The vigorous expansion of online learning in K-12 education is a recent change to the conceptualization of schooling that has been occurring for more than 10 years. However, methods used for recruiting, hiring, and preparing online teachers have not been altered beyond the current federal standard defined by No Child Left Behind of Highly Qualified Teachers in order to provide students with teachers demonstrating an orientation toward learning. Historically, educational theory and research suggest that teachers who are learners make a difference for student learning. Recently, social cognitive psychology and neuroscience research has demonstrated a key finding that beliefs about intelligence influence learning success. The purpose of this empirical inferential study was to examine teacher belief about intelligence, teacher confidence in one's intelligence, and the relationship with teacher-student interactions and student outcomes through the administration of a 9-item online questionnaire. The study used the Theory of Intelligence Scale and Confidence in One's Intelligence Scale created by Carol Dweck combined with student academic gains from the 2010-2011 Fall and Spring Scantron Performance Series assessments and archived documentation from the internal communication system. Data from 298 randomly selected K-12 online teachers serving as a primary teacher of record for 1 of 18 cyber charters, managed by the same education management organization, were used to address 6 null hypotheses and 4 research questions. Findings suggest teacher belief in the malleability of intelligence positively affects student learning in literacy, which subsequently impacts math achievement. This affirming belief of intelligence shapes teacher behavior evidenced through greater interaction with students in a virtual classroom using a diverse set of interaction strategies. Teachers' confidence in one's intelligence alone was not an effective predictor of class achievement gains. However, once teacher's confidence was combined with his or her framework for intelligence, it served to identify the population that resorted to using known strategies as the primary means for interacting with students and the population of online teachers that seemingly disengaged through their limited teacher-student interaction.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Learning technologies; Education, Elementary -- Computer assisted instruction

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Sparks, Paul;