Similar but not congruent : a quantitative study exploring the difference between secondary math teachers’ personal responsibility and self-efficacy for student engagement.

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Engaging secondary students in mathematics is essential to increasing students’ mathematical performance (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2014). However, a relevant problem regarding student engagement in secondary mathematics is that even with the necessary knowledge of behaviors and instructional strategies that demonstrate increased engagement, educators’ pedagogic practices show minimal evidence of implementing those practices (Goldspink et al., 2008). While a few studies have shown that a teacher’s absence of engagement strategies often stems from the teacher’s lack of self-efficacy for obtaining the desired outcome (Hardré, 2011; Hardré & Sullivan, 2009; Zee & Koomen, 2016), teachers’ personal responsibility (willingness) to stimulate student engagement must also be a consideration (Lauermann & Karabenick, 2013). This study explored the differences between Texas secondary math teachers’ personal responsibility and self-efficacy levels for student engagement outcomes of student motivation, student achievement, relationships with students, and teaching. Incorporating convenience sampling, the Teacher Responsibility Scale was administered to 201 practicing secondary math teachers in Texas through an anonymous online survey. Data from teacher surveys revealed that teachers’ personal responsibility and self-efficacy levels differ statistically for student engagement outcomes of student motivation, student achievement, and relationships with students. Additionally, this research determined that secondary math teachers in Texas are the most willing to accept personal responsibility for teaching and are the least willing to accept personal responsibility for motivating students. The theory of Teachers’ Locus of Control may account for variations in teachers’ levels of responsibility. Creating professional development focused on helping secondary math teachers better understand the complex nuances of student motivation in mathematics serves as a primary implication of this research. Teachers must be well versed in fostering student motivation given the impact increased student motivation levels have in forming positive teacher-student relationships and increasing student achievement (Corso et al., 2013). While content delivery is an important element of mathematics teaching, math teachers must also recognize the value of embedding effective and engaging pedagogical practices within instruction.

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