Dissertation Defense – Patrice Parker

March 11, 2014 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
College of Education, room 650
30 Pryor Street Southwest
Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303

An Examination of the Impact of Pedagogical Preparation, Teaching Experience and Future Career Plans on Mathematics Graduate Teaching Assistants’ Efficacy
by Patrice LaVette Parker

The urgency of improving teaching and learning in undergraduate mathematics education is deepening (Fox & Hakerman, 2003) and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) are becoming increasingly responsible for taking on this task. However, differences in GTAs training, GTAs actual teaching experience, and the goals and aspirations these students set for themselves, makes it difficult to assess the GTAs efficacy and ultimately their effectiveness in the undergraduate classroom. Denham and Michael (1981) “theorized that a teacher’s sense of self-efficacy is a strong mediating variable in teacher effectiveness and consequent to student achievement” (Prieto & Altmaier, 1994, p. 482). Realizing the significance of teacher efficacy in the undergraduate mathematics classroom, the aims of this study were (a) to examine the impact pedagogical preparation, teaching experience and future career plans (FCP) have on teacher efficacy (TE) and (b) to determine whether pedagogical preparation, teaching experience and FCP together are significant predictors of TE. This correlational study used an ex post facto design in order to evaluate variables such as pedagogical preparation, teaching experience, and future career plans with no manipulation of any kind. Data was collected regarding the demographics and teaching beliefs of each voluntary GTA from the participating mathematics departments classified by Carnegie as research universities-extensive. In this correlational study, Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation (Pearson’s correlation) was used to examine the relationship between pedagogical preparation, teaching experience and future career plans with TE. A test of multiple regressions was also conducted to determine the significant predictors of teacher efficacy. Positive relationships were found between pedagogical preparation, K-12 teaching experience, future career plans and TE. K-12 teaching experience and future career plans were also found to be significant predictors of TE. Findings from this study stand to inform future efforts to support the professional growth of future mathematics instructors by identifying the specific experiences of graduate teaching assistants that serve to enhance the quality of teaching an_d learning in the undergraduate classroom. Having knowledge of particular professional and educational experiences that enhance GTAs teacher efficacy, researchers will be in a better position to answer the question: How do we improve teacher effectiveness?