Interventions to Increase Interest in Mathematics


The long-term objective is to make mathematics and science at school an exciting experience that boosts interest. To this purpose, we have developed example choice as an intervention to increase interest. This intervention is derived from social psychological principles. Besides example choice, we examine different other interventions.


A first study on example choice for learning a psychological principle has been published in 2009. We observed that example choice increases short-term interest in mathematics but does neither increase nor decrease learning outcomes. Follow-up studies confirm this pattern of results for mathematics teaching and show that example choice is especially effective with middle school students who have low interest in mathematics.


Example choice can be derived from principles of choice and sense autonomy, as postulated by Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory and can be embedded in Mindfulness Theory.


This project has been funded by the Utdanning2020-program of the Norwegian Research Council.


We collaborate in this project with:

  • Judith Harackiewicz, University of Wisconsin

  • Matthias Stadler, University of Bergen

  • Marina Hirnstein, University of Bergen (PhD-student)

  • Sigve Høgheim, University of Bergen (PhD-student)


We use online survey and experiment software, like SurveyXact and Qualtrics. The studies have been conducted with students and middle school pupils in the laboratory, in school computer rooms and online homework.

Interested to Read More?

Reber, R. (2014). Mindfulness in education. In A. Ie, C. Ngnoumen, & E. Langer (Eds.), Handbook of mindfulness (pp. 1054-1070). Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Reber, R., Hetland, H., Chen, W., Norman, E., & Kobbeltvedt, T. (2009). Effects of example choice on interest, control, and learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 18, 509-548.

Published Mar. 20, 2015 3:04 PM - Last modified Mar. 20, 2015 3:04 PM