring in mathematics and those who are not.

Keywords: mathematics education, attitudes, learning behaviours, longitudinal study