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Effects of two types of numerical problems on the emotions experienced in adults and in 9-year-old children

Published inPloS one, vol. 18, no. 11, p. e0289027
Publication date2023-11-29
First online date2023-11-29
Abstract

It is widely acknowledged that emotions and cognition are closely related, and that negative emotions are detrimental on school achievement, especially on mathematical performance. On the other hand, positive emotions have a positive impact on motivation and cognitive abilities underlying the learning processes. Nevertheless, studies about the effects of experienced emotions on problem solving, a specific type of mathematical activity, are sparse. The present research focuses on experienced epistemic and achievement emotions after the resolution of two types of numerical word problems: the application problems , that requires the use of a specific and expected algorithm to be solved and are regularly proposed at school; and the non-application problems , which cannot be solved directly but using different solving strategies. This type of numerical word problems appears less frequently in French school curricula. In experiment 1, 105 adults (M = 24.4 years), of which the majority was university students, were involved in an online experiment with APs and NAPs problems and were asked to rate their experienced emotions after the resolution of the problems. In experiment 2, 65 children aged 9-year-old were asked to individually solve APs and NAPs problems with age-appropriate difficulty and then rate their associated emotions. The adults’ sample reported higher epistemic and achievement positive emotions towards APs compared to NAPs. In both adults and children NAPs were more associated to surprise than APs. In children anxiety was more experienced after resolution of NAPs than APs. Results suggest the importance of varying the types of problems proposed in school curricula so that children become accustomed to using different solving strategies. This approach could be useful in decreasing negative emotions toward mathematics such as anxiety, which begins to settle as early as elementary school.

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Citation (ISO format)
LIVERANI, Maria Chiara et al. Effects of two types of numerical problems on the emotions experienced in adults and in 9-year-old children. In: PloS one, 2023, vol. 18, n° 11, p. e0289027. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0289027
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