Middle school students have been pervasively described in the research literature as exhibiting disaffection, disengagement, and a lack of interest in mathematics classrooms. This study investigated this notion empirically using students’ own voice on their wishes for mathematics learning to see if they characterise themselves in this way in their self-reports. Over 3500 Australian middle school students responded to a free-format prompt and reported diverse but overwhelmingly positive aspirations related to intrinsic motivational features inherent in their disposition and to extrinsic factors in their environment, such as the learning context and activities provided. Evidence of all four goal orientations was found in the students’ responses but most noticeably for the productive mastery-approach orientation. When these students described what they wish for in their mathematics classrooms, they mentioned challenging work, interesting work, and opportunities to collaborate.
- Goal orientations
- Middle school mathematics