Social climate and help-seeking avoidance in secondary mathematics classes

Roy T. Smalley, Sarah Hopkins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    In Australia, student under-participation and disengagement in secondary mathematics classes are persistent problems. Academic help seeking is a unique self-regulated behaviour that is important for engagement in mathematics classes and yet many students avoid seeking help from teachers and peers as they progress through secondary school. The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between students’ perceptions of the social climate of their classrooms and their avoidance of help seeking in secondary mathematics classes. Students’ perceptions of classroom social climate, along with perceptions of their own academic and social self-efficacy, self-theories of intelligence, and help-seeking goals and intentions, were assessed for a sample of 551 Australian students in 47 classes from eight secondary schools and two vocational institutes. The measurement model for social climate was reduced to four factors (Task Orientation, Teacher Support, Cooperation and Investigation) and a mediated structural equation model, informed by theory and previous empirical studies, was assessed using Mplus. Bootstrap confidence intervals were used to assess the direct and indirect effects of social climate on help-seeking avoidance. Findings indicated that Task Orientation and Cooperation had a negative effect on help-seeking avoidance, while Investigation had a positive effect. Teacher Support was not associated with help-seeking avoidance. Implications for practice are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)445-476
    Number of pages32
    JournalThe Australian Educational Researcher
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


    • Help seeking
    • Mathematics
    • Self-efficacy
    • Social climate

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