Community college students' views on learning mathematics in terms of their epistemological beliefs: A Q method study

Denna L. Wheeler, Diane Montgomery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to explore the views of students enrolled at a small United States Midwestern community college toward learning mathematics, and to examine the relationship between student beliefs about mathematics learning and educational experiences with mathematics using Q methodology and open-ended response prompts. Schommer's (Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 495-504, 1990) multidimensional theory of personal epistemology provided the structural framework for the development of 36 domain specific Q sort statements. Analysis of the data revealed three distinct but related views of learning mathematics which were labeled Active Learners, Skeptical Learners, and Confident Learners. Chi-square tests of independence revealed no significant differences based on gender. Additionally, there was no evidence for differences based on level of mathematics completed, age, or college hours accumulated. Student's previous experiences in instructional environments, however, were closely associated with beliefs. Results are discussed in view of the implications for establishing learning environments and considerations in implementing Standards-based curricula in higher education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-306
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 8 Apr 2009



  • Community college
  • Mathematics beliefs
  • Mathematics instruction
  • Personal epistemology
  • Q methodology

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