Learners’ awareness of their emotions and their engagement with mathematics tasks in a mathematics club

  • Jeanne-Mari Frenzel The University of the Witwatersrand
  • Christine Erna Lampen Stellenbosch University
  • Karin Brodie Wits School of Education



The role and influence of emotional experiences while working on mathematics tasks on learners’ decisions to engage or disengage is underresearched in South Africa. Cognitive education research points increasingly to the importance of emotional intelligence in cognitive activities. In this paper we describe the use of an emotions naming tool in a mathematics club setting with Grade 8 learners to help them gain more accurate awareness of their emotional experiences during tasks. We used observations, questionnaires and interviews to gather data about the learners’ awareness of emotions and their engagement and perseverance with mathematics tasks. Our results with this small group of learners indicate that consciousness about emotions through access to emotions vocabulary has positive influence on learners’ motivation for mathematical engagement, but that the expected social consequences of engagement in emotionally risky classrooms vitiate the personal gains.

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