Mathematical anxiety is anxiety about one's ability to do mathematics independent of skill. * |
Math anxiety is a phenomenon that is often considered when examining students’ problems in mathematics. Mark H. Ashcraft, Ph.D. defines math anxiety as “a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance” (2002, p. 1). The first math anxiety measurement scale was developed by Richardson and Suinn in 1972. Since this development, several researchers have examined math anxiety in empirical studies. Hembree  (1990) conducted a thorough meta-analysis of 151 studies concerning math anxiety. It determined that math anxiety is related to poor math performance on math achievement tests and that math anxiety is related to negative attitudes concerning math. Hembree also suggests that math anxiety is directly connected with math avoidance. Ashcraft (2002) suggests that highly anxious math students will avoid situations in which they have to perform mathematical calculations. Unfortunately, math avoidance results in less competency, exposure and math practice, leaving students more anxious and mathematically unprepared to achieve. In college and university, anxious math students take fewer math courses and tend to feel negative towards math. In fact, Ashcraft found that the correlation between math anxiety and variables such as confidence and motivation are strongly negative. In addition to their avoidance of mathematics, high math anxious people often experience negative thoughts and ruminations when they are engaging in math tasks. These negative thoughts often focus on the consequences of doing poorly on their math problems or tests (Ashcraft & Kirk, 2001). Math anxiety can start in children as young as first grade. Research by Sian Beilock and colleagues demonstrates that not only do young children experience math anxiety, but this anxiety is associated with poor performance in math (e.g., Beilock, Gunderson, Ramirez, & Levine, 2010). According to Ashcraft, because math anxiety can cause math avoidance, an empirical dilemma arises. For instance, when a highly math-anxious student performs disappointingly on a math question, it could be due to math anxiety, or the lack of competency in math because of math avoidance. Ashcraft determined that by administering a test that becomes increasingly more mathematically challenging, he noticed that even highly math-anxious individuals do well on the first portion of the test measuring performance. However, on the latter and more difficult portion of the test, there was a stronger negative relationship between accuracy and math anxiety. Performance anxiety
People's fear of math can be related to test taking and performance anxiety. Some scholars have suggested a strong relation between math anxiety and math performance. Current research in math anxiety concerns working memory. Anxiety Rating Scale
A rating scale for mathematics anxiety was written about in 1972 by Paolo Morden and Suinn. Paolo Morden and Suinn defined mathematical anxiety as "feelings of apprehension and tension concerning manipulation of numbers and completion of mathematical problems in various contexts." Richardson and Suinn introduced the MARS (Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale) in 1972. Elevated scores on the MARS test translate to high math anxiety. The authors presented the normative data, including a mean score of 215.38 with a standard deviation of 65.29, collected from 397 students that replied to an advertisement for behavior therapy treatment for math anxiety . For test-retest reliability, the Pearson product-moment coefficient was used and a score of 0.85 was calculated, which was favorable and comparable to scores found on other anxiety tests. Richardson and Suinn validated the construct of this test by sharing previous results from three other studies that were very similar to the results achieved in this...