Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. H. Thompson Prout

Second Advisor

Dr. Ellen Usher


In this two-part dissertation, the sources of self-efficacy were investigated for elementary and middle school students in mathematics classrooms. In the first study, the Sources of Middle School Mathematics Scale (Usher & Pajares, 2009) was validated with a younger sample. Participants included 367 fourth- through sixth-grade students; these participants completed two surveys investigating their beliefs regarding their capabilities to perform successfully in mathematics. This study included an examination of the psychometric properties and a confirmatory factor analysis of the Sources of Middle School Mathematics Self-Efficacy Scale, and an investigation into the relative power of mastery experience, vicarious experience, social persuasions, and physiological state to predict self-efficacy. This scale demonstrates adequate reliability and validity to be used successfully with younger students.

The goal of the second study was to examine social persuasions in greater detail by focusing on the feedback teachers provide to their students during mathematics instruction. The Teacher Feedback Scale (Burnett, 2002) and several self-efficacy measures were administered at two time points to a subset (N = 290) of the fourth- through sixth-grade students from Study 1. The reliability and validity of the Teacher Feedback Scale was explored, as well as the relative power of positive, negative, ability, and effort feedback to predict self-efficacy. Negative feedback was the strongest predictor of student mathematics self-efficacy; positive and ability feedback were also significant predictors. Effort feedback was not a significant predictor of self-efficacy.

This dissertation makes a relevant contribution to the fields of educational and school psychology by providing additional evidence for the validity of these scales and by exploring teacher feedback through the lens of social cognitive theory. Results from this study can also be used to help mathematics teachers interact with their students in ways that will bolster self-efficacy.