Date of Award

2001

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Chad D. Ellett

Second Advisor

Terry G. Geske

Abstract

This study investigated the relationship between home and classroom learning environment characteristics and middle school students' self-efficacy beliefs about mathematics. Specifically, the study examined linkages between sources of efficacy in the home and classroom learning environments and the strength of students' self-efficacy beliefs in mathematics. Social cognitive theory includes self-efficacy beliefs as a major source of human agency and functioning (Bandura, 1997). Enactive mastery experiences, vicarious learning (modeling), verbal persuasion, and physiological/affective states (emotional arousal) are four sources of human efficacy. While numerous studies have been completed linking self-efficacy to learning and achievement (Pajares, 1996b), no studies within schools were found that examined linkages between environmental/experiential sources of efficacy beliefs described as important within current self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1997). Further, how these sources contributed, either singularly or in combination, or within and across home and school environments, to self-efficacy, was not known. Eighth grade mathematics students (n = 663) in 44 mathematics classes in 6 randomly selected schools from two large, urban, southeastern school districts participated in the study. Original measures were developed to operationalize the independent variables (perceptions of home and classroom learning environment factors contributing to the development and strengthening of self-efficacy beliefs) and the dependent variables (eighth grade students academic self-efficacy beliefs about mathematics, self-efficacy effort and persistence, and self-efficacy outcome expectations). Likewise, a new response format which represents a more clear and direct operational definition of the self-efficacy belief construct was developed. Results of the study show empirical linkages between students' perceptions of classroom and home learning environment events and characteristics, and the events and characteristics which strengthen students self-efficacy beliefs in eighth grade mathematics. The results supported Bandura's (1997) discussions of how important environmental events and experiential factors influence the development and strengthening of self-efficacy beliefs. Other results of the study suggested that eighth grade mathematics students as a group, have self-efficacy beliefs that are relatively specific to different mathematics domains (arithmetic, fractions, and equations). The study has implications for educational measurement, social cognitive theory, and educational practice through the arranging of functioning environments that contribute to the development of students' academic self-efficacy beliefs, in a critical curricula area, mathematics.

ISBN

9780493271675

Pages

241

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