Marla Mastin

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


This qualitative* study focuses on the influence of three elementary teachers' attitudes on a mathematics curricular change. The study takes place in a small school district in southeastern New York. A collection of data was facilitated by observations, interviews, and journal entries for a period of nine months.

The analysis of the data resulted in six themes: (a) The three participants saw the rationale for the curricular change as suspect; (b) they also saw selected components of the new program as problematic; (c) two of the pai'ticipants felt that as they became more involved in the new mathematics curriculum their roles as teachers became more student- centered, whereas the third participant remained teacher oriented throughout; (d) the participants were apprehensive when trying to implement a curriculum based upon an unfamiliar philosophy (constructivism); (e) two of the participants became more committed to the curricular change as their students experienced more success, whereas the third participant was affected, but to a lesser degree; and (f) two of the participants felt their attitudes and teaching behaviors had improved considerably, while one participant remained ambivalent.

Several educational implications grew from this study. First, teachers are more apt to be influenced by experiencing the innovative pedagogy than by the passive, traditional lecture and reading approach to curriculum change. Confronting and challenging teachers* attitudes must be an integral part of teacher development. Also, teachers may regress and return to their original teaching practices if they do not feel successful. Most significantly, teacher change is important, but poorly understood.

Based on the findings of this study and research by others such as Zollman and Mason (1992), Thompson (1992), and Raymond (1995) that suggests that there is an important relationship between teachers' attitudes and teachers' behaviors, the following recommendations are made: Offer an ongoing inservice program available to everyone which is based upon the principles of the curriculum to be implemented, develop an evaluation plan that incorporates a support group to help teachers understand where they are in the change process, and lastly, encourage future research.