20 June 2024
Children's Math Attitude Fades Early

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Children’s math attitude fades during the early school years. Their interest in and competence perceptions of mathematics are generally quite positive as they begin school, but turn less positive during the first three years. Changes in interest and self-concept are also associated with each other. In other words, if a child’s interest fades, so does their competence perception, and vice versa.

Keywords: Children’s Math Attitude Fades, Motivation, Self-Concept



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Children’s Math Motivation and Self-Concept: A Longitudinal Study

As children embark on their educational journey, they often possess a positive attitude toward mathematics, expressing interest and confidence in their abilities. However, a recent study published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology reveals a concerning trend: this positive attitude starts to fade during the early school years.

Key Findings of the Study on Children’s Math Attitude and Self-Concept

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland, followed nearly 300 children for three years, tracking their motivation and competence in mathematics. The findings indicated that children’s interest in and self-perceived competence in mathematics declined during the first three years of school. Furthermore, changes in interest and self-concept were closely linked, meaning that a decline in one area often led to a decline in the other.

Gender Differences in Children’s Math Motivation and Competence

Interestingly, the study found no significant gender differences in motivation and competence among school beginners. However, at the end of the three-year follow-up period, girls’ motivation had declined more than boys’ on average. This suggests that girls may be more susceptible to the negative influences that contribute to the decline in math motivation during the early school years.

The Role of Self-Assessment and Difficulty in Children’s Math Attitude

The researchers suggest that the observed decline in math motivation may be partly attributed to children’s more realistic self-assessment over time. As they progress through school, children may become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses, leading to a more accurate perception of their competence. Additionally, the increasing difficulty of mathematics as they advance through grades may also contribute to the decline in motivation.

The Importance of Positive Motivation and Self-Concept in Children’s Math Attitude

The study highlights the importance of positive motivation and self-concept in mathematics. Children who maintain a strong interest in mathematics and believe in their abilities tend to perform better in the subject. Conversely, those who experience a decline in motivation and self-concept may struggle academically.

Implications for Teaching Practices that Support Children’s Math Attitude

The findings of the study underscore the need for teaching practices that support and maintain children’s interest in mathematics and reinforce their experiences of success. Educators can employ various strategies to achieve this, such as using engaging and hands-on activities, providing positive feedback, and fostering a classroom culture that values effort and perseverance.

Wrapping Up: Addressing Children’s Math Attitude Fades

The decline in children’s math motivation during the early school years is a concerning trend that can have long-term implications for their academic success and future career prospects. By understanding the factors contributing to this decline and implementing effective teaching practices, educators can help children maintain a positive attitude toward mathematics and set them on a path to success in this essential subject.

FAQ’s

1. What is the key finding of the study on children’s math attitude?

The study found that children’s interest in and self-perceived competence in mathematics declined during the first three years of school.

2. Are there gender differences in math motivation and competence?

The study found no significant gender differences among school beginners, but at the end of the three-year follow-up period, girls’ motivation had declined more than boys’ on average.

3. What factors contribute to the decline in math motivation?

The study suggests that the decline may be attributed to children’s more realistic self-assessment over time and the increasing difficulty of mathematics as they advance through grades.

4. Why is positive motivation and self-concept important in mathematics?

Children who maintain a strong interest in mathematics and believe in their abilities tend to perform better in the subject, while those who experience a decline in motivation and self-concept may struggle academically.

5. What teaching practices can be employed to support children’s math motivation?

Educators can use engaging and hands-on activities, provide positive feedback, and foster a classroom culture that values effort and perseverance to support children’s math motivation.

Links to additional Resources:

www.apa.org www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov www.nsf.gov

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Mathematics education, Child development, Motivation

Mathematics education
In contemporary education, mathematics education—known in Europe as the didactics or pedagogy of mathematics—is the practice of teaching, learning, and carrying out scholarly research into the transfer of mathematical knowledge. Although research into mathematics education is primarily concerned with the tools, methods, and approaches that facilitate practice or the study...
Read more: Mathematics education

Child development
Child development involves the biological, psychological and emotional changes that occur in human beings between birth and the conclusion of adolescence. Childhood is divided into three stages of life which include early childhood, middle childhood, and late childhood (preadolescence). Early childhood typically ranges from infancy to the age of 6...
Read more: Child development

Motivation
Motivation is an internal state that propels individuals to engage in goal-directed behavior. It is often understood as a force that explains why people or animals initiate, continue, or terminate a certain behavior at a particular time. It is a complex phenomenon and its precise definition is disputed. It contrasts...
Read more: Motivation

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