Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Steven R. Wininger, Director, Dr. Carl Myers, Dr. Janet Tassell

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Specialist in Education


The current study examined whether males and females differed in math achievement and held different beliefs regarding the malleability of math ability at the elementary level. The study also explored the relationships between students’ implicit theories of math ability, math interest, and math achievement. Potential grade level differences in math trait beliefs were also investigated. Study participants consisted of a total of 1802 students from six elementary schools that participate in the Gifted Education in Math and Science (GEMS) Project. Project GEMS is a federal grant project seeking to encourage science and math interest and achievement in children from lowincome and diverse populations. Data were analyzed by means of Pearson correlations and one-way analysis of variance. Male and female math achievement was equivalent. No gender or grade level differences were observed in implicit theories of math ability. As predicted, students who believed their math abilities were malleable earned higher math achievement scores. Several limitations of this study are discussed and recommendations for further investigation are presented. Findings from this study suggest it is important to consider the impact of domain specific beliefs on math achievement, which may have implications for early identification and supports for those students who may be vulnerable to poor achievement outcomes.


Cognition and Perception | Psychology