Math Attitudes of Gifted Students: A Focus on Gifted Girls in the Elementary Grades

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Virginia Tech

This study explored the math attitudes of gifted students in grades three, four, five, and six participating in an accelerated math program with a focus on gifted girls in the elementary grades. Eight of the nine domains of the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scale (MAS) were used to survey the math attitudes of 267 gifted boys and girls, in grades three through six. The domains explored the math attitudes of students within the following areas; attitude towards success, mother's attitude, father's attitude, anxiety, motivation, usefulness, teacher's attitude, and confidence. This study includes research involving gifted education; math attitudes, and educational applications of Bandura's social learning theory.

Survey responses were used to compile descriptive and inferential statistics. Using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and a predetermined alpha level of .05, a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) compared the groups within the domain clusters. Data analysis yielded two significant main effects in anxiety (.002) and motivation (.008). Anxiety emerged as the most significant finding of the study. Girls revealed more negative math attitudes compared to the boys at all grade levels. Interaction in motivation between fourth and sixth grade and fifth and sixth grade were significant at the.05 level.

The results of this study may be used as a vehicle or catalyst for the implementation of a school or district wide training program for teachers of gifted students. These results could be used to spawn discussions with guidance counselors and others investigating the emotional and academic implications of accelerated math programs.

Gifted, Environment, Attitude, Mathematics, Social Learning