Title

Memories of Math: Narrative Predictors of Math Affect, Math Motivation, and Future Math Plans

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-15-2020

Publication Title

Contemporary Educational Psychology

Volume

60

First page number:

1

Last page number:

11

Abstract

This mixed-methods study focuses on narratives that undergraduates tell about pivotal moments (i.e., turning points) in their prior history with math. A key objective was to examine whether these turning points would be associated with participants’ current math affect, math motivation, and future plans with math. Undergraduate participants (N = 210) completed quantitative measures assessing math anxiety, math self-expectancy, and math value, and also wrote narratives about a turning point with math and their future math plans. Thematic analysis revealed four themes in the math turning point narratives: (1) redemption, (2) contamination, (3) consistently positive, and (4) consistently negative. Quantitative analyses indicated that participants who wrote consistently positive narratives reported significantly lower math anxiety and higher math self-expectancy and math value relative to participants who wrote other types of narratives. Further, participants who wrote consistently negative turning point narratives were more likely to indicate that they would avoid math in the future. These results suggest that an individual’s memory of their early math experiences can color their math affect, math motivation, and plans for pursuing math in the future, even years after the experience has occurred. Implications for math education are discussed.

Keywords

Expectancy-value theory; Math anxiety; Math; STEM education; Student narrative

Disciplines

Education | Educational Psychology

Language

English

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