Using the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scales with lower-primary teachers

Abstract

The Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scales (FSMAS) are among the most popular instruments used in studies of attitudes toward mathematics. However, the FSMAS has been mainly used among student populations and rarely used with teachers. In the present study, three scales from the FSMAS—Confidence, Effectance Motivation, and Anxiety—were revised and used with lower-primary (kindergarten to third grade) teachers. This study includes three parts: (1) a pilot study to ensure the modifications made to the FSMAS were appropriate to use with teachers, (2) confirmatory factor analyses to assess the factor structure of the revised FSMAS with 225 lower-primary teachers, and (3) measurement invariance analyses using data from a similar sample of 171 lower-primary teachers to examine whether the revised FSMAS measures each construct in the same way as in the previous sample. The final three-factor model, after removing three problematic items, achieves acceptable model fit, with each construct meeting all conditions for strict measurement invariance. Additionally, repeated measures analyses were performed on data collected from 39 in-service lower-primary teachers who participated in an elementary mathematics specialist program to examine the use of the revised FSMAS in program evaluation. Overall results suggest that researchers and program evaluators may use the revised FSMAS to reliably measure lower-primary teachers’ mathematical attitudes, and it can be a valuable tool for evaluating the effectiveness of professional development programs.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In this study, the sample was composed of kindergarten to third grade teachers of students, ages 5 to 9 years, in the USA. For addressing an international audience, the research team refers to this level as “lower primary.”

  2. 2.

    The research team uses “mathematical attitudes” and “attitudes toward learning mathematics” interchangeably.

  3. 3.

    Title I is a federal program that gives school districts additional federal funds based on the percentage of students in poverty served by the district.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation grant [DUE-0831835]. All findings are those of the authors and not necessarily of the NSF.

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Correspondence to Lixin Ren.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 4 The Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scales—Teacher Form (FSMAS-T)

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Ren, L., Green, J.L. & Smith, W.M. Using the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scales with lower-primary teachers. Math Ed Res J 28, 303–326 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13394-016-0168-0

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Keywords

  • Fennema-Sherman
  • FSMAS
  • Mathematical attitudes
  • Measurement validation
  • Professional development
  • Lower primary