Math Anxiety Essay

Many high-achieving students experience math anxiety at a young age — a problem that can follow them throughout their lives. Academic frameworks, action research, surveys and other studies carried out by academics, have shown that students’ lack of interest and their dropping out of school are key problems. The psychological factors and their effects on academic situations are the growing concern of educational researchers attributed with a notable lack of scientific inquiry on some important factors. A review of the related literature reveals numerous studies addressing the psychological factors in general; while few studies are found to target the special psychological factors in educational situations. Many learners have already experienced mathematics anxiety in school consequently. Reported consequences of being anxious toward mathematics include the avoidance of mathematics and the decline in mathematics achievement. This kind of ‘anxiety’ was first detected in the late 1950s. (Dreger and Aiken 1957); noticed undergraduate college students reacting emotionally to arithmetic and mathematics. Although the reaction appeared to be similar to test anxiety in general, they found that mathematics anxiety is a potential factor. They have labeled it ‘number anxiety’, which is often assumed to be a high level of anxiety that can lessen performance.

A moderate amount of anxiety may actually facilitate performance. Beyond a certain degree, however, anxiety hinders performance particularly in the case of higher mental activities and conceptual process. Psychological literature provides a number of theories of mathematics anxiety. (Suinn 1988); has defined mathematics anxiety in terms of its (crippling) effect on mathematical performance. It’s been observed that the feeling of tension and anxiety interfere with manipulation and the solving of mathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations. It also involves feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with the manipulation of numbers and solving the mathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations (Suinn 1988). Students who face math anxiety tend to avoid mathematics whenever or wherever possible. Many students who suffer from mathematics anxiety have little confidence in their ability to do mathematics and tend to take the minimum numbers of required mathematics courses, which has greatly limited their career choice options. Mathematics anxiety is the outcome of low self-esteem and the fear of failure.

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It causes problems for processing the incoming information as well as the previously learned information for problem solving. The correlation between mathematics anxiety and academic performance is significant. It has been found that students who have a high level of mathematics anxiety have lower levels of mathematics achievement. It has also been noted that math anxiety seriously restricts performance in mathematical tasks and a reduction in anxiety is associated with improvement in achievement. The quality of students’ academic intelligence is influenced by wide range of environmental factors. The variable is very important not only to students and their parents, but also to institutions of learning. Over the past 20 years, the psychological construct is emerged as a buffer in the relationship between stressors and illness and has been shown as an element enhancing performance (Maddi and Kobasa 1979). Psychological hardiness comprised of three related attitudes.

The three attitudes are commitment, control, and challenge; and they are thought to influence two underlying mechanisms that enhance the performance of every individual person (Maddi and Kobasa 1979). In the other study, it is found that there is a negative relationship between individuals’ scores and mathematics anxiety. On the other hand, whereas the schooling experience of boys and girls is different, current studies have concluded that there is no significant gender difference with respect to academic achievement and general abilities. The inspection between the two genders also is not significant, but the scores of mathematics anxiety indicate that girls have experienced more level of mathematics anxiety than boys.

Citations:
Dreger RM, Aiken LR 1957. The Identification of Number Anxiety in a College Population. J Educational Psychology, 47: 344-351.

Maddi SR, Kobasa SC 1979. An alienation test. J Human Psychology, 19: 73- 76.

Suinn RM 1988. The measurement of Mathematics anxiety: The Mathematics anxiety rating scale for adolescents – MARS-A. J Clinical Psychology, 38: 576-580.

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