Attitudes and extent of divergency and convergency related to performance of Saudi pupils in mathematics.
MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.
Full text available as:
In Saudi Arabia, many pupils complain of failure in mathematics and they seem to have a negative image about mathematics. Therefore, this study aims to investigate attitudes of pupils in relation to mathematics. A survey was applied with intermediate pupils (aged about 13- 15) during the early stages of adolescence. This is considered as a critical period when pupils can start to form their views and attitudes.
The study also looked at divergency and convergency in relation to pupil performance. Previous studies had indicated the important of the convergency and divergency learning characteristics in relation to science. Thus, this study aimed to explore the extent to which these characteristics are important in relation to mathematics.
The study reviews the literature relating to the importance of attitudes in learning, its different definitions and its targets. Then, it describes specifically how attitude can be relevant in relation to mathematics as well as reviewing work done to measure attitudes towards mathematics. The approaches in measuring attitudes are discussed. Finally, divergency and convergency, seen as learner characteristics, are discussed and how these can be related to learning in mathematics.
The survey was conducted in intermediate schools in Saudi Arabia. Because of the segregation system that Saudi Arabia adopts, two girls’ and two boys’ schools were selected from typical Saudi population. Around 669 boys and girls participated in the project and they were asked to complete a questionnaire to show their views about mathematics. They also completed convergency and divergency tests. Because this project was carried out at the beginning of the school year, pupils’ final mathematics examination marks for the previous year were obtained.
Chi-square was used as a contingency test to explore the changes in attitudes with age and any gender differences. Pearson correlation was used to explore any relationships involving the tests of convergency and divergency, and examination marks. Kendall’s Tau-b correlation looked at any relationships between responses to attitude questions and performance.
From the results of the convergency and divergency tests, it was found that being both convergent and divergent is an advantage in mathematics examination. Moreover, it was noticed that the pupils who perform well in convergent tests tend to do better in divergent tests as well.
Generally from questionnaire responses, it was found that pupils tend to have a positive attitude in the earlier stage of schooling then these attitudes deteriorate when they became older. However, there was no difference with age in pupils responses to some questions.
Gender comparisons show that boys and girls tend to have similar views in some questions such as their image of mathematician, reasons for going to university and reasons to study mathematics. However, they have different views in other questions such as questions about mathematics, their abilities in mathematics, future careers, preferences for general and mathematical activities
This study has offered an overview of the learning of mathematics in Saudi Arabia and it suggests some important issues for future work.
Actions (login required)