Affect and meta-affect in mathematical problem solving: A representational perspective

Valerie A. Debellis, Gerald A. Goldin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


We discuss a research-based theoretical framework based on affect as an internal representational system. Key ideas include the concepts of meta-affect and affective structures, and the constructs of mathematical intimacy and mathematical integrity. We understand these as fundamental to powerful mathematical problem solving, and deserving of closer attention by educators. In a study of elementary school children we characterize some features of emotional states inferred from individual problem solving behavior, including interactions between affect and cognition. We describe our methodology, illustrating theoretical ideas with brief qualitative examples from a longitudinal series of task-based interviews.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-147
Number of pages17
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Mathematics(all)


  • Affect and cognition
  • Affective structures
  • Attitudes
  • Beliefs
  • Emotions
  • Mathematical integrity
  • Mathematical intimacy
  • Mathematical problem solving
  • Meta-affect
  • Representational systems
  • Values


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