Investigation of Finnish and German 9th grade students’ personal meaning with relation to mathematics
This study focuses on a comparison of personal meanings that students from Finland (FIN) and Germany (GER) assign to (learning) mathematics. Participants are 256 Finnish and 276 German ninth graders. The survey consists of 18 scales that are based on the theory of personal meaning. The original German version was translated into Finnish. Using item response theory (IRT) partial credit models, the psychometric properties of the scales were found to be good. As statistical procedure, Differential Item Functioning (DIF) analysis and mean comparisons were conducted to compare the two groups’ (FIN and GER) responses. Indicators of educational system and curriculum could be found in students’ responses to explain similarities and differences between the two samples. In both countries, social inclusion is meaningful for most of the students (Support by teacher, Experience of relatedness, and Emotional-affective relation to teacher). In addition, it is personally meaningful for Finnish students to do well in mathematics. This shows a link to identity-related questions such as confirming important aspects of the self. Hence, personal meanings related to mathematics are more common in Finland than in Germany (Active practice of mathematics, Cognitive challenge, and Self-perfection).
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