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Mathematics and Test Anxiety

Jeannie Montagano (Educational & Counseling Psychology), Rudolph Bailey (Educational & Counseling Psychology)

Differentiating mathematics anxiety and test anxiety in a diverse population

Although there has been a plethora of research regarding mathematics anxiety, the nature of the construct is still ambiguous in elementary age populations. Nevertheless, there is good evidence that mathematics anxiety in elementary school children is not identical to that in college students (where it has generally been measured). The relationships that underlie mathematics anxiety and test anxiety (as defined by surveys in the literature) will be examined using the statistical technique of factor analysis. This factor analysis will be conducted on responses to items taken from one validated and published measure of test anxiety and a revised version of that instrument, specifically worded as mathematics anxiety items. This is a follow-up study to Montagano (2010). These measures (surveys) will be administered to a diverse elementary school-aged sample drawn from students in Grades 3-6 from a school corporation in Northeast Indiana. The factor structure of the item responses will be used to better describe the construct(s) of mathematics anxiety and test anxiety in children.  Principal Factor Analysis will be carried out with oblimin rotation. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy and the Bartlett’s Sphericity Test will be used to determine  factorability. The number of factors will be determined by four criteria measures: the Kaiser Rule (Kaiser, 1970), the Scree Plot (Cattell, 1966), Parallel Analysis (Horn, 1965) and the MAP test (Velicer, 2000). Items with loadings >.4 will be retained. A factor will be considered ‘solid’ if at least five items have loadings >.5.

Questions to be addressed by this research are: 1) What are the factors that make up mathematics anxiety in elementary-aged students, and 2) Is mathematics anxiety separate from test anxiety in elementary-aged students.

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