A study of mathematics anxiety with particular attention to treatment methods.
This thesis is the result of some extensive research in England, Canada and the United States of America. Prominent educationalists were interviewed and research institutions were visited. Ideas and projects have been investigated and used to provide a foundation for remedial suggestions in the South African context. The nature of mathematics anxiety is fully discussed and provides a background to the complexities of the problem. The question of why mathematics is unique as a school subject is discussed and the manifestation of mathematics anxiety is described in terms of the interaction of socio-cultural, emotive, cognitive and educational influences. The measurement of mathematics anxiety is an important aspect of remediation and various assessment techniques are reviewed. Mathematics anxiety scales have evolved from scales measuring general and test anxiety. For the assessment of large groups the Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale (MARS) or an adapted version of this scale is recommended whilst individual assessment is seen as the ideal when small groups of mathematics anxious pupils have been identified. Two adaptations of the MARS test were used in an exploratory study in a Durban primary school and a College of Education and the results of these tests are discussed. Treatment methods are categorised in terms of socio-cultural, emotive, cognitive and educational factors. In each category the idea of creating an awareness of the problem of mathematics anxiety amongst pupils, teachers and parents is seen as an important aspect of the remedial process. For this reason, background research and ideas are discussed before treatment methods are suggested. Intervention procedures involve general strategies as well as attention to individual difficulties. The importance of an early intervention programme is stressed but remedial methods are seen as flexible and adaptable to all education institutions. Proposed procedures are interrelated and overlapping In parts but provide a comprehensive answer to the complex problem of mathematics anxiety. The ultimate aim of a mathematics anxiety remediation programme should be to provide a better understanding of mathematics, a long-lasting improvement in mathematics ability and a greater enjoyment and appreciation of the subject.