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Mathematics, Affect and Learning

Peter Grootenboer and Margaret Marshman
Publisher: 
Springer
Publication Date: 
2015
Number of Pages: 
135
Format: 
Hardcover
Price: 
129.00
ISBN: 
9789812876782
Category: 
Monograph
[Reviewed by
Charles Ashbacher
, on
02/26/2016
]

The overwhelming majority of people engaged in mathematics education will find only one thing new about the content of this book: the fact that the research was conducted in New Zealand and Australia. Surveys regarding their opinion of mathematics were given to students at the elementary and middle school levels and the results are just another confirmation of what is already well known.

As they rise in the level of education, the attitude of all students towards mathematics generally trends towards the negative, especially among females. Two feedback loops are identified, one positive and the other negative. On the positive side, the better that a student does at math the higher their opinion of math, which leads to more effective performance. Conversely, the poorer a student does at math the lower their opinion, which leads to weaker performance.

Another well known conclusion cited is that students from a lower socioeconomic background tend to have weaker performances overall and that includes math. All of this is acted out within a context where the overwhelming majority of those surveyed understand how important it is to know mathematics in order to be able to perform at a good, high paying job.

Unfortunately, while the research is conclusive and supports much that has been done in the United States and elsewhere, there is nothing here regarding a proposed or even speculative solution. This is not to say that there is anything wrong or incorrect about the research, it is just that the world needs solutions, not continued reaffirmation of well documented problems.


Charles Ashbacher splits his time between consulting with industry in projects involving math and computers, and teaching college classes. In his spare time, he reads about these things and helps his daughter in her lawn care business.

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