Mathematical Dispositions Scale: Part 2

Posted on October 14, 2010. Filed under: Mathematical Proficiency | Tags: |


  • It is important that we as educators have the language to describe the mathematical dispositions of our students. The Center for Language in Learning (2002)  has created a scale to describe the mathematical dispositions of our students www.fairtest.org/files/LR%20-%20Math_Disposition.pdf .  There are 5 levels.  Look at these levels (see summary below and click on above link for original chart). Think first about where you fall and then where your students fall.  How will you address this in your teaching this year?

Level 1 :

  • Lacks confidence
  • Lacks strategies
  • Doesn’t persevere
  • Gives up easily
  • Needs lots of guidance
  • Has trouble explaining their thinking
  • Avoids math

Level 2

  • Limited confidence
    Doesn’t persevere
    Needs lots of encouragement to do the math
    Needs scaffolding to participate in discussions
    Limited strategies
    Not good with explaining the math
    Usually avoids math

Level 3:

  • Confidence and persistence vary with task
  • Still hesitant about asking for help
  • With scaffolding can think about more than one strategy
  • Responds to prompts
  • Can describe the math
  • Math notation correct
  • Uses Math Vocabulary
  • Can engage in mathematical conversations with others

Level 4:

  • Usually confident
  • Persistent in solving problems
  • Thinks about the math
  • Has some strategic competence
  • Responds to prompts
  • Willing to admit to  “being  fuzzy”
  • Asks for help
  • Can give mathematical explanations
  • Engages in mathematical discussions

Level 5:

  • Confident
  • Persistent
  • Flexible thinker
  • Has high levels of strategic competence
  • Can explain
  • Engages in deep discussion
  • Understands self as a learner
  • Seeks assistance when confused
  • Can write clearly about the math
  • Sees the big picture and can make connections and generalizations
  • Seeks to do some math on their own

About how many students do you have in each level?  What do you do about moving students to higher levels?  What does that look like when it is well done?  How does it influence our instructional strategies and daily engagement with our students?  I’m thinking about these questions for my own pedagogy.  Please send me your thoughts.

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One Response to “Mathematical Dispositions Scale: Part 2”

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Greetings – You certainly have given me something to think about. So often we look at the students in our classes and have no idea about their mathematical experiences or their thoughts about learning math. I am also thinking that students will evolve to the next level in several ways: 1) Making teachers aware that each student HAS a mathematical disposition ( professional discussion) 2) A quick mathematical disposition survey (call it something else) and 3) small group instruction to encourage all levels. There are strategies you have so generously provided to support this (ie accountable talk, problem solving strategies etc.) Teachers need to reflect first, then the students will benefit. Thank you once again. Fabulous.


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