Executive functions and achievement emotions among adolescents : Mathematics difficulties, low mathematics performance, and special education support in mathematics

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http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-6912-9
Title: Executive functions and achievement emotions among adolescents : Mathematics difficulties, low mathematics performance, and special education support in mathematics
Author: Holm, Marja Eliisa
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Educational Sciences
Doctoral Programme in School, Education, Society and Culture
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021-01-08
Belongs to series: Helsinki Studies in Education 106 - URN:ISSN:2489-2297
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-6912-9
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/322414
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (article-based)
Abstract: Mathematics learning should be viewed in behavioral and emotional levels. Adolescents might have problems directing, controlling and coordinating their behaviors, such as directing attention and planning tasks in advance. Such executive function (EF) problems might relate to mathematics learning. Adolescents might also experience enjoyment, pride, anger, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, and boredom in mathematics learning. Thus, such mathematics-related achievement emotions and EF problems among adolescents with mathematics difficulties and low mathematics performance should be investigated. Classroom mechanisms, such as teacher support, could relate to achievement emotions. So, it is important to investigate whether special education support is associated with adolescents’ achievement emotions. Such investigation will help generate support for adolescents’ mathematics learning. The three studies (I–III) constructing the current dissertation examined adolescents’ EF problems and mathematics-related achievement emotions. Study I examined EF problems, and study II examined emotions among adolescents with mathematics difficulties (the weakest 10%), low mathematics performance (low level 10–25%), and average or higher mathematics scores. Study III investigated relationships between special education support and emotions when controlling for mathematics performance, gender, and class size. Specifically, study III investigated emotions among adolescents receiving special education support in special education (self-contained) and in general mathematics classrooms. Study III also investigated whether the proportion of adolescents receiving special education support in general mathematics classrooms is associated with the emotions of those receiving no special education support. In study I, a teacher rating inventory was used to assess adolescents’ EF problems with distractibility, impulsivity, hyperactivity, directing attention, sustaining attention, shifting attention, initiative, planning, execution, and evaluation. In studies I and II, a student-reported questionnaire was used to assess mathematics-related enjoyment, pride, anger, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, and boredom. The results showed that adolescents with mathematics difficulties had more problems with several EFs and reported to experience less positive and more negative emotions than those with average or higher scores. However, the differences in hyperactivity, impulsivity, and boredom were not significant. Those with mathematics difficulties had even more problems with several EFs and reported more shame than those with low mathematics performance. Adolescents with low mathematics performance only had shifting attention problems but reported less positive and more negative emotions than those with average or higher scores. These results revealed that various EF problems, excluding hyperactivity and impulsivity, are typical of those with mathematics difficulties, while negative emotions were characteristic of both adolescents with mathematics difficulties and those with low mathematics performance. The results also showed that both females and males with mathematics difficulties had several EF problems, but there was gender variation in emotions across performance groups. Mainly females with mathematics difficulties reported negative emotions such as low pride and enjoyment and high hopelessness. Mainly males with low mathematics performance reported negative emotions such as high anger, anxiety, and hopelessness. The results also showed that adolescents receiving special education support in general mathematics classrooms reported less positive and more negative emotions than those receiving special education support in self-contained classrooms. Even adolescents receiving no special education support reported more anxiety, hopelessness, and boredom when the proportion of classmates receiving special education support was higher in general classrooms. The results suggest that both males and females with mathematics difficulties need comprehensive support for EF problems. Adolescents with mathematics difficulties and low performance also need comprehensive support for achievement emotions. In fact, the results indicated that special education support in self-contained classrooms might be a central way to support the achievement emotions of adolescents struggling with mathematics. In turn, special education support in general classrooms did not necessarily support achievement emotions. To implement inclusion (i.e., serving all students in general classrooms) educators and policymakers should develop practical solutions that support the achievement emotions of students in general classrooms.Matematiikan opiskeluun liittyy moninaisia tunteita, kuten nautintoa ja ylpeyttä, mutta toisaalta myös ahdistusta, vihaa ja toivottomuutta. Matematiikan oppimiseen voi tunteiden lisäksi vaikuttaa myös oppilaan toiminnanohjauspulmat kuten pulmat tarkkaavaisuudessa, aloitteellisuudessa, suunnittelussa ja impulsiivisuudessa. Tämä tutkimus selvitti, millaisia matematiikkaan liittyviä tunteita ja toiminnanohjauksen pulmia esiintyy matematiikassa hyvin tai heikommin menestyvillä nuorilla ja miten tunteet liittyvät matematiikan erityisopetuksen järjestelyihin erityisopetusluokassa tai yleisopetusluokassa. Tulokset osoittivat, että nuoret tyypillisimmin kokevat matematiikan tylsäksi riippumatta heidän matematiikan suoritustasostaan. Lisäksi matematiikassa heikot oppilaat kokevat paljon muitakin negatiivisia tunteita. Sekä tytöillä että pojilla, joilla on oppimisvaikeuksia matematiikassa, on pulmia myös toiminnanohjauksessa, kuten tarkkaavuudessa ja aloitteellisuudessa. Hyperaktiivisuus ja impulsiivisuus eivät sen sijaan tyypillisesti liity matematiikan oppimisvaikeuksiin. Tulokset osoittivat myös, että nuoret, jotka saavat matematiikan erityisopetustukea yleisopetusluokassa, kokevat enemmän negatiivia tunteita kuin nuoret, jotka opiskelevat erityisopetusluokassa. Jopa nuoret, jotka eivät saa erityisopetustukea, kokevat enemmän ahdistusta, toivottomuutta ja tylsyyttä inkluusioluokassa, jossa on paljon erityisopetusta tarvitsevia oppilaita. Kun inkluusiota toteutetaan, eli tuetaan kaikkia oppilaita yleisopetusluokassa, kouluttajien ja päättäjien pitäisi kehittää käytännön ratkaisuja oppilaiden tunteiden tukemiseksi yleisopetusluokassa. Matematiikka-ahdistus voi johtaa matematiikan välttelyyn ja jopa koulupudokkuuteen. Oppimiseen liittyvät tunteet ovat keskeinen osa oppilaan hyvinvointia. Siksi jokaisen oppilaan pitää voida kokea matematiikan opiskelu mielekkääksi.
Subject: kasvatustiede
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