How Teacher Self-efficacy and Mindset Influence Student Engagement and Math Performance

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How Teacher Self-efficacy and Mindset Influence Student Engagement and Math Performance

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Research continues to support the association between school engagement and math achievement, and active engagement in early elementary mathematics education appears to cascade into long-term math achievement. Teacher beliefs about themselves and their students and their behavior has the potential to influence student engagement and achievement. This study investigated how teacher self-efficacy, teacher implicit theories of intelligence, and the effectiveness of their math instruction practices influence multiple domains of student engagement and achievement. Using structural equation models, the relative importance of teacher beliefs and behaviors were explored. Specifically, the hypothesis that a teacher’s instructional behavior mediated the influence of their beliefs on students’ mathematics outcomes was tested. In order to determine how different subgroups of teachers influence student outcomes, mixture modeling was used to classify teachers according to their beliefs and behaviors. Results were unexpected and did not support initial hypotheses. Teachers’ self-efficacy and instructional effectiveness were not related to dimensions of student math engagement and performance. Teachers’ implicit theories about their students’ intelligence evidenced a positive relationship with behavioral engagement. Four teacher subgroups were identified that differed primarily in their implicit theories. There were mostly no differences in student outcomes between teacher subgroups. Implications for research, theory, professional development, and measurement are included.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2020. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisors: Clayton Cook, Amanda Sullivan. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 121 pages.

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Thayer, Andrew. (2020). How Teacher Self-efficacy and Mindset Influence Student Engagement and Math Performance. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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