Date of Award

1-8-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

David W. Stinson

Second Advisor

Charles K. Fortner

Third Advisor

Susan L. Swars

Fourth Advisor

Kimberly White-Fredette

Abstract

Since the early 1960s, mathematics education researchers have considered the affective domain (attitudes, beliefs, opinions, motivation) as an important aspect of teaching and learning mathematics (Goldin, 2002; Mcleod, 1992). It is suggested that the affective characteristics may be the missing variable that links teachers’ instructional practices to students’ learning (Ernest, 1989a). Two affective variables strongly related to teachers’ instructional practices are mathematics anxiety and mathematical beliefs (see, e.g., Beswick, 2006; Jong & Hodges, 2013; Philipp, 2007; Wilkins, 2008).

The purpose of this quantitative survey study was to explore the relationships among mathematics anxiety, mathematical beliefs, and instructional practices of practicing elementary teachers as they relate to the mathematics reform efforts promoted by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (see, e.g., 1989, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2014). The study was grounded, theoretically, in Ernest’s social constructivism as a philosophy of mathematics and mathematics teaching and learning (1998) and in his model of relating teachers’ content knowledge, attitudes, instructional beliefs, and instructional practice (1989). The study included 153 practicing elementary teachers who teach mathematics to students in Pre-K–5. These teachers completed the following online surveys: Mathematics Anxiety Scale, the Teaching Beliefs Survey and the Self-Report: Elementary Teachers Commitment to Mathematics Education Reform Survey. Quantitative data analysis methods included descriptive statistics, correlational analyses, and multiple regression analysis. Results indicated statistically significant correlational relationships between mathematics anxiety, mathematical beliefs, and instructional practices. Regression analyses were conducted to identify mathematics anxiety and mathematical beliefs as predictors of instructional practices. Results were significant for mathematical beliefs as a predictor, but not significant for mathematics anxiety as a predictor of instructional practices. Implications and recommendations for further study are discussed.

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