The feelings of fear, tension, and apprehension about math pose an obstacle for math learning. In a recent article published in Frontiers in Psychology, Youqing Yu and colleagues examined whether math anxiety’s impact on math achievement could be mediated through grit.
The study first conducted a survey among 222 high school students studying grade 10th in China. The questionnaire contained measures of math anxiety, math-specific grit, and domain-general grit (not limited to mathematics). They indexed the math score of the final term examination for the first semester to assess their math achievement. The researchers then conducted another study among 465 Chinese high school students in 11th grade with the same set of measurements plus a measurement of math procrastination. The purpose of this second study was to examine the replicability of the results and whether math procrastination was subject to the influence of math anxiety. The analysis showed that:
- The negative influence of math anxiety was mediated by math-specific grit rather than domain-general grit
- Math anxiety impaired math-specific grit, which then harmed student’s math achievement.
- Higher math anxiety was associated with less grit in math learning, making students possibly procrastinate more in doing math work and leading to worse achievement.
The authors suggested that educators should develop methods to mitigate the adverse effects of math anxiety on math-specific grit and develop training programs to increase math-specific grit. This can support students with high math anxiety to improve their results.
Source (Open Access): Yu, Y., Hua, L., Feng, X., Wang, Y., Yu, Z., Zi, T., … & Li, J. (2021). True Grit in Learning Math: The Math Anxiety-Achievement Link Is Mediated by Math-Specific Grit. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 1018. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.645793/full.