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The impact of teacher and student attitudes on math performance of fourth- and sixth-grade students in rural Arizona

Greer, Chad Michael (2021) The impact of teacher and student attitudes on math performance of fourth- and sixth-grade students in rural Arizona. Doctoral thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Abstract

The purpose of this research is to determine if there is any difference between teacher and student attitudes regarding academic achievement in math in three school districts of different socioeconomic status. The socioeconomic status of each school included in the study was determined based on the free and reduced lunch count of the school. A further research question assesses whether there is any difference between teacher attitudes and student attitudes concerning impact on the math performance of fourth- and sixth-grade students. The three school districts selected in rural Arizona are in one of the three categories measured by the free and reduced lunch count: 65% or less, 65–80%, or 80% and above. This research had limitations regarding smaller sample size resulting from a requested focus on only K–8 schools. This was a condition, following my prospectus that limited my sample size dramatically. Additionally, COVID-19’s impact the following year effected sample size, as some students left their school due to job loss in the family. Nevertheless, the surveys were distributed to all three K–8 schools with small class sizes. The surveys were returned by 21 out of 40 students that attended the school in the 2019–2020 school year. All six teachers that had taught at the schools during the school year prior to conducting the study participated. The Galileo math data were taken from the August–December benchmark tests in the 2019–2020 school year. The six teachers completed a 14-item survey about their attitude towards math using a Likert scale based on the following: 1 — Strongly Disagree, 2 — Disagree, 3 — Somewhat Disagree, 4 — Somewhat Agree, 5 — Agree, 6 — Strongly Agree. Further, the teachers were asked three interview questions designed to gain additional insight into their attitudes. The 30 students completed a 34-item survey using the following Likert scale: 1 — Strongly Disagree, 2 — Disagree, 3 — N/A, 4 — Agree, 5 — Strongly Agree. The study applied a Mixed-Methods Design. The survey responses from the teachers’ and students had some common themes and many of those themes were positive. The fourth-grade males responded that, overall, they understand math and the fourth-grade females felt that My math teachers have always been nice to me. The responses showed that the fourth-grade females’ socioemotional connection to their teacher is more important than their understanding of math. The sixth-grade males responded that My math teachers have always said that there can be more than one way to solve a problem correctly and sixth-grade females said that My math teachers have always been nice. These answers demonstrate once again that the females surveyed feel it is important to connect with their teacher. The common themes among the interviewed teachers were Teachers do not have to be naturally good at math to teach math and students can be successful in any socioeconomic environment. The teachers appeared positive toward any student regardless of their socioeconomic status. The researcher was not able to conduct any tests concerning correlation in student and teacher attitudes and math performance due to an insufficient sample size to test the related hypotheses statistically for significance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: mathematics teaching; mathematics learning; elementary school, middle school; attitudes;
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Education > Educational Leadership
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2022 21:32
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2022 21:32
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5633

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