University of Sussex

File(s) under permanent embargo

Mathematics, mastery and metacognition: how adding a creative approach can support children in maths

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 04:47 authored by Victoria Bonnett, Nicola YuillNicola Yuill, Amanda Carr
Background: Children who hold an incremental view of ability show greater perseverance, improved help-seeking skills and are better able to cope with unexpected challenges. Classroom instruction can influence how children view themselves as learners. Aim: To explore how mastery-orientated classroom instruction, collaborative learning and metacognitive reflection can foster learners’ attitudes to their task performance. We hypothesised that using a mastery-oriented approach within a mathematics curriculum encourages metacognition, improves motivation and helps children achieve an underlying understanding of mathematical concepts thus improving mathematics performance. Method: This paper reports an 11-week project aiming to embed problem-solving strategies within a mastery-oriented whole-class environment. Children completed pre- and post-task semi-structured interviews and maths problems in addition to the 11-week collaborative maths project. Participants were 24 children from a rural primary school in East Sussex, 12 boys and 12 girls (mean age 8 years and 9 months). The interviews are presented qualitatively and a repeated measures analysis of variance on mathematics motivation and performance was conducted. Findings: The learners showed increased metacognitive reflection on learning strategies as well as increases in girls’ motivation for mathematics. Limitations: This is a small sample size and, being conducted within a typical everyday classroom, there were several uncontrolled variables. Although change was evident in both attitude and maths scores, it was difficult to apportion added value to the different variables contributing to the change in maths scores. Conclusions: Challenging children perceptions of mathematics encouraged greater self-reflection and increased motivation for girls.


Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Published version


Educational and Child Psychology




British Psychological Society





Page range


Department affiliated with

  • Psychology Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Publications)


    No categories selected