Broadening Participation Research Project: Effects of Innovative Mathematics Instruction Methods on Student Attitude, Self-efficacy, Effort and Performance
Researchers at North Carolina A&T State University are examining the mutual effects of the Math Emporium and SCALE-UP models on student learning and performance in gate-keeper mathematics courses. Framed using theories of motivation, self-efficacy, and attribution, the project is grounded by research documenting that an engaging classroom environment and active learning improve student performance. The researchers are interested particularly in exploring how exposure to mathematics instruction models can modify existing psychosocial processes among students in the gate-keeper math courses. The project will contribute to the current knowledge by producing empirical evidence of an intervention that can mitigate a recurring barrier to underrepresented minority student persistence in STEM, i.e., mastery of gatekeeper mathematics courses.
The researchers will test two hypotheses: implementing the Math Emporium and SCALE-UP models in pre-calculus and trigonometry courses will positively impact students' attitudes, self-efficacy, and academic performance, and there is a causal relationship among these variables. The project will employ a mixed-method research design and sequential approach to answer the research questions and include approximately 120 treatment subjects and 120 control subjects. The qualitative phase of the project aims to reveal underlying factors that influence cognitive and affective processes and expand theory and current knowledge of practices that have been demonstrated to improve STEM education and persistence. A pre-post-test design will be used to determine students' incoming attitudes and beliefs and the extent to which these change over time in related gate-keeper mathematics courses. The researchers will use a comparison group to document the magnitude of the effect of the intervention on student attitudes, self-efficacy, effort and course outcomes and employ descriptive statistics to characterize categorical and numerical variables. Focus group sessions will be transcribed and coded for significant statements and emergent themes, and textual and categorical data analysis will be conducted using text mining tools. The research results are expected to not only improve student success in gatekeeper mathematics courses but also to increase underrepresented student retention in STEM broadly.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.