Sandra Becker

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Alane Starko, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Nelson Maylone, PhD

Committee Member

Patricia Pokay, PhD


Academic efficacy plays a critical role in student success in math learning at all levels due to its impact on persistence, motivation, and academic performance. This research aimed to connect student efficacy with key aspects of the instructional environment in six undergraduate math classes. Student surveys indicated significant differences in mean efficacy between classes, as well as significant differences in student perceptions of teacher behavior between the efficacy groups. Findings from observations of the classes revealed that key aspects of the instructional discourse varied by efficacy group. Instructors in higher efficacy classes tended to have more personal connections with students and used more positive and encouraging language, particularly in response to student errors. These findings mirror the results of similar studies at the K-12 level and have important implications for teaching practice in higher education.