How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (2022)

As an educator, you know how much of your time and resources get dedicated to exploring the following question:

How can we improve the student learning experience?

One way to tackle this issue -- often overlooked -- is to consider students'attitudes towards math.

Whether positive or negative, attitude towards math often reflects a student’s value, self-confidence, enjoyment, motivation and anxiety levels when it comes to the subject.

17%of Americans suffer from high levels ofmath anxiety.

As early as 1st grade,students can start displayingnegative attitudestowards math.

80% of surveyed studentsenjoyed learning activities more when they used tablets.

Key takeaways

  • The relationship between attitude towards math and learning outcomes isbidirectional.Apositive attitude towards math can lead to higher achievement, and high achievement can result in more favorable attitudes.
  • Students’ attitude towards math can affect their overall achievement. Value, self-confidence, enjoyment, motivation and anxiety surrounding math are all reflected in a student’s attitude. Getting involvedas early as possibleis the best way to prevent long-lasting negative attitudes towards math.
  • Digitalgame-based learningis a promising option for improving opinions on math. Since kids have so much fun playing video games, incorporating them into learning can increase motivation and engagement — leading to better attitudes towards math and greater achievement.

Affect and its impact on math learning

According to the American Psychological Association, feelings that impact a person’s mood and emotional reaction can be referred to as affect, and attitude towards math is one example of an affective state.

Research considers affect to exist on a sliding scale-- ranging from positive to negative. Naturally, this means in a school full of students, you’ll see a huge range of different affective states related to math learning.

For every child who looks forward to their next math lesson, there’s another who feels confused and defeated. One student might not like math because they think the subject isn’t useful, while another dislikes it because they doubt their own ability to succeed.

Many studies link attitude towards math to math learning and ultimately, math achievement. Positive attitude has been associated with higher achievement, while negative attitude appears to relate to poor performance.

Where do negative math attitudes come from?

There are many possible contributors to negative attitudes towards math, including:

  • The idea that math is for “smart people.”
  • The perception of math as a “boring” subject.
  • A general lack of confidence in one’s learning abilities.
  • Being overwhelmed by complex and difficult math problems.
  • An inability to understand the relevance of math in “the real world.”

Math Anxiety

Math anxiety is an extreme, yet all-too-common, example of what can happen with a negative attitude towards math.

(Video) Zorbit’s Math Impact: Student Achievement

Educational Studies in Mathematics considers Math anxiety to be a feeling of tension and worry that interferes with a student's ability to solve math problems.

Those with math anxiety have extremely negative perceptions about their own ability to succeed in the subject, often thinking:

  • I hate math.
  • I just can’t do math.
  • I’ll never be good at it, so what’s the point in trying?

These negative feelings are also expressed with physiological symptoms that can diminish a person’s sense of comfort and self-esteem.

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (1)

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (2)

Various studies -- including this one from the journal for Research in Mathematics Education-- associate higher levels of math anxiety with reduced enjoyment and motivation, as well as poor performance.

Even if a student is capable of solving math problems, anxiety can still impact their enjoyment of math and motivation to learn more. This gets expressed with worse outcomes on math assignments and tests, which can lead to a continuous cycle of math anxiety.

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (3)

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (4)

Unfortunately, these negative outcomes are not hard to come by. Around 17% of Americans suffer from high levels of math anxiety, and negative feelings that contribute to math anxiety can be seen in children as early as 1st grade.

These findings suggest getting involved as early as possible is the best way to prevent long-lasting negative attitudes about math and extreme states of math anxiety.

So, how do you intervene in the relationship between attitude and achievement?

(Video) The Effects of Educational Technology in Mathematics Instruction on Student Achievement

Attitude and achievement -- a bidirectional relationship

To improve student attitudes and achievement in math, it’s important to understand the connection between the two.

At first glance, it might seem like an obvious correlation: if a student has a good attitude towards math, they’ll be more inclined to learn, they’ll try harder and their performance will be better. AsGuney Haciomeroglu from Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University says:

Anxiety and attitude towards mathematics are important predictors of motivation and educational outcomes related to achievement.

This idea can be taken a step further. Research suggests the relationship between attitude and achievement is bidirectional. This means a relationship can develop from two different directions:

  1. A student with apositive attitudetowards math:

Is more confident when learning math → enjoys math → is motivated to do more → actively engages during math lessons → gets more practice → achieves more.

  1. A student withhigher achievementin math:

Has more confidence in their abilities → sees the value of math → has a positive attitude towards math.

One study actually found a stronger effect from achievement to attitude, indicating that actual performance and grade levels can seriously impact a student’s thoughts about math.

This bidirectional relationship can often result in a cycle of attitudes and achievement feeding into one another. To improve attitudes and/or achievement, you need to break this cycle and create one of positivity!

(Video) Student Achievement vs Teacher Motivation | Greg Ashman | CIS

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (5)

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (6)

The importance of a positive attitude

Short-term achievement in math can be great, but positive attitudes can lead to so much more than a few good test scores.

Educators should instill positive attitudes in math not just for better performance in the subject, but also to improve overall cognitive abilities and help create lifelong learners!

When students display a positive attitude towards math, improvements can be seen in:

  • Emotions
  • Motivation
  • Confidence
  • Engagement
  • Working memory
  • Numerical processing

Having a positive attitude acts directly on your memory and learning system. I think that’s really important and interesting.

Lang Chen, PhD Stanford University

Improvements in each of these areas certainly contribute to greater learning abilities and educational outcomes, but they also make for healthier, happier students overall. This is why instilling positive attitudes and promoting a growth mindset as early as possible is so important.

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (7)

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (8)
(Video) Faculty Research Colloquium - My Presentation: Attitudes Toward Mathematics of Grade 11 Students

Image source: Teaching a Latte in First

Game-based learning and attitude towards math

Now that you understand the importance of positive attitudes, how do you actually establish them at your school?

One promising option for promoting a positive attitude towards math is game-based learning, particularly with the use of digital games.It’s no secret that kids love video games. In fact, a study by American Psychologist discovered 97%of American children and adolescents play video games for at least one hour every day. Video games can be a great pastime, but they’re also gaining tons of traction in the educational world -- and the results are looking great! A study from the University of Dundee found80% of surveyed students enjoyed learning activities more when they used tablets, deeming them more fun and engaging than their usual math class.Since kids have so much fun using digital platforms like video games, incorporating them into learning can lead to increased motivation and engagement.Digital games also offer a number of helpful and positive features, like immediate feedback, which can pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in students to help improve confidence and reduce math anxiety. When teachers assign learning activities students enjoy, they’ll be more likely to engage with content. Eventually, students will start enjoying the subjects they’re learning during these activities and develop an overall positive attitude towards their education!

How Prodigy can help

One game-based learning tool that can provide a positive math experience is Prodigy — the engaging math platform loved by students, teachers and parents around the world.Prodigy provides over 1,500 curriculum-aligned math skills for students to practice. Plus, it turns math into an exciting adventure.The game takes players’ personalized characters through a virtual world of adventure, where competing in “battles” means answering more math questions and practicing important math skills. Students love Prodigy because it’s fun to play, and educators love it because it helps motivate and engage students to improve their abilities in math. Teachers can align Prodigy with in-class lessons, use it as a relevant entry or exit ticket, or differentiate for individual learning needs.

I’ve seen a huge change in students' attitudes toward math. Before Prodigy, many students reported math as their least favorite subject. After using Prodigy, students are motivated to learn and no longer view math as their least favorite thing to do. Early in the year, a parent thanked me for using Prodigy because her son now chooses to play it over traditional video games!Katie Whitehurst,4th Grade Teacher, Athens School District

Strengthen attitudes and boost student learning

Negative attitudes towards math are far more common than they should be. Things like insecurity, apathy and math anxiety can greatly impact a student’s learning environment and their overall achievement in math.Luckily, instilling a positive attitude early could be the key to improving achievement. Reinforcing positive attitudes can break the cycle -- boosting learning out comes and motivating children to learn, grow and improve.Math often carries a bad reputation, but it doesn’t have to. Negative perceptions about math usually stem from how students learn to view academic subjects early on.When a positive attitude in math is encouraged, students will keep working harder, reaching higher and following their own paths to success.

[Read the fullLiterature Reviewhere.]

(Video) The Effects of Independent Reading on Student Achievement and Student Attitude

For engaging math learning, try Prodigy — the curriculum-aligned math platform used by more than 1.5 million teachers and school leaders.

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (9)

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement (10)
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FAQs

How Attitude Towards Math Impacts Student Achievement? ›

A positive attitude toward math boosts the brain's memory center and predicts math performance independent of factors such as a child's IQ, a Stanford study has found. A new Stanford study found that kids with a positive attitude toward math performed better in the subject.

How does attitude affect people's learning of math? ›

Many studies link attitude towards math to math learning and ultimately, math achievement. Positive attitude has been associated with higher achievement, while negative attitude appears to relate to poor performance.

How does attitude affect student learning? ›

The basic premise underlying any teaching is that the pupil has the capacity to learn and change and wants these things to happen regardless of past performance. Negative attitudes discourage, limit, and even prevent learning, positive change, and growth.

What are the factors that affect mathematics achievement of students? ›

Gender, socio-economic status, and parents' educational level are factors that have been analyzed in this study as predictors of math achievement.
  • Gender. ...
  • Socio-Economic Status. ...
  • Parents' Educational Level. ...
  • Instructional Strategies and Methods. ...
  • Teacher Competency in Math Education. ...
  • Motivation or Concentration. ...
  • Instrument.

What are the negative attitude towards mathematics? ›

Negative attitudes towards maths are damaging, leading to disengagement, increased anxiety and a lack of confidence, and a reluctance to try to improve skills.

How do math attitudes affect math achievement? ›

A positive attitude toward math boosts the brain's memory center and predicts math performance independent of factors such as a child's IQ, a Stanford study has found. A new Stanford study found that kids with a positive attitude toward math performed better in the subject.

What is attitude in learning mathematics? ›

The attitude toward mathematics is shaped by cognitive components such as beliefs and cognitive processes. However, the importance of cognitive processes in attitude toward mathematics has not yet been researched.

How does attitude affect students performance and learning outcomes? ›

Attitudes towards school and learning are associated with academic achievement. Students with poor academic performance have a more negative attitude towards learning and believe that school and learning will not help them being successful in the future (Candeias, Rebelo & Oliveira, 2010).

How does attitudes and values affect educational achievement? ›

Sociologists have suggested that class values can impact on children's attitude to education. For example, middle-class values have been believed to contribute to ambition and discipline when studying, whereas working-class values have been viewed as less likely to lead to educational success.

How does the attitude of a teacher towards work affect student learning? ›

A positive attitude from the teacher affects the student's motivation, attitude towards school and school work, the student's self confidence and as a result personality development. Teaching is much more than saying and explaining (Gundogdu, Silman, 2007: 264).

What are the factors affecting the academic performance of the students? ›

Students' academic performance is affected by several factors: students' learning skills, parental background, peer influence, teachers' quality, and learning infrastructure.

How can students improve their math achievement? ›

What the Teachers Recommend
  1. Build confidence. ...
  2. Encourage questioning and make space for curiosity. ...
  3. Emphasize conceptual understanding over procedure. ...
  4. Provide authentic problems that increase students' drive to engage with math. ...
  5. Share positive attitudes about math.
Jul 6, 2018

What are typical challenges students with math related learning? ›

Mistakes such as number additions, substitutions, transpositions, omissions, and reversals in writing, reading, and recalling numbers. Difficulty with abstract concepts of time and direction. Inability to recall schedules and sequences of past or future events. Being chronically early or late.

Why are teacher attitudes toward mathematics so important? ›

Attitude towards mathematics is important, because they are it is one of the most important factors, affect the math achievement. Measuring attitude is not the solution of the problem. It should be investigated the factors influencing attitude.

How can we promote positive attitude towards mathematics? ›

How to Foster a Positive Attitude Towards Math at Home
  • Connect math to everyday life. ...
  • Encourage perseverance when solving math problems. ...
  • Teach Problem-solving strategies. ...
  • Make Practice Fun. ...
  • Play games that enhance mathematical skills. ...
  • Math homework. ...
  • Encourage mathematical thinking. ...
  • Give constructive feedback.
Mar 6, 2020

What causes students to develop a negative attitude towards education? ›

The desire to be accepted by peers is a primary factor that motivates students to develop a negative attitude toward school.

Is there a significant relationship between students behavior toward mathematics and their academic performance? ›

Thus, it was found out that if students have a positive attitude towards Mathematics, they would have better performance and if they have negative attitudes, they would have a lower performance on it. Ma and Xu (2004) concluded that a positive attitude towards mathematics leads students towards success in mathematics.

How mathematics affects you in the aspect of decision making? ›

Mathematics serves to evaluate and improve the quality of information in the face of uncertainty, to present and clarify options, to model available alternatives and their consequences, and even to control the smaller decisions necessary to reach a larger goal.

What are examples of attitudes? ›

An attitude describes an individual's state of mind with respect to a situation, person or thing. These are highly specific such as an employee's attitude towards a particular task.
...
160 Examples of Attitudes.
AcceptingActive
AverseBad
BiasedBold
BraveBuoyant
CallousCalm
75 more rows
Jan 20, 2021

What are the skills and attitudes to be achieved in the K to 12 mathematics learning outcomes? ›

The following values and attitudes are to be honed as well: Accuracy, Creativity, Objectivity, Perseverance, and Productivity. We recognize that the use of appropriate tools is needed in teaching mathematics.

How does behavior affect academic achievement? ›

Two specific types of behaviors can be linked to academic achievement: prosocial behavior and peer problems. These two behaviors have been linked to various academic skills such as study habits, and classroom behavior, and peer interactions, which in turn affect academic performance.

How does attitude affect learning and how can students develop positive attitude? ›

A positive attitude lets you relax, remember, focus and absorb information as you learn. You're ready to welcome new experiences and recognize many different kinds of learning opportunities. And when you can see opportunities, hope increases.

What knowledge skills and attitudes are important for student success? ›

The list includes:
  • critical thinking and problem solving.
  • innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.
  • learning to learn/self-awareness and self-direction.
  • collaboration.
  • communication.
  • global citizenship and sustainability.
Oct 30, 2018

How can students improve their attitude towards learning? ›

Practical Tips on How to Develop a Positive Attitude in Students
  1. Be an example. ...
  2. Create a positive learning space for your student. ...
  3. Help your student visualize positive outcomes for all scenarios. ...
  4. Eliminate negative talk. ...
  5. Help your student change negative thinking patterns. ...
  6. Be your student's biggest fan.
Aug 17, 2022

What is the relationship between attitude and learning behavior for students? ›

Attitudes to learning and the perceptions and beliefs which determine them have a significant influence on learning behavior and on learning outcomes, since successful learners develop insightful beliefs about the learning processes, their own abilities, and the use of effective learning strategies, which together have ...

How will understanding of attitudes enhance learning? ›

The presence or absence of specific attitudes, motivations and dispositions in a learner will: enhance or impede their capacity to learn. determine their willingness to grapple and persevere with, and make sense of discipline-based knowledge and content.

How does attitude affect academic performance? ›

We find that motivation and ability explain variation in both homework and exam scores. Attitudes and behaviors, such as procrastination and working with others directly, affect homework score, but not exam score. These effects are not the same within all motivation and ability groups.

How can we promote positive attitude towards mathematics? ›

How to Foster a Positive Attitude Towards Math at Home
  • Connect math to everyday life. ...
  • Encourage perseverance when solving math problems. ...
  • Teach Problem-solving strategies. ...
  • Make Practice Fun. ...
  • Play games that enhance mathematical skills. ...
  • Math homework. ...
  • Encourage mathematical thinking. ...
  • Give constructive feedback.
Mar 6, 2020

What are the skills and attitudes to be achieved in the K to 12 mathematics learning outcomes? ›

The following values and attitudes are to be honed as well: Accuracy, Creativity, Objectivity, Perseverance, and Productivity. We recognize that the use of appropriate tools is needed in teaching mathematics.

How does attitudes and values affect educational achievement? ›

Sociologists have suggested that class values can impact on children's attitude to education. For example, middle-class values have been believed to contribute to ambition and discipline when studying, whereas working-class values have been viewed as less likely to lead to educational success.

How does attitude affect students performance and learning outcomes? ›

Attitudes towards school and learning are associated with academic achievement. Students with poor academic performance have a more negative attitude towards learning and believe that school and learning will not help them being successful in the future (Candeias, Rebelo & Oliveira, 2010).

Is there a significant relationship between students behavior toward mathematics and their academic performance? ›

Thus, it was found out that if students have a positive attitude towards Mathematics, they would have better performance and if they have negative attitudes, they would have a lower performance on it. Ma and Xu (2004) concluded that a positive attitude towards mathematics leads students towards success in mathematics.

Why are teacher attitudes toward mathematics so important? ›

Attitude towards mathematics is important, because they are it is one of the most important factors, affect the math achievement. Measuring attitude is not the solution of the problem. It should be investigated the factors influencing attitude.

How can students improve their attitude towards learning? ›

Practical Tips on How to Develop a Positive Attitude in Students
  1. Be an example. ...
  2. Create a positive learning space for your student. ...
  3. Help your student visualize positive outcomes for all scenarios. ...
  4. Eliminate negative talk. ...
  5. Help your student change negative thinking patterns. ...
  6. Be your student's biggest fan.
Aug 17, 2022

How can you build positive attitudes about problem solving? ›

What is Positive Problem-Solving?
  1. Expect the Unexpected. The difference between good problem-solving and great problem-solving may come down to the ability to deal with unexpected situations. ...
  2. Accept the Unexpected. ...
  3. Stay Optimistic. ...
  4. Consult Others. ...
  5. Use Creative and Critical Thinking Skills. ...
  6. Plan for Results. ...
  7. Don't Give Up.
Jul 9, 2019

Is math anxiety a positive attitude in math? ›

Using correlation analysis, math anxiety was found negatively related to positive attitudes and self-efficacy and positively to negative attitudes. On the other hand, positive attitudes were found positively associated with self-efficacy and negatively with negative attitudes.

What desirable values and attitudes must be developed to learners? ›

The list includes:
  • critical thinking and problem solving.
  • innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship.
  • learning to learn/self-awareness and self-direction.
  • collaboration.
  • communication.
  • global citizenship and sustainability.
Oct 30, 2018

What are learning outcomes of mathematics? ›

Be able to write and understand basic proofs. Develop and maintain problem-solving skills. Use mathematical ideas to model real-world problems. Be able to communicate mathematical ideas with others.

What are the main goals of mathematics education? ›

to help the students to understand mathematics. to develop useful capabilities. to develop children's abilities for mathematization.

Videos

1. Effect Of Peer Tutoring On Learning Outcomes In Mathematics Among Students With Learning
(Clute Institute)
2. Students' Perceptions and Attitudes towards Simulations
(PhET Simulations)
3. ICT Integration: Enhancing Achievement Level and Attitude of Students Towards Mathematics
(DepEd Cavite Research)
4. TIMSS and PIRLS 2011 (5)—Factors for Academic Success
(TIMSS PIRLS)
5. Zorbit's Math Impact: Support
(Zorbit's Math)
6. How Policy Affects Access to Learning for English Learners
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