Math anxiety and its relationship with basic arithmetic skills among primary school children
Sorvo, R., Koponen, T., Viholainen, H., Aro, T., Räikkönen, E., Peura, P., . . . , & Aro, M. (2017). Math anxiety and its relationship with basic arithmetic skills among primary school children. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 87 (3), 309-327. doi:10.1111/bjep.12151
Published inBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
© 2017 The British Psychological Society. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Wiley. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
Background Children have been found to report and demonstrate math anxiety as early as the first grade. However, previous results concerning the relationship between math anxiety and performance are contradictory, with some studies establishing a correlation between them while others do not. These contradictory results might be related to varying operationalizations of math anxiety. Aims In this study, we aimed to examine the prevalence of math anxiety and its relationship with basic arithmetic skills in primary school children, with explicit focus on two aspects of math anxiety: anxiety about failure in mathematics and anxiety in math-related situations. Sample The participants comprised 1,327 children at grades 2–5. Methods Math anxiety was assessed using six items, and basic arithmetic skills were assessed using three assessment tasks. Results Around one-third of the participants reported anxiety about being unable to do math, one-fifth about having to answer teachers’ questions, and one tenth about having to do math. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated that anxiety about math-related situations and anxiety about failure in mathematics are separable aspects of math anxiety. Structural equation modelling suggested that anxiety about math-related situations was more strongly associated with arithmetic fluency than anxiety about failure. Anxiety about math-related situations was most common among second graders and least common among fifth graders. Conclusions As math anxiety, particularly about math-related situations, was related to arithmetic fluency even as early as the second grade, children's negative feelings and math anxiety should be identified and addressed from the early primary school years. ...