Khalifa University Students’ Attitudes Towards Mathematics in the Light of Variables Such as Gender, Nationality, Mathematics Scores and the Course they are Attending
Yousef Abosalem
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Yousef Abosalem. Khalifa University Students’ Attitudes Towards Mathematics in the Light of Variables Such as Gender, Nationality, Mathematics Scores and the Course they are Attending. Education Journal. Vol. 4, No. 3, 2015, pp. 123-131. doi: 10.11648/j.edu.20150403.15
Abstract: This study was aimed at identifying the attitudes of the students of Khalifa University towards mathematics .The sample of this study consisted of 88(out of 216) students distributed evenly according to gender. 56.9% of the sample were Emiraties and 53.1% were expatriates. The Attitude Towards Mathematics Inventory (ATMI) was implemented in collecting the data. The results of this study indicated that there were slight statistically significant differences between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and mathematics achievement scores, age, the course they are attending, students’ high school type, gender and their academic level. Additionally, the results indicated that there were statistically significant differences between self-confidence, enjoyment and value with and students’ nationalities. Expatriates students showed higher positive attitudes towards mathematics than the Emirati students. Also, the results showed that there was a slight statistical relationship between enjoyment and students’ academic level. Finally, this study revealed that 62.67% of the sample have self-confidence in dealing with mathematics, 84.4% felt that mathematics has a great value to them, and 75.49% showed enjoyment in dealing with mathematics.
Keywords: Attitudes, Mathematics, Gender, Nationality, Course Attending
1. Introduction
Researches on students’ attitudes toward mathematics have acquired increasing attention. Many studies outlined that mathematics learning is influenced by several factors; such as motivation, curriculum, teacher and his way of teaching and educational teaching aids he used (Cote & Levine, 2000; Singh et al., 2002; Olatunde, 2009; Howie, 2005; Singh, et al., 2002). Also, Hill (2004) indicated that integrating mathematics and science curriculum does improve students’ attitude toward mathematics. Yet, regardless of the amount of effort spend in the improvement and development of mathematics learning process, efforts will have a slight impact on achievement unless there is a positive attitude towards mathematics. (Ma & Kishor, 1997; Ma, & Xu, 2004). However, many factors have influences on students’ attitudes toward mathematics. Teachers, parents, and peers, as well as the school environment, all have influences on an individual’s attitude. Wilkins and MA (2003) showed that teachers’, peers’, and parents’ positive support will help in creating positive attitude and beliefs about mathematics and thus help restrain negative attitudes and beliefs. Whereas Ames (1992) considered student’s home environment and access to instructional materials can all have an impact on his/her attitude and achievement.
1.1. Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study was to find out the attitudes of the students of Khalifa University towards mathematics. The study is focused on the relationship of their attitudes towards mathematics with other factors such as; gender, mathematics scores, high school type, nationality, academic level, age and the mathematics course they are attending.
1.2. Research Questions
This study aimed to answer the following questions:
1. What is the prelateship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and academic achievement?
2. What is the relationship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and gender?
3. What is the relationship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and nationality?
4. What is the relationship between attitudes towards mathematics and academic level (foundation or freshmen year)?
5. What is the relationship between attitudes towards mathematics and age?
6. What is the relationship between attitudes towards mathematics and mathematics courses they are attending?
7. What is the relationship between attitudes towards mathematics and high school type?
1.3. Definition of Terms
The following definitions are provided for terms having special applications to this study.
1. Attitude – "refers to someone’s basic liking or disliking of familiar target" (Hannula, 2002; p.25)
2. High School Type: The high school type refers to either private or government school.
3. Academic Level: The academic level refers to whether the student is in foundation or freshman year.
4. Nationality: The nationality refers to whether the student is an Emirati or an Expatriate.
1.4. Literature Review
Many studies have studied the students’ attitudes towards mathematics and the impact of that on their achievement. Gottfried (1985) reported in his study that students who value and enjoy mathematics have a higher level of achievement. As well as, Ma and Xu (2004) outlined in their study that poor achievement has been linked to a decline in mathematics attitude. Therefore, achievement in mathematics caused a positive attitude. However, a positive attitude towards mathematics does not lead to a good achievement. Other factors might affect students’ achievement in mathematics such as textbooks, and teacher quality (Howie, 2005). Yet, both Tapia and Marsh II (2004) argue that students who do well in mathematics showed positive attitudes, consequently they are likely to take more mathematics courses. So, attitude and achievement affect each other in a cyclical manner (Schiefele & Csikszentmihalyi, 2004). Whereas, Ma and Kishor (1997) concluded that the relationship between attitudes towards mathematics and mathematics achievement is not a strong enough. Along with that, Phonguttha, et al. (2009) agreed with Ma and Kishor that mathematics achievement and attitude towards mathematics are not correlated. Furthermore, Casey et al. (1997) and Ma (1999) showed that the relationship between attitude and mathematics achievement exists only with respect to specific or particular mathematics content areas. Maple and Stage (1991) indicated that students’ attitude towards mathematics could be used as a predictor of selecting a mathematics major but not for achievement. Whereas, Oakes (1990) argued that students with lower levels of achievement in mathematics confine students’ career alternatives involving mathematical skills.
Other studies outlined that students’ achievement in mathematics is influenced by a variety of factors other than students’ attitudes towards mathematics, such as gender, teacher’s experience, parents, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, cultural background, grade level and peers (Casey et al, 1997; Ho, et al., 2000; Ma & Kishor, 1997; Ma, 1999, 1997; Carrier, 2008; Isiksal, 2008). Moreover, other researchers outlined that students’ attitudes towards mathematics can be affected by teacher attitudes and beliefs (Uusimaki & Nason, 2004; Beswick, 2006; Wilkins & Brand, 2004; Swan, Bell, et al., 2000; Schoenfeld, 1985; Beswick, 2007). Along with that, teaching techniques were considered by many researchers as other factors that could affect students’ attitudes toward mathematics (Anderson, 2005; Townsend et. al., 1998; Higgins, 1997; Pearce et. al., 1999; Mitchell, 1999; Kinney, 2001; Yusof & Tall, 1998; Elliott et. al., 2001; Raymond & Leinenbach, 2000; Whitin, 2007). Furthermore, Tymms (2001) stated that the most important factors affecting students’ attitudes towards mathematics were the teacher and student academic level; while gender, age and language were weakly related with students’ attitudes. Koller, et al. (2001) researched gender differences in mathematics achievement, which showed that male achievement is higher than that of female one especially in advanced mathematics courses. However, other researchers (Tapia & Molavan (2007; Tapia & Marsh II, 2004; Isiksal & Cakiroglo, 2008) showed that gender had no impact on students’ attitudes towards mathematics and male and female students had the same average mathematics score. Vaughan (2002) introduced another factor that has a direct impact on students’ attitudes towards mathematics. He stated that using cooperative learning in our schools will increase the interaction between students and consequently produce positive attitudes towards mathematics and academic achievement.
2. Methods
This study was aimed at identifying the attitudes of the students of Khalifa University towards mathematics in the light of variables such as gender, nationality, mathematics scores and the course they are attending
2.1. Data Collection Instrument
In this study the Attitudes Towards Mathematics Inventory (ATMI) was used to collect the data about students’ attitudes towards mathematics. ATMI consists of 40-items, 5-points Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree distributed by using exploratory factor analysis into four areas or domains related to attitudes towards mathematics including self-confidence (15 items), value(10 items), enjoyment( 10 items), and motivation( 5 items) as shown in table 1. The instrument has a reliability coefficient alpha of 0.97 with standard error of measurement of 5.67 (Tapia, 1996). Also, the inventory demonstrates content and constructs validities.
Domain | Items | Total |
Self-confidence | 9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,40 | 15 |
Value | 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,35,36,39 | 10 |
Enjoyment | 3,24,25,26,27,29,30,31,37,38 | 10 |
Motivation | 23,28,32,33,34 | 5 |
Total | 40 |
2.2. Sample
The sample of this study consisted of 88 out of 216 undergraduate students at Khalifa University randomly selected from all students enrolled in the pre-calculus, calculus-I, and calculus-II courses whose ages ranged from 18 to 22 years old and agreed to participate in this research. As shown in table 2, 44 (50%) students of the sample were male and the same number was female. 58(66%) students were Emiratis and 30 (34%) students were expatriates.
Gender | Nationality | Age(years) | Total | ||||
18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | |||
Male | UAE | 1 | 19 | 12 | 1 | 0 | 33 |
Expatriates | 3 | 6 | 1 | 0 | 1 | 11 | |
Total | 4 | 25 | 13 | 1 | 1 | 44 | |
Female | UAE | 4 | 14 | 7 | 0 | 25 | |
Expatriates | 2 | 11 | 4 | 2 | 19 | ||
Total | 6 | 25 | 11 | 2 | 44 | ||
Total | 10 | 50 | 24 | 4 | 88 |
Table 3 and figure 1 demonstrate the sample distribution according to the mathematics courses they are attending and the type of the school they obtained their high school diploma from. 67(76.1%) of them obtained their high school diploma from government school and 21 were from private ones. Whereas, 24(23.9%) students are in Pre-calculus, 27(30.7%) students are in Calculus I and 37(42.04%) students are in Calculus II.
High School Type | Course | Total | ||
Pre-Calculus | Calculus-I | Calculus-II | ||
Government | 19 | 18 | 30 | 67 |
Private | 5 | 9 | 7 | 21 |
Total | 24 | 27 | 37 | 88 |
2.3. Results and Findings
Research Question 1
What is the prelateship between students’ attitude towards mathematics and academic achievement?
In order to the answer the first research question, and by assuming that the data is normally distributed according to Kolomogrov and Shapirotests tests with p > 0.05, Pearson correlations were calculated. The results shown in table 4 outlined that there is a slight significant relationship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and mathematics achievement scores. However, this relation can explain 9.24% of the variance, 90.76 % unjustified or unexplained.
Attitude | Math Grade | ||
Attitude | Pearson Correlation | 1 | 0.304* |
Sig. (2-tailed) | 0.017 | ||
N | 76 | 61 | |
Math Grade | Pearson Correlation | .304* | 1 |
Sig. (2-tailed) | 0.017 | ||
N | 61 | 69 |
*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
Research Question 2
What is the relationship between students’ attitude towards mathematics and gender?
In order to find out if there is statistically significant differences between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and gender. By assuming the homogeneity of the two variances according to Levene’s test with as shown in table 5, and according to Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Shapiro-Wilk normality tests, we can assume that the data achieved the normality condition with p > 0.05 as shown in table 6. As shown in table 7 the means and standard deviations for the two groups are: 140.67, 140.70, 9.78, and 9.16 respectively. Four separate analyses of variances (ANOVA) were conducted as shown in table 8. The results indicated that no statistically significant differences between the four domains and gender with p >0.05.
Levene's Test for Equality of Variances | |||
F | Sig. | ||
Attitude | Equal variances assumed | 0.032 | 0.859 |
Kolmogorov-Smirnov Shapiro-Wilk | ||||||
Attitude | Statistic | df | Sig. | Statistic | df | Sig. |
0.086 | 76 | .200* | 0.971 | 76 | 0.076 |
Attitude | Gender | N | Mean | Std. Deviation | Std. Error Mean |
Male | 39 | 140.67 | 9.78 | 1.56563 | |
Female | 37 | 140.7 | 9.16 | 1.50667 |
Domain | Sum of Squares | df | Mean Square | F | Sig. | |
Self_ Confidence | Between Groups | 20.555 | 1 | 20.555 | .867 | .355 |
Within Groups | 1848.195 | 78 | 23.695 | |||
Total | 1868.750 | 79 | ||||
Value | Between Groups | .705 | 1 | .705 | .030 | .862 |
Within Groups | 1933.601 | 83 | 23.296 | |||
Total | 1934.306 | 84 | ||||
Enjoyment | Between Groups | 2.012 | 1 | 2.012 | .076 | .784 |
Within Groups | 2174.690 | 82 | 26.521 | |||
Total | 2176.702 | 83 | ||||
Motivation | Between Groups | .440 | 1 | .440 | .079 | .779 |
Within Groups | 460.383 | 83 | 5.547 | |||
Total | 460.824 | 84 |
Research Question 3
What is the relationship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and nationality?
In order to find out if there is a statistically significant difference between students’ attitudes toward mathematics and nationalities, the homogeneity of the two variances was assumed according to Levene’s test with as shown in table 9 and descriptive statistics shown in table-10. As shown previously in table-6, it can be assumed that the data is normally distributed. Four separate analyses of variances (ANOVA) were conducted as shown in table 11. The results indicated that there is a statistically significant difference between self-confidence F (1, 78) = 9.699 and, enjoyment F(1, 82) = 15.285 and, and value F (1, 83) = 6.419 and p = 0.013, and students’ nationalities at. However, the results showed that there is no statistically significant difference between motivation and, and nationality at. No Post Hoc comparisons were conducted because the number of values in each domain is less than three values. However, according to the descriptive statistics mentioned in table 10, we can conclude that the other nationalities with a mean value of 142.79 have higher positive attitudes towards mathematics than UAE students with a mean of 139.46.
Levene's Test for Equality of Variances | |||
F | Sig. | ||
Attitude | Equal variances assumed | 0.393 | 0.532 |
Nationality | N | Min. | Max. | Mean | Std. Deviation | |
UAE | Attitude | 48 | 108 | 160 | 139.4583 | 9.25745 |
Valid N (leastwise) | 48 | |||||
Others | Attitude | 28 | 117 | 158 | 142.7857 | 9.49213 |
Valid N (leastwise) | 28 |
Domain | Sum of Squares | df | Mean Square | F | Sig. | |
Self_ Confidence | Between Groups | 206.67 | 1 | 206.67 | 9.699 | 0.003 |
Within Groups | 1662.08 | 78 | 21.309 | |||
Total | 1868.75 | 79 | ||||
Value | Between Groups | 138.85 | 1 | 138.85 | 6.419 | 0.013 |
Within Groups | 1795.456 | 83 | 21.632 | |||
Total | 1934.306 | 84 | ||||
Enjoyment | Between Groups | 342.002 | 1 | 342.002 | 15.285 | 0 |
Within Groups | 1834.7 | 82 | 22.374 | |||
Total | 2176.702 | 83 | ||||
Motivation | Between Groups | 8.063 | 1 | 8.063 | 1.478 | 0.228 |
Within Groups | 452.76 | 83 | 5.455 | |||
Total | 460.824 | 84 |
Research Question 4
What is the relationship between attitudes towards mathematics and academic level (foundation or freshmen year)?
In order to find out if there is statistically significant differences between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and their academic level. The homogeneity of the two variances and the data that was normally distributed were assumed according to Levene’s test with as shown in table 12. Based on the descriptive statistics shown in table 13 and according to Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Shapiro-Wilk normality tests, four separate analyses of variances (ANOVA) were conducted as shown in table 14. The results indicated that there is no statistically significant difference between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and students’ academic year at. However, the analysis showed that there is a slight statistically significant difference between enjoyment and student’s academic level F (1, 82) = 4.198 withfavor to freshman students ( ).
Levene's Test for Equality of Variances | |||
F | Sig. | ||
Attitude | Equal variances assumed | 1.038 | 0.312 |
Academic Level | N | Mean | Std. Deviation | Std. Error Mean | |
Attitude | Foundation | 18 | 140.0556 | 7.97402 | 1.87949 |
Freshman | 58 | 140.8793 | 9.88189 | 1.29756 |
Domain | Sum of Squares | df | Mean Square | F | Sig. | |
Self_ Confidence | Between Groups | 88.817 | 1 | 88.817 | 3.892 | 0.052 |
Within Groups | 1779.933 | 78 | 22.82 | |||
Total | 1868.75 | 79 | ||||
Value | Between Groups | 9.287 | 1 | 9.287 | 0.4 | 0.529 |
Within Groups | 1925.019 | 83 | 23.193 | |||
Total | 1934.306 | 84 | ||||
Enjoyment | Between Groups | 106.002 | 1 | 106.002 | 4.198 | 0.044 |
Within Groups | 2070.7 | 82 | 25.252 | |||
Total | 2176.702 | 83 | ||||
Motivation | Between Groups | 1.32 | 1 | 1.32 | 0.238 | 0.627 |
Within Groups | 459.504 | 83 | 5.536 | |||
Total | 460.824 | 84 |
Research Question 5
What is the relationship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and age?
In order to answer the fifth research question, and by assuming that the data is normally distributed according to Kolomogrov and Shapirotests with p > 0.05, Pearson correlations were calculated. The results shown in table 15 outlined that there is no meaningful relationship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and age at. However, only this relationship can explain 4.7% of the variance, 95.3 % unjustified or unexplained.
Attitude | Age | ||
Attitude | Pearson Correlation | 1 | -0.217 |
Sig. (2-tailed) | 0.06 | ||
N | 76 | 76 | |
Age | Pearson Correlation | -0.217 | 1 |
Sig. (2-tailed) | 0.06 | ||
N | 76 | 88 |
Research Question 6
What is the relationship between attitudes towards mathematics and mathematics course they are attending?
In order to find out if there is a statistically significant difference between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and the course they are attending. The homogeneity of the variances according to Levene’s test with shown in table 16, the data is normally distributed according to Kolomogrov and Shapiro tests with were assumed. Four separate analyses of variances (ANOVA) were conducted as shown in table 18. The results indicated that there is no statistically significant difference between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and the course they are attending at.
Levene's Test for Equality of Variances | |||
F | Sig. | ||
Attitude | Equal variances assumed | 0.001 | 0.979 |
Domain | Sum of Squares | df | Mean Square | F | Sig. | |
Self-Confidence | Between Groups | 101.007 | 2 | 50.504 | 2.2 | 0.118 |
Within Groups | 1767.743 | 77 | 22.958 | |||
Total | 1868.75 | 79 | ||||
Value | Between Groups | 69.607 | 2 | 34.803 | 1.53 | 0.223 |
Within Groups | 1864.699 | 82 | 22.74 | |||
Total | 1934.306 | 84 | ||||
Enjoyment | Between Groups | 140.077 | 2 | 70.038 | 2.786 | 0.068 |
Within Groups | 2036.626 | 81 | 25.144 | |||
Total | 2176.702 | 83 | ||||
Motivation | Between Groups | 7.588 | 2 | 3.794 | 0.686 | 0.506 |
Within Groups | 453.236 | 82 | 5.527 | |||
Total | 460.824 | 84 |
Research Question 7
What is the relationship between attitude towards mathematics and high school type?
In order to find out if there is a statistically significant difference between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and high school type. By assuming that the homogeneity of the two variances according to Levene’s test as shown in table 18, and the data is normally distributed according to Kolomogrov and Shapiro tests with p > 0.05. Four separate analyses of variances (ANOVA) were conducted as shown in table 19 .The results indicated that there is no statistically significant difference between students’ attitudes and students’ high school type.
Levene's Test for Equality of Variances | |||
F | Sig. | ||
Attitude | Equal variances assumed | 0.001 | 0.979 |
Domain | Sum of Squares | df | Mean Square | F | Sig. | |
Self_ Confidence | Between Groups | 28.017 | 1 | 28.017 | 1.187 | .279 |
Within Groups | 1840.733 | 78 | 23.599 | |||
Total | 1868.750 | 79 | ||||
Value | Between Groups | .090 | 1 | .090 | .004 | .950 |
Within Groups | 1934.215 | 83 | 23.304 | |||
Total | 1934.306 | 84 | ||||
Enjoyment | Between Groups | 32.861 | 1 | 32.861 | 1.257 | .266 |
Within Groups | 2143.841 | 82 | 26.144 | |||
Total | 2176.702 | 83 | ||||
Motivation | Between Groups | 1.239 | 1 | 1.239 | .224 | .637 |
3. Data Analysis of the Four Domains
3.1. Self-Confidence Domain
Table 20 showed that 62.67% of the sample revealed that Khalifa University students felt self-confidence in their ability to do mathematics, whereas, 13.67% of them showed low self-confidence in their ability to do mathematics.
Item | Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree |
Item 9* | 11 | 15 | 20 | 20 | 16 |
Item 10* | 3 | 7 | 17 | 33 | 28 |
Item 11* | 3 | 6 | 19 | 40 | 20 |
Item 12* | 3 | 5 | 17 | 38 | 25 |
Item 13* | 3 | 10 | 19 | 31 | 22 |
Item 14* | 1 | 10 | 12 | 37 | 27 |
Item 15* | 1 | 15 | 13 | 35 | 23 |
Item 16 | 1 | 14 | 18 | 32 | 21 |
Item 17 | 4 | 6 | 26 | 31 | 19 |
Item 18 | 2 | 13 | 31 | 33 | 8 |
Item 19 | 2 | 6 | 20 | 39 | 20 |
Item 20* | 6 | 6 | 22 | 38 | 15 |
Item 21* | 2 | 13 | 23 | 33 | 17 |
Item 22 | 1 | 5 | 27 | 39 | 16 |
Item 40 | 0 | 4 | 24 | 39 | 21 |
Total | 43 | 135 | 308 | 518 | 298 |
Percent | 3.30% | 10.37% | 23.66% | 39.78% | 22.89% |
3.2. Value Domain
Table 21 showed that 84.40% of the sample revealed that Khalifa University student felt that mathematics has a great value to them. Whereas, 4.29% of them indicated that mathematics has no value for them.
Item | Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree |
Item 1 | 4 | 1 | 1 | 17 | 63 |
Item 2 | 3 | 0 | 3 | 9 | 70 |
Item 3 | 0 | 3 | 17 | 35 | 30 |
Item 4 | 1 | 1 | 5 | 30 | 49 |
Item 5 | 1 | 1 | 16 | 38 | 32 |
Item 6 | 0 | 2 | 7 | 36 | 43 |
Item 7 | 0 | 6 | 7 | 38 | 37 |
Item 8 | 2 | 8 | 30 | 35 | 12 |
Item 35 | 0 | 4 | 9 | 46 | 28 |
Item 36 | 0 | 2 | 6 | 41 | 38 |
Item 39 | 0 | 2 | 7 | 37 | 42 |
Total | 11 | 30 | 108 | 362 | 444 |
Percent | 1.15% | 3.14% | 11.31% | 37.91% | 46.49% |
* Indicated Reversed Items
3.3. Motivation Domain
Table 22 showed that 67.13% of the sample revealed that Khalifa University students are highly motivated to learn mathematics, whereas, 10.35% of them lack motivation.
Item | Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree |
Item 23 | 0 | 6 | 15 | 45 | 22 |
Item 28* | 3 | 7 | 7 | 38 | 33 |
Item 32 | 3 | 12 | 28 | 30 | 14 |
Item 33 | 1 | 7 | 24 | 37 | 18 |
Item 34 | 0 | 6 | 24 | 36 | 19 |
Total | 7 | 38 | 98 | 186 | 106 |
Percent | 1.61% | 8.74% | 22.53% | 42.76% | 24.37% |
* Indicated Reversed Items
3.4. Enjoyment Domain
Table 23 showed that 75.49% of the sample reveals that Khalifa University students showed enjoyment in doing mathematics. Whereas, 7.90% of them indicated that mathematics is not an interesting subject.
Item | Strongly Disagree | Disagree | Neutral | Agree | Strongly Agree |
Item 3 | 0 | 3 | 17 | 35 | 30 |
Item 24 | 3 | 5 | 10 | 38 | 32 |
Item 25* | 4 | 5 | 5 | 38 | 36 |
Item 26 | 2 | 5 | 15 | 44 | 21 |
Item 27 | 8 | 4 | 10 | 20 | 46 |
Item 29 | 2 | 1 | 10 | 38 | 36 |
Item 30 | 2 | 11 | 21 | 36 | 17 |
Item 31 | 0 | 4 | 12 | 40 | 31 |
Item 37 | 2 | 3 | 25 | 41 | 17 |
Item 38 | 1 | 4 | 20 | 39 | 24 |
Total | 24 | 45 | 145 | 369 | 290 |
Percent | 2.75% | 5.15% | 16.61% | 42.27% | 33.22% |
* Indicated Reversed Items
4. Discussion and Conclusions
A common understanding around the world that is students of different ages and of different studying levels are facing difficulties when they attempting to do mathematics. Many researches indicated that these difficulties might due to mathematics teachers, curricula, assessment methods or/and teaching strategies used in schools and universities.
Many researches studied the effect of students’ attitudes towards mathematics (see e.g. Tapia, 1996, 2004; Tapia& Molavan, 2007) on academic achievement. Some studies outlined that there is no impact of the students’ attitudes towards mathematics on their academic achievement (see e.g. Ma and Kishor, 1997; Phonguttha, et al., 2009). Other studies showed that there is a relationship between attitudes towards mathematics and achievement (see e.g. Gottfried 1985; Ma and Xu, 2004; Popham, 2005; Koller, et al. (2001).
This study aimed at identifying the attitudes of Khalifa University students towards mathematics in the light of some variables such as gender, nationality, mathematics scores and the course they are attending. The results of this study showed that there were no statistically differences between students’ attitudes towards mathematics according to gender, academic level, high school type and nationality. The results of this study agreed with other studies (see e.g. Casey et al, 2001; Ho, et al., 2000; Ma & Kishor, 1997; Ma, 1999, 1997; Tapia & Molavan, 2007; Tapia &Marsh II ,2004) in that there is no statistical difference between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and other factors such as : gender, ethnicity, mathematics scores. In addition, this study outlined that 62.67% of Khalifa University students felt self-confidence in their ability to do mathematics, 84.40% of them felt that mathematics has a great value to them, 67.13% of them are highly motivated to learn mathematics, and 75.49% of the sample reveals that KUSTAR students showed enjoyment in doing mathematics.
Many factors have influences on students’ attitudes towards mathematics. Teachers, parents, teaching strategies, assessment methods, and peers, as well as the school environment all have influences on an individual’s attitude. Tymms (2001) stated that the most important factors affecting students’ attitudes towards mathematics such as the teacher and student academic level. Therefore more studies have to be conducted in the future to clarify the relationship between teachers’ and teaching characteristics on students’ attitudes towards mathematics. As well as, to determine how teachers can modify or change their students’ attitudes towards mathematics if that is possible, and what the effect of using collaborative learning in schools and universities on changing students’ attitudes towards mathematics is. Personally, I think class size, teaching methods and assessment techniques used in our schools and universities might have an impact on the students’ attitudes towards mathematics and consequently on their achievements.
Finally, students’ attitudes towards mathematics changed overtime because it could be replaced by other activities. Students in the early stages of schooling are given the mathematical concepts slowly and repeatedly by using different teaching aids, resulting in positive attitudes and high achievement for the majority of students. As the mathematical subjects gets more abstract and more diverse, students’ attitudes and achievement started to decline or decrease (Ma & Kishor, 1997; Hannula, 2002; Sanchez et al., 2004). The decline in students’ attitude towards mathematics could be justified by the huge number of alternatives available for today’s students.
References