Knowledge of mathematics is significant for each society because mathematics “acts as a ‘gatekeeper’ to social progress” (Gates & Vistro-Yu, 2003, p. 32) and also a gateway for a good profession. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 was completed by approximately 540,000 15-year-old students and published in 2016 PISA report. The 2016 PISA report showed that among 72 countries and economies, Turkey lagged behind most of the countries, i.e., 49th in mathematics, 52nd in science and 50th in reading. Given the state of Turkey, the problems in education should be scrutinised across subjects, including maths. To address this apparent proven problem, we conducted research on vocational high school students (i.e., mostly disadvantaged students). To the best of our knowledge, Turkish students’ perceptions of success in mathematics who are studying in a vocational high school are under-researched. In light of this gap, the present longitudinal study sets out to investigate Turkish Vocational and Technical High School students’ perceptions as learners of mathematics to contribute to the literature (n=165). Open-ended questions were asked whether students believe that they are successful or unsuccessful and the underlying reasons why. The data were collected through a face-to-face structured interview and classroom observation. Among 165 vocational high school students, 61 of them believed that they were successful, 93 believed that they were unsuccessful and 11 students were hesitant. Reasons why students believed they are successful or unsuccessful were collected under five salient themes as follows: (i) reasons arising from students themselves; (ii) reasons arising from students’ perceptions of maths course//their maths abilities, (iii) reasons arising from maths teacher, (iv) reasons arising from students’ educational background, (v) reasons arising from the milieu.
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