Transferring the stigma of mathematics during COVID-19 : exploring correlations between parent and student perceptions about mathematics.


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This correlational study examined the relationship between parent and student attitudes and perceptions about mathematics. Compulsory education lists mathematics as one of the four core subjects. The State of Texas assesses students annually in third-grade mathematics through Algebra I, and some districts require students to take four years of mathematics in high school. Every child’s class schedule most likely consists of a mathematics course. The role parents play when assisting with mathematical tasks outside of school can alter a student’s perceptions about the content area. This dynamic pivoted drastically in March 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic as schools shifted to remote learning and parent support became a pillar in the attempt to ensure instructional continuity. With the global pandemic forcing families into quarantine and classrooms shifting from brick-and-mortar schools to kitchen tables, parents’ expectancies, attitudes, and perceptions created from prior experiences when learning mathematics could transfer to their child and impact the student’s self-concept about the subject. Rosenthal and Jacobson’s (1968) Pygmalion effect, or self-fulfilling prophecy, served as the theoretical framework for this study while specifically analyzing the correlation between parent beliefs about mathematics and their child’s perceptions about mathematics. This study examined the statistical relationship between the attitudes and perceptions about mathematics of parents and their secondary students. This research guides entities that educate parents about best practices in childhood development and those that provide suggestions for assisting adolescents with academic support. Additionally, this study adds to the existing bodies of research around the impact of adult mindsets on children’s mathematical potential, explicitly addressing the gap in research around the impact of parent attitudes and perceptions. As the era of educational reform transitions away from teacher-centered instructional practices to those that rely on student agency and problem-solving skills, the impact of this research has the potential to shift societal mindsets about mathematics and justify the need to adapt to the everchanging learner profile.



Mathematics. COVID-19. Pygmalion effect. Parents. Students.