Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair

Karp, Karen, 1951-

Author's Keywords

Efficacy; Math; Rural; Self-efficacy; Female; Women


Mathematical readiness; Mathematical ability; Mathematics--Study and teaching (Higher)--Kentucky; Women--Kentucky--Intellectual life


This dissertation study was a two-part investigation with a sample of undergraduate students from three community and technical colleges and one university in the state of Kentucky. The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors that contribute to the mathematics self-efficacy of rural Central Appalachian undergraduate females. Two subscales of the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scale, the Confidence in Learning Mathematics and the Effectance Motivation Scale in Mathematics, were used to identify potential interview subjects. The 596 subjects, including 360 females and 236 males, also completed a questionnaire designed to determine their classification as being from rural Central Appalachia, other Appalachia, or non-Appalachia. Female students from rural Central Appalachia were divided into two categories: negative mathematic attitude and positive mathematics attitude. Thirty-seven interviews were conducted resulting in 15 interviews from students in the negative mathematics attitude category and 22 interviews from students in the positive mathematics attitude category. Interviews were coded according to the four contributors to self-efficacy as defined by Bandura (1997). The contributors are enactive mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social/verbal persuasions, and physiological and affective states. Results indicate that students in the negative mathematics attitude category did not receive regular feedback for their efforts to learn mathematics. They also identified with peers that were struggling. Students in the positive mathematics attitude category received regular positive feedback to reinforce their self-efficacy. The students in the positive category also wanted not only to increase their mathematics abilities but to help other students understand mathematics.