The Impact of Teacher Interaction on the Achievement and Self-Efficacy of Students Within a Computer-Based, Developmental Mathematics Course

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A concern of our nation's universities and colleges is the number of students entering with what are considered to be sub-standard mathematics skills. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2001), in the fall of 2000, 24% of entering freshmen in 4-year institutions, and 53% of entering freshmen at 2-year institutions were enrolled in a developmental mathematics course.

Since developmental educators are increasing their use of technology to "re-teach" this population of students, understanding the role of the instructor in such a setting can inform developmental educators about the needs of the students, thereby potentially increasing the success rate in such courses. Success in developmental mathematics courses could lead to an increase in college-level retention rates and increase students' learning and achievement in credit-bearing mathematics courses.

The purpose of this study was to examine if teacher initiated interaction with developmental mathematics students studying in a computer-based classroom has an effect on their achievement or self-efficacy in mathematics. The study seeks to explore whether the role the instructor assumes is a factor in student success. Many theorists and researchers believe that teacher-student interaction and support/motivation provided by teachers are critical to students' mathematical achievement.

Through the use of a quantitative, experimental design, the researcher attempted to gain insight into the role of a developmental mathematics teacher, the achievement of students enrolled in a computerized class, as well as their feelings of self-efficacy toward mathematics. Six sections of an existing computer-based developmental mathematics course was the setting at a four-year research university in the mid-Atlantic area. The treatment provided by the teacher included: conducting brief initial interviews to obtain background information; initiating interaction and encouragement in every session; monitoring student progress; setting intermediate goals; e-mailing about absences; and verbalizing feedback on tests.

The repeated measure ANOVA results of this study indicated that there were significant improvements in student achievement, confidence, and attitude toward teacher when pre- and post- scores were compared in both the control and treatment group. However, no statistically significant difference occurred in achievement or self-efficacy when the classes were analyzed between groups; treatment group vs. control group.