It’s not What You Think: Perceptions Regarding the Usefulness of Mathematics May Hinder Performance

Adriana Espinosa


The present study investigated the moderating effect of self-confidence in one’s ability to learn mathematics on the relation between beliefs about its usefulness and performance. The study was conducted using a sample of college students from an urban college in the Eastern US (N = 306). Moderation was tested using hierarchical regressions as well as the Johnson-Neyman Technique. The results indicate that performance and beliefs about the usefulness of mathematics were not statistically related amongst individuals with high self-confidence, and negatively related for participants with low self-confidence. The findings suggest that teaching approaches aiming to improve student performance in mathematics by enhancing student beliefs about its usefulness, would likely be more effective if they primarily focused on increasing student self-confidence in their mathematics ability.


performance in mathematics; perceived usefulness of mathematics; self-confidence in mathematics ability

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