Denise De Freitas Bittar-Godinho
Master's – Who is afraid of Mathematics? Study about how mathematic attitude impacts business area students
Advisor: Profª Drª Silvia Pereira de Castro Casa Nova
Comission: Profs. Drs. Francisco Henrique Figueiredo de Castro Junior, Edgard Bruno Cornacchione Junior, Gilberto José Miranda and Nilson José Machado
Class: 217, FEA-5
Who is afraid of mathematics? This question puzzled me all my life, I'm a lover of numbers. But, beyond my personal interest, previous studies (Sanchez, 2013) have pointed out that the difficulty in dealing with math concepts has been reflected in the conceptual errors made by Accounting students in an expressive way. In business graduation, such as Administration and Accounting, a large load subjects at compulsory curriculum involves math, it may reach 42% at Accounting and 29% at Administration at the institution which is object of this study. The objective of this work is to investigate the impact that Mathophobia has on business students, in seeking to identify and understand the compensation mechanisms that the students use to overcome their difficulties throughout their formation. It applies a questionnaire to measures each student's attitude towards math, using the model adapted and validated by Brito (1998), and additional questions to understand the profile of each student and their previous relationship with math. The questionnaire allows to obtain, on a scale of attitudes towards mathematics, the highest level of mathematical anxiety of the student. From the results obtained by questionnaire, the student's academic performance at accounting discipline of the 1st semester is used to classify him/her into six groups. Next, some of the students are interviewed for understanding of their relationship with math and which strategies are adopted to obtain approval in the 1st and 2nd semester courses identified with some level of math knowledge requirement. The interviews allowed to illustrate, to exemplify and to corroborate with the concepts presented in the theoretical reference that are directly related to the manifestation of affinity or aversion to Mathematics, such as: reinforcing of the perception of being a good or bad student according to academic achievement; reproduction in the form of beliefs, that mathematical aptitude is innate and that mathematics is accurate; emotional association with adverse situations during mathematics studies; consensus among respondents that repetition of exercises is the most effective form of learning in subjects involving mathematics; that future professional performances, as well as the possibilities of career choices, are limited by the previous achievement in mathematics, and other disciplines; and a lack of consensus about the course of administration being restricted to the development of instrumental abilities rather than the act of thinking. The study provides insights for future work that will seek ways to assist students in the process of learning mathematical concepts necessary to minimize the occurrence of conceptual errors in their training and, consequently, in their professional performance. So, maybe someday, everyone can love math as much as I do.
*Abstract provided by the author