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Examining the Relationship Between Mathematics Anxiety and Mathematics Performance: An Instructional Hierarchy Perspective

Abstract

This study investigated the relationship between mathematics anxiety, fluency, and error rates in basic mathematical operations among college students. College students were assigned to one of two groups (high anxiety or low anxiety) based on results from the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Anxiety Scale (FSMAS). Both groups were then presented with timed tests in basic mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and linear equations). Results suggested that the higher mathematics anxiety group had significantly lower fluency levels across all mathematical operations tests. However, there were no significant differences in error rates between the two groups across any of the probes suggesting that mathematics anxiety is more related to higher levels of learning than to the initial acquisition stage of learning. Discussion focuses on a) stages of learning and their potential relationship to mathematics anxiety, b) the relationship between mathematics anxiety and mathematics performance, and c) directions for future research.

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Correspondence to Gary L. Cates.

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Cates, G.L., Rhymer, K.N. Examining the Relationship Between Mathematics Anxiety and Mathematics Performance: An Instructional Hierarchy Perspective. Journal of Behavioral Education 12, 23–34 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022318321416

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  • mathematics
  • anxiety
  • instructional hierarchy
  • acquisition
  • fluency