An Investigation of the Role of Mathematical Attitudes in the Motivation of Teacher Grade Level Choice Using the Expectancy-Value Theory.



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Background: Research has identified achievement motivation to be a predictor of career choice. Despite this, there is limited research investigating why pre-service teachers choose specific grade levels. An understanding of motivations to enter teaching may provide insight into teacher quality at different grade levels. Research has identified minorities and females as underrepresented in STEM fields. Additionally, minorities and female teachers are disproportionately overrepresented in lower grade levels. While previous studies have examined differences in gender and race/ethnicity representation in education, this study sought to investigate whether mathematical attitudes played a role in grade-level choice. Purpose: Drawing on Expectancy-value Theory, this causal-comparative study investigated the role of various mathematical values in preservice teachers’ grade level choice. Methods: The study utilized a 38-item survey to collect data from 353 preservice teachers enrolled in the University of Houston System, The University of Texas at Austin, and Texas A&M University. The survey gathered demographic information for participants and measured indicators for Math Expectancy Values and Math Subjective Task Values. Survey questions were adopted from specific instruments, The Mathematics Self-Concept, Self-Efficacy, and Anxiety Scale, and The Mathematics Value Inventory for General Education Students. Data Analysis: Structure Equation Modeling was used to analyze associations between Mathematical Subjective Task Value and Math Expectancy in subsamples of preservice teachers of different grade level choice, gender, race/ethnicity, and groups who were obtaining a mathematics certification. Results: The results showed that the latent variable Mathematical Attribution of Expectancy was predicted by the latent variables for Math Self-Concept and Math Self Efficacy and was positively related to Mathematical Task Value for female preservice teachers. Models showed acceptable fit for samples of overall preservice teachers, all-female preservice teachers, and all minority/not Asian female preservice teachers, all minority/not Asian preservice teachers. The models demonstrate overall teachers had positive mathematical beliefs. The results are inconclusive for teachers of different ethnicity and gender.



Expectancy-value Theory, Grade-level Choice, Structural Equation Modeling, Mathematic Self-Efficacy, Mathematic Self-Concept