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IES Grant

Title: Examining Teacher Math Anxiety as a Malleable Factor Related to Student Outcomes
Center: NCER Year: 2017
Principal Investigator: Ganley, Colleen Awardee: Florida State University
Program: Teaching, Teachers, and the Education Workforce      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (07/01/2017 - 06/30/2020) Award Amount: $1,400,000
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A170463

Co-Principal Investigators: Schoen, Robert; Schatschneider, Christopher

Purpose: Teacher math anxiety consists of anxiety about their own math skills (general math anxiety) and anxiety about teaching math. In this study, the research team will examine how teacher math anxiety is related to math instructional practices and student outcomes (i.e., math attitudes and achievement). They will also examine math instructional practices as a potential mediator of the relation between teacher math anxiety and student outcomes. Researchers will follow students over two years to examine the potential effects of teacher math anxiety over time, especially in the context of having multiple high or low math-anxious teachers in adjacent years. Findings from this study could inform interventions for teachers that could lead to improved math outcomes for students.

Project Activities: Researchers will employ a longitudinal correlational design to explore the interrelations between teacher math anxiety, math instructional practices, and student outcomes. In Year 1, teachers and their students will complete measures in both the Fall and Spring. A subsample of the teachers will be observed teaching math on 3 separate occasions. In Year 2, teachers will complete a survey in the Fall and give student assessments in the Spring. In Year 3, the project team will carry out data analyses and dissemination efforts.

Products: Researchers will produce findings regarding the relations between teacher math anxiety, math instructional practices, and student outcomes; and peer-reviewed publications.  

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participating schools are located across Florida.  

Sample: In Year 1, 330 K-3 teachers and their approximately 4,950 students will participate in the study. The students will be followed into Year 2 of the project (in Grades 1-4) and their teachers in Year 2 will also be asked to participate in the study. Researchers will also select a stratified sample of 50 teachers to participate in classroom observations.

Intervention: Malleable factors are teacher math anxiety and math instructional practices. Findings from this exploratory project could inform the development of an intervention.

Research Design and Methods: This project will employ a panel design, in which a single cohort of students will be followed for two school years. Teacher anxiety, enjoyment, beliefs, efficacy, and knowledge related to math and math teaching will be measured once per year. Student attitudes and knowledge related to math will be measured twice in the first year and once in the second year.

A subsample of 50 teachers will also participate in three classroom observations during the first year (i.e., near the beginning, in the middle, and near the end of the school year).   

Control Condition: Due to the exploratory nature of the research design, there is no control condition.

Key Measures: Primary measures include the Teacher Math Anxiety Scale, the Teacher Knowledge Assessment System (TKAS) to assess teacher math knowledge for teaching, the Teacher Beliefs about Mathematics Teaching Learning questionnaire, a math-specific version of subscales from the Teacher Self-Efficacy in Instruction Scale, an enjoyment of math and math teaching measure, and the State Trait Inventory for Cognitive and Somatic Anxiety to assess general anxiety. Math instructional practices will be measured with a self-report measure and with observations of math teaching using the Instructional Quality Assessment. A self-report tool will be used to measure student attitudes about math (math anxiety, confidence, interest, importance) and a researcher-developed math test and standardized test data will be used to measure student math achievement.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use regression analyses to assess the relations between teacher math anxiety and math instructional practices. They will estimate multilevel structural equation models to examine the relation between teacher math anxiety and student attitudes and achievement, and to examine math instructional practices as a potential mediator of this relation. They will also use sparse cross-classified multilevel structural equation models  to simultaneously examine the effect of both Year 1 and Year 2 teacher math anxiety on students' Year 2 math outcomes.