Bibliotherapy: A Framework for Understanding Pre-Service Primary Teachers’ Affective Responses to Learning and Teaching Mathematics

Sue Wilson, Steve Thornton


This paper advocates bibliotherapy as a powerful tool through which teacher educators can analyze and interpret the affective responses of pre-service primary teachers. Pre-service teachers analyzed readings about school students’ learning, and reflected on and reconstructed their understanding of their own school experiences. This process facilitated a meta-affective change that enabled the pre-service teachers to reconsider their assessment of their capacity to learn and understand mathematics. We describe this change using the stages of bibliotherapy. This change enabled the pre-service teachers to approach their future teaching of mathematics with greater enthusiasm, and empowered them to construct positive projective identities.


Affect; meta-affect; bibliotherapy; pre-service mathematics teacher education; projective identity; reflection

Full Text:



Aiex, N. (1996). Bibliotherapy. Available on line at

Ambrose, R. (2004). Initiating change in prospective elementary school teachers’ orientations to mathematics teaching by building on beliefs. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 7, 91-119.

Buerk, D. (1982). An experience with some able women who avoid mathematics. For the Learning of Mathematics, 3(2), 19-24.

Cornett, C., & Cornett, C. (1980). Bibliotherapy: The right book at the right time. Bloomington, Ind.: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.

DeBellis, V., & Goldin, G. (1997). The affective domain in mathematical problem-solving. In E. Pekhonen (Ed.) Proceedings of the 21st Annual Meeting of the International group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (Vol 2, pp. 209-216). Lahti, Finland:Univ. of Helsinki,

DeBellis, V. ,& Goldin, G. (2006). Affect and meta-affect in mathematical problem solving:a representational perspective. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 63(2), 131-147

Dossel, S. (1993). Maths anxiety. Australian Mathematics Teacher, 49(1), 4-8.

Ellsworth, J., & Buss, A. (2000). Autobiographical stories from preservice elementary mathematics and science students: Implications for K-16 teaching. School Science and Mathematics, 100(7), 355-364.

Flores, A., & Brittain, C. (2003).Writing to reflect in a mathematical methods course. Teaching Children Mathematics, 10(2), 112-118.

Forgan, J. (2002). Using bibliotherapy to teach problem solving. Intervention in School & Clinic, 38(2), 75-82.

Furner, J., & Duffy, M. (2002). Equity for all students in the new millennium: Disabling math anxiety. Intervention in School and Clinic, 38(2), 67-75.

Furner, J. & Gonzalez-DeHass, A. (2011). How do students’ mastery and performance goals relate to math anxiety? Eurasian Journal Of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 7(4), 227-242.

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about literacy and learning. New York:Palgrave Macmillan.

Goldin, G. (2002). Affect, meta-affect and mathematical belief structures. In G. Leder, E. Pehkonen& G. Törner (Eds.), Beliefs: A hidden variable in mathematics education (pp.59-72). Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Halstead, J. (1991). Guiding gifted readers. Melbourne: Hawker Brownlow Education.

Haylock, D. (2001). Mathematics explained for primary teachers. London: Paul Chapman.

Hebert, T., & Furner, J. (1997). Helping high ability students overcome maths anxiety through bibliotherapy. Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 8(4), 164-179.

Hembree, R. (1990). The nature, effects and relief of mathematics anxiety. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 21(1), 33-46.

Hendricks, C., Hendricks, J. & Cochran, L (1999). Using literacy conversations for healing:The significant conversationalists. American Reading Forum Online Yearbook Vol


Jung, C. (1977). Memories, dreams, reflections (R. Winston & C. Winston, Trans.). Great Britain: Collins Fount Paperbacks.

Marlowe, M.,&Maycock, G. (2000). Phenomenology of bibliotherapy in modifying teacher punitiveness. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 161(3), 325-336

Martin, L. (2002). Using books to heal and enthuse gifted students. Gifted,123, 34-35.

McTague, K. (1998). Children's literature: Bibliotherapy and learning problems. Unpublished Masters’ Dissertation. Kean University of New Jersey.

Morawski, C. (1997). A role for bibliotherapy in teacher education. Reading Horizons, 37(3), 243-259.

Morawski, C., & Gilbert, J. (2000). Developmental interactive bibliotherapy. College Teaching, 48(3), 108-114.

Pajares, M. (1992) Teachers’ beliefs and education research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research,62(3) 301-332.

Reys, R., Lindquist, M., Lambdin, D., Smith, N. & Suydam, M. (2002). Helping Children Learn Mathematics. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Rizza, M. (1997). A parent's guide to helping children: Using bibliotherapy at home.

Schuck, S., & Grootenboer, P. (2004). Affective issues in mathematics education. In B. Perry, G. Anthony & C. Diezmann (Eds.), Research in mathematics education in Australasia 2000-2003 (pp. 53-74).Flaxton, Qld: Post Pressed.

Skemp, R. (1976). Relational understanding and instrumental understanding. Mathematics Teaching, 77, 20-26.

Sliva, J., & Roddick, C. (2001). Mathematicsautobiographies: A window into beliefs, values, and past mathematics experiences of preservice teachers. Academic Exchange Quarterly,5(2), 101-107.

Sullivan, A., & Strang, H. (2003). Bibliotherapy in the classroom: Using literature to promote the development of emotional intelligence. Childhood Education, 79(2), 74-80.

Thompson, A. (1992). Teachers' beliefs and conceptions: A synthesis of the research. In D. Grouws (Ed.), Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 127-146). New York: Macmillan.

Trujillo, K., & Hadfield, O. (1999). Tracing the roots of mathematics anxiety through in-depth interviews with pre-service elementary teachers. College Student Journal, 33(2), 219-232.

Walkerdine, V. (1990). Difference, cognition and mathematics education. For the Learning of Mathematics, 10(3), 51-56.

Wilson, S. (2012). Bibliotherapy: a powerful tool to address mathematics anxiety in preservice primary teachers. In A. L. White & U. H.Cheah (Eds.), Transforming School Mathematics Education In the 21st Century. (pp. 317 - 329). Penang: SEAMEO RECSAM.

Wilson, S., & Thornton, S. (2005). The year in which my love of maths changed: Pre-service primary teachers' self-image as mathematicians. In M. Coupland, J. Anderson & T. Spencer (Eds.), Making Mathematics Vital: Proceedings of the 20th biennial conference of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers(pp.268-274). AAMT: Adelaide.

Wilson, S. & Thornton, S (2006). To heal and enthuse: Developmental bibliotherapy and preservice primary teachers' reflections on learning and teaching mathematics. In P. Grootenboer, R. Zevenbergen & M. Chinnappan (Eds.), Identities, Cultures and Learning Spaces: Proceedings of the 29th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. 36-44). AAMT: Adelaide.

Wilson, S. & Thornton, S. (2008) “The factor that makes us more effective teachers”: Two pre-service primary teachers’ experience of bibliotherapy. Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, 9, 21-35

Zevenbergen, R. (2000). "Cracking the code" of mathematics classrooms: School success as a function of linguistic, social, and cultural background. In J. Boaler (Ed.), Multiple perspectives on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 201-224). Westport, CT: Ablex.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Indexed by:


Southeast Asian Mathematics Education Journal
SEAMEO Regional Centre for QITEP in Mathematics
Jl. Kaliurang Km 6, Sambisari, Condongcatur, Depok, Sleman
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Telp. +62 274 889955

p-ISSN: 2089-4716 | e-ISSN: 2721-8546

Southeast Asian Mathematics Education Journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

View My Stats

 Supported by: