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Title: An exploration and comparison of parents' and children's attitudes to mathematics in English medium schools in South Wales
Author: Plessis, J. K.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2003
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Children’s attitudes to mathematics are complex and multifaceted in nature and influenced by wider socio-cultural factors. Parents are one such important socio-cultural influence. It has often been stated that parents are children’s first teachers and home is their first school. Consequently, parents may exert, even if unwittingly, a substantial influence on their children’s attitudes towards mathematics (Cockcroft, 1982). Hence, this study explores and compares the inter-related and multifaceted nature of the parents’ and children’s attitudes to mathematics using social, cognitive and motivational variables. This thesis uses the review of literature to construct a Unified Model of Attitudes to Mathematics (UMAM) to facilitate an insight into the intra- and inter-related nature of student and parent variables. Self-efficacy provided a central interpretative and integrative theoretical framework for explaining the nature and relationships between variables. Self-efficacy beliefs are people’s judgements of their “capabilities to organise and execute the courses of action required to produce given attainments” (Bandura, 1997, p.3). Thus, it was hypothesised that self-efficacy variables would serve a predictive and mediational role. This study was largely exploratory and was conducted using a two-phase sequential mixed-methods design. During the first phase as analytic, relational survey was used to explore and compare children’s (n = 794) and parents’ (n = 225) attitudes using quantitative methods. During the second phase, qualitative semi-structured group interviews were conducted with parents (n = 34) to help clarify, illustrate and elaborate quantitative relationships between parent variables and their latent structure. The results suggest that self-efficacy variables were most substantially related to the remaining variables for both parents and children. Many relationships between variables lost much of their predictive utility when self-efficacy variables were controlled. Analyses suggested that parent and student variables were related and that self-efficacy variables influenced a number of these relationships. An exploration of the latent structure of parents and children’s variables suggested some degree of similarity. Both parents and children’s attitudes appeared to decline as children progress from Year 7 to Year 10. A number of small gender differences were reported. Therefore, there was some evidence supporting the UMAM posited in this thesis. The impact of parents’ self-efficacy on parental involvement, and recommendations for facilitating parent involvement are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available