The Fear of Numbers - Paper Sample on Mathematics Anxiety

Date:  2021-03-30 14:33:28
5 pages  (1445 words)
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Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

It can be highlighted that mathematics can be regarded as the most objective, logical and practical subjects. It involves a combination of cognitive skills and affective factors. On this note, low achievement and participation are matters of concern for many persons and nations as a whole. The cognitive necessity to be successful in the discipline is elusive for some individuals with cognitive or severe specific mathematical learning disabilities. Nonetheless, not all arithmetic challenges result from psychological problems. Some children and grown-ups have mathematical anxiety which seriously interferes with their performance. Mathematical anxiety is not limited to classroom settings. This is because those affected build up a characteristic of serious evasion of circumstances that includes any sort of mathematical tasks. They may not choose professions that involve the application of math, regardless of the possibility that psychologically they would be superbly able to do arithmetic. In this regard, mathematical anxiety is a matter of great concern and hence, the necessity to carry out an in-depth analysis.

Critical analysis

Mathematical anxiety is an incapacitating emotional response to arithmetic as progressively perceived in brain research and education. It has also been conceived as "a feeling of tension and anxiety that meddles with the manipulation of numbers and solving numerical issues. Mathematical anxiety ranges from feelings of mild tension to a fear of manipulation of numbers. In a study conducted on younglings, a negative connection was identified between math anxiety and math achievement for those with a higher but not lower working memory (Ramirez, Gunderson and Levine 187; Andrews, Amanda and Brown 1; Witt 1). From the results, it is vital to identify and treat mathematical anxieties in the initial stages of anxiety as it can lead to children with higher working memories to shun mathematical courses and mathematically-related career options (Ramirez, Gunderson and Levine 187).

Many studies have shown the adverse relationship between mathematical anxiety and mathematical accomplishments. However, showcasing no significant connection between verbal aptitude or word processing. The affective component of math anxiety addresses the genuine sentiments and physiological responses prompted by a math problem in high math-anxious people. Hence, people with math anxiety reported adverse perceptions and attitudes towards the discipline, antagonistic feelings, for example, tension, disappointment, and feelings identified with learning results, for instance, disgrace and hopelessness. Anxiety is an emotional factor and thus, cannot be likened to attitudes in mathematics. Nonetheless, the attitude has been observed to correlate to mathematics anxiety. In a study conducted by Hembre, it was established that mathematics anxiety showed a correlation of -0.82 for those students confident in handling mathematical tasks and -0.73 for those who enjoyed it (Hembree 33). From this, it is implicit that individuals who perceive or have a negative self-rating towards mathematics are more likely to suffer from mathematical anxiety.

It has been evidenced alleviation in mathematical anxiety is directly related to age. This is because other attitudes also change with age. Along these lines, mathematical anxiety aggravates as young children tend to get older. General anxiety can be linked to mathematics as it perpetually deteriorates with age. However, the reasons that can be termed to be specifically related to mathematics underlie exposure to people with negative attitudes as regards mathematics. This can be attributed to social stereotypes which hold on to the perceptions of math being a challenge or the gender disparities as regards performance in mathematics. Also, the medication of mathematics as one progresses through education may attribute to an accrual of anxiety. This is because of individuals, as they progress through mathematical training, tend to come across mathematical problems that are characterized by large numbers and hence, a higher demand on the working memory.


A subjective view on the subject is that the surrounding or external factors overwhelmingly dictates the prevalence of mathematical anxiety. It is implicit from the critical analysis that mathematical performance is negatively related mathematical performance. Therefore, a student with mathematical anxiety is more likely than not to fail in the subject. The question underlies the reason as to why this does not happen in other disciplines such as geography. Therefore, cognitive skills and affective components cannot be the only parameters attributed to the prevalence of mathematical anxiety.

Teacher and parents can be denoted to be responsible for planting the seed of anxiety to the following generation. It can be highlighted that children can detect when parents/teachers are nervous, and hence, the children in contact will also tend to be anxious. The negative attitude that consequentially leads to anxiety in mathematics can, therefore, be said to transcend from a myriad of origins. The cultural aspect can be connoted to be one of the primary factors affecting attitudes towards mathematics. In this case, girls are more likely than males to catch mathematics anxiety syndrome. This can also be attributed to the fact female teachers may portray this form of anxiety which by extension may be implanted on the students.

It is implicit that the negative attitudes towards mathematics deteriorate with age. As such, when it takes root, the anxious one feels, the worse an individual performs and the more a person continues to shy away. Nonetheless, there exists a genetic component to mathematical anxiety as highlighted by the different studies. In view of this, some students or children are incapable of understanding mathematical conceptualizations and hence, anxiety problems. However, the prevalence of MA cannot be attributed to the genetic component as a failure in mathematics is a growing issue that appears different from culture to culture, region to region, and from school to school among other differences.

Commonly a math phobic has had math presented to him or her in such a way that it has led to restricted comprehension. Tragically, math anxiety is frequently because of poor teaching and poor experiences in math which commonly results in math anxiety. A large number of students with math anxiety have exhibited an over dependence on systems in math rather than really understanding the math. When one tries to remember methods, guidelines, and schedules without much understanding, the math is immediately forgotten, and panic soon sets in. Consider your encounters with one idea - the division of parts. You likely found out about reciprocals and inverses. At the end of the day, 'It's not yours to the motivation behind why simply inverse and multiply.'

All things considered, you remembered the rule, and it works. Why does it work? Do you truly comprehend why it works? Did anybody each utilization pizzas or math manipulatives to demonstrate to you why it works? If not, you basically retained the methodology, and that was that. Consider math as retaining every one of the techniques - imagine a scenario where you overlook a couple. Therefore, with this kind of procedure, an excellent memory will help, however, imagine a scenario where you do not have a decent memory. Understanding the math is critical. When children acknowledge, they can crunch the numbers, the entire idea of math tension can be overcome. Instructors and guardians have an imperative part to guarantee understudies comprehend the math being introduced to them.

Further investigation

From studies, it is clear that there exist social influences, neural and cognitive as significant causes of mathematical anxiety. The biggest necessity underlies the relationship between the mentioned aspects- neural and the social. The questions should encompass how the issues relate to aging. However, from the critical analysis, it is unclear whether poor performance causes mathematical anxiety, or mathematical anxiety causes poor performance. Which of the two comes first?

On the other hand, most research or investigations on social aspects as influencing mathematical anxiety have been on gender stereotypes. It is best that other social influences be put into perspective. In particular, the role of parents and teachers as concerns the performance of children in schools. The importance of mathematics in society cannot be disregarded. It aligns with the objectives to alleviate the academic standards. The question emerges of whether and at what point alleviating accentuation on numerical accomplishment may have the negative and conceivably counterproductive impact of expanding mathematics anxiety; and how this may be counteracted. In this specific situation, there should be more research on precisely how mathematics anxiety is linked to motivation, and, specifically, whether there are contrasts in the connections of intrinsic and extraneous inspiration to anxiety.

Works Cited

Andrews, Amanda and Jennifer Brown. "The Effects of Math Anxiety." Academic Journal Article (2015). Online.

Hembree, R. " The nature, effects and relief of mathematics anxiety." J. Res. Mathematics Education (1990): 33-46. Online.

Ramirez, Gerardo, et al. "Math Anxiety, Working Memory, and Math Achievement in Early Elementary School." Journal of Cognition and Development (2012): 187-202. Print.

Witt, Matt. "The Impact of Mathematics Anxiety on Primary School Childrens Working Memory." Europe's Journal Of Psychology (2012). Online.



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