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A Comparative Study of Gender-Related Attitudes towards Mathematics between Students Who Take Advanced Mathematics in Cyprus and England

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posted on 2012-10-12, 11:46 authored by Natasha Christou
This mixed-method study explores the attitudes towards mathematics of sixth form high achieving students opting for advanced mathematics in Cyprus and England. The study aimed to examine differences or similarities between male and female students in Cyprus and England in terms of their attitudes towards mathematics and compare them within and across the two countries. In addition, the study aimed to develop an insight into the factors that may influence the attitudes towards mathematics of male and female students in the two countries involved. Data were collected through a Likert-scale questionnaire and a semi-structured interview. Factor Analysis was employed for the questionnaire data which was followed by Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) and post-hoc tests. The interview data were analysed using thematic analysis. The study revealed that the overwhelming majority of students in Cyprus and England had positive attitudes towards mathematics (i.e. a utilitarian view of mathematics, interest in mathematics, and desire to pursue studies in mathematics-related fields). Findings from the study also indicate that perceived parental/teacher influence in mathematical learning had a positive impact on students’ attitudes towards mathematics. However, a small number of students in both countries expressed negative feelings towards their mathematics teachers. The students in Cyprus often felt that the mathematics teachers at school did not play a significant role in their mathematical learning, because of the immense influence of private tutors in Cyprus. On the other hand, those students in England who expressed negative feelings towards their mathematics teachers attributed these feelings to their teachers’ teaching styles and personality. In addition, findings suggest that female students in Cyprus had a less gender stereotypical view of mathematical ability compared to female students in England and male students in Cyprus. Conversely, for both male and female students in England mathematics was an area of strong male significance in a symbolic sense (i.e. images of male mathematicians dominating higher-level mathematics, or thoughts of boys being naturally good at mathematics and girls being good at languages, etc.).

History

Supervisor(s)

Ainley, Janet; Lawson, Tony

Date of award

2012-09-01

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD

Language

en

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