According to the processing efficiency theory (PET), math anxiety would interfere with working memory resources, negatively affecting mathematical abilities. To date, few studies have explored how the interaction between math anxiety and working memory would affect different types of math tasks, especially in primary school children. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore whether the interplay between math anxiety and working memory would influence performance in numerical operations (i.e., math fluency task) and mathematical reasoning (i.e., math reasoning task) in a group of primary school children (N = 202). Results showed that visuospatial working memory appeared to moderate the relationship between math anxiety and math performance when the math fluency task was considered, indicating that participants with higher levels of working memory were more negatively affected by math anxiety. No interaction effect was found for the math reasoning task in which students’ scores were explained only by visuospatial working memory. The findings suggest that math anxiety and visuospatial working memory interact to influence performance in the math fluency task and that this effect may vary depending on the strategies used to complete the task. On the other hand, results on the math reasoning task showed that visuospatial working memory continues to have a positive effect on the math performance independently of math anxiety. The implications in the educational setting are discussed, pointing to the importance of monitoring and intervention studies on affective factors.

The relationship between math anxiety and math performance: The moderating role of visuospatial working memory

Alessandro Cuder;Marija Živković;Eleonora Doz;Sandra Pellizzoni
;
Maria Chiara Passolunghi
2023-01-01

Abstract

According to the processing efficiency theory (PET), math anxiety would interfere with working memory resources, negatively affecting mathematical abilities. To date, few studies have explored how the interaction between math anxiety and working memory would affect different types of math tasks, especially in primary school children. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore whether the interplay between math anxiety and working memory would influence performance in numerical operations (i.e., math fluency task) and mathematical reasoning (i.e., math reasoning task) in a group of primary school children (N = 202). Results showed that visuospatial working memory appeared to moderate the relationship between math anxiety and math performance when the math fluency task was considered, indicating that participants with higher levels of working memory were more negatively affected by math anxiety. No interaction effect was found for the math reasoning task in which students’ scores were explained only by visuospatial working memory. The findings suggest that math anxiety and visuospatial working memory interact to influence performance in the math fluency task and that this effect may vary depending on the strategies used to complete the task. On the other hand, results on the math reasoning task showed that visuospatial working memory continues to have a positive effect on the math performance independently of math anxiety. The implications in the educational setting are discussed, pointing to the importance of monitoring and intervention studies on affective factors.
2023
set-2023
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https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022096523000644
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3044578
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