“Easy vs difficult” mathematics in 9^{th} and 10^{th} grade in Spain: How most students run away from Mathematics as much as they can?

**Lidon Moliner ^{1}*, Francisco Alegre^{2}, Gil Lorenzo-Valentin^{3}**

^{1}Dr. Lidon Moliner, Universitat Jaume I, SPAIN, mmoliner@uji.es

^{2} Dr. Francisco Alegre, Universitat Jaume I, SPAIN, falegre@uji.es

^{3}Dr. Gil Lorenzo-Valentin, Universitat Jaume I, SPAIN, valentin@uji.es

*Corresponding Author

**Abstract**

9^{th} and 10^{th} grade are the two last compulsory educational levels in Spain. In these levels, students can choose to take two different types of Mathematics subject. The first one, regarded by them as “difficult” are called “academic mathematics” and should be chosen by any student who wants to go to college. The second one, regarded by them as “easy” are called “applied mathematics” and should be chosen by those students who struggle in Mathematics and do not want to take 11^{th} and 12^{th} grade. During the last years the increase of students that choose applied mathematics has risen significantly. This research is aimed at understanding why 9^{th} and 10^{th} grade students are switching to the “applied mathematics” option. Twelve students from grades 9th and 10th participated in the study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each of them. Results indicate that the legal options to go to college without taking “academic mathematics” and the previous difficulties they experienced in mathematics are the main reasons why every time more and more students choose “applied mathematics”. Academic mathematics, even though they provide students with a deeper knowledge in the subject which is potentially useful for their academic and professional future, most of the times are only chosen by those students who have a great attitude towards mathematics or who really need to take mathematics in 11^{th} and 12^{th} grade to access the college grades they want to apply for. The main conclusion is that a national legal reform is needed regarding these two options.

**Keywords**: mathematics education, Spain, secondary education

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