Mathematics Learning Study


About the Project

The Mathematics Learning Study was a one-year study of fifth grade students designed to examine how teachers’ practices contribute to students’ engagement in mathematics instruction and students’ subsequent mathematics achievement.

Our perspective on engagement considered children’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral engagement in learning.

The Research

We gathered data in 2010-2011 in 85 fifth grade mathematics classrooms and 387 students. As a result of this work, we learned:

  • When students received high levels of emotional support in their classrooms, the were more likely to be engaged. For instance, students were more likely to say they worked hard in class and were less likely to feel bored. Students were also more likely to show social engagement with their peers in ways that were integrated into the math instruction. (See Rimm-Kaufman, Baroody, Larsen, Curby & Abry, 2015).

  • Students were more likely to report high engagement in classrooms that were emotionally supportive. Further, the high level of teacher emotional support appeared to compensate if students felt low self-efficacy in math. If a teacher offered high emotional support, students were more likely to be engaged, regardless of whether they felt effective or not in math. But, when teachers offered little emotional support, students high in self-efficacy still reported being engaged. However, students who felt less effective at math also reported lower engagement. (See Martin & Rimm-Kaufman, 2015; Banse, Curby, Palacios, & Rimm-Kaufman, 2018).