Mathematics anxiety (MA) has been defined as “a feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of math problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations”. Previous studies have suggested that a notable proportion of children in primary and secondary school suffer from MA, which is negatively correlated with calculation skills. The processing efficiency and attentional control theories suggest that working memory (WM) also plays an important part in such anxious feelings. The present study aimed to analyze the academic achievement and cognitive profiles of students with high math anxiety (HMA) and low math anxiety (LMA). Specifically, 32 students with HMA and 34 with LMA matched for age, gender, generalized anxiety, and vocabulary attending sixth to eighth grades were selected from a larger sample. The two groups were tested on reading decoding, reading comprehension, mathematics achievement, and on verbal short-term memory and WM. Our findings showed that HMA students were weak in several measures of mathematics achievement, but not in reading and writing skills, and that students with HMA reported lower scores on short-term memory and WM performances (with associated difficulties in inhibiting irrelevant information) than children with LMA. In addition, a logistic regression showed that weaknesses in inhibitory control and fact retrieval were the strongest variables for classifying children as having HMA or LMA.

Mathematics anxiety, working memory, and mathematics performance in secondary-school children

PASSOLUNGHI, MARIA CHIARA;
2016

Abstract

Mathematics anxiety (MA) has been defined as “a feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of math problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations”. Previous studies have suggested that a notable proportion of children in primary and secondary school suffer from MA, which is negatively correlated with calculation skills. The processing efficiency and attentional control theories suggest that working memory (WM) also plays an important part in such anxious feelings. The present study aimed to analyze the academic achievement and cognitive profiles of students with high math anxiety (HMA) and low math anxiety (LMA). Specifically, 32 students with HMA and 34 with LMA matched for age, gender, generalized anxiety, and vocabulary attending sixth to eighth grades were selected from a larger sample. The two groups were tested on reading decoding, reading comprehension, mathematics achievement, and on verbal short-term memory and WM. Our findings showed that HMA students were weak in several measures of mathematics achievement, but not in reading and writing skills, and that students with HMA reported lower scores on short-term memory and WM performances (with associated difficulties in inhibiting irrelevant information) than children with LMA. In addition, a logistic regression showed that weaknesses in inhibitory control and fact retrieval were the strongest variables for classifying children as having HMA or LMA.
http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00042/full
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2865389
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