**Action Research: Self Efficacy v.s Gender in Math**

Focus Statement: Does the gender of my host teacher and his/her confidence levels in teaching math transfer to the same gender student in my placement class?

Literature Review

Method / Data Collection

Student

Questionnaire

Interview Questions for the teacher:

a)When did you stop taking math in school? (high school, university)

b)Did you do well in math when you were in school?

c)How confident do you feel now teaching math?

d)Do you think taking a math AQ course would enhance math confidence?

e)What are your thoughts of our research question?

f)Have you seen female students with math anxiety and male students with math confidence? If so, why do you think this occurs?

g)Have you encountered a female student with low math confidence but do well on math tests? Why do you think this occurs? How can teachers address this situation that will improve the confidence in these female students?

h)Have you seen a student greatly improve in math? If so, why do you think this occurred?

i)How do you motivate math learning in your classroom? Please list some strategies.

j)Do you give the same positive reinforcement to both male and female students?

Interview Questions for the teacher: Female Teacher (Holy Family)

a) When did you stop taking math in school? (high school, university)

-Grade 11 or 12

b) Did you do well in math when you were in school?

-B’s. “Should have been A’s but my male math teacher was really negative and didn’t know how to teach”

c) How confident do you feel now teaching math?

-“My confidence level when I was younger was low, which is why I didn’t pursue math in university”

-She remembers negative comments from previous elementary male teacher, (as the teacher hands out marked tests) “Oh look another boy got an A”

- She remembers a lack of female math teachers in her years as a student. “All the math teachers were male, while the female teachers taught language”

-Currently her math confidence is very high. “I love math”

-Her math confidence came back when she began teaching math in teachers college and in her career as a teacher. When she began teaching math, she felt more in charge and could teach “her way”.

-In teachers college, she had both male and female teachers that taught math. Therefore, they were positive role models for her.

-Does your past influence the way you currently teach”

-Yes, the students see her passion for math and they too become more passionate for math. Math is always done in class and not left for homework. She encourages math in class as she wants to be available for math related questions.

d)Do you think taking a math AQ course would enhance math confidence?

-Yes. She currently has her specialist in computer technology and in religion.

e)What are your thoughts of our research question?

-She feels that the teachers’ confidence transfers to all the males and females in the classroom regardless of the gender of the teacher. Kids prefer to have a teacher that is passionate for the subject.

f)Have you seen female students with math anxiety and male students with math confidence? If so, why do you think this occurs?

-“Yes, female student (N) needs extra help and I want to refer her to special education, but her parents are refusing extra help”

-“Yes, male student (M) is too confident even though he is not always correct in his answers”

g)Have you encountered a female student with low math confidence but do well on math tests? Why do you think this occurs? How can teachers address this situation that will improve the confidence in these female students?

-Yes, female student (V) seems to second guess herself when answering math problems. She tells herself that she can’t do it and often is stressed before a test but her marks are excellent. She often gets A’s.

h)Have you seen a student greatly improve in math? If so, why do you think this occurred?

i)How do you motivate math learning in your classroom? Please list some strategies.

-More one on one group work is beneficial

-“Math Buddies”: students of the same level / ability work together to solve math problems

-“Around the World” Game: multiplication battle among students

j)Do you give the same positive reinforcement to both male and female students?

-Yes.

Interview Questions for the Teacher: Male Teacher - St. Mary of the Angels:

a) When did you stop taking math in school?

“Grade 11”

b) Did you do well in math when you were in school?

“ Did ok! B’s worked hard!! It didn’t come easy”

c) How confident do you feel now teaching math?

“ Some lessons are still new to me, but I enjoy it, I relate it to experiences that the

children have”

d) Do you think taking a math AQ course would enhance math confidence?

“ Absolutely”

e) What are your thoughts of our research question?

“ It’s a good idea to look into it”

f) Have you seen female students with math anxiety and male students with math confidence? If so ,why do you think this occurs?

“ I see it all the time- but also the opposite , males than females show more confidence”

g)Have you seen a student greatly improve in math? If so, why do you think this occurred?

“ Usually they correlate, certain subjects male/female thrive under. Males like science and math, and females like literacy”

h)How do you motivate math learning in your classroom? Please list some strategies.

“ the students get to win the championship belt and take it home for the evening, they feel so proud earning that privilege. Also we use the smart board a lot, and a great deal of manipulatives. Using hands-on strategies helps them understand their math.”

i)Do you give the same positive reinforcement to both male and female students?

“ yes, I have… The different approaches I use hopefully give them more of an incentive to feel confident”

Method: Two studies were done at two separate schools. St. Mary of the Angels, and Holy Family. Irene had a female teacher, and Lucia had a male teacher. The grades were as follows:

•St. Mary of the Angels- Grade 4/5 (Male Teacher)

•Holy Family –Grade 3/4 (Female Teacher)

•The students were given a series of questions to complete on their feelings about math.

•The teachers were interviewed on their views and feelings about teaching math.

Summary /

Reaction to the Investigation

Timeline: Our investigation was done during the months of March and April, in a period of six weeks. At that time we gathered all our data and information.

Answers from Students:

Do I tell myself math is hard and I can’t do it?

Holy Family

“Yes, because I start to get confused and say ‘this is so hard’”

– Grade 3, Girl

“No, I don’t tell myself math is hard and I can’t do it because at the end of the day it’s just math” - Grade 4, Girl

“No, I don’t because I know the potential I can reach.” – Graded 4, Boy

St. Mary of the Angels

“No, because my dad and mom are the best at math and so am I but when I have homework they help me.” – Grade 5, Boy

“No, I don’t tell myself math is hard or I can’t do it because Mr. G tells us that anything is possible and I believe.” – Grade 5, Girl

“I do tell myself that math is hard because I don’t get some of the questions.” – Grade 4, Girl

“Contemporary stereotypes about the people in math and science fields include being male, socially isolated, and focused on technology.”

- Cheryan, 2011

“Social media is saturated with messages that explicitly communicate such negative stereotypes. In fact, several retail stores recently received public scrutiny over the decision to market t-shirts to girls that read, “I’m too pretty to do math” and “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

-Gunderson, etal., 2011

“...harmful math attitudes are powerful determinants of subsequent behaviors and outcomes: They depress women’s math performance, steer women away from math-related fields, and hinder their self assessments of math ability.”

-Cheryan, 2011

“...higher math anxiety among female teachers was associated with lower math performance among female students...having a female teacher who is highly confident in math could also have negative effects on female students...female students may find their teachers’ confidence threatening, perhaps because they feel that their teacher strongly cares about the image of women in STEM fields and the students are worried about letting their teacher down...regarding the impact of male teachers’ confidence on female students’ performance, highly math-confident male teacher could have a positive impact on female students if the teacher communicates inclusiveness for women in his teaching. On the other hand, a highly math-confident male teacher might activate the stereotype that men are better than women at math, inducing stereotype threat in his female students and decreasing their performance.”

-Gunderson, etal., 2011

“Teachers may also manifest non-verbal behaviors that are indicative of anxiety (e.g., frequent self-touching) and more overt negative behaviors like communicating their private thoughts out loud (e.g., “I was never really good at math”, “This is really hard”). These are just a few examples of how ... teachers’ own math anxiety may affect children.”

-Gunderson, etal., 2011

“differences in how adults praise boys versus girls may be most pronounced in a gender stereotyped domain such as math, and that this may lead girls to have particularly negative views of challenges in math.”

-Gunderson, etal., 2011

Answers from Students:

Do I tell myself math is hard and I can’t do it?

In the school of Holy Family, the female grade 3/4 teacher confirmed my research, as she is extremely confident when teaching math this provides the students with a positive female role model.

Female students: Her high self efficacy is reflected positively upon the female students in her class. Among the students whom “like math a lot”, all 4 of 11 females in the class, had high self efficacy. Over all for the female students, 8 of 11 liked math “somewhat to a lot”. Of the 8 females, 6 had high self efficacy. Reflecting back to the article, “New Directions for Research on the Role of Parents and Teachers in the Development of Gender-Related Math Attitudes: Response to Commentaries”, by Elizabeth A. Gunderson, etal., I don’t believe that the teacher’s high self efficacy had a negative effect for the female students. She is always positive and non threatening. According to the data collected, her high self efficacy only had a positive effect on the female students. Overall, there were more female students who enjoyed math over the males in the class. 8 female students liked math “somewhat” to “a lot”, while only 4 male student liked math “somewhat” to “a lot”.

In addition, her past negative experiences learning math from male teachers, as empowered her to be positive and strong when teaching math to the students in her current classroom. Today, she is able to teach math her “own way”, which includes not strategies that include the genders equally. She refuses to teach gender stereotypes, especially when regarding math. She did not want any of the children to feel unsuccessful as she once did at their age.

In the school of St. Mary Of The Angels, the male grade 4/5 teacher confirmed my research as his high self efficacy and his teaching strategies included ones that was inclusive and beneficial to the genders in his classroom.

Male Students: His high self efficacy had a positive effect on the male students in the class. Of all 9 boys, 6 (66%) of them all had high self efficacy. In total, 88% of the male students had “somewhat” to high self efficacy. The 4 male students whom liked math “a little”, 50% of them had high self efficacy. This suggests that their preference is not math but also find math achievable and not difficult. The data imply that his high self efficacy had positive implications for the male students in the classroom.

St. Mary of the Angels

Holy Family

Female Students: Reflecting back to the article, “New Directions for Research on the Role of Parents and Teachers in the Development of Gender-Related Math Attitudes: Response to Commentaries”, by Elizabeth A. Gunderson, etal., I believe that his high self efficacy and his approach was beneficial to the females in the class as well. As Mr. G incorporated female inclusiveness, this had a positive impact on the female students. As oppose, to his high math confidence causing female students to feel as if the gender stereotypes are threatening to females and thus causing them to decrease their performance. Of the 14 female students, 64% had high to medium self efficacy. Like the boys, one student who liked math “a little” had high self efficacy, suggesting that math as a preference is not her number one choice but she finds it not difficult and achievable. Overall, 71% of girls enjoyed math “somewhat” to “a lot”, while only 50% of male students enjoyed math.

In addition, math did not come easy to him in school. He worked hard to overcome his difficulties. He wanted to make a difference in the students’ lives, so he uses motivational strategies that encourage math for all students. He often uses a math Championship belt. The students take this home when they win a math contest or challenge. They experience tremendous pride and that is the teacher’s reward and motivation in his teaching. With the data shown the boys and girls showed equal positive attitude and self-efficacy towards math.

Praise

Non Verbal

Gender of the Teacher and / Student and their Self Efficacy