Beliefs and engagement structures: Behind the affective dimension of mathematical learning

Gerald A. Goldin, Yakov M. Epstein, Roberta Y. Schorr, Lisa B. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Beliefs influencing students' mathematical learning and problem solving are structured and intertwined with larger affective and cognitive structures. This theoretical article explores a psychological concept we term an engagement structure, with which beliefs are intertwined. Engagement structures are idealized, hypothetical constructs, analogous in many ways to cognitive structures. They describe complex "in the moment" affective and social interactions as students work on conceptually challenging mathematics. We present engagement structures in a self-contained way, paying special attention to their theoretical justification and relation to other constructs. We suggest how beliefs are characteristically woven into their fabric and influence their activation. The research is based on continuing studies of middle school students in inner-city classrooms in the USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-560
Number of pages14
JournalZDM - International Journal on Mathematics Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Mathematics(all)


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