A Comparative Study of Students Attitudes towards Mathematics in Two Different School Systems

  • Mark Prendergast University of Dublin
  • Zhang Hongning University of Technology


Much research has been carried out in the history of mathematics education to find the factors that influence student achievement in the subject. Among these factors, student attitude towards mathematics has been consistently studied. There has often been a correlation found between students’ attitudes and their achievement. In recent years Chinese students have consistently scored in the top band in mathematics international comparison tests while Irish students have been ranked at either side of the average mark. This study is in part motivated to explain why Chinese students appear to do so well in these international comparisons and whether differences in students’ attitudes may play a key role. The attitudes towards mathematics of a cohort of 15 to 16 year old students in two selected schools in Ireland and China will be compared. This is a sample of students from one school in each country and so caution should be applied and the results should not be generalised. However there are some noteworthy findings which upon further investigation may have implications for policy makers and mathematics educators in both countries.