Date of Award:

2016

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Ann M. Berghout Austin

Abstract

Previous experiences with mathematics, particularly negative ones, can influence an individual’s attitudes toward mathematics. Children’s first experiences with mathematics are often in their childcare settings. Elementary teachers appear to have more mathematics anxiety than other professionals, but the level of mathematics anxiety among childcare providers is not known. The presence of mathematics anxiety correlates with lower teacher self-efficacy or the teacher’s belief of how effective he/she is in influencing a student’s learning. Grounded in Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy, this study examined the level of mathematics anxiety and teacher self-efficacy among 122 licensed Utah childcare providers in center and family home childcare. Providers responded to a survey assessing their attitudes about mathematics, feelings of teacher self-efficacy, frequency of developmentally appropriate mathematics and reading activities in the childcare program, and demographic information. Descriptive statistics, correlations, and one-way ANOVAs were calculated. Results indicate that the participants reported more favorable than anxious attitudes toward mathematics as well as moderately high feelings of teacher self-efficacy. There were no statistically significant differences in mathematics anxiety or teacher self-efficacy by the type of childcare provided, provider’s level of education, or years of experience. Results of the ANOVAs revealed that the best predictors of mathematics anxiety were provider attitudes toward reading/literacy as well as the number of developmentally appropriate mathematics and reading activities provided. As providers showed an increase in favorable attitudes toward reading/literacy, they also expressed less mathematics anxiety. This is the first study of its kind to assess these variables among childcare providers.

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