Macquarie University
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Understanding mathematical self-efficacy: student approaches to learning and conceptions of mathematics in learning mathematics

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posted on 2022-03-28, 11:21 authored by Priscilla Murphy-Too
My research provides a unique contribution to the field of mathematics education by advancing our understanding of the nature of mathematical self-efficacy, student approaches to learning, and conceptions of mathematics. Influenced by theoretical frameworks of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977, 1997), student approaches to learning (Biggs, 1987; Marton & Säljö, 1976, 2005) and students' mathematics-related beliefs (Op't Eynde, De Corte, & Verschaffel, 2002), my research aims to investigate the nature of and inter-relations of these constructs with examination performance. This research is important because successful completion of mathematics courses is a priority for higher education providers, whose goals are to improve mathematical skills and knowledge in business, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. This thesis incorporates three studies in Australia and New Zealand. Surveys are carried out with around 300 engineering and business students who study mathematics courses as service subjects. Three noteworthy findings would be of relevance to lecturers: firstly, that strong mathematical performance is predicted by mathematical self-efficacy (Study 1; N=67), secondly, that successful mathematics performance is strongly associated with deep approaches to learning, organised approaches to learning, and a cohesive conception of mathematics (Study 2; N=291), and thirdly, a low-level secondary mathematics education is associated with high examination scores in first-year mathematics courses (Study 3; N=73). These research findings would have practical implications on the development of mathematical self-efficacy, guided mastery experiences, deep learning strategies, real-life applications of mathematics, and authentic assessments for higher education students.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Literature review -- Chapter 3. Methodology -- Chapter 4. Research portfolio -- Chapter 5. Discussion -- Chapter 6. Conclusion.


Bibliography: pages 132-143 Empirical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Business and Economics, Department of Marketing

Department, Centre or School

Department of Marketing

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Leigh N. Wood

Additional Supervisor 1

Leanne Carter

Additional Supervisor 2

Jennifer MacPherson


Copyright Priscilla Murphy-Too 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




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