Relationships between student's affective and mathematical development and the classroom culture

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalAbstractResearchpeer-review


In Denmark, students change schools when they transition from primary school to upper secondary school, and some students experience changed behavior and attitudes towards school and subjects as a result of this change.
The aim of this project is to investigate the positive change that occurs for students who previously have struggled with lack of motivation and learning in mathematics, why this change occurs and when it occurs. We see the student’s affective development as a continuum from math anxiety to math confidence.
Pupils' experience of a safe learning environment and good relationships is of great importance for their learning. However, this field is not particularly well documented when it comes to students with challenges in mathematics at Danish upper secondary level.
In our analysis, we mainly use Paul Cobb’s theory to describe the classroom culture.
We want to explore the above problem area based on the following questions:
• How is the connection and mutual influence between the student's affective development, the student's mathematical development and the development of the classroom culture?
• How is this reflected in the development of students’ thinking and acting in the classroom?
The study includes 8 students who follow C-level mathematics in two different classes (C-level is basic high school level). All 8 have been identified both by screening and through interviews at the start of the school year as having challenges in mathematics. This is also confirmed by the students' own statements.
All 8 participants are interviewed twice.
• In January, the students were interviewed in pairs on the basis of group work.
• In April, individual timeline interviews are carried out, where the students' experience of the development of their attitude to mathematics, their mathematical development and the development of the classroom culture are examined with a focus on identifying significant elements, e.g. 'critical incidents'.
The preliminary studies of group interviews show that the majority of those interviewed have experienced a positive change in confidence in their own abilities, pointing at the safe learning environment and the teacher relationship as important parameters in this connection. Furthermore, it turns out that it contributes to the feeling of security when the student is among students at the same academic level.
The group interviews showed that we needed to focus more on each individual’s timewise development and therefore we needed individual timeline interviews in order for us to answer the research questions. The results of these will be presented subsequently. The group interviews will mainly be seen as background material for the individual interviews.
The results of the study will provide knowledge about how upper secondary pupils experience the mutual connection between their affective development, their mathematical development and the classroom culture and how this is expressed in their thinking and action patterns. Overall, it will contribute to an increased understanding of the processes that students go through in connection with positive changes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventNORSMA 11: The Nordic Research network on Special Needs Education in Mathematics - DPU Aarhus Universitet, Tuborgvej 164, 2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark
Duration: 23 Nov 202324 Nov 2023


ConferenceNORSMA 11
LocationDPU Aarhus Universitet, Tuborgvej 164
City2400 Copenhagen NV
Internet address


  • learning, educational science and teaching

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