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Belonging in Urban Math Classrooms: Teacher Feedback for Coping Support and Socio-emotional Development

April 20, 2016, 4:15 pm - 5:30 pm
Location Richardson Hall - 223
Posted InCollege of Science and Mathematics

Speaker: Jamaal Sharif Matthews, Associate Professor, Educational Psychology, College of Education and Human Services, Montclair State University.

This study examines the role that feelings of frustration in mathematics have on perceptions of belonging in math classrooms for 272 ethnic minority adolescents. Through a concurrent mixed-method study, this work seeks to understand how feedback messages that math teachers provide to their students moderate the relation between frustration and perceptions of belonging in math class. First, using structured observations of math classrooms and student questionnaires, we find that math teachers’ quality of feedback to students buffers the relation between math frustration and a sense of belonging in math class. Here, students with math teachers who provide low quality and infrequent feedback messages experience a strong negative relation between frustration and belonging, while students with math teachers who provide high quality emotional and instructional feedback show only a slight negative relation between frustration and belonging. Second, qualitative data via semi-structured interviews with the teachers (n=7) of these same math classrooms were used to obtain a deeper understanding of the types of feedback messages as well as the psychological goals and assumptions that support these messages. The qualitative data suggests that powerful teacher feedback is more than just scaffolding and timely strategies; but also messages that create access to student belief systems (i.e., credible) as well as protect the psychological health of students.

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