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Spatial Visualization, Attitudes Toward Mathematics, And Mathematics Achievement Among Chinese-American, Hispanic-American, And Caucasian Seventh And Eighth Grade Students

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Many studies have shown that spatial visualization and attitudes toward mathematics are positively and significantly correlated to achievement in mathematics. This study attempted to find out whether these relationships remain consistent across various ethnic groups. This study also attempted to ascertain if spatial visualization ability and attitudes toward mathematics vary among ethnic groups, and if these possible variabilities correspond to the different degrees of mathematical achievement. One hundred five 7th and 8th grade Caucasian, Chinese-American, and Hispanic-American students were selected from three of the five middle schools in the Stockton Unified School District to participate in this study. The DAT Space Relations Test, the Fennema-Sherman mathematics Attitude Scales, and the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills were administered to the students in the Spring of 1985 to assess spatial visualization ability, attitudes toward mathematics, and achievement in mathematics, respectively. The results indicated that Chinese-American students achieved significantly higher than Caucasian and Hispanic students in mathematics. The results of this study suggested that when English proficiency and family-income levels are controlled, Hispanic students (males and females combined) did not achieve at a significantly lower level than did Caucasian students as suggested in previous studies. Also when all three ethnic groups were combined, males achieved significantly higher than did females in mathematics. The data of the spatial visualization variable in this study indicated that Chinese-American males scored at a significantly higher level than did Chinese-American females. There was no significant sex difference in Caucasian and Hispanic groups. Students of both gender and all ethnic groups showed strongly positive attitudes toward mathematics. There were very few significant sex differences or ethnic differences in attitudes toward mathematics. There was a substantial correlation between spatial visualization and mathematics achievement. When all three ethnic groups were combined, females had a significantly higher correlation between mathematics achievement and spatial visualization than did males. Spatial visualization, ethnicity, and confidence of learning mathematics were significant predictors of mathematics achievement for the student population of this study.

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