Summer 2007     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 11, Issue 2     Editorial
A broad understanding of mathematics—questions, applications, issues and operations
is an indispensable foundation for valid and effective participation 
in modern science, technology, and many other professions.  This broad 
understanding, therefore, is an unquestionable objective in the preparation of 
students in K-12 and higher education.  Results from the Third International 
Mathematics and Science Study found that the United States was the only nation 
that went from above average in fourth grade to below average in eighth grade.  
U.S. students do not start behind; they fall behind.  

While there is a widespread concern about the performance of students in 
mathematics, most attention to the subject has been in the form of higher 
expectations, testing programs and revised methodologies. Some of them, such 
as the NCTM standards, have provoked considerable controversy.  Clearly, there 
has been insufficient attention to the attitudes of students about mathematics, 
although there has been much attention to their performance, errors and test 
scores.  As a political or pedagogical issue, improvement is often debated as 
simply matter of methodology.  Rather than merely concentrating on changing the 
textbook or the approach, perhaps there are more significant and subtle factors 
inherent in the attitudes of students themselves that must be more seriously 
investigated and taken into account.

If a student's self-perceived ability is critical to success and a predictor of 
failure or achievement, then concern about students' attitudes must be elevated.  
Much more needs to be learned about how attitudes are formed and altered, and the 
best techniques for intervention and the stimulation of a sense of positive 
self-efficacy.  Bandura (1981) argued that judgments of self-efficacy are task 
specific, making them better predictors of success in a particular domain. 

What a person believes shapes behavior. Attitudes are prerequisite to knowledge 
and skill acquisition in a domain, because they affect what a person does and how 
he or she perceives related issues. Attitudes emerge out of a complex of experiences, 
but this is rarely considered in the selection or preparation of teachers of 
mathematics.  While it may be expected that people who major in mathematics may have 
favorable attitudes about the subject, the attitudes of K-12 teachers who must teach 
mathematics are disregarded, especially at the elementary level. The curriculum is 
in the hands of the teachers who must implement instruction. 

Research about mathematics and the investigation of attitudes toward mathematics 
must continue in order to determine the effectiveness of current and proposed 
reforms and to evaluate the success of programs that are implemented in the K-12 
and higher education curricula.  This special edition of research about mathematics 
education presents research articles across a broad range of  elementary and 
postsecondary education topics, including current interest in math anxiety, 
mathematical thinking, contextual learning, parental influence, computer-assisted 
instruction, curriculum, attitudes, problem-solving, and statistics.  It is hoped 
that these articles will spark a continued, much-needed interest in this important 
field and highlight the efforts of researchers who are engaged in important 
endeavors that may otherwise go unnoticed.  
Martha Tapia
Berry College

Anna C. McFadden
The University of Alabama

John J. Ketterer
Jacksonville State University

CFP for the next issue Mathematics Summer 2008.