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Title: Students' mathematics self-efficacy : relationship with test achievement and development in the classroom
Author: Street, Karin Elisabeth Sørlie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 6491
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Self-efficacy is individuals' judgments regarding their capabilities to carry out future tasks or challenges. These judgments of capability are related to important learning behaviours such as effort and persistence, performance, and choice of career path. In order to support students' continued engagement with and learning of mathematics, it is important to consider how students make sense of their mathematical experiences as well as the relationship between students' mastery experiences and mathematics self-efficacy. In this thesis I address important gaps in the literature in regard to the conceptualisation of the self-efficacy construct, the relationship between self-efficacy and mathematics performance, the stability and change of self-efficacy when learning new topics in mathematics, and self-efficacy development over a series of lessons in mathematics across cycles of self-efficacy and mastery experiences. The thesis included two phases of data collection and analysis. The first phase involved students in grades 5, 8, and 9 (N = 756) and included measures of students' self-efficacy and national test performance. The second phase involved students in grades 6 and 10 (N = 181) and included repeated measures of students' self-efficacy and mastery experiences from a series of lessons in mathematics, when students were introduced to new topics. I analysed the data using different methods, including confirmatory factor analyses to investigate the structural validity of my measures, and structural equation models to investigate stability and change over time, and relationships between constructs. Major findings from the analysis include the following: students considered levels of difficulty when appraising their experiences in mathematics and when forming their self-efficacy; students' test performance predicted their self-efficacy one year later, but not the other way around; the mean-level of students' self-efficacy grew significantly across lessons when students were introduced to new topics, even as the rank-order of their self-efficacy remained highly stable; and there was a reciprocal relationship between students' self-efficacy and their mastery experiences, where substantial effects from both constructs on gains in the other construct remained stable across a sequence of lessons in mathematics. The findings have important implications for how we conceptualise self-efficacy, mastery experiences, and their relationship over time. Furthermore, the findings from my thesis have implications for teacher practice. In order to support adaptive self-efficacy, teachers need to consider the experiences students have with mathematics, not just the skills they learn. If teachers themselves gain knowledge about how individual students make sense of their mathematical experiences, they can support students' appraisals of these experiences, and prevent maladaptive cycles from occurring. In short, students need support not just to develop their mathematical skills, but also to develop adaptive appraisals of their mathematical experiences, in order to form self-efficacy beliefs that are reflective of each student's potential to learn mathematics.
Supervisor: Malmberg, Lars-Erik ; Stylianides, Gabriel Sponsor: Norwegian Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education ; self-efficacy ; mathematics ; performance ; learning processes ; students