4 Self-Perceptions, Task
Influences, and the Decision
to Enroll in Mathematics Jacquelynne Eccles (Parsons) University of Michigan Terry F. Adler Robert Futterman Susan B. Goff Caroline M. Kaczala Judith L. Meece Carol Midgley
IntroductionCompetence in mathematics has long been identified as a critical skill
directly related to educational and occupational choices. Mathematical
skills are important for admission to many college majors, for a number of
professional occupations, and increasingly for computerized technical occupations. Yet compared to male students, fewer female students elect to
take mathematics beyond the minimal requirements. Although females
may receive less encouragement from parents and teachers, it is not the
case that they are being systematically excluded through discriminatory
course availability. On the contrary, all too frequently females choose not
to take more advanced mathematics courses ( Meece, Parsons, Kaczala, Goff, & Futterman, 1982; Sells, 1980; Sherman & Fennema, 1977).The purpose of this research project is to investigate determinants of
students' course selection in mathematics. In most schools students have
the choice of whether or not to continue in math after 1 year of high
school math. Although some of the factors influencing this decision are
difficult to change, such as parents' education or their careers, other
factors are modifiable. Identification of these modifiable factors will lay
the foundation for the design of appropriate intervention programs aimed
at increasing the likelihood of students continuing to take mathematics.To date, there has been extensive research on the possible causes of
sex differences in math achievement and course selection. This research
has yielded four basic explanations for this problem:
|1. ||Males outperform females on spatial problem-solving tasks and on
other mathematics aptitude measures. Consequently, they are more able|
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Women and Mathematics:Balancing the Equation.
Contributors: Susan F. Chipman - Editor, Lorelei R. Brush - Editor, Donna M. Wilson - Editor.
Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Place of publication: Hillsdale, NJ.
Publication year: 1985.
Page number: 95.
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