Impact of a Problem-Solving Curriculum on Pre-Service Elementary Teachers' Affect toward Mathematics

Student Author(s)

Stephanie Harper

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Eric Mann

Document Type


Event Date



Math is often seen as a curse word, and revulsion of math is common and even celebrated at times by the general public. The dislike of math is even more common among pre-service elementary teachers. Research has shown that pre-service elementary teachers tend to have the highest levels of math anxiety among all college students. These college students are going to be teaching and shaping our youngest and most impressionable children in only a few years, so the general level of math anxiety is worrisome. This work-in-progress study investigates the effect of a problem-solving curriculum on pre-service teachers’ attitudes toward and beliefs about mathematics. Affect is a multi-faceted construct that encompasses emotions, anxieties, beliefs, and attitudes, among other psychological concepts. This study focused on the attitudes and beliefs aspects of affect. Students taking MATH 205, a math content course for pre-service elementary teachers, were surveyed in September 2015 about their attitudes toward and beliefs about mathematics, along with their prior experiences with mathematics and demographic information. The same survey, minus the questions about the students’ experiences with mathematics, was administered to students at the end of MATH 206, the final math content course for pre-service elementary teachers, in February 2016. The curricula of both MATH 205 and MATH 206 were based on problem-solving and discussion and contained very little lecture. Final analysis and results about the effectiveness of these curricula on the attitudes and beliefs of pre-service elementary teachers regarding mathematics are pending.


This research was supported by the Hope College Department of Mathematics.

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