Primary pupils' perceptions of mathematical ability

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


There is increasing evidence that holding a growth-mindset in mathematics, and hence a belief in the capacity for change, pays dividends in terms of mathematical engagement and attainment. However, much mathematics education policy and practice in England is embedded in fixed-trait theories; a belief that some people can do mathematics and some people cannot. Drawing on a wider mixed-methods study involving 284 pupils and 13 teachers in two primary schools, this research used attitudinal questionnaire and interview data to identify pupils' prevailing mindsets in primary mathematics. Pupils were found to hold predominantly fixed-trait theories strongly grounded in a biological discourse. The potential implications of these perceptions are examined.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication9th Congress of European research in mathematics education
Place of PublicationPrague, Czech Republic
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Event9th Congress of European research in mathematics education - Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic, 4th-8th February 2015
Duration: 1 Feb 2016 → …


Conference9th Congress of European research in mathematics education
Period1/02/16 → …


  • primary mathematics
  • ability
  • growth-mindset
  • fixed-mindset


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