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Table 1 Examples of students’ reasons for choosing or rejecting mathematics

From: Students’ reasons for STEM choices and the relationship of mathematics choice to university admission

Reason categoriesAdvanced mathematicsBasic mathematics
ChoosingRejectingChoosingRejecting
Usefulness: Useful for future studies, career, lifeIt is necessary for entering my preferred future study place. Also, I think in the future it is neededAdvanced mathematics is not useful for me and I will not need it in the futureIn basic mathematics there is enough information for me. I’ll get good grades in basic mathematics course, so it keeps my study motivation highI wanted to enter a good profession by sc. easy way
Advice: Peer, family, friend, teacher adviceSome friends recommended it and said it is not that difficult. And it is notMy student counselor recommended me to take the basic mathematics due to my previous grades[no responses]My relatives recommended me to take the advanced mathematics courses
Enjoyment, Interest: Enjoys/doesn’t enjoyIt appeared like a challenge worth of taking. I find mathematics also a rewarding subjectI did not find mathematics interesting, and I did not feel studying it comfortable or necessaryDuring the first course I felt that things were very difficult, and it is not worth trying to even start the advanced mathematicsBecause I felt that basic mathematics might be too easy, and I want to challenge myself and take the advanced mathematics courses
Logistics: Fits better with students’ study plan or timetableI did not want to take advanced English test, so I chose advanced mathematicsI don’t have the strength to take 14 courses of a subject that I did not find interesting. I’d rather take basic math, which gives me good grades and learning is much nicerIt suited my needs better and gives me more time to better study those subjects I am interested inI wanted to try the advanced courses first; it is possible to switch back to basic math courses if I want
Self-efficacy, Ability, CompetenceI think I am rather good in mathematics, and I wanted to learn moreBecause I am not good in mathematics, I would have not made it in the advanced mathematics coursesThe advanced mathematics would have been too challenging and stressful for meI am good in mathematics, and short mathematics seemed to be easy
Teaching: Methods, style, teacher likeable or dislikeableIn our school the teacher of advanced mathematics is better than the teacher of basic mathematicsThe first course seemed difficult, because the topics were not explained properlyI didn’t like the flipped class method in the advanced mathematicsI don’t like the basic math teacher and I wanted to challenge myself in the advanced mathematics