Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13
Topics
Discussion
Announcements

Track Placement and the Motivational Predictors of Math Course Enrollment


by Marcela Reyes & Thurston Domina — 2017

Background: Virtually all high schools offer a range of courses to allow students to enroll in four years of high school mathematics. However, only two thirds of U.S. high school graduates took mathematics courses each school year.

Purpose/Research Question: This study addresses three research questions: First, how do students’ math course enrollment and motivational beliefs (i.e., self-efficacy in math, math utility, interest in math, and college expectations) differ by math track? Second, what is the relationship between students’ motivational beliefs and their decision to take four years of math? Third, to what extent does this relationship vary by math track and whether a student passes or fails a math course? Much of the relevant prior literature approaches these relations primarily from an individualistic psychological perspective, viewing motivation as a student-level attribute that similarly effects students’ decision-making process. By contrast, our analyses take a more contextual approach, focusing particular attention on the ways in which students’ math track placements shape their academic approaches and moderate the link between motivation and course-taking.

Research Design: This study uses secondary restricted-access data from the nationally representative Education Longitudinal Study (ELS: 2002). Students were surveyed and tested in mathematics during the base year (2002). In the follow-up (2004) year, data collectors requested academic transcripts for all participants along with follow-up student surveys and an additional math exam.

Findings: Our results coincide with previous motivation research that shows that students opt to take additional math courses when they are interested in math, consider themselves skillful in math, and have high college expectations. But the motivational predictors of math course enrollment vary with students’ initial math placement. For above-track students, interest in math is the strongest indicator that they will take four years of math, followed by self-efficacy in mathematics and college expectations, respectively. In contrast, for both low-track and on-track students, the strongest indicator of taking four years of math is college expectations.

Conclusions: Our study focused on students’ motivation and course enrollment, but this does not diminish the importance of tracking, curricular rigor, and teacher pedagogy. This study provides an additional way to improve inequities in math course enrollment, which is by making explicit recommendations for enhancing students’ motivation. Understanding which particular beliefs have the greatest influence on specific student groups allows educators to appropriately allocate limited resources and increase math course enrollment. This would likely be more effective than a one-size-fits-all approach.



To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Sign-in
Email:
Password:
Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
 
Purchase this Article
Purchase Track Placement and the Motivational Predictors of Math Course Enrollment
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
$12
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
$25
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.
$210


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 11, 2017, p. 1-34
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21991, Date Accessed: 11/22/2017 2:15:49 AM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
 
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Marcela Reyes
    University of California, Irvine
    E-mail Author
    MARCELA REYES is a Ph.D. candidate in the UC Irvine’s School of Education with a specialization in Educational Policy and Social Context. Her research falls along two broad streams of inquiry that contribute to adolescents’ college and career readiness. In the first line of inquiry, she follows how individuals’ psychological state (e.g., motivational beliefs) influences their English and math achievement. In the second line of inquiry, she investigates the sociological factors (e.g., opportunities to learn, educational policy) that contribute to students’ achievement. Her research has been published in Youth and Society and Learning and Individual Differences.
  • Thurston Domina
    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
    E-mail Author
    THURSTON DOMINA is associate professor of educational policy and sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His research seeks to better understand the relationship between education and social inequality in the contemporary United States, focusing particular attention on the role organizations play in student transitions from middle and high school into higher education.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue

Submit
EMAIL

Twitter

RSS