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Educators and government administrators are keen to find interventions to change the rapidly declining enrollments in senior high school mathematics. In 2012, PISA introduced measures to examine the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), a prominent theory from social psychology for encouraging changes in behavior (and perhaps mathematics enrollments). This paper sought to examine the applicability of the TPB for predicting the relationship between students’ intentions, their mathematics attitudes, subject norms, perceived controllability and self-efficacy as well as their mathematics behaviour, using items created by PISA 2012 question designers to assess these TPB constructs. Australian PISA 2012 data from 14,481 students found that the hypothesized TPB antecedents for studying mathematics were very poor predictors of mathematical intentions and indirectly, weak predictors of mathematical behaviour. The Attitudes factor i.e. an interest in mathematics, was found to be the strongest predictor of mathematical intentions. The poor predictive capacity of the TPB was proposed to have been due to ill-defined indicator items in the PISA 2012 measuring instruments, which did not comply with the TPB’s principles of compatibility and aggregation. Future studies testing the TPB in the context of studying mathematics would benefit from undertaking Elicitation studies to identify appropriate TPB antecedents and indicators of the mathematics behaviour being targeted.


School of Education

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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