Primary teachers' attitudes towards mathematics and mathematics teaching with special reference to a Logo-based in-service course
This thesis investigates primary teachers' attitudes towards mathematics and mathematics
teaching, and whether or not they are amenable to change. As used in the study, the term
focuses on people, objects and issues, and brings together thought, action and emotion.
The purpose of the research was threefold:
• to investigate primary teachers' attitudes towards mathematics and towards
mathematics teaching, and as a subsidiary aim to examine factors that might account
for these attitudes;
• to examine ways in which primary teachers' attitudes towards mathematics and
mathematics teaching, along with other factors, influence their participation in a
Logo-based mathematics in-service course;
• to ascertain the degree to which primary teachers' attitudes towards mathematics
and its teaching are influenced by their participation in a Logo-based mathematics
A two-country "zoom lens" design was adopted. It consisted of two qualitatively distinct but
related sub-studies: (1) an attitude survey making use of a self-administered questionnaire; and
(2) a developmental study of attitude change based on a Logo-based mathematical in-service
course. These issues were investigated by adapting a vantage point which spans two
educational cultures: England and Portugal.
The attitude survey was administered in England in the Autumn term of the 1987/88 academic
year and involved all the primary teachers of Suffolk County Council. In Portugal, it was
administered in the Spring term of the sane academic year and involved all the primary teachers
in the district of Viseu. The attitude questionnaire used in the survey included several Likentype
scales aimed at mirroring different aspects of primary teachers' attitudes towards
mathematics, as well as questions which sought to gather information about the teachers'
The second sub-study was carried out in Portugal in the Summer term of the academic year
1987/88, and in England in the Autumn term of the following academic year. It involved ten Portuguese primary teachers and seven English primary teachers who volunteered to attend the
Logo course. The methodology used in this sub-study combined ethnographic methods and
concepts with principles akin to an action research paradigm.
Considering the two sub-studies as a whole, the two most important conclusions were the
following. First, the study indicated that the attitudes towards mathematics and mathematics
teaching of the English primary teachers differed considerably from those of the Portuguese
ones, along with their interactions with the Logo course, thus implying that cultural, social and
even political factors are relevant to teachers' attitudes. Second, when the participation of the
teachers in England and Portugal were compared (not in absolute, but in relative terms), there
was a fair degree of similarity as to the conclusions reached in the two countries. The following
conclusions were drawn: (a) Shifts in the teachers' attitudes towards mathematics and
mathematics teaching were more likely to occur when they were already committed to change at
the beginning of the course; (b) Shifts in the teachers' attitudes towards mathematics and
mathematics teaching were closely related to the sense of personal achievement they derived
from the course.