Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 139–164

The relationship among elementary teachers’ content knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices



This study investigated 481 in-service elementary teachers’ level of mathematical content knowledge, attitudes toward mathematics, beliefs about the effectiveness of inquiry-based instruction, use of inquiry-based instruction and modeled the relationship among these variables. Upper elementary teachers (grades 3–5) were found to have greater content knowledge and more positive attitudes toward mathematics than primary teachers (grades K-2). There was no difference in teachers’ beliefs about effective instruction, but primary level teachers were found to use inquiry-based instruction more frequently than upper elementary teachers. Consistent with Ernest’s [Ernest (1989). The knowledge, beliefs and attitudes of the mathematics teacher: A model. Journal of Education for Teaching, 15(1), 13–33] model of mathematics teaching, content knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs were all found to be related to teachers’ instructional practice. Furthermore, beliefs were found to partially mediate the effects of content knowledge and attitudes on instructional practice. Content knowledge was found to be negatively related to beliefs in the effectiveness of inquiry-based instruction and teachers’ use of inquiry-based instruction in their classrooms. However, overall, teachers with more positive attitudes toward mathematics were more likely to believe in the effectiveness of inquiry-based instruction and use it more frequently in their classroom. Teacher beliefs were found to have the strongest effect on teachers’ practice. Implications for the goals and objectives of elementary mathematics methods courses and professional development are discussed.


Teacher mathematics attitudes Teacher beliefs Teacher mathematics content knowledge Instruction 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teaching and LearningVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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