Thinking mathematically : a framework for developing positive attitudes amongst undergraduates
This thesis tests the hypothesis that problem-solving activities caused positive changes in students attitudes towards mathematics. A pilot test, carried out in a problem-solving course at the University of Warwick, tested possible questions that would indicate change of attitudes. The findings indicate that the course affected students attitudes to mathematics in what was considered a positive manner. Using that experience gained through the pilot study, the main study was carried out at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in which data was collected from 44 students who took the course in problem-solving taught by the researcher. A pre-test, post-test and a delayed post-test (six months later) were administered, which included interviews with selected students and staff. To establish what might be considered a positive change, the staff at the Mathematics Department were asked what attitudes they would expect students have as a result of the mathematics teaching at the University, and then specify the attitudes they would prefer students to have. The direction of change between the two responses were considered to be positive, and this is defined as the "desired direction of change". The results show that the problem-solving course affected students attitudes such that the change, identified as the difference between pretest and post-test results, was largely in the desired direction of change. However, when students return to normal mathematics lectures many of the indicators reverted in the opposite direction; away from what the staff preferred.