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Teachers' confidence and beliefs and their students' attitudes to mathematics
Abstract and Figures
This paper reports some initial results of a project that involved profiling middle school mathematics teachers and their students. Survey data concerning the teachers' confidence in relation to the mathematics topics that they teach, their beliefs about numeracy and effective teaching of mathematics, students' attitudes to mathematics, and their perceptions of the frequency of various events in their mathematics classrooms contribute to a picture of many teachers and their students working in traditional classrooms, believing in the importance of mathematics, but struggling with the conceptual demands of the subject and with finding relevance for the material. Recent and ongoing curriculum reform in Tasmania has emphasised the importance of being numerate rather than of simply knowing mathematics. The definition that underpins the Being numerate key element of the Essential Learnings (ELs) Framework (Department of Education, Tasmania (DoET), 2002, p. 21) acknowledges the centrality of the discipline of mathematics along with the role of affect. It includes the following: Being numerate involves having those concepts and skills of mathematics that are required to meet the demands of everyday life. It includes having the capacity to select and use them appropriately in real life settings. Being truly numerate requires the knowledge and disposition to think and act mathematically and the confidence and intuition to apply particular principles to everyday problems.
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