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Child Development Research
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 876028, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/876028
Research Article

Attitudes towards Mathematics: Effects of Individual, Motivational, and Social Support Factors

ISPA, Instituto Universitário, UIPCDE, Rua Jardim do Tabaco 34, 1149-041 Lisboa, Portugal

Received 11 May 2012; Revised 4 August 2012; Accepted 19 August 2012

Academic Editor: Helga Krinzinger

Copyright © 2012 Maria de Lourdes Mata et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This paper aims to understand how certain different but interrelated variables such as background, motivation, and social support could lead to an explanation of student attitudes towards math and to an understanding of the defining characteristics of these attitudes in the school environment. Participants consisted of 1719 Portuguese students, from fifth-to-twelfth grade. The study utilizes an adaptation of the “Intrinsic Motivation Inventory” assessing main determinants of intrinsic motivation. One section of the questionnaire—“In my Math Class”—also assesses student perceptions of teacher and peer support as well as student attitudes. The results revealed that, in general, students held positive attitudes towards mathematics and also highlighted the main effects of grade and math achievement on these attitudes. No gender effect was identified although the girls showed a continuous decline in attitudes the further they progressed in school. A hierarchical analysis using structural equation modeling showed that motivation-related variables are the main predictors of attitudes towards mathematics and that teachers and the social support of peers are also highly significant in understanding these attitudes.