Stem Mentoring Program's Influence on Students' Efficacy
Americans, know we can and should do better. Democratic Platform Standing Committee, 2008) The U. S. educational system is fundamentally failing its responsibility to prepare today’s students for the future. Three decades have passed since the publication of A Nation at Risk, and yet American students’ performance in mathematics remains mediocre (Schmidt, 2012). MacPhee (2013) explains that improving mathematics achievement among this population will increase the opportunities to secure jobs in STEM fields which will expand the social and economic opportunities for individuals from these disadvantaged groups (Macphee, Farro, & Canetto, 2013). Fryer and Levitt(2004), concluded that, if the nation can support decreasing the achievement gap that arises by the end of middle school, it would begin to address the reduction in racial wage inequality.
In summary, research supports the idea of the need to provide interventions in the early primary grades using supplemental educational programs which could have long-ranging and cumulative effects, especially for under-represented students who have the potential to achieve at the highest levels. In his article Tell Students: Yes, You Can, Drew (2015), concludes that interventions that addressed student self-efficacy; reduced the achievement gaps between financially capable and incapable students, between mainstream and marginalized students, and between male and females. Essentially, Drew determined the construct to be essential to improving achievement as well as developing students educational and career aspirations. It seems possible that students’ perceptions of their learning environments also affect their efficacy beliefs. However, According to Ames, (1992), he argues that students perceive their learning environments differently, and classroom structures may not provide a typical experience for all students.
Each learner’s perception is determined by their observations and responses to events that occur in their class. Existing research has suggested that math interest greatly shapes students’ decisions to pursue STEM fields and that many students who choose STEM careers make that choice in high school. The introduction of maths classes to children in elementary school through to middles is an essential step in placing them in advanced placement math courses in preparation for STEM careers (Katz, 2015). They have low aspirations and weak commitment to the goals they choose to pursue. When faced with difficult tasks, they dwell on their academic weaknesses rather than concentrating on how to solve problems successfully. Previous research findings which investigated the influence of mentoring programs on ’ self-efficacy have concluded that increased self-efficacy is one of the outcomes of mentoring programs (Tsui, 2014), and the mentoring of minority students has been successful amongst college students, resulting in higher GPAs, lower attrition, and increased self-efficacy.
Mentoring has been said to facilitate student academic and social interactions. Kerr and Robinson Kurpius (2004) found that minority and low-income females who participated in a day of scheduled STEM activities which included discussions with female researchers increased their motivation to seek information regarding the pursuit of STEM careers and follow-up mentoring raised the young females’ achievement and self-efficacy. or higher. The mentors that were highly efficacious in mathematics and science were selected to work in low-performing schools during the regular instructional math period under the guidance of the mathematics educator. In 2015, I conducted a qualitative study on the mentors’ perception of their influence on the mathematics learning of the fifth-grade math students; I noted that a dominating theme of perseverance emerged from the qualitative interviews.
The mentors explained that they persevered with the students until the math was understood perfectly; and as they persisted with the struggling students, the student persevered with the learning of mathematics. Perseverance, a critical psychological construct, matters for mathematics learning because solving challenging arithmetic problems and reasoning about arithmetic ideas often requires a kind of uncomfortable persistence. They are strongly influenced by cultural stereotypes regarding their capabilities. Schunk and Meece, 2006, further argue that students’ experiences are instrumental in forming their self-efficacy beliefs. Midgley, Feldlaufer, and Eccles, (1989) study have found that math self-efficacy declines as students transition to middle school. Son et al. research reports that vicarious experiences, observations of modelling math skills, are a major influence of self-efficacy beliefs for adolescent students.
Purpose of the Study The core purpose of this exploratory, descriptive research study is to examine the mathematics self-efficacy of elementary school fourth-grade students before their introduction to a STEM mentoring program and using both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. The descriptive research will study the mathematics self-efficacy of the fourth-grade students as a cohort, sub-populations and individually. Patterns of Adaptive Learning Scales will provide the fourth-grade students' base-line math self-efficacy data, then; a statistical paired samples t-test will be conducted after the students’ familiarization with the STEM mentoring programs’ intervention to determine the significance level of the change. The information garnered includes the students' gender, ethnicity, prior years’ assessment results using the following classifications: failure, approaching grade-level, meeting grade-level or mastering grade-level standards.
Both descriptive and inferential statistical analysis will be used to assess the following subpopulations: special education, gifted and talented, limited English proficient, low socio-economic status, or having been previously retained, from the pre-to-post survey. The process of recognizing and assigning meaning to sensory input (Schunk, 2015). • Positive Reinforcement. A stimulus that, when presented following response, increases the future likelihood of the response occurring in that situation. • Self-Efficacy. Personal beliefs concerning one’s capabilities to organize and implement actions necessary to learn or perform behaviours at designated levels. Learning that occurs without overt performance, such as by observing live or symbolic models. Significance of the Study Previous educational research has found that that student with high mathematics self-efficacy, regardless of the previous achievement of persisting longer on complicated math problems and are more accurate in math computations than are those with lower math self-efficacy.
Math self-efficacy is also a stronger predictor of math performance than is either math anxiety or previous math experience (Pajares & Miller, 1995). Students with high mathematics self-efficacy are more likely to pursue a STEM major upon college entrance (Fan, Zou, & Bahrman, 2016). In comparison, the student with low mathematics self-efficacy doubt their capabilities, shy from mathematics challenges and give up quickly. The STEM under-graduate mentorship began with one campus and over the past three years has grown to elementary 13 campuses during the 2016-2017 academic year. The mentoring program recruits their STEM undergraduates from local community colleges, as well as four-year universities, including some of the top universities in the nation. This mentorship program is unique on three levels: first, it is a program that provides support during classroom instruction which offers more instructional support for students and decreases the student to instructor ratio.
Second, to this, the mentors are highly efficacious in mathematics due to their STEM background and high GPAs. Lastly, the mentors engage in assisting the teachers acting as social models that are closer in age to the students making them more relatable. Chapter 1 will include an introduction, statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, research questions, research hypothesis, theoretical framework, and significance of this study. Chapter 2 will be a thorough discussion of relevant research regarding mathematics self-efficacy, its influence on student’s learning and sources of self-efficacy, as well as role of mentors in the development of self-efficacy. Chapter 3 will be a discussion of the research methodology. Chapter 3 will include an introduction to the methodology, research design, instrumentation, treatment data collection, analysis and the limitations of the study.
Chapter 4 will include the analysis of the data. Social models in the cognitive appraisal of self-efficacy information. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 48, 149–166. Bandura, A. Perceived Self-Efficacy in Cognitive Development and Functioning. Educational Psychologist. Psychological Review, 84(2), 191-215. Bandura, Albert. Social learning theory. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Bandura, Albert. L. Pajares, F. Sources of science self-efficacy beliefs of middle school students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43, 485–499. Brown, S. Merritt, E. G. Patton, C. L. The Responsive Classroom approach and fifth grade students’ math and science anxiety and self-efficacy. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press. DuBois, D. L. Holloway, B. E. J. Bocian, K. A. Cardullo, R. A. H. How to design and evaluate research in education (8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Fryer, R. L. and S. E. Robinson Kurpius (2004). Encouraging Talented Girls in Math and Science: Effects of a guidance intervention. High Ability Studies 15(1): 85-102 Lewis, J. A. Con Cariño: Teacher Caring, Math Self-Efficacy, and Math Achievement Among Hispanic English Learners. Teachers College Record, 114(70302). Meece, J. L. Z. Anderman, E. Freeman, K. E. Gheen, M. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 38(1), 11–21. org/10. j. cedpsych. Olszewski-Kubilius, P. January). Overview of social cognitive theory and self-efficacy. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://www. emory. edu/EDUCATION/mfp/eff. Schunk, D. Meece, J. Self-efficacy development in adolescence. In F. Pajares & T. Spring, J. American education. ed. New York, NY, McGraw Hill. Stevens, T. Usher, E. L. Pajares, F. Sources of academic and self-regulatory efficacy beliefs of entering middle school students.
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