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Stereotype Threats’ Influence on Elementary Pre-service Teachers\' Attitude Toward Mathematics


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I, along with Dr. Vincent of WSU, researched the stereotype threats pre-service math teachers encountered throughout their education. Through qualitative research we analyzed the testimonials of the …

I, along with Dr. Vincent of WSU, researched the stereotype threats pre-service math teachers encountered throughout their education. Through qualitative research we analyzed the testimonials of the students and identified factors that contributed to their attitudes toward mathematics.

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  • TASK! Initial impression of students who don’t turn in HW or coming to class
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    • 1. Stereotype Threats‘ Influence on Elementary Pre-service Teachers Attitude Toward Mathematics Kat Valenzuela Kimberley Vincent Washington State University
    • 2. + Questions?  Describe something very specific you like about mathematics.  Describe something very specific you dislike about mathematics.  Describe an experience that has a major influence on how you approach mathematics (and describe the approach) and your attitude toward mathematics (and describe the attitude).  Share anything you would like me to know about you.
    • 3. + Stereotype According to Reducing Stereotype Threat:  Def: Being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about ones group (Steele & Aronson, 1995). Source:
    • 4. + Elementary Stereotype  Source of trouble: Math  Elementary level: ―I was a good student, but less good in math‖  Secondary/College level  Inadequate  Impatient  Sarcastic teachers  Low grades: ―The only D of my life‖  Parents impatience for lack of success Source: Chavez, Annette, and Connie Widmer. 1982
    • 5. + In-Service Teachers Report  Encountered as Pre-service Teachers  Gender  ―Math is for boys‖  Negative Experiences  Teaching goals  Confident with the math they will teach but do not want to know more math  Expect girls to do as well as boys  Break the cycle  ―math is interesting and fun‖  Have they broken the cycle?? Source: Chavez, Annette, and Connie Widmer. 1982
    • 6. + The Research
    • 7. + Participants  Who the participants are?  101 → Math for Elementary Teachers Part I students (20 men and 81 women)  57 → Math for Elementary Teachers Part II students  Age: 18-22  Predominately white middle class  Years:  Fall 2009, 2005  Spring 2004, 2000, 2003  No individual trajectories
    • 8. + Research Methodology  Autobiographies were collected  Categorized and color-coded the data  Looked for patterns  Compared and contrasted the categories  Developed emergent theories
    • 9. + Self-Reporting/Case Study: Valid?  Objective: understanding the ―dynamics present‖  Provide descriptions (Kidder, 1982), test theory (Pinfield, 1986; Anderson, 1983), & generate theory (Gersick, 1988; Harris & Sutton 1986)  Analyzing:  Volume of data  ―Simple pure descriptions‖ (Gersick, 1988; Pettigrew, 1988)  Central to generate insight  Familiar with each case  Unique patterns emerge from each case  Testimonials account for students experiences, beliefs, and attitudes toward math  ―Equate Identities with stories about persons‖ (Sfard&Prusak, 2005)Source: Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. "Building Theories from Case Study Research."
    • 10. + Self-Reporting/Case Study: Analysis  Together ―within-case‖ and ―cross-case‖ analysis  Look at data in divergent ways:  Categories:  Similarities and differences within-group  Select pairs  Similarities in different pairs  Subtle similarities and differences  Lead to unanticipated categories  Look beyond initial impression to get an accurate theorySource: Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. "Building Theories from Case Study Research."
    • 11. + Question? What‘s your initial impression of students who don‘t turn in homework or come to class?
    • 12. + Categories  Satisfaction  Sequential  Understanding  Challenging  Objective/One answer  Visual Learner  Universal  Good At It  Memorization  Specific Topic  Change in Self- Esteem/Confidence  Building Blocks  Time Consuming  Teachers  Global  Motivation
    • 13. + Satisfaction  The student states having a feeling of accomplishment when completing or understanding a concept or problems. Feeling of getting the right answer:  Key phrases: Rewarding, sense of achievement, getting the right answer, feeling of accepting a challenge, feeling secure in an insecure world  ―I like mathematics especially when I can solve the problems and find out the right answers.‖ (50)  ―Makes me feel good when I get a problem right‖ (63)
    • 14. + Satisfaction  The student states having a feeling of accomplishment when completing or understanding a concept or problems. Process of Solving:  Key phrases: Solving equations or problems, solve  ―I like the feeling of being done with a problem and knowing how to figure it out‖ (80)  ― [math] is so challenging for me that it makes it more exciting when I understand a problem or concept.‖ (61)  ―I like to figure out and solve things‖ (121)
    • 15. + Understand  The student stated, or inferred a deeper understanding of the math material or concepts  Key phrases: understand, figure out, get it, ‗clicked‘, grasp  ―...once you understand the process for solving a problem, you can solve many similar ones as well‖ (57)  ―..when I finally figure out how to do a problem and fully understand it….‖ (215)  ―…like when math problems are easy and explained well so I get it..‖ (225)
    • 16. + Objective/One answer  Answers are not open to interpretation. Right or wrong answer:  ―You can figure out whether you are right or wrong..‖ (85)  One answer:  ―..the kind of problems that have one definite answer.‖ (213)  ―..answers are always cut and dry.‖ (96)  Factual not subjective like an English paper:  ―…it is concrete and not subjective to another‘s opinion‖ (84)
    • 17. + Universal  Student states, connects or demonstrates a connection of math concepts to everyday use or having practical uses.  Key phrases: used in everyday life, practical, real life situations  ―..[math] is basically used in everyday life. Many things can practically be turned into a math problem.‖ (141)  ―You can‘t do anything without math‖
    • 18. + Universal  ―The pivotal experience in mathematics in my life would have to be while working as a carpenter. It seems funny that I learned more when not in school, but I do know that hands-on experience with math really helped me. For example, squaring walls, concrete foundations, establishing roof pitches, building rake walls, figuring out compound level angles, and viewing blueprints. Experiences such as that changed my whole approach to mathematics in general. I am excited to learn how to teach mathematics to children.‖ (113)
    • 19. + Memorization  Student states that they had to memorize formulas, theorems.  ―I really dont like the formulas that we are forced to memorize.‖ (53)  ―I dislike mathematics due to all the rules you have to remember.‖ (sic) (53)
    • 20. + Teacher  Statements or references to a teacher  ―Ive never had a teacher in math that seemed to care at all so it always seemed to leave me with a careless attitude as well.‖ (55)  ―My high school calculus teacher completely changed the way I saw mathematics. He did dances to help remember definitions, and made up rhymes. Because of him, Ive learned to enjoy myself a little more.‖ (57)
    • 21. + Challenging  Encountering a difficulty that in turn stimulates them.  Key phrases: Challenged, stuck, no idea what to do, don‘t know what‘s being asked, frustrating  ―In math, I feel challenged the most when I dont succeed the first time.‖ (60)  ―The one thing I like most about math is the problem solving. The reason is it challenges me and makes me think outside the box‖ (74)  ―The part I dislike about math is when I cannot find out the answer. It really bothers me when I get stuck on a question and just cannot figure it out‖ (116)
    • 22. + Good At It  Relying on students claiming they were ‗good at it‘, a perception they have of themselves.  Key phrases: Good at it, doing well  Natural/Comes easy:  ―I like math for the simple reason that I have always been good at it.‖ (53)  Teacher Showed Them:  ―Mr. John Doe made me realize that even though I dislike math, I am good at it. It is because of his support and insistence that I remain in math, receiving excellent grades, realizing I can do the problems‖ (74)
    • 23. + Not Good At It  Relying on students claiming they were ‗not good at it‘, a perception they have of themselves.  Key phrases: Not good at it, doing badly  Teacher/scarring experience:  ―One experience that I had in Community College was not a good one. I took Mathematical concepts from a man teacher and he didnt teach me anything. He would stand in front of class and make absurd jokes all period instead of teaching us the criteria. This annoyed and upset me because I didnt learn the material and it was up to me to teach it to myself. Plus his test were extra hard, which didnt help. That was really the only experience that sticks out in my mind. I have always liked math, but been not so good at it. I want to succeed in it, but it is a very difficult challenge for me. The one bad math teacher that I had did not make math challenging, it already was.‖ (78)
    • 24. + Not Good At It  Lack of Understanding:  ―Through out high-school my math instructors did not teach math, they simply stated what the book contained. A result of this was a mass of confusion over flowing and the knowledge that Id never be good at math. Those experiences definitely lead me to the disinterest in math because I could never fully understand the subject‖ (65)
    • 25. + Motivation  The reason to act or behave in a particular way or a desire or willingness of someone to do something.  Internal– You want to do it  ―I feel challenged the most when I don‘t succeed the first time‖ (60)  ―I struggle with certain aspects such as complex story problems, but I work very hard to understand them and try not to get frustrated.‖ (76)
    • 26. + Motivation  External – Someone wants you to do it or there is a reward based system  ―The math class that I took in Community College, I would call math for everyday living. The thing that I liked about the class, was that it was easier to understand because it worked with everyday things. Also, it was the professors last quarter before he retired, and he said that he would love to see his last class all get As, so we all seemed to work harder.‖ (96)
    • 27. + Motivational Impact on Self- Esteem/Confidence  The student reports a change in their self-esteem or level of confidence.  Key phrases: feeling good, show them they can do math, confidence, self-esteem, attitude, grades, ability  External: When grades or something external affect a student‘s level of confidence or self-esteem  ―Unfortunately second semester I got one of my two high school Cs and that made me not like math much.‖ (63)
    • 28. + Motivational Impact on Self- Esteem/Confidence  The student reports on their self-esteem or confidence.  Internal: A self discovery that they can succeed and/or do it.  ―My attitude towards math in the past hasn‘t been the best, because I hate when I can‘t understand certain problems, but now I have realized that I might not be the best at math, but I can do it..‖ (216)  ―.. in Geometry class, I found solution to a proof in 3-steps that was supposed to take 7-steps. This made me more eager to continue in mathematics because I was good at it.‖ (86)
    • 29. + Results
    • 30. + 251 – Men - 20  Universal Application → 7  Satisfaction → 8  Feeling of finding an answer → 1  Process of solving a problem → 7  One Answer/Objective → 4
    • 31. + 251 – Women - 81  Understanding → 35  Liked because they understand → 12  Dislike for lack of understanding → 16  Good teacher → 11  Bad teacher → 10  Satisfaction → 13  Feeling of right answer → 12  Process of solving a problem → 1  Dislike memorization → 11
    • 32. + 251 - Comparison: Understanding Bad Teachers W:6 M:2 W:2 W:1 W:1 Like (UD) W:10 Dislike (lack of UD) W:4 M:2 M:2 W:1 W:3 W:4 W:3 M:4 UD-understand W:# represents the number of women M:# represents the number of men Good Teachers
    • 33. + 251 – Comparison: Good at It/Not Good at It?  Good at It:  W: 10  M:2  Natural/Comes Easy:  W: 4  M: 2  Teacher Showed Them  W: 4  M: 0
    • 34. + 251 – Comparison Good at It/Not Good at It?  Not Good at It:  W:13  M: 2  Bad Teacher/Scarring Experience  W: 6  M:0  Lack of UD “…the repetitiveness of identifying narratives  W: 4 one tells and hears about herself make them so familiar and self-evident to her that she  M:0 eventually becomes able to endorse or reject  Stated new statements about her in a direct,  W:1 nonreflective way.” – Sfard & Prusak, 2005  M:1
    • 35. + 251 – Comparison Satisfaction  Satisfaction  W: 13  M:8  Feeling of Getting Right Answer  W:12  M: 1  Process  W: 1  M: 7
    • 36. + Emergent Theory  Iterative process  Compare emergent theme with data  Constantly compare theory & data  Sharpen hypothesis  Refining definition of theory  Find evidence that contributes to the theory in each case.  Verify the emerging relationships between the theory and each case  Constant comparison will converge to a well-defined theorySource: Eisenhardt, Kathleen M.((1989) "Building Theories from Case Study Research."
    • 37. + 251 - Theory  Womens stereotype threats in 1982 are still prevalent in today‘s pre-service teacher  M: Men‘s success in math has been stereotypically confirmed by their success in
    • 38. + Consequences of Stereotype Threats  Reach beyond academics:  Distancing the self from the sports, work, health care Stereotyped Group  Decreased Performance  Disengagement and disidentificaiton  Internal Attributions for Failure  Altered Professional identities  Reactance and aspirations  Few women rose to the challenge  Not being ‗math teachers‘  Being a primary teacher  Self-handicapping strategies  Task Discounting  Not valuing math
    • 39. + 251 - Teaching  Teach for understanding  Small group  Hands-on  Inquiry  Discourse  High cognitive demand  Small group  Two hour blocks
    • 40. + 251 - Teaching  Focus on explanation  Why?  How?  What does it mean?  Multiple ways to do a problem
    • 41. + 252 – Total 57  Satisfaction  Feeling of getting the right answer → 2  Process of solving problem → 13  Understanding  Dislike for lack of understanding → 16  Like for understanding → 11  Answer → 8  Universal → 8
    • 42. + 252 – Total 57  Teachers  Good → 14  251 Teacher → 4  Liked constructivist approach  Group work  Bad → 12  251 Teacher →1  High School → 11
    • 43. + 252 – Total 57  Too much to Remember → 9  Theorems and proofs  Vocabulary  Likes  Shapes → 12  Dislike  Proofs → 8
    • 44. + 252 - Theory  The change in the structure of teaching 251 shifted students focus from the feeling they get to the valuing the process of solving problems  Their comments about good teachers focused on the pedagogy rather on superficial attributes  ―fun‖ or ―helped me understand‖.  No mention of ‗fun teachers‘  Being a ―fun‖ teacher does not change the stereotypes—the fun aunt analogy
    • 45. + Recommendations for Future Research  How do we remove negative stereotypes in the classroom?  Implementation of pedagogy in all levels of math  Impact on students‘ learning  Interview students at the end of semester  Perpetuating Attitude
    • 46. + Categories from Audience
    • 47. + Math and Science Majors  Emerging Themes:  Universal  Like solving the puzzle  Discussed influential people  Always been good at it
    • 48. + Long-Term Effects of Stereotype Threats  Can lead to self-handicapping strategies, (Stone, 2002)  Reduce the degree individuals value their domain (Aronson, et al. 2002; Osborne, 1995; Steele, 1997)  Educational and social inequality (Good et al., 2008a; Schmader, Johns, & Barquissau, 2004)  Impact performance in domains beyond academics  ―On their way into identities, tales of one‘s repeated success are likely to reincarnate into stories of special "aptitude,‖ gift,‖ or "talent,‖ whereas those of repeated failure evolve into motifs of "slowness,‖ ―incapacity,‖ or even "permanent disability.‖‖ (Sfard & Prusak 2005) Source:
    • 49. + Sources  Anderson, P. (1983) Decision making by objection and the Cuban missile crisis. Administrative Sciences Quarterly, 28, 201-222  Aronson, J., Fried, C. B., & Good, C. (2002). Reducing the Effects of Stereotype Threat on African American College Students by Shaping Theories of Intelligence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 113-125.  Chavez, Annette, and Connie Widmer. "Math Anxiety: Elementary Teachers Speak for Themselves." Educational Leadership 2.February (1982): 387-388. Print.  Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. "Building Theories from Case Study Research." The Academy of Management Review 14.4 (1989): 532-50. Print.  Gersick, C. (1988) Time and transition in work teams: Toward a new model of group development. Academy of Management Journal, 31, 9-41  Good, C., Dweck, C. S., & Rattan, A. (2008a). The effects of perceiving fixed-ability environments and stereotyping on women‘s sense of belonging to math. Unpublished paper. Barnard College, Columbia University.  Harris, S., & Sutton, R. (1986) Functions of parting ceremonies in dying organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 29, 5-30
    • 50. + Sources  Keller, J. (2002). Blatant stereotype threat and women‘s math performance: Self- handicapping as a strategic means to cope with obtrusive negative performance expectations. Sex Roles, 47, 193–198.  Kidder, T. (1982) Soul of a new machine. New York: Avon.  Osborne, J. W. (1995). Academics, self-esteem, and race: A look at the assumptions underlying the Disindentification hypothesis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 449-455.  Pettigrew, A. (1988) Longitudinal field research on change: Theory and practice. Paper presented at the National Science Foundation Conference on Longitudinal Research Methods in Organizations, Austin.  Pinfield, L. (1986) A field evaluations of perspectives on organizational decision-making. Administrative Science Quarterly, 31, 365-388  Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <>.  Schmader, T., Johns, M., &Barquissau, M. (2004). The costs of accepting gender differences: The role of stereotype endorsement in womens experience in the math domain. Sex Roles, 50, 835-850.
    • 51. + Sources  Sfard, Anna, & Prusak, Anna (2005). Telling Identities: In Search of an Analytic Tool for Investigating Learning as a Culturally Shaped Activity. Educational Researcher, Vol. 34, No. 4, May 2005, pp. 14- 22.  Steele, C. M. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52, 613-629.  Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African-Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 797-811.  Stone, J. (2002). Battling doubt by avoiding practice: The Effect of stereotype threat on self-handicapping in white athletes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1667- 1678.