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The Aetiology of Maths Anxiety: Identifying the Influential Factors of Year 4 Pupils’ Attitudes to Mathematics attending Schools in North West England

Massey, Simon Anthony (2019) The Aetiology of Maths Anxiety: Identifying the Influential Factors of Year 4 Pupils’ Attitudes to Mathematics attending Schools in North West England. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This study took place during relatively recent times where it was culturally acceptable to say that we are not strong in mathematics in wider society, and some of us establish that lacking ability as part of our identity. Whilst adults in the UK are known to lack numerical skills and have poor attitudes to mathematics, children in primary schools are needed to fulfil the demand of future STEM graduates that the UK is not expected to meet, posing serious future economic risk. Primary schools situate within an increasingly intensified culture of assessment, impacting the practice of teachers and the pupils’ understanding of mathematics as a result. This quantitative study identifies factors of attitudes to mathematics in Year 4 pupils in primary schools located in North West England. The study worked with 10 primary schools, 19 teachers, and 508 pupils, using self-completion questionnaires to measure pupils’ attitudes, aspects of identity, self-confidence, motivation and perceived value of mathematics. Pupils’ teachers who agreed to take part also answered an attitudinal questionnaire measuring their attitudes to mathematics and confidence in teaching. The research also measured the deprivation levels of the schools, along with other standard mathematical performance measures. The current research consists of an innovative newly designed measure, ‘Attitudes 2 Mathematics’. Specifically, this PhD provides evidence to suggest that pupils’ attitudes to mathematics are not only dependent on their own identity and self-confidence, but also by the attitudes of their teachers and the school attended. The findings of this study contribute to the knowledge of: measurements of attitudes to mathematics through new creative means of eliciting responses in questionnaires, such as using Emojis and drawings that can be quantified, and a model that measures and assesses the impacts of multiple factors on pupils’ developing those attitudes.

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