# 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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## Date

1987

## Department

Education Leadership and Graduate Studies

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## Subjects

Mathematics anxiety

Mathematics phobia

Mathematics confidence

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

Mathematics phobia

Mathematics confidence

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

## Abstract

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.