July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Math anxiety has been described as “a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance” (Ashcraft, 2002). Math anxiety is all too common in classrooms and can be a barrier to students reaching their fullest potential by limiting their career paths (Ashcraft and Krause, 2007; Tobias, 1993). What contributes to math anxiety? How can we alleviate math anxiety in the classroom? Studies have shown there are multiple factors which influence the formation and existence of math anxiety such as working memory, math experiences, and the student’s interpretation of experiences (Ashcraft and Kirk, 2001; Carey et al., 2016; Ramirez et al., 2018; Herts and Beilock, 2017), but how do these relate with each other? Is this effect different for those with lower working memory than those with higher working memory? This work emerged from a larger, ongoing study of transfer students in Engineering and Computer Science and was conducted with students in a Calculus I course at a Research I university. As evidenced from this and other work, Calculus I has been shown to be a gatekeeper course for STEM degrees. Furthering our understanding of math anxiety and strategies to alleviate it in the classroom may help to break down barriers to students’ success in STEM programs. In this study, we seek to (1) understand how students with differing math anxiety levels and working memory levels interpret math experiences and (2) identify teaching strategies and math experiences that can be used for math anxiety intervention. We will be using a concurrent embedded mixed methods research design wherein a qualitative case study is embedded in a quantitative correlational study. Surveys were distributed to Calculus I students in the Fall 2020 semester. The survey included (1) the Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale (AMAS) test to assess math anxiety, (2) the Operation Span (OSPAN) test to assess working memory capacity, and (3) a math experience questionnaire. Four groups of students were identified according to high/low AMAS scores and high/low OSPAN scores. Students were recruited from each of these groups for a semi-structured interview. The interview prompts were constructed to explore both positive and negative math experiences along with the amount of significance students attribute to these experiences. This paper is a work in progress. We are also piloting this design to help inform future projects and a new conceptual framework for math anxiety. We are interested in hearing feedback from interested colleagues concerning the study design and hope to connect with others who may help us further understand the nature of math anxiety.
Duncan, L. A., & High, K. A., & Byrne, K. A., & White, R. N. (2021, July), Exploring the Relationship Between Math Anxiety, Working Memory, and Experiences Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37157
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