Factors that promote interest and engagement in learning mathematics for low-achieving primary students across three learning settings

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This study explored the mathematics engagement of Australian primary students who currently struggle with mathematics learning and who participated in an intervention program. The research aimed to identify the elements that facilitated their engagement across three learning settings that they experienced concurrently: their Extending Mathematical Understanding (EMU) intervention lessons, classroom mathematics lessons, and home mathematics learning. A model of mathematics engagement comprising facilitators, indicators, and consequences of engagement was used to guide the data analysis process. By examining variation in results for these three categories of engagement, we draw tentative conclusions about how the settings contribute to the students’ motivation to learn mathematics and their interest and engagement. The findings identified several key facilitators of mathematics engagement for students who struggle with mathematics. These included tasks and mathematical games, using number lines to represent whole numbers, and being offered a range of mathematics content beyond the number domain. Also important was the social aspect of learning including having supportive family members, peers, and teachers during mathematics learning activities, working with others, and being helped. Each of the three settings explored through the study differed with respect to the factors that most promoted the students’ interest and engagement. The findings provide teachers and researchers with a deeper understanding of the contextual features that facilitate engagement for students who currently struggle with learning mathematics. These facilitators of engagement can assist teachers to design more effective classroom practices and small group interventions, as well as help families to support their children’s mathematics learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-556
Number of pages32
JournalMathematics Education Research Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Engagement
  • Interest
  • Learning settings
  • Low achievement in mathematics
  • Mathematics intervention
  • Motivation

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