Longitudinal relations between young students’ feelings about mathematics and arithmetic performance

Charlene Shujie Song, Chang Xu, Erin A. Maloney, Sheri-Lynn Skwarchuk, Sabrina Di Lonardo Burr, Anne Lafay, Judith Wylie, Helena P. Osana, Heather Douglas , Jo-Anne LeFevre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Math anxiety is a common correlate of math performance for adults. Research on young children’s emotional reactions to math is limited, but critical for determining how math anxiety develops. Students (N = 244) completed math measures (i.e., number comparison, arithmetic fluency, and math problem solving) and math anxiety assessments twice, in grade 2 (Mage = 7.10) and a year later in grade 3. Math anxiety was significantly related to arithmetic fluency, but not to others. Longitudinally, arithmetic fluency in grade 2 predicted the change in math anxiety from grades 2 to 3, but not vice versa. The growth in math anxiety was related to arithmetic fluency for students with higher working memory scores, but this moderation effect of working memory was not significant after a multiple-comparisons correction. In sum, these findings are consistent with the view that math anxiety develops in some children in response to their experiences with mathematics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101078
JournalCognitive Development
Early online date15 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Math anxiety
  • Working memory
  • Children
  • Arithmetic
  • Cross-lagged analysis
  • Feelings about mathematics


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