Perseverance, or initiating and sustaining productive struggle in the face of obstacles, promotes making sense of mathematics. Yet, engaging in struggle can be grueling and is avoided by some students, and little is known about if and how student perseverance can improve over time. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of scaffolding mathematics tasks on student perseverance over the course of six weeks. The results showed that prompting secondary students to conceptualize a mathematical situation prior to problem-solving can encourage re-initiating and re-sustaining mathematically productive effort upon reaching an impasse. Further, encouraging such conceptualization work often improved students’ selection of problem-solving strategies and affect regulation over time, suggesting the malleability of perseverance. For learning mathematics with understanding, these findings suggest supportive learning environments that provide consistent opportunities for students to practice (and improve) their perseverance in problem-solving.
- Problem solving
- Secondary mathematics