THE EFFECT OF EDUCATIONAL PRACTICES ON ATTITUDES TOWARD MATHEMATICS AMONG TWO AGE GROUPS OF IRANIAN AND AMERICAN STUDENTS

EFTEKHAR MIRI, Fordham University

Abstract

The present study examined the effect of cultural differences in educational practices on attitudes toward mathematics. The aim was to compare the uniformity of mathematical study among Iranian students with that of choice system among American students. To maximize the impact of varying educational policies, twelfth grade Americans taking minimal mathematics requirements were differentiated from those taking extensive mathematics courses in high school. The expectation was that uniformity of mathematical study would mitigate against the emergence of sex differences in attitudes toward mathematics. A second issue compared attitudes toward mathematics of male and female students in the two countries at two grade levels in order to determine age changes in attitudes. It was hypothesized that fourth grade students would have significantly higher attitudes toward mathematics than twelfth grade students. The age trend was predicted to apply to the students of both countries. A third issue examined the relationship of students' attitudes toward mathematics and their gender-role identification. The prediction was that attitudes toward mathematics would be positively related to a masculine gender-role identification and negatively correlated to a feminine gender-role orientation.^ Dutton's (1968) scale of attitudes toward mathematics and the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ; Spence, Helmreich, & Stapp, 1974) of gender-role identification were used as measurement instruments. The sample consisted of a total of 200 students, including 80 Iranian and 120 American students. Each group was divided equally among males and females as well as by grade, with 20 males and 20 females at the fourth and twelfth grade level in each country. Data analysis consisted of an analysis of variance paradigm in which sex (2 levels), age (2 levels), and culture (2 levels) were used as independent variables. Culture pertained to differences in educational practices in the two countries. The dependent variable was the measure of one's attitudes toward mathematics. The second component of data analysis examined Pearson product-moment correlations between math attitudes and the measures of gender identities.^ Findings indicated a cultural difference in which the Iranian students had significantly higher attitudes towards mathematics than American students. No sex differences were obtained in this analysis. However, when the sample consisted of twelfth grade Americans taking minimal mathematics courses, the Iranian students had more positive attitudes than only the American males. It is possible that the obtained cultural differences in attitudes toward mathematics are due to the differences in the amount of time spent studying mathematics at school and at home by Iranian students. No age effects were obtained in any of the analyses of mathematics attitudes. The correlational analysis produced a significant positive relationship between math attitudes and masculinity, but only for twelfth grade students (Iranian and American) taking extensive math courses. For twelfth grade Americans taking minimal math requirements, the relationship was negative, but nonsignificant. Contrary to prediction, femininity scores indicated a significant positive correlation with mathematical attitudes among twelfth grade Iranian and twelfth grade male American students (taking mathematics for all four years of high school) as well as among twelfth grade American female students (not taking extensive math courses). The fact that attitudes toward mathematics were positively related to both masculinity and femininity scores in the higher grades (for students taking extensive math courses) suggest rather that interest in mathematics results from an androgynous identification. ^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

MIRI, EFTEKHAR, "THE EFFECT OF EDUCATIONAL PRACTICES ON ATTITUDES TOWARD MATHEMATICS AMONG TWO AGE GROUPS OF IRANIAN AND AMERICAN STUDENTS" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8123561.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8123561

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