A study conducted by researchers at the University of Jaén, Spain, and published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology looks at the relationship between math anxiety and math performance in primary school children, and also the possible mediating role of working memory and math self-concept.
A total of 167 pupils in grades 3 and 5 (age 8–12 years) took part in the study. Each pupil completed a set of questionnaires to assess math anxiety and self-concept as well as their mathematical performance. Working memory was assessed using two backward span tasks. Teachers were also asked to rate each pupils’ math achievement.
Results showed that:
- As expected, pupils who demonstrated higher levels of anxiety about math tended to have lower scores on math outcomes such as ability, problem‐solving and teacher‐rated math achievement.
- However, this relationship was lessened once the effects of working memory and self-concept were considered.
The researchers suggest, therefore, that it is worth taking into consideration working memory and self-concept when designing interventions aimed at helping pupils with math anxiety.
Source : Justicia‐Galiano M. José, Martín‐Puga M. Eva, Linares Rocío, & Pelegrina Santiago. (2017). Math anxiety and math performance in children: The mediating roles of working memory and math self‐concept. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 87(4), 573–589.