An enactive inquiry into mathematics confidence : a case study of nine pre-service primary school teachers

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Many learners and teachers of mathematics experience a lack of mathematics confidence. Research has posited that beliefs teachers have regarding mathematics, including their level of mathematical confidence, impact greatly on their practice of teaching, and hence on the confidence of their students. This dissertation reports on a study undertaken at the University of Cape Town with a group of nine pre-service primary school teachers who all experienced a lack of mathematics confidence. The study explored how the participants understand the notion of mathematics confidence and the reasons why they lack confidence. Results of the study indicate that the participants' understanding of mathematics confidence is having the ability to do the mathematics, as well as understanding the processes involved. In order to understand why they lack confidence, their previous experiences in the mathematics classroom were also explored. The participants' prior experiences as students in the mathematics classroom have led to a lack in the understanding of mathematics, resulting in the individuals having little or no mathematics confidence. Additionally, mathematics anxiety was an important aspect of their prior experiences. The theory of Enactivism has been used to explain their understanding of mathematics confidence as well as their prior experiences. Furthermore, various coping strategies used during their teaching practicum will also be discussed.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 70-74).