Theses Doctoral

Mindset Over Matter: How Does Parent Mathematical Mindset Relate To Student Mathematical Experience?

Barba, Kimberly Melissa

This study explored the relationship between (1) parent mathematical mindset and student mathematical experience (as determined by student mathematical mindset, student mathematical achievement, and student mathematical grit), (2) participant general mindset and participant mathematical mindset, and (3) student general grit and student mathematical grit. Participants included 14 high school seniors and their active parent(s) or guardian(s) (N=38). The research followed a hermeneutical phenomenological approach - a qualitative research methodology characterized by finding meaning through the subjective interpretation of participants. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected to describe the phenomenon of student mathematical experience, as well as the internal consistency of mindsets as applied to general intelligence and mathematical intelligence.

A moderate positive association was found between participants' general mindsets and mathematical mindsets. Despite the consistencies, 37% of participants had mathematical mindsets that were in tension with their general mindset. The present study advocates that general mindsets and mathematical mindsets are not as closely associated, thereby supporting the theory that mindsets can vary by subject domain.

In contrast, a strong positive association was found between students' general grit and their mathematical grit. To that effect, the study contributed to the field in two ways: (1) by exposing further variability in mindsets dependent on subject domain; and (2) by exposing grit as more fundamentally consistent than mindset when applied to different subject domains.

Additionally, parent mathematical mindset is not associated with student mathematical mindset. It's possible that (1) parents' mathematical mindsets are not visible to their children, (2) parents suppress their beliefs regarding mathematical intelligence, or (3) external factors, such as cultural influences, compete in shaping students' mindsets.

Finally, although no relation was found between parent mathematical mindset and both student GPA and SAT score, an inverse relationship was observed between parent mathematical mindset and student highest-level mathematics course taken. Markedly, students of parents with a mathematics-fixed mindset appear to take more advanced mathematics courses, whereas students of parents with a mathematics-growth mindset appear to take lower-level courses. This suggests that student effort may be in tension with the evaluation of effort by their parents.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics Education
Thesis Advisors
Wasserman, Nicholas Henning
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 10, 2019