Challenging Students' Beliefs about Mathematics: A Liberal Arts Approach


  • John Paul Cook Oklahoma State University
  • Christopher Garneau University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma


transformative learning, mathematics education, beliefs about mathematics


In this teaching notes article, we discuss our efforts in a liberal arts mathematics class to engender tranformative learning regarding students' beliefs about mathematics.  Specifically, we report on our overall approach as well as course readings and projects that we believe contributed to this goal.  We situate our approach within Mezirow's characterization of transformative learning and coordinate with the mathematics education literature.

Author Biographies

John Paul Cook, Oklahoma State University

Assistant Professor

Department of Mathematics


Christopher Garneau, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

Assistant Professor

Department of Sociology


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Chick, H. (1999). Jumping to conclusions: Data interpretation by young adults. In Making the difference. Proceedings of the 22nd annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. 151-157).

Cobb, P. (1999). Individual and collective mathematical development: The case of statistical data analysis. Mathematical thinking and learning, 1(1), 5-43.

Dudley, U. (1997). Is mathematics necessary? The College Mathematics Journal, 28(5), 360-364.

Garfield, J. (1995). How students learn statistics. International Statistical Review/Revue Internationale de Statistique, 25-34.

Ellenberg, J. (2014). How not to be wrong: The power of mathematical thinking. Penguin.

Mezirow, J. (2003). Transformative learning as discourse. Journal of transformative education, 1(1), 58-63.

Schoenfeld, A. H. (1992). Learning to think mathematically: Problem solving, metacognition, and sense making in mathematics. Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning, 334-370.

Silver, N. (2012). The signal and the noise: Why so many predictions fail-but some don't. Penguin.

Szydlik, S. D. (2013). Beliefs of liberal arts mathematics students regarding the nature of mathematics. Teaching mathematics and its applications, 32(3), 95-111.






Teaching Notes