Smith, Jamie
(2020)
Mathematics Anxiety in Undergraduate Students: Factor and Differential Analysis.
MRes thesis, University of Lincoln.
Mathematics Anxiety in Undergraduate Students: Factor and Differential Analysis  Thesis   [Download] 

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Item Type:  Thesis (MRes) 

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Abstract
Mathematics anxiety is a ”negative emotional reaction to mathematics that is often defined as, a feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the solving of mathematical problems” [1]. Prevalence rates for mathematics anxiety are very high and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that 59% of students say that they often worry in maths classes [2].
This novel study investigates mathematics anxiety in a specialist sample of undergraduate mathematics and physics students. Structure and differences in mathematics anxiety were explored when controlling for several demographic factors. Many factors were considered including socioeconomic status, ethnicity and age however ultimately gender, course of study, and mathematical ability were chosen. Questionnaires were completed by 126 participants (84 male and 42 female), who were completing a first degree in mathematics and/or physics. Factor Analysis was implemented to explore the principal components of mathematics anxiety and nonparametric differential analysis was implemented to explore for differences between independent groups.
Factor Analysis yielded a fourfactor model, comprised of Evaluation MA (EMA), Learning MA (LMA), Routine MA (RMA) and Social MA (SMA). The results indicate that mathematics anxiety is significantly (p < 0.05) higher for female students than male students for mathematics anxiety and all four component mathematics anxiety scores. On this basis, it is recommended that mathematics and science departments devote time to support their students reducing their levels of mathematics anxiety. Further research is needed to identify other factors that contribute to causing mathematics anxiety and what intervention can be utilised to reduce its effects.
The impact of this work will support all undergraduate students by improving their enjoyment, attitude and attainment of mathematics. This is important because it will allow for more interdepartmental work with a greater understanding of why people experience adversity in mathematics. It will primarily support STEM students, however, it will also have applications for students enrolled in all university courses. This thesis has provided the justification for a dedicated mathematics anxiety web page on a university mathematics and statistics help website.
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