A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Examining learners’ illustrations to understand Attitudes towards Mathematics


  • Farhat Syyeda University of Leicester
  • Farhat Syyeda University of Leicester




visual data, images/drawings, case study, attitudes, affect, cognition


This article presents my experience of using pictures/images drawn by children as a form of data in research and discusses the merits and implications of employing this method. It comes from research of a mixed method exploratory case study to investigate the attitudes of 11 and 15 year old secondary school students (in the East Midlands) towards Mathematics. The aim of this research was to gain an insight into the emotions, cognition, beliefs and behaviour of learners regarding Maths and the factors which influence their attitude. Besides using the tried and tested data collection tools such as focus groups and questionnaires, the children were asked to draw pictures illustrating their vision of Maths and its impact on their lives. The idea was to offer them an alternative medium of communication to exhibit their feelings and thoughts. Students used emoticons, numerals, figures, characters and mathematical symbols to show their favourable/unfavourable attitudes towards Maths and their understanding of the importance of Maths in future life. The results of visual data in this study conform to the findings of the other forms of data collected and show that boys and higher ability students have a more positive attitude towards Mathematics as compared to girls and low ability students.


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Diagram of how children understand maths






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