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

Teacher efficacy; Mathematics; Early childhood


Mathematics teachers; Early childhood educators


This dissertation was a correlational study conducted with a population of pre-k educators from a large Midwestern, metropolitan school district. The purpose was to examine if relations existed among early childhood teachers' sense of self efficacy, their beliefs about the importance of mathematics and teachers' mathematics instructional practices. There is strong reason to believe that teachers' mathematics beliefs and conceptions about the subject matter and its teaching play a vital role in their effectiveness as mediators between the subject and the learner. Examining teachers' efficacy and beliefs can inform educational practice and differentiate between successful and less successful instructional practices in teaching mathematics in the early childhood classroom. The research and observations of what early childhood teachers know and believe they are able to do has a profound effect on the way they teacher and on ultimately their students mathematical literacy development. Data were collected on teacher efficacy and teacher beliefs about the importance of mathematics with two self-report questionnaires. The hypothesis that the teachers higher in efficacy will rate the importance of mathematics higher on the Teacher Belief Scale than the teachers with lower efficacy was found to be true with this sample, but the correlation was weak. The level of efficacy of the early childhood teachers in this sample confirmed that in assessing their capabilities they rate themselves high in instructional strategies, classroom management and student engagement. The early childhood teachers did not rate their mathematics beliefs as high as their efficacy. The belief rating may reflect the lack of consensus among early childhood teachers that mathematics is important for preschool children. Observations of mathematics instructional practices were conducted with twenty teachers. It was hypothesized that the combination of high Teacher Efficacy and high Teacher Mathematics Beliefs would show alignment with the presence of standards based Mathematics Instructional Practices. The results were not statistically significant. No correlation signals a need for more research to explore what other personal or external factors relate to mathematics instructional practices in the early childhood classroom. The research will inform pre-k teachers about effective instructional strategies and knowledge needed to launch early childhood students on a developmentally appropriate pathway to mathematical literacy.