Project: Math Attitudes, Ability, and Knowledge in Adults


There is a growing concern about the influence of math anxiety on achievement outcomes and an individual’s potential for success. In response, many studies have investigated the effects of math anxiety on math ability and math outcomes in a variety of mathematics classes and at an assortment of grade levels. The attitudinal, behavioral, and cognitive correlates, as well as the sources of math anxiety have also been explored, but in all previous studies of math anxiety there is one conspicuous shortcoming. The aforementioned studies have focused solely on student math anxiety, providing a useful yet incomplete and skewed view of math anxiety overall. In order to fill the gap left by previous math anxiety research, this study aimed to collect data on the overall levels of math anxiety in the general population by including participants outside of the student population.

This study also focused on the ways in which math anxiety spreads. We collected data on teacher math anxiety and parent anxiety associated with math and homework help, in order to better understand possible sources of math anxiety. In a study of undergraduates, education majors, and more specifically, those studying elementary education, were found to have the highest levels of math anxiety (Hembree, 1990). In order to understand the role of math anxiety in educators and investigate its role in possibly spreading math anxiety to others, this study we measured teacher-specific math anxiety and its components. We also explored the specific behaviors and attitudes that parents and teachers exhibit to perpetuate the dread of math characteristic of math anxiety.

Another area of rising controversy is the recent adoption by the U.S. school system of the Common Core Standards for English and Mathematics curricula. These standards were created as a response to international reports citing the U.S. student population is falling behind in school outcomes. Since the adoption of these standards, U.S. citizens and parents of school children have responded with outrage, so with this study, our objective is to understand the sources of this outrage and how much people really know about the new standards. The adoption of Common Core standards and how people feel about them may also be linked to their overall math anxiety, so it is an important facet of this study that the math anxiety measures be linked with the Common Core knowledge measures. We also investigated whether or not the average person taking the survey would meet the standards set by the Common Core by including a section that adheres to the standards and tests their basic math skills. This investigation provided insight into the usefulness of the new standards and where the U.S. falls in the scope of math ability and achievement.

Project Active From
2016 to 2019
Project Method(s)
Developmental Design

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