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Exploring student beliefs and understanding in elementary science and mathematics



This study had the goal of investigating the association among elementary students' (N = 276) science and math beliefs and the relationship between those beliefs and teachers' ratings of mathematical and science understanding. Results of structural path analysis indicate that in science, intellectual risk-taking (IRT; the willingness to share tentative ideas, ask questions, attempting to do, and learn new things) was positively related to teachers' ratings of science understanding, while creative self-efficacy (CSE) beliefs (i.e., students' confidence in their ability to generate ideas and solutions in science) were indirectly related (working through IRT). Results also indicate that students' scientific certainty beliefs (i.e., the belief that science knowledge is stable, fixed, and represented by correct answers) were negatively related to teachers' ratings of science understanding. With respect to math, results indicate that students' CSE beliefs were positively related to teachers' ratings of math understanding; whereas students' mathematical source beliefs (i.e., believing that math knowledge originates from external sources) were negatively related. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 49: 942–960, 2012