A Study of Students' Perceptions About Their Attitude Toward Mathematics (ATM), Achievement in Mathematics (AIM), Factors that Influence ATM, and Suggestions to Improve ATM in a "Better Than Average" District

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Science and Mathematics


Mathematical Sciences

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Eileen Fernández

Committee Member

Helen Roberts

Committee Member

Ann Maria Villegas


Researchers have been studying the relationship between studentsʼ attitude toward mathematics (ATM) and their achievement in mathematics (AIM) for many years in attempts to improve one or the other of these in studentsʼ mathematical development. The purpose of this study is to find ways to improve ATM by asking students to describe associations between ATM and AIM, changes in ATM, factors that influence ATM, and suggestions to improve ATM. This descriptive study uses a qualitative design that provides students who already have good ATM and AIM, an opportunity to voice their perceptions about ATM and AIM. These students were carefully selected from one“better than average” K-8 school system, which has a rigorous curriculum, quality teachers, involved parents, and commitment to teacher and student excellence. Primary information came from twenty-two student interviews and additional information came from a mathematics attitude survey and standardized tests of 151 students.

Interviewees stated reasons for positive and negative shifts in ATM, including personal factors such as their level of ability, understanding, liking or disliking mathematics, and interest in mathematics, as well as classroom factors such as the amount of fun in classes, level of difficulty, and the teacher. As a result of these influential factors, students had essentially five suggestions for their mathematics teachers: (1) clearer explanations of the material, (2) (genuine) checking for understanding before continuing with the lesson, (3) slower instruction pace and more time on topics, (4) extra help both inside and outside class time, and (5) classes that are fun. In addition to identifying factors that influence ATM, students also connected ATM with AIM, where responses to questions asking about ATM frequently related to AIM. As a result of this study, implications for teachers, teacher preparation programs, and the curriculum were drawn, as well as suggestions for future research.


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