Mathematics anxiety and course content: In search of a discrete correlation

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Arts (D.A.)

First Committee Member

Robert L. Kelley, Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Gilbert Cuevas, Committee Member


Math anxiety has been described as an emotional reaction to anything mathematical. Students' attitude toward mathematics and their past experiences with math have been found to be important factors in determining students' level of math anxiety. The purpose of this study was to develop an introductory, undergraduate mathematics course which sought to cultivate in students a sense of appreciation of mathematics and, thus, reduce their math anxiety. The course presented several topics generally found in a finite mathematics course and incorporated the objectives of a mathematics appreciation course as recommended by the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics (1989). The study then attempted to find some relationship between students' level of math anxiety and their participation in the experimental course, as well as examine the effects of gender on math anxiety. The majority of students reported relatively low to moderate levels of math anxiety prior to the treatment. Female students reported higher levels of anxiety. Although there was a slight decrease in math anxiety among students after the experimental course, these differences were not statistically significant. There were also no statistically significant differences in math anxiety according to gender. Nevertheless, the experimental course provided students with a positive learning experience in mathematics, as well as offered them an alternative to the usual courses available to students in the liberal arts and the social sciences.


Education, Mathematics

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