Assessing science students’ attitudes

A new article has recently been published in International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. The article is entitled Assessing science students’ attitudes to mathematics: A case study on a modelling project with mathematical software, and it is written by L. L. Lim,  T. -Y. Tso and F. L. Lin. Here is the abstract of their article:

This article reports the attitudes of students towards mathematics after they had participated in an applied mathematical modelling project that was part of an Applied Mathematics course. The students were majoring in Earth Science at the National Taiwan Normal University. Twenty-six students took part in the project. It was the first time a mathematical modelling project had been incorporated into the Applied Mathematics course for such students at this University. This was also the first time the students experienced applied mathematical modelling and used the mathematical software. The main aim of this modelling project was to assess whether the students’ attitudes toward mathematics changed after participating in the project. We used two questionnaires and interviews to assess the students. The results were encouraging especially the attitude of enjoyment. Hence the approach of the modelling project seems to be an effective method for Earth Science students.

Using history of mathematics

Charalambos Y. Charalambous, Areti Panaoura and George Philippou have written an article called Using the history of mathematics to induce changes in preservice teachers’ beliefs and attitudes: insights from evaluating a teacher education program. The article was published online in Educational Studies in Mathematics on Tuesday. Here is the abstract of their article:

Scholars and teacher educators alike agree that teachers’ beliefs and attitudes toward mathematics are key informants of teachers’ instructional approaches. Therefore, it has become clear that, in addition to enriching preservice teachers’ (PSTs) knowledge, teacher education programs should also create opportunities for prospective teachers to develop productive beliefs and attitudes toward teaching and learning mathematics. This study explored the effectiveness of a mathematics preparatory program based on the history of mathematics that aimed at enhancing PSTs’ epistemological and efficacy beliefs and their attitudes toward mathematics. Using data from a questionnaire administered four times, the study traced the development of 94 PSTs’ beliefs and attitudes over a period of 2 years. The analysis of these data showed changes in certain dimensions of the PSTs’ beliefs and attitudes; however, other dimensions were found to change in the opposite direction to that expected. Differences were also found in the development of the PSTs’ beliefs and attitudes according to their mathematical background. The data yielded from semi-structured follow-up interviews conducted with a convenience sample of PSTs largely corroborated the quantitative data and helped explain some of these changes. We discuss the effectiveness of the program considered herein and draw implications for the design of teacher education programs grounded in the history of mathematics.