As Mathematics Educators, we want to help our students not only develop a deep, conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts and processes, but also a positive disposition towards mathematics. Despite the importance of helping students develop a positive mathematical disposition, little research has been conducted examining how students' dispositions develop as they progress through their mathematical studies. In particular, the effects of college algebra on students' mathematical dispositions is not well understood. To examine the influence of college algebra on students' dispositions, students using two different college algebra curriculums were studied at Brigham Young University. Using a mathematical disposition survey, student interviews, and open response surveys, data were gathered about changes in students' dispositions as they progressed through the course. Results suggest that college algebra, on average, does not improve students' mathematical dispositions, and can actually be harmful to students' beliefs about mathematics being sensible and useful, students' beliefs about the importance of hard work and perseverance, and students' self-efficacy beliefs. However, the Pathways college algebra course, which was context-based and conceptual in nature, was less harmful than a more traditional college algebra course. These results corroborate other college educators and researchers' perceptions that the content of college algebra needs to be reexamined and changed, in addition to how it is taught.
College and Department
Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Mathematics Education
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Watson, Kevin Lee, "Examining the Effects of College Algebra on Students' Mathematical Dispositions" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 5601.
dispositions, mathematics, self-efficacy, perseverance, college algebra