Date of Award

10-19-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Education

First Advisor

Martinovic, Dragana

Keywords

In-service elementary teachers, Mathematics anxiety, Mathematics teaching anxiety, Social-cultural factors

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

Mathematics anxiety impedes learning and success in mathematics and could be a hindrance for both teachers and students. This sequential mixed methods research project examined the nature of mathematics anxiety among elementary in-service teachers and how the anxiety differs in terms of various demographic factors. It also investigated mathematics teaching anxiety, its types, and relationship with mathematics anxiety. Data were collected through an online survey completed by 111 elementary in-service teachers and follow up face-to-face interviews with four of them. Findings from the survey indicated that: 17.1% of them had low level of mathematics anxiety, 64% experienced a moderate level, and 18.9% had a high level of mathematics anxiety; female participants experienced higher mathematics anxiety than males; and there were no significant differences in the mathematics anxiety for White and non-White participants, by participants’ mothers’ educational level, and socioeconomic status. Other findings showed that: there was positive correlation between mathematics anxiety and mathematics teaching anxiety; female participants had higher mathematics teaching anxiety due to subject knowledge and self- confidence than males; and beginning teachers had higher mathematics teaching anxiety than experienced teachers. In the interviews, participants attributed the causes of mathematics anxiety to their teachers’ teaching strategies, insensitive comments, and mean behaviors, and to their own lack of understanding of mathematics concepts. Lack of confidence in doing mathematics, lack of courage to express their feelings about mathematics to their teachers, negative attitude towards mathematics, and avoidance of mathematics courses were reported as aftermath effects of mathematics anxiety when participants were in school. Recommendations are made for joint efforts by the school boards, teacher educators, researchers, and parents to reduce mathematics anxiety among the teachers and break its re-occurring cycle and consequences.

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