Numerical anxiety : trends and effect on Mathematics performance in Zambian Primary School children
Makubalo, Lindiwe Elizabeth
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Numerical anxiety was investigated in the light of poor mathematics achievement and negative attitudes held by learners towards mathematics. Two instruments, a two dimensional scale measuring general anxiety and numerical anxiety, and a mathematics achievement test comprising items specific to a grade and items identical to all grades, were administered to a total of 270 third, fifth and seventh grade school children. Numerical anxiety, which was found to be present in varying degrees in the sample has been described as an A - state factor distinct from general anxiety. Results also indicate developmental trends in numerical anxiety; that is, it increases progressively through fifth and seventh grades. Further, contrary to predicted results, negative correlations were obtained between numerical anxiety and mathematics performance in the lower grades. This result is explained in terms of the coping strategy employed by learners. Differences due to sex and type of school were that girls obtained higher numerical anxiety scores at each grade while children irrespectively of sex from schools situated in lower density areas obtained higher numerical anxiety scores. These findings have been discussed in terms of primary and secondary emotional factors that may affect levels of numerical anxiety. Implications of findings for educators are discussed and suggestions for future research are outlined.