Female teachers' math anxiety affects girls' math achievement.
ABSTRACT: People's fear and anxiety about doing math--over and above actual math ability--can be an impediment to their math achievement. We show that when the math-anxious individuals are female elementary school teachers, their math anxiety carries negative consequences for the math achievement of their female students. Early elementary school teachers in the United States are almost exclusively female (>90%), and we provide evidence that these female teachers' anxieties relate to girls' math achievement via girls' beliefs about who is good at math. First- and second-grade female teachers completed measures of math anxiety. The math achievement of the students in these teachers' classrooms was also assessed. There was no relation between a teacher's math anxiety and her students' math achievement at the beginning of the school year. By the school year's end, however, the more anxious teachers were about math, the more likely girls (but not boys) were to endorse the commonly held stereotype that "boys are good at math, and girls are good at reading" and the lower these girls' math achievement. Indeed, by the end of the school year, girls who endorsed this stereotype had significantly worse math achievement than girls who did not and than boys overall. In early elementary school, where the teachers are almost all female, teachers' math anxiety carries consequences for girls' math achievement by influencing girls' beliefs about who is good at math.
Project description:Elementary school teachers' math anxiety has been found to play a role in their students' math achievement. The current study addresses the role of teacher math anxiety on ninth-grade students' math achievement and the mediating factors underlying this relationship. Using data from the National Mindset Study, we find that higher teacher math anxiety is associated with lower math achievement. This relationship is partially mediated by the students' perception that their teacher believes not everyone can be good at math and is not explainable by teachers' usable knowledge to teach mathematics. In subsequent analyses, we find that higher teacher math anxiety relates to a reduction in process-oriented (as opposed to ability-oriented) teaching practices, which in turn predict students' perception of teacher mindset. We argue that math anxious teachers and their use of particular teaching strategies have the potential to shape students' math achievement and their perceptions of what their teacher believes about math.
Project description:Math anxiety (MA) is a phobic reaction to math activities, potentially impairing math achievement. Higher frequency of MA in females is explainable by the interaction between genetic and environmental factors. The molecular-genetic basis of MA has not been investigated. The COMT Val158Met polymorphism, which affects dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex, has been associated with anxiety manifestations. The valine allele is associated with lower, and the methionine allele with higher, dopamine availability. In the present study, the effects of sex and COMT Val158Met genotypes on MA were investigated: 389 school children aged 7-12 years were assessed for intelligence, numerical estimation, arithmetic achievement and MA and genotyped for COMT Val158Met polymorphism. The Math Anxiety Questionnaire (MAQ) was used to assess the cognitive and affective components of MA. All genotype groups of boys and girls were comparable regarding genotype frequency, age, school grade, numerical estimation, and arithmetic abilities. We compared the results of all possible genetic models: codominance (Val/Val vs. Val/Met vs. Met/Met), heterosis (Val/Met vs. Val/Val plus Met/Met), valine dominance (Val/Val plus Val/Met vs. Met/Met), and methionine dominance (Met/Met plus Val/Met vs. Val/Val). Models were compared using AIC and AIC weights. No significant differences between girls and boys and no effects of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism on numerical estimation and arithmetic achievement were observed. Sex by genotype effects were significant for intelligence and MA. Intelligence scores were higher in Met/Met girls than in girls with at least one valine allele (valine dominance model). The best fitting model for MA was heterosis. In Anxiety Toward Mathematics, heterozygous individuals presented MA levels close to the grand average regardless of sex. Homozygous boys were significantly less and homozygous girls significantly more math anxious. Heterosis has been seldom explored, but in recent years has emerged as the best genetic model for some phenotypes associated with the COMT Val158Met polymorphism. This is the first study to investigate the genetic-molecular basis of MA.
Project description:In a cross-sectional study of youth ages 8-15, we examined implicit and explicit gender stereotypes regarding math and language abilities. We investigated how implicit and explicit stereotypes differ across age and gender groups and whether they are consistent with cultural stereotypes. Participants (N = 270) completed the Affect Misattribution Procedure (AMP) and a survey of explicit beliefs. Across all ages, boys showed neither math nor language implicit gender biases, whereas girls implicitly favored girls in both domains. These findings are counter to cultural stereotypes, which favor boys in math. On the explicit measure, both boys' and girls' primary tendency was to favor girls in math and language ability, with the exception of elementary school boys, who rated genders equally. We conclude that objective gender differences in academic success guide differences in children's explicit reports and implicit biases.
Project description:Students in many western countries struggle to achieve acceptable standards in numeracy despite its recognition as an important 21st century skill. As commercial math programs remain a staple of classroom instruction, investigations of their effectiveness are essential to inform decision-making regarding how to invest limited resources while maximizing student gains. We conducted a cluster randomized-controlled trial of the effectiveness of JUMP Math, a distinctive math program whose central tenets are empirically supported, for improving elementary math achievement (clinical trial.gov no. NCT02456181). The study involved 554 grade 2 (primary) and 592 grade 5 (junior) students and 193 teachers in 41 schools, in an urban-rural Canadian school board. Schools were randomly assigned to use either JUMP Math or their business-as-usual, problem-based approach to math instruction. We tracked student progress in math achievement on standardized and curriculum-based measures of computation and problem solving, for 2 consecutive school years. Junior students taught with JUMP Math made significantly greater progress in computation than their non-JUMP peers but the groups did not differ significantly in problem solving. Effects took hold relatively quickly, replicating the results from an earlier pilot study. Primary students in the non-JUMP group made significantly greater gains in problem solving and computation in year 1. But those taught with JUMP Math made significantly greater gains in problem solving and the groups did not differ in computation, in year 2. The positive effects of JUMP Math are noteworthy given that the JUMP Math teachers were likely still adjusting to the new program. That these positive findings were obtained in an effectiveness study (i.e. in real-world conditions), suggests that JUMP Math may be a valuable evidence-based addition to the teacher's toolbox. Given the importance of numeracy for 21st century functioning, identifying and implementing effective math instruction programs could have far-reaching, positive implications.
Project description:Two studies examined social determinants of adolescents' math anxiety including parents' own math anxiety and children's endorsement of math-gender stereotypes. In Study 1, parent-child dyads were surveyed and the interaction between parent and child math anxiety was examined, with an eye to same- and other-gender dyads. Results indicate that parent's math anxiety interacts with daughters' and sons' anxiety to predict math self-efficacy, GPA, behavioral intentions, math attitudes, and math devaluing. Parents with lower math anxiety showed a positive relationship to children's math outcomes when children also had lower anxiety. The strongest relationships were found with same-gender dyads, particularly Mother-Daughter dyads. Study 2 showed that endorsement of math-gender stereotypes predicts math anxiety (and not vice versa) for performance beliefs and outcomes (self-efficacy and GPA). Further, math anxiety fully mediated the relationship between gender stereotypes and math self-efficacy for girls and boys, and for boys with GPA. These findings address gaps in the literature on the role of parents' math anxiety in the effects of children's math anxiety and math anxiety as a mechanism affecting performance. Results have implications for interventions on parents' math anxiety and dispelling gender stereotypes in math classrooms.
Project description:Mathematical and spatial reasoning abilities during childhood predict later success in male-dominated science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, yet relatively little is known about the affective correlates of children's math and spatial performance or gender differences therein. In the present research, we assessed math and spatial anxiety in 394 elementary schoolchildren (ages 6 to 12 years) and investigated their relations to math achievement and spatial reasoning performance, respectively. In addition, we evaluated children's verbal anxiety and reading ability to determine the domain specificity of relations between anxiety and cognitive performance during childhood. At the zero-order level, math, spatial, and verbal anxiety were moderately correlated with one another and with children's performance in the corresponding cognitive domains. Importantly, however, all three forms of anxiety displayed some domain specificity in their relations to cognitive performance. Gender differences in math and spatial anxiety were also domain-specific, with girls reporting significantly greater math and spatial anxiety, but not verbal anxiety, across the age range tested. These results demonstrate that math and spatial anxiety represent unique constructs early in development, exhibiting specificity in their associations with gender and cognitive performance during the first years of formal schooling. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:Mathematics forms a foundation for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. While considerable work has identified the individual cognitive and external systemic factors that influence math achievement, less is known about personality-like traits that might contribute to success in mathematics, especially among women. This study examines two such traits: systemizing - the tendency to analyze systems and extract underlying rules that govern their behavior - and empathizing - the ability to identify with another's emotions and respond appropriately. Recently Escovar et al. (2016) found that empathizing was a negative predictor of math skills in children, especially among girls, suggesting that women with higher empathy might be particularly disposed to lower math performance. In the first study, 142 participants (71 female) completed two standardized measures of math achievement and questionnaires to gauge the tendency to empathize and systemize. Surprisingly, higher empathy was associated with better math performance in women, while men displayed the expected pattern of lower empathy being related to higher math scores. In a second study, we extend this finding in women (n = 121) to show that individuals who report higher mathematics achievement in university level course work also have higher empathy scores. Further, while positive attitudes toward mathematics tended to decline from elementary school to college, women whose attitudes increased had higher empathy scores than those who declined. Together, these results suggest that while the tendency to empathize is associated with worse math performance in childhood, it may become a protective factor as women progress through their mathematics education.
Project description:Math anxiety has been defined as unpleasant feelings of tension and anxiety that hinder the ability to deal with numbers and math in a variety of situations. Although many studies have looked at situational and demographic factors associated with math anxiety, little research has looked at the self-reported experiences with math that are associated with math anxiety. The present study used a mixed-methods design and surveyed 131 undergraduate students about their experiences with math through elementary school, junior high, and high school, while also assessing math anxiety, general anxiety, and test anxiety. Some reported experiences (e.g., support in high school, giving students plenty of examples) were significantly related to the level of math anxiety, even after controlling for general and test anxiety, but many other factors originally thought to be related to math anxiety did not demonstrate a relation in this study. Overall, this study addresses a gap in the literature and provides some suggestive specifics of the kinds of past experiences that are related to math anxiety and those that are not.
Project description:In the past decade, there has been increasing interest in understanding how and when math anxiety (MA) develops. The incidence and effects of MA in primary school children, and its relations with math achievement, have been investigated. Nevertheless, only a few studies have focused on the first years of primary school, highlighting that initial signs of MA may emerge as early as 6 years of age. Nevertheless, there are some issues with measuring MA in young children. One of these is that, although several scales have been recently developed for this age group, the psychometric properties of most of these instruments have not been adequately tested. There is also no agreement in the number and identity of the factors that underlie MA at this young age. Some scales also consist of several items, which make them impractical to use in multivariate studies, which aim at the simultaneous measurement of several constructs. Finally, most scales have been developed and validated in US populations, and it is unclear if they are appropriate to be used in other countries. In order to address these issues, the current studies aimed at developing a short, new instrument to assess MA in early elementary school students, the Early Elementary School Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale (the EES-AMAS). This scale is an adapted version of the Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale (AMAS; Hopko et al., 2003), which is one of the most commonly used scales to measure MA and has been shown to be a valid and reliable measure across a number of countries and age groups. The psychometric properties of the new scale have been investigated by taking into account its dimensionality, reliability, and validity. Moreover, the gender invariance of the scale has been verified by showing the measurement equivalence of the scale when administered to male and female pupils. We have also demonstrated the equivalence of the scale across languages (Italian and English). Overall, the findings confirmed the validity and reliability of the new scale in assessing the early signs of math anxiety and in measuring differences between genders and educational contexts. We have also shown that MA was already related to math performance, and teacher's ratings of children's math ability at this young age. Additionally, we have found no gender differences in MA in our samples of 6- and 7-year-old children, an important finding, given the strong evidence for gender differences in MA in older age groups.
Project description:Introduction. Behavioral inattention, working memory (WM), and academic achievement share significant variance, but the direction of relationships across development is unknown. The aim of the present study was to determine whether WM mediates the pathway between inattentive behaviour and subsequent academic outcomes. Methods. 204 students from grades 1-4 (49.5% female) were recruited from elementary schools. Participants received assessments of WM and achievement at baseline and one year later. WM measures included a visual-spatial storage task and auditory-verbal storage and manipulation tasks. Teachers completed the SWAN behaviour rating scale both years. Mediation analysis with PROCESS (Hayes, 2013) was used to determine mediation pathways. Results. Teacher-rated inattention indirectly influenced math addition fluency, subtraction fluency and calculation scores through its effect on visual-spatial WM, only for boys. There was a direct relationship between inattention and math outcomes one year later for girls and boys. Children who displayed better attention had higher WM scores, and children with higher WM scores had stronger scores on math outcomes. Bias-corrected bootstrap confidence intervals for the indirect effects were entirely below zero for boys, for the three math outcomes. WM did not mediate the direct relationship between inattention and reading scores. Discussion. Findings identify inattention and WM as longitudinal predictors for math addition and subtraction fluency and math calculation outcomes one year later, with visual-spatial WM as a significant mediator for boys. Results highlight the close relationship between inattention and WM and their importance in the development of math skills.