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