Students’ engagement in Math is a topic receiving more attention now societies are emphasising the importance of STEM. An article recently published in Frontiers in Psychology explored whether students’ math engagement would be influenced by their beliefs about “implicit theory”. They did this by asking a cohort of Chinese students whether they believed math ability was fixed or malleable, then examining whether the answer affected their math engagement. They also explored how students’ self-efficacy and the intrinsic value they gave to Math influenced the relationship.
The data were collected from 370 students in Grade 8 and 369 students in Grade 11 in China in two waves of assessment. In the first wave, participating students completed the measures of their implicit theory, academic self-efficacy, and intrinsic value. Their Math engagement was then assessed twelve months later. The analysis showed that:
- Believing math ability can be changed had a positive effect on students’ math engagement.
- The link between implicit theory and math engagement was mediated by intrinsic values. Students who believed math ability can be changed were more likely to enjoy Math and recognize its importance, therefore being more engaged in the subject.
- For students who had low academic self-efficacy, the relationship between their beliefs and math engagement was stronger than that of students with high academic self-efficacy. While students with low self-efficacy might more frequently find math problems challenging, their incremental beliefs supported them to overcome difficulties and engage in learning.
The authors concluded that students in poor academic condition might benefit from implicit theory interventions, such as encouraging their participation and efforts, praising them for progress, and using different approaches to appraise them.
Source (Open Access): Jiang, S., Liu, R. D., Ding, Y., Fu, X., Sun, Y., Jiang, R., & Hong, W. (2020). Implicit theories and engagement in math among Chinese adolescent students: A moderated mediation model of intrinsic value and academic self-efficacy. Frontiers in Psychology. Advanced Online Publication. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01325