Teacher immediacy and learning mathematics: Effects on students with divergent mathematical aptitudes

Ryan McCluskey, Jerry Dwyer, Sonya Sherrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Undergraduates pursue degrees in disciplines in which they hold an affect or possess an interest. Math and science majors possess a positive affect for mathematics; however, to maximize the number of math majors, it is important to boost the motivation of non-math majors to learn mathematics. This study examines the relationships between instructors’ nonverbal immediacy and (1) affective learning of math, (2) affect for math, and (3) affect for the instructor. Participants were 426 freshmen (math and non-math majors) at a public university in the southwest United States. Comparisons were made between students enrolled in calculus and algebra courses. Comparisons between groups of varying math aptitude were also examined. Immediacy was moderately correlated with students’ affective learning (0.38), with the strongest correlation for those with medium math aptitude (0.47). When affective learning was restricted to affect for the subject content, an even stronger correlation was found for students with medium math aptitude (0.49). There was no significant difference between the correlations for immediacy and affective learning for calculus students and algebra students. An even stronger positive correlation (0.61) was found between immediacy and affect for the instructor. Results suggest that, regardless of aptitude for mathematics, students enrolled in mathematics courses who perceive their instructors to be immediate have a greater positive affect toward the instructor and the mathematics content. Surprisingly, students with an average aptitude in mathematics have a greater positive affect toward the mathematics content when compared to students with higher and lower aptitudes in mathematics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-170
Number of pages14
JournalInvestigations in Mathematics Learning
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Algebra
  • calculus
  • mathematics education
  • teacher immediacy

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