Can a teacher intervention improve classroom practices and student motivation in mathematics?
Classroom practices believed to affect student motivation were assessed for 24 upper elementary school teachers during a unit on fractions. Two groups of mathematics “reform-minded” teachers participated in professional development programs – in either an intensive intervention or an intervention involving primarily teacher support. A 3rd group of teachers implemented traditional, text-based instruction and was not involved in any intervention. For most practices assessed, the 2 reform-minded groups of teachers did not differ significantly from each other, but both differed from the traditional teachers. The reform minded teachers emphasized effort, mastery, and understanding more; encourage student autonomy more; and created a psychologically safer environment than the traditional teachers did. The teachers in the intensive intervention, which included training in motivation, made more accurate judgments of students’ motivation than the other reform-minded teachers did. There was modest evidence that the teachers who had had only minimal training in reform-minded practices had negative effects on student’s motivation (e.g., lower self-confidence and increased concerns about performance).