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Determining Elementary Students' Mathematical Self-Efficacy and Attitudes towards Mathematics through Journal Writing

Tammy M Greene, Johnson & Wales University

Abstract

Elementary students' self-efficacy and attitudes towards mathematics can be challenging to measure. Bandura (1997) describes perceived self-efficacy as "not a measure of the skills one has but a belief about what one can do under different sets of conditions with whatever skills one possesses" (p. 37). Attitudes in the educational setting represent a desired outcome relative to a specific target (McCoach, Gable, & Madura, 2013). Efficacy and attitudes continue to influence educational attainments (Bandura, 1997).^ This sequential mixed-methods study explored grade 5 students' mathematical self-efficacy and enjoyment, after implementing a 10-week journal writing treatment.^ The research questions were: 1. Is there a difference between students exposed to journal writing and not exposed, after controlling for initial differences on the pre-test, with respect to: mathematical self-efficacy and enjoyment? 2. Is there a difference between male and female students, after controlling for initial differences on the pre-test, with respect to: mathematical self-efficacy and enjoyment? 3. Is there an interaction between gender and treatment group, after controlling for initial differences on the pre-test, with respect to: mathematical self-efficacy and enjoyment? 4. How do grade 5 students in the treatment group respond to journal writing prompts regarding affective/attitudinal and dispositions in the content of mathematics? 5. In what ways are gender perspectives revealed through the journal writing responses? ^ The instrument was administered to grade 5 participants in the journal writing treatment group (N=79) at one elementary school and the comparison group (N=51) from a comparable elementary school in the same district who were not exposed to the treatment. Two 2-way ANCOVAs revealed no significant differences (p<.025) between treatment groups, gender, or the interaction between treatment variable and gender with respect to Mathematical Self-Efficacy and Enjoyment. Thematic analysis of students' journals revealed five themes: perseverance, enjoyment and confidence, frustration and confusion, embarrassment and apprehension, and performance expectations. Female journal responses expressed an in-depth emotional connection to their attitudes and disposition towards mathematics, as compared to male journal responses.^ Results from this study will help educational leaders adapt instructional approaches and classroom discourse with respect to elementary students' self-efficacy and attitudes towards mathematics.^

Subject Area

Mathematics|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Greene, Tammy M, "Determining Elementary Students' Mathematical Self-Efficacy and Attitudes towards Mathematics through Journal Writing" (2016). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI10106160.
http://scholarsarchive.jwu.edu/dissertations/AAI10106160