A comparative study between rural and metropolitan contexts on student self-efficacy in secondary school mathematics

PhD Thesis

Connor, Vincent Brian. (2021). A comparative study between rural and metropolitan contexts on student self-efficacy in secondary school mathematics [PhD Thesis]. Australian Catholic University School of Education https://doi.org/10.26199/acu.8xqxy
AuthorsConnor, Vincent Brian
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

As the world moves increasingly into the digital age, social commentators outline the growing importance for school graduates to have in-depth knowledge and understanding of mathematics. However, students are not embracing the need for studying the levels of mathematics required. The drop in the number of students achieving higher levels in benchmark tests is associated with the decline in participation in advanced courses. This phenomenon is considered worse for rural based students than their metropolitan counterparts.

A comparative study between rural and metropolitan based secondary school students was established to investigate the reasons for students not participating in the advanced study of mathematics. Self-efficacy in mathematics has a substantial influence on achievement and participation in mathematics. As self-efficacy is formed through a triadic reciprocal determinism between personal characteristics, behaviour and environment, it was anticipated that self-efficacy and its sources would differ between rural and metropolitan locations and explain the difference in participation and achievement in advanced mathematics. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems were used to explore the environmental influences of student survey data.

However, the 869 student surveys from Year 7, 9 and 11 in 6 different schools showed their perceived self-efficacy across a range of mathematical strands, levels of difficulty, and sources were mainly the same for rural and metropolitan based students. These data were further informed by the commentary from 16 teachers, the principals, and the website descriptions of this sample's schools through a mixed-methods process. The outcome of this analysis indicated the drivers of the school were not based on the geolocation but the culture of the school’s system, the school’s organisation and the focus of the teaching and teachers. Good practice drives good schools, not geolocation

Keywordsself-efficacy; rural based students; secondary school mathematics; Bronfenbrener’s ecological systems; comparative study
PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26199/acu.8xqxy
Page range1-267
Final version
File Access Level
Supplementary Files (Layperson Summary)
File Access Level
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online07 Apr 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited07 Apr 2022
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