The use of the Fennema-Sherman mathematics anxiety and confidence scales as predictors of success among "Business Calculus" students and "Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics" students at the college level
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Type of Work153 pages
DepartmentEducation Leadership and Graduate Studies
Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Mathematics Attitudes
Undergraduate Elementary Teachers’ Mathematics Attitudes
Business Administration Students’ Mathematics Attitudes
Mathematics Success Predictors in Undergraduate Education
Predicting Success in Mathematics in Higher Education
Business Calculus Students in Higher Education
Elementary Education Teachers and Mathematics Anxiety
In an attempt to explore the prevalence, intensity and effects of "mathematics anxiety" at Salisbury State College during the fall, 1987 semester, approximately three hundred fifty student volunteers from two diverse introductory mathematics courses participated in the survey. The subjects were drawn from all sections of two mathematics courses: Algebra with Calculus (MATH 150), and Fundamental Concepts in Mathematics (MATH 103). The Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Anxiety and Confidence Scales were administered in an effort to quantify the range of these specific attitudes among this group. Since most evaluations of mathematics performance occur in a testing milieu, a portion of the Test Anxiety Profile was also administered in an attempt to distinguish general test anxiety from mathematics anxiety. Students were also asked to provide biodata indicating their age, sex, the number of years of high school mathematics studied, and the number of years of elapsed time since the last formal study of mathematics was undertaken. The researcher was also provided with consent from the subjects to access their Scholastic Aptitude Test scores in mathematics (SAT-MATH). Additionally. some introductory mathematics courses require a placement exam to determine the appropriateness of student skill levels for the particular class in which the student was enrolled. The Mathematical Sciences Departmental Diagnostic Test (MSDDT) was therefore administered to students in MATH 103 and MATH 150 classes, to provide additional data pertaining to mathematics performance. All data were collected by means of student social security numbers and cross-classified. At the end of the semester, final course grades were analyzed and compared with the anxiety profile established earlier for each subject to determine the predictive validity of the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Anxiety Scale. By means of multiple regression analyses, a predictive equation for mathematics achievement for these students was derived from the collected data. The results of the research indicated that mathematics anxiety did exist among the survey population but the use of the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Anxiety Scale was not as significant an indicator of success in these courses as were scores on the SAT-MATH and the institutionallydesigned diagnostic instrument currently in use in MATH 150 classes. Confidence and anxiety towards mathematics emerged as attitudes lacking independence. while mathematics anxiety and general test anxiety were reported as discrete conditions. The age and sex of a subject did not appear to be related to the incidence or intensity of mathematics anxiety. and a subject's hiatus from mathematics courses produced only a marginal significance when compared to a mathematics anxiety score. It appears therefore that while mathematics anxiety does exist, the debilitative aspect of this condition was unable to be observed in this study. Since other measures appear more reliable, as a result of this research, the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Anxiety Scale cannot be recommended as a predictor of achievement in introductory mathematics courses at the college level.
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