Tomasetto, Morsanyi, Guardabassi & O'Connor, 2020.pdf (1.19 MB)

Math anxiety interferes with learning novel mathematics contents in early elementary school

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journal contribution
posted on 21.09.2020 by Carlo Tomasetto, Kinga Morsanyi, Veronica Guardabassi, Patrick A. O’Connor
Whereas some evidence exists that math anxiety may interfere with math performance from the very beginning of primary school, no study to date has attempted to investigate whether math anxiety may also interfere with early math learning (i.e., the encoding of new math knowledge) and not only with recalling already mastered contents in test situations. Across 2 experiments carried out in 2 different countries (Study 1: N = 115, conducted in Italy; Study 2: N = 120, conducted in the United Kingdom), we addressed this question by presenting 6-year-old children with 2 math contents that had not been covered by their school curriculum before the study. Children were tested immediately before and immediately after the learning phase, and after a 1-week delay. Longitudinal models revealed that math anxiety was negatively related to initial level of knowledge in the case of 3 out of 4 math contents. More importantly, math anxiety was also negatively related to rate of learning in 2 out of 4 tasks (1 task in Study 1 and 1 in Study 2). These studies provide the first evidence that math anxiety may reduce the encoding of novel math contents in memory in very young children, potentially leading to cumulative gaps in math proficiency for children with math anxiety from the very beginning of their formal education.

Funding

Royal Society International Exchanges Grant (IE150463).

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Mathematics Education Centre

Published in

Journal of Educational Psychology

Publisher

American Psychological Association

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© American Psychological Association.

Publisher statement

©American Psychological Association, 2020. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000602.

Publication date

2020-08-01

Copyright date

2020

ISSN

0022-0663

eISSN

1939-2176

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Kinga Morsanyi. Deposit date: 18 September 2020

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