K-8 Teachers’ Overall and Gender-Specific Beliefs About Mathematical Aptitude

Yasemin Copur-Gencturk, Ian Thacker, David Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Teachers’ beliefs play a significant role in students’ academic attainment and career choices. Despite comparable attainment levels between genders, persistent stereotypes and beliefs that certain disciplines require innate ability and that men and women have different ability levels impede students’ academic career paths. In this study, we examined the prevalence of US mathematics teachers’ explicit general and gender-specific beliefs about mathematical ability and identified which teacher characteristics were associated with these beliefs. An analysis of data from 382 K-8 teachers in the USA indicated that overall, teachers disagreed with the idea that general and gender-specific mathematical ability is innate and agreed with the idea that hard work and dedication are required for success in mathematics. However, our findings indicate that those who believed mathematics requires brilliance also tended to think girls lacked this ability. We also found that teachers who were teaching mathematics to 11- to 14-year-old students seemed to believe that mathematics requires innate ability compared with teachers who were teaching mathematics to 5- to 10-year-old students. In addition, more experienced teachers and teachers who worked with special education students seemed to believe less in the role of hard work in success in mathematics, which could have serious consequences for shaping their students’ beliefs about their academic self-concept and future career-related decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1251-1269
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Caroline Brayer Ebby and Jonathan A. Supovitz for their help conduct us this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan.


  • Gender-specific ability beliefs
  • Mathematics-specific ability beliefs
  • Teachers’ beliefs


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