Girls' Experiences in Learning School Mathematics

By Lim, Jae Hoon | Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Girls' Experiences in Learning School Mathematics


Lim, Jae Hoon, Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics


During the past few decades, gender issues in mathematics education emerged as a controversial topic. Researchers found that female students, at both elementary and secondary levels, perform less well than their male counterparts on standardized tests (Ansell & Doerr, 2000; Beaton et. al., 1996). In other studies, female students, compared to their male counterparts, exhibited lower self-confidence in approaching mathematics and, as a result, were more likely to avoid taking advanced math courses in high school (Eccles et. al, 1983; Meece, Wigfield, & Eccles, 1990). Researchers have argued that female students' lower self-confidence and lack of motivation in school mathematics constitute a complex phenomenon in which various sociocultural forces are dynamically involved. For example, Reyes and Stanic (1988) argued that different sociocultural factors influence female students' experiences with school mathematics, affecting their self-confidence in and motivation for pursuing advanced mathematical knowledge.

Recent national reports and professional studies have underlined that early adolescence is the critical time for female students to develop their motivation and academic identities (Bruner, 1996; Dick & Rallis, 1991; Marlow & Marlow, 1996; National Research Council, 1989; Sadker & Sadker, 1994). However, relatively few studies have explored the first-hand experiences of young adolescent girls with school mathematics. Furthermore, the majority of previous studies on students' motivation have been based on individual psychology that tends to separate students' consciousness from its sociocultural context (Pajares & Graham, 1999; Seegers & Boekaerts, 1996; Wigfield, 1994; Wigfield & Eccles, 1992). As a result, as Atweh and his colleagues (1998) argued, it is hard to find studies that seriously investigate the sociocultural context of students' mathematical learning and their experiences with school mathematics. Similarly, the overall picture of girls' experiences with school mathematics, as well as the dynamic and complex relationship between their motivation and its sociocultural milieu, has not been sufficiently explored.

Therefore, it is important to investigate the everyday experiences of young adolescent girls with school mathematics from a new perspective that does not separate their motivation from its sociocultural context. Such studies will enrich educational researchers' understanding of the nature of students' motivation, including the complexities and dynamics of young adolescent girls' thoughts and attitudes towards school mathematics, in relation to various sociocultural factors surrounding them.

The following cross-case study of four young adolescent girls illuminates their experiences with school mathematics and the impact of sociocultural context on their motivation. In particular, the researcher has examined girls' motivation, based on an innovative concept from Bahktin's circle, "multiple voices and multiple selves." This new theoretical standpoint enables the researcher to explore several significant aspects of girls' experiences with school mathematics and to deconstruct their voices and selves in relation to various sociocultural forces that dynamically constitute aspects of their identity and motivation for learning school mathematics.

Conceptual Framework

This study is based on two different but interrelated theoretical frameworks: Feminist theory and sociocultural approaches to the mind as elaborated by Bakhtin's circle. These two different streams of theory have significantly contributed to our understanding of gender issues in mathematics education during the last few decades.

Feminist Theories

Feminism is "both a theory of women's position in society and a political statement focused on gaining equal rights and opportunities for women and changing existing power relations between men and women" (DeMarrais & LeCompte, 1998, p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Girls' Experiences in Learning School Mathematics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.