A study of the relation between two methods of elementary school mathematics instruction and children's attitudes toward mathematics

The major problem of this study was to investigate the relation between two methods of teaching mathematics (a manipulative materials approach and a traditional approach) and attitudes of elementary school children toward mathematics. The relation between sex, grade level and mathematics attitudes of the children were also investigated. The subjects were third and sixth graders from two schools matched for socioeconomic level and ethnic make-up. A revised version of Dutton's mathematics attitude scale was administered to the children by the researcher. An attitude index between zero and twenty was given to each of the randomly selected questionnaires. T-tests between two independent groups revealed evidence of differences in mathematics attitudes between the students exposed to two different methods. Significant differences in mathematics attitudes between the third-grade students and the sixth-grade students from both schools were also found. This study did not reveal sufficient evidence for the rejection of the null hypotheses relating to sex differences in mathematics attitude. Chi square tests were performed to determine if differences between groups in the distribution of responses on the attitude questionnaire differed from chance (p< 0.05). Only four statements revealed significant chi square scores. The researcher recommends an experimental study be conducted, matching schools for achievement as well as socioeconomic status and ethnic make-up, and controlling for method of instruction.