Math anxiety and its relationship to selected student attitudes and beliefs

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education

First Committee Member

R. H. Williams, Committee Chair


The relationships among tolerance of ambiguity, belief in commonly held misconceptions about the nature of mathematics, math self concept, and math anxiety were examined. Relationships among these variables and the grade point average, gender, age, race and ethnicity of the participants were also explored.Participating in the study were 251 students registered in General College Mathematics classes at Miami-Dade Community College/North campus. Data on attitudes and beliefs were obtained with self-report instruments. Demographic data were acquired by use of a questionnaire and from student records maintained by the College.Pairwise correlations between the variables and multiple regression analyses were conducted. A negative correlation was found between math anxiety scores and math self concept scores. A positive correlation was exhibited between math anxiety scores and measures of misconceptions about math. A non-significant negative correlation was found between the measures of math anxiety and tolerance of ambiguity. Scores on a scale of tolerance of ambiguity were positively correlated with math self concept scores and negatively correlated with measures of misconceptions about math. A negative correlation was found between the scores for math self concept and misconceptions about math.Ethnic groups did not differ in regard to tolerance of ambiguity or misconceptions about math. However, students whose primary language is English, and who were not born in the United States, had less math anxiety. This group was predominantly black. When the data was analyzed by race there was no difference in measures of math anxiety, misconceptions about math or tolerance of ambiguity. Blacks scored significantly higher in math self-concept than non-blacks.Males indicated higher math self-concept then females, but the genders showed no difference in math anxiety, misconceptions about math, or tolerance of ambiguity. Math anxiety was not related to grade point average, nor was it shown to be related to age.


Education, Community College; Education, Mathematics; Education, Educational Psychology

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