Maths anxiety in psychology undergraduates: A mixed-methods approach to formulating and implementing interventions

Ross Thompson, Judith Wylie, Donncha Hanna, Gerard Mulhern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

A key challenge to educators in disciplines that, while not maths based, nevertheless
contain some maths component, is mathematics anxiety. Over the years, a number of
intervention strategies have been tested, seeking reduce maths anxiety in undergraduates.
Many of these studies, however, contain methodological issues that challenge their validity. It
is also unclear how many of these studies decide which type of interventions to use. This
research sought to correct both of these issues. In Study 1, focus groups were carried out to
explore which interventions students believed would most likely reduce their maths anxiety.
Study 2 implemented those interventions that Study 1 showed to be practical and potentially
effective, utilising a large sample of Year 1 and Year 2 psychology undergraduates,
controlling for potential methodological confounds. Results showed that only one
intervention (teaching quantitative research methods using real-life examples) had any
significant effect on maths anxiety, and this was slight. These results, while not impressive by
themselves, do suggest ways in which larger-scale interventions could seek to proceed in
terms of reducing maths anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology Teaching Review
Volume22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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