Math Attitudes and Interests of Adult Science Cafe Participants

January 1st, 2014 | RESEARCH

Negative attitudes toward math, characterized in part by dislike of, disinterest in, and low self-confidence in math, are so pervasive in the United States as to have become socially acceptable. Some science centers, as institutions dedicated to inspiring interest in STEM fields, have incorporated more opportunities for visitors to engage with math, but such exhibits and programs have been designed mainly for children and family groups. This mixed methods study examines the math-related attitudes and interests of participants in a popular form of science center-sponsored program for adults, the science café. Findings suggest that science café audiences may be receptive to the introduction of increased math content and math-related topics into the program format. Most participants indicated moderate to high self-confidence in math and high value of participating in math-based learning activities, particularly as a benefit to brain health. Moreover, the majority of participants indicated significant interest in hearing about applied mathematics topics in science cafés, with greatest interest in math as it relates to the arts. Participants preferred math-related topics that are relevant, unexpected and personally valuable, as well as those that provide a unique learning opportunity and are within their perceived level of math ability. These findings may be useful to science café organizers and science center professionals looking to incorporate more math-based content into their programs in a way that is enjoyable, relevant and interesting for adult audiences.


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Team Members

Anna Johnson, Author, University of Washington
kris morrissey, Contributor, University of Washington

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Audience: Adults | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Mathematics
Resource Type: Research Products | Thesis
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Public Events and Festivals | Public Programs