Academic Agency: The Impact of Underlying Dispositions that Affect Teachers’ Sense of Responsibility to Educate all Children in a Middle Grades Mathematics Classroom


  • Lisa Lanette Poling Appalachian State University


Based on the novel framework of Academic Agency, this study explored how a teacher’s sense of efficacy, commitment, and knowledge influenced their overall sense of responsibility in instructing all children in the science of mathematics. This study employed a two-phase data collection process in which surveys, classroom interviews, and observations were used to examine practicing teacher’s beliefs regarding efficacy, commitment, content knowledge, and responsibility. Pearson Correlation and Multiple Linear Regression were employed as analysis tools to identify the direction and strength of the relationships existing between variables. Findings suggest that there is a positive correlation between a teacher’s sense of efficacy and their overall sense of responsibility and also a teacher’s sense of efficacy and of mathematics teaching efficacy. The second phase of the study, participant interviews, and observations provided a more detailed look at how four purposefully selected educators enacted their articulated beliefs. Hour-long semi-structured interviews were conducted along with classroom observation. The qualitative data collected from the four individuals were analyzed using NVivo software. Based on recorded coding structures, individuals were placed into four predetermined categories ranging from Custodial Emphasis to Focused Academic Agent. Findings suggest that a sense of responsibility may be a factor in educational decisions.