Theses Doctoral

Pre-service Mathematics Teacher Beliefs and Growth Mindset Assessment Practices

Waid, Brandie Elisabeth

Research from the fields of psychology and education suggests that a student’s mindset (beliefs about their intelligence or ability) has a tremendous impact on their setting of goals, reactions to setbacks and failures, and academic performance (Aronson, Fried, & Good, 2002; Blackwell, Trzensiewski, & Dweck, 2007; Dweck, 2000; Dweck, 2006; Good, Aronson, & Inzlicht, 2003; Good, Rattan, & Dweck, 2012; Hong, Chiu, Dweck, Lin, & Wan, 1999). It has also been found that teachers’ mindsets do not necessarily predict their students’ mindsets, namely because teachers do not always teach in ways that align with their mindset. Instead, their beliefs about the nature of mathematics have been found to predict student mindset (Sun, 2015). This may be because if teachers believe that mathematics is a subject of creativity and sense making (a multidimensional belief), they are more likely to teach in ways that emphasize conceptual development and reasoning (practices that convey a growth mindset to students), no matter their personal mindset. Whereas if teachers believe mathematics is more about the rote learning of facts and procedures (a one dimensional belief), they will present it as such (practices that convey a fixed mindset to students). The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between pre-service mathematics teachers’ beliefs and the mindset messages conveyed through their assessment practices. The study focuses on two beliefs: (1) beliefs about mathematics and (2) beliefs about ability (mindset); and three assessment practices: (1) the assessments pre-service teachers create, (2) the feedback they provide students on those assessments, and (3) the next steps they propose after analyzing student performance on the assessment.
Using a mixed-methods approach, this study combines a beliefs survey with an in-depth examination of assessments, and accompanying commentaries, submitted by six pre-service mathematics teachers. Assessments and commentaries were evaluated to determine the degree to which the described (and displayed) practices conveyed growth mindset messages, accomplished through the use of pre-existing rubrics created for the educative Teacher Preparation Assessment (edTPA), along with principles of grounded theory and the research on teaching practices that promote growth mindsets in students.
Results suggested that having a growth mindset had some relation to pre-service teachers’ (1) planning of growth mindset assessments, (2) use of multiple representations in assessments, and (3) providing of feedback related to students’ efforts. Whereas pre-service teachers with fixed mindsets appeared to leave (1) more technical feedback and (2) more feedback overall. Additionally, stronger multidimensional views appeared more related to the pre-service teachers’ (1) planning of growth mindset assessments, (2) use of multiple representations in assessments, (3) praising a student’s use of a solution method or property, (4) attempting a “strengths-needs” feedback structure, and (5) allowing students to resubmit work. Weaker multidimensional views appeared related to teachers leaving feedback that praised a students’ grade.
Findings of this study suggest that interventions aiming to change teacher mindsets may be insufficient for ensuring teachers engage in growth mindset practices. Instead, interventions should focus on changing teacher beliefs and practice concurrently (Philipp, 2007). Providing pre-service teachers with more specific training in the types of assessment practices that convey growth mindset messages to students, as well as requiring them to routinely reflect on their beliefs and practice, may help to accomplish these goals.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics Education
Thesis Advisors
Wasserman, Nick
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 21, 2018