The Effect of a Mathematics on Self-Efficacy of Pre-Service Elementary Teachers

Purpose of the Study

The study explores the effect of a mathematics methodology classroom on the self-efficacy of pre-service teachers. Mathematics education requires the active engagement of learners in order to promote learning and retention of mathematical concepts. This requires teachers to create an environment that promotes the use of different mathematics methodologies in order to understand the different effects of a mathematics methodology classroom on the self-efficacy of pre-service teachers. However, this depends on mathematics teaching efficacy, self-efficacy of mathematics teacher and self-belief.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) also initiated efforts to reform mathematics by providing constructivist strategies, which have critical impacts on teacher practices and presentation in the classroom. On this note, Battista notes that teachers have crucial roles to play in order to ensure effective reforms in mathematics teaching and learning (Battista, 1994).

Given the limited number of studies in the field of mathematics teacher efficacy among elementary pre-service teachers and the significance of the area with regard to “teacher practices and eagerness to adopt reforms, further studies are necessary to provide informed decision-making processes” (Huinker & Madison, 1997). A suitable approach to provide a highly efficacious elementary mathematics teacher is to ensure a thorough in-depth study that provides the required data for improvement among pre-service teachers. This can assist in transforming perceptions of teachers about teaching effectiveness. Researchers have looked at teacher efficacy as a two-dimensional concept (Bandura, 1986; Ashton, Webb & Doda, 1982a). In this context, teachers consider their personal efficacy in teaching, and it shows their beliefs in relation to skills and abilities for effective teaching. Therefore, this study shall demonstrate the Effect of a Mathematics Methodology Classroom on Self-Efficacy of Pre-service Elementary Teachers.

Background of the Study

The theoretical concept of this research is teacher efficacy and belief, which originated from Bandura’s self-efficacy in social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986). It has two elements, which include “efficacy expectations and outcome expectancies” (Bandura, 1986). Bandura notes that an efficacy expectation is “an individual’s belief in his or her capability to execute a behavior successfully, whereas outcome expectancy is an individual’s belief that the behavior will result in specific consequences” (Bandura, 1977). Kazempour also shares a similar sentiment about the relationship between the idea of self-efficacy and teacher efficacy by asserting that they relate to each other (Kazempour, 2008). He noted that teachers who demonstrated confidence in mathematics teaching strategies had the ability to influence their students. In this context, the teacher’s belief has a direct influence on potential student outcomes in mathematics. As a result, teachers can use various strategies in order to enhance student outcomes and provide appropriate feedback that encourages positive results. The role of the elementary teacher should be to improve student outcomes through different teaching strategies. Based on this observation, Kazempour concluded that learners’ performances in mathematics depended on their teacher efficacy because teacher efficacy had a significant influence over student outcomes and motivation (Kazempour, 2008).

With reference to Bandura’s theoretical framework and other studies on personal efficacy and teacher self-efficacy, one can refer to teacher efficacy as the teacher’s “judgment of his or her capabilities to bring about desired outcomes of student engagement and learning, even among those students who may be difficult or unmotivated” (Bandura, 1986; Ashton, Webb, & Doda, 1982a; Ashton, & Webb, 1986). There is a need to understand the two aspects of teacher efficacy. Teachers also have personal beliefs in which they see the effectiveness of their teaching strategies. In addition, there is also teaching outcome expectancy, which shows teachers’ beliefs that effective teaching can come from “positive student learning outcomes regardless of external factors” (Bandura, 1986; Ashton, Webb & Doda, 1982b). Teachers who hold this view deem that external factors such as family background, parental influence, IQ, school conditions, and home environment do not influence a student’s performance in mathematics once the teacher uses the appropriate strategy to enhance the student’s ability to learn and grasp new information. This strategy can serve as an effective mathematics methodology to teacher efficacy (Cone, 2009).

Cone concluded that community-based service-learning “significantly influenced pre-service elementary teachers’ outcome expectancy toward equitable science teaching and learning” (Cone, 2009). Cone’s study aimed to establish why pre-service teachers had low levels of teaching efficacy beliefs despite the improvement in science and other education courses. On the same note, Bursal also noted that the use of self-efficacy in improving mathematics literacy allowed teachers to enhance student outcomes irrespective of their social backgrounds or other challenges (Bursal, 2007). Teachers who were aware of self-efficacy stressed the importance of learners in the teaching and learning process. Such teachers made students believe that they were a part of the learning process. In this regard, learners may think that their contributions are also important for the class and may develop interests in the subject (Bursal, 2007).

The problem may occur when the teacher is not certain about his skills or abilities to ensure effective teaching. Teacher efficacy accounts for learners’ achievement, teacher behavior, and motivation, but it tends to be specific to certain content.

Within the context of mathematics, teaching efficacy focuses on two fundamental aspects that relate to two aspects of teacher efficacy, which include mathematics teaching efficacy and teaching outcome expectancy. Some research indicates that few studies exist regarding mathematics teaching efficacy among elementary pre-service teachers. However, available studies have shown “a statistically significant increase in mathematics teaching efficacy after completion of one methods course or a sequence of methods courses” (Huinker & Madison, 1997; Cakiroglu, 2000). Moreover, such improvements were also evident after completing content in the mathematics course.

Studies have concentrated on teacher efficacy and correlated its significance to factors like classroom instructional strategies and eagerness to use new approaches in teaching. Both pre-service and in-service teachers who demonstrated high standards of teacher efficacy often used various approaches during their classroom lessons. Czernaik noted that teachers who possessed high standards of self-efficacy were most likely to use inquiry and student-centered teaching and learning methods (Czerniak, 1990). On the other hand, teachers, who had low levels of self-efficacy, were likely to apply teacher-centered approaches in the classroom. In addition, teachers who had high standards of teaching efficacy were likely to apply new methods in their classrooms. This could be a difficult method to “implement, involved risks and would require sharing control with learners” (Czerniak, 1990). Such teachers attempt to match reforms proposed by the NCTM of 2000.

Pre-service teachers often have a preconceived belief concerning mathematics and their teaching and learning regarding the subject (Cakiroglu, 2008). Most of these beliefs originate from their experiences as students. A number of these pre-service teachers have different views about mathematics. According to Cakiroglu, pre-service teachers also noted that exposure to “reform strategies in mathematics methods course affected their level of mathematics teacher efficacy” (Cakiroglu, 2000).

Hoffman studied the role of “self-efficacy beliefs, mathematics anxiety, and working memory capacity in problem-solving accuracy, response time, and efficiency i.e., the ratio of problem-solving accuracy to response time (Hoffman, 2010). He noted that there were differences in “self-efficacy role on efficiency and response time, and a possible compensatory association between self-efficacy and mathematics anxiety in relation to efficiency outcomes” (Hoffman, 2010).

Some past studies have noted that pre-service teachers with high standards of mathematics teacher efficacy often used manipulative instructional strategies. In fact, the NCTM reforms noted the significance of teachers applying various methods in order to analyze and infer various aspects of mathematical phenomena. The NCTM has stressed the importance of adopting manipulative strategies in teaching and learning mathematics. Therefore, pre-service teachers who demonstrated high standards of mathematics teacher efficacy were in favorable positions with reforms in teaching and learning mathematics. On the other hand, pre-service teachers who demonstrated low standards of mathematics teacher efficacy required improvement in their manipulative strategies in order to facilitate teaching mathematics in classrooms. Such results show consistency with previous studies. Thus, pre-service teachers must understand the importance of classroom instructional approaches and teacher efficacy. In addition, pre-service teachers must also show their eagerness for adopting reforms in teaching and learning mathematics. Cakiroglu noted that it was important for elementary pre-service teachers to take part in “a mathematics methods course in order to increases mathematics teacher efficacy” (Cakiroglu, 2000). In addition, elementary pre-service teachers also require encouragement and outstanding experiences when teaching mathematics method courses. This shall allow such teachers to work toward achieving the efficaciousness required in mathematics reforms. Pre-services teachers must also note their experiences in order to enhance self-awareness and develop mathematics teacher efficacy.

Characteristics of the Subject Population

Age Range

The age range for research participants will be 22 years and above. This shall account for diversity among pre-service teachers in the US.

Gender

Research participants shall consist of both female and male pre-service teachers. This is necessary for the identification of variations in effects among male and female pre-service mathematics teachers.

Sample

The researcher shall determine the appropriate sample based on the population of pre-service teachers in the region of the study. This sample would be representative.

Inclusion Criteria

  • The study shall only consist of qualified pre-service teachers
  • Research participants shall be holders of honor degree in mathematics
  • Participants must have undergone PRAXIS I test
  • All study participants must be graduates from specific States that allow for reciprocity

Exclusion Criteria

  • The study shall not include any pre-service teacher from other States that do not allow for reciprocity
  • Pre-service teachers who have a general honor in mathematics
  • Pre-service teachers who have not taught for the last two years after graduation

Vulnerable Subjects

The researcher shall not use any vulnerable participant in this research.

Methods and Procedures

Method of Subject Selection

The researcher shall work closely with school administrators to provide a list of pre-service teachers in their schools. The researcher shall establish rapport with school administrators prior to this process.

Study Site

The researcher will use school settings. However, he would also respect the wishes of respondents. Therefore, respondents would be free to choose a place of their choice for the interview, but the place must be conducive for the study and facilitate the process.

Methods and Procedures Applied to Human Subjects

The researcher shall engage respondents in a face-to-face interview. This shall provide the researcher with the opportunity to gather in-depth information necessary for the study question. The preferred place for the interview is a school environment. This is necessary to keep professional touch during the process. The researcher shall use survey questionnaires to gather data. However, participation shall be on a voluntary basis, and research participants shall be free to withdraw from the study at any time of their choice. The study shall involve the use of tape recorders. The researcher shall transcribe all collected data and draw his conclusion. This is the initial stage of collecting data for the main study. Collected data shall help the researcher to identify common themes and formulate appropriate study questions. In addition, the researcher shall provide all copies of the research instruments in the appendix.

Risks or Benefits

Potential Risks

This study does not pose any form of risk to research participants and there are no known risks to research participants. There is no form of intervention in the study.

Protection against Risks

The study does not pose risks to participants. Therefore, no protection against potential risk is necessary.

Potential Benefits

The study has potential non-monetary benefits to the participants and schools. First, it will show how preservice elementary teachers tackle mathematics methodology and its effects on their self-efficacy. Second, it will reveal unmet expectations of teachers, their teaching beliefs, and any possible transformation when faced with mathematical difficulties in a real classroom situation. Third, the study will show the impacts of reforms in teaching mathematics. Finally, the study shall provide recommendations and implications for further studies.

Compensation for Participation

The researcher shall not compensate all research participants. Participation is on a voluntary basis, but he will appreciate participants for their time and information.

Alternatives to Participation

The researcher shall not provide any other alternatives to participation in exchange for participation.

Information Withheld

The researcher shall provide all information participants need to know. However, data from other participants shall remain confidential throughout the study.

Debriefing

After the study, research participants can get a copy of the summary of the study after its completion.

Privacy or Confidentiality

The researcher shall uphold the confidentiality of gathered data throughout the study process. Only the researcher and the supervisor shall handle the collected data. Data shall be destroyed after three years, but will be kept safe in the locked cabinet before then. In short, the researcher shall observe the following:

  • Respect autonomy respondents and their choices
  • Absolute confidentiality
  • Protection of all participants
  • He shall not gather any personal data in the study
  • Research participants shall be free to withdraw from the study at anytime
  • The researcher shall maintain a professional code of ethics as the University provided
  • The researcher shall ensure that all participants understand the purpose of the study before they start data collection

The Consent Process

The study will be a face-to-face interview. The researcher shall obtain oral consent from all study participants before starting the study. Participants shall show their consent by agreeing to take part in the study. The researcher shall also ensure that all content of the study instruments adheres to the IRB standards. Thus, the IRB shall approve the study first before the researcher can proceed to the field.

References

Ashton, P. T., Webb, R. B., & Doda, N. (1982a). A study of teacher sense of efficacy, Final Report Volume 1. Florida: Foundation of Education University of Florida.

Ashton, P. T., Webb, R. B., & Doda, N. (1982b). A study of teachers’ sense of efficacy, Final Report Volume 2. Florida: Foundation of Education University of Florida.

Ashton, P.T., & Webb, R.B. (1986). Making a difference: Teachers’ sense of efficacy and student achievement. New York: Longman.

Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 34, 191-215.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Battista, M. T. (1994). Teacher beliefs and the reform movement of mathematics education. Phi Delta Kappan, 75, 462-470.

Bursal, M. (2007). Turkish preservice elementary teachers’ self- efficacy beliefs regarding mathematics and science teaching. International Journal of science and Mathematics Education, 8(4), 649-666.

Cakiroglu, E. (2000). Preservice elementary teachers’ sense of efficacy in reform oriented mathematics. Indiana: Indiana University.

Cakiroglu, E. (2008). The teaching efficacy beliefs of pre-service teachers in the USA and Turkey. Journal of Education for Teaching, 34(1), 33-44.

Cone, N. (2009). Pre-service elementary teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs about equitable science teaching: Does service learning make a difference? Journal of Elementary Science Education, 21(2), 25-34.

Czerniak, C. M. (1990). A study of self-efficacy, anxiety, and science knowledge in preservice elementary teachers. Atlanta, GA: the National Association for Research in Science Teaching.

Hoffman, B. (2010). “I think I can, but I’m afraid to try”: The role of self-efficacy beliefs and mathematics anxiety in mathematics problem-solving efficiency. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(3), 276–283.

Huinker, D., & Madison, S. K. (1997). Preparing efficacious elementary teachers in science and mathematics: The influence of methods courses. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 8(2), 107-126.

Kazempour, M. (2008). Exploring attitudes, beliefs, and self efficacy of pre-service elementary teachers enrolled in a science methods course and factors responsible for possible changes. Ann Arbor: UMI Dissertations Publishing.