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How Do You Feel About Mathematics?

By: , Posted on: June 21, 2017

Math Brain

Ask yourself and the people around you: how do you feel about mathematics? You will find that the question makes sense. It is only natural to invoke a diverse range of emotions in describing our relationship with mathematics. Doing mathematics is clearly an activity that is rich in emotional experiences. And yet, it is rather difficult to explain what the nature and implications of such experiences are. Scholars studying mathematical thinking and learning have traditionally concentrated on cognitive, social, cultural, developmental, technological, and neural factors. It is only fairly recently that they have turned to the study of emotions.

During the last 20 years, research that investigates the ways in which emotions relate to mathematics has expanded rapidly in number, breadth, and depth. Researchers are delivering insights about the ways in which individuals’ emotions influence, and are influenced by, the individual and environmental factors involved in using, learning, teaching, and investigating mathematics. These findings are presented in academic events, discussed in book chapters, and reported in academic journals. However, to date no edited book has been published that focuses specifically on the emotional aspects of mathematics.

Understanding Emotions in Mathematical Thinking and Learning collects contributions that advance our current understanding of the links between emotions and mathematics. This topic is relevant across disciplines, but opportunities for researchers to become aware of the work done in fields other than their own are lacking and much needed. This book includes contributions from an international group that includes young researchers and leading figures from disciplines such as mathematics education, psychology, and mathematics. The reader will be able to appreciate the theoretical and methodological diversity that is applied across disciplines.

Chapter Download: An Overview of the Growth and Trends of Current Research on Emotions and Mathematics

Understanding Emotions in Mathematical Thinking and Learning will be of interest for researchers, graduate students, and teachers. The assembled chapters present information on the current state of the field, novel research trends, innovative takes on established research lines (e.g., mathematics anxiety), and emergent theoretical views.

The chapters are organized into four sections. The first presents an overview of the field. The reader will find a review that describes the origins and development of the research trends that drive the current literature ( Chapter 1), and the proposal of a holistic approach that integrates a number of widely used methodologies for investigating the interrelationships between cognition and affect in mathematics ( Chapter 2).

The second section covers the interaction between cognition and emotion during mathematical activity, including an account of the emotions felt by mathematicians in their quest to achieve a sense of control over mathematical objects ( Chapter 3), a characterization of the epistemic states associated with convincement in mathematics as a kinds of emotion ( Chapter 4), and a review of the interactive relationships between mathematics anxiety and cognitive abilities in the context of algebraic problem solving ( Chapter 5).

The third section covers some of the ways in which emotions are involved in the learning and teaching of mathematics. This theme has motivated the development of several research lines. This is reflected in the size of this section, which is divided in four parts. The first part deals with the emotional experiences of learners in different educational levels, including a qualitative study on the emotions of elementary school students while doing mathematics ( Chapter 6), a mixed-methods study of the role that emotions play in the decline of students’ dispositions towards mathematics throughout secondary school ( Chapter 7), and a review of the ways in which affective experiences interact with beliefs during the transition to postsecondary mathematics education ( Chapter 8).

The second part addresses learners with mathematical difficulties and introduces a psychoanalytical approach for conceptualizing and attending to special needs in the mathematics classroom from a relational perspective ( Chapter 9), and outlines the construct of “Mathematical resilience,” which entails positive attributes that help learners and teachers deal with negativity towards mathematics ( Chapter 10).

The third part deals with learners outside school, and it presents an intervention that has positively changed the emotions experienced by a mother and daughter dyad while doing mathematics at home ( Chapter 11), and an investigation on the influence of parents in the emergence of mathematics anxiety during early childhood ( Chapter 12). The fourth part presents large-scale interventions for mathematics teachers. One addresses the fear, dislike, and anxiety towards mathematics of primary school teachers with a workshop based on emotional and embodied games and activities ( Chapter 13). The other one explores the benefits of writing assignments among preservice elementary teachers who have negative emotions towards mathematics ( Chapter 14).

The fourth section presents the underlying concepts and potential applications of recent theoretical advances. The reader will be introduced to a phenomenological approach that combines Dual Systems Theory with the notion of a bicameral brain to incorporate emotions in the analysis of mathematical explorations ( Chapter 15), a societal-historical theory to study emotions in general, and in particular mathematics anxiety, in the context of the mathematics classroom ( Chapter 16), and an approach to study the decision-making of mathematics teachers that integrates concepts such as emotional orientation and somatic markers ( Chapter 17).

The experiences, insights, and findings shared by the contributors to this volume let us see that studying the links between emotions and mathematics is a challenging and fascinating endeavor. Hopefully, this book will help the reader to appreciate the potential of a research domain that is likely to help us achieve a deeper understanding of the foundations of mathematical thinking and learning.

We are pleased to offer you a look at the book by providing you with a chapter from the book called “An Overview of the Growth and Trends of Current Research on Emotions and Mathematics” that gives an overview of the current study of the relationship between emotions and mathematics.

Chapter Download: An Overview of the Growth and Trends of Current Research on Emotions and Mathematics

If you would like to read additional chapters from the book, visit ScienceDirect. If you prefer a print or e-copy, visit the Elsevier Store. Apply discount code STC317 and save up to 30% off the list price and free global shipping.

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