Addressing maths anxiety within the curriculum

Ellen M Marshall, Rachel V Staddon, Daniel A Wilson, Victoria E Mann


Maths anxiety is a situation-specific anxiety condition which is particularly prevalent in mature students. Previous negative learning experiences with maths condition the brain into maths avoidance behaviours which impacts on students’ choices, their self-efficacy, and their curriculum progression. Otherwise-capable students find themselves unable to study effectively and put-off studying until the last minute. This paper discusses some of the strategies implemented as part of an ongoing collaborative project between the Department for Lifelong Learning (DLL), the Mathematics and Statistics Help centre (MASH), and the Specialist Learning Difference (SpLD) service at the University of Sheffield, the aim of which is to reduce anxiety and engage students to the learning of university mathematics.


maths anxiety, embedding, formative tests, flipped learning

Full Text:



Ashcraft, M.H. and Krause, J.A., 2007. Working memory, math performance, and math anxiety. Psychon. Bull. Rev., 14(2).

Foster, B., Perfect, C., and Youd, A., 2012. A completely client-side approach to e-assessment and e-learning of mathematics and statistics. International Journal of e-Assessment, 2(2).

Friedman, H., 1987. Repeat examinations in introductory statistics. Teaching of Psychology, 14(1), pp. 20-23.

Hunt, T. E., Clark-Carter, D., and Sheffield, D., 2011. The development and part validation of a UK scale for mathematics anxiety. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 29(5), pp.455-466.

Jackson, E., 2008. Mathematics Anxiety in Student Teachers. Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 2(1), pp. 36-42.

Juhler, S. M., Rech, J. F., From, S. G., and Brogan, M. M., 1998. The effect of optional retesting on college students’ achievement in an individualized algebra course. Journal of Experimental Education, 66(2), pp. 125–137.

Lyons, I. M., and Beilock, S. L., 2012. When math hurts: math anxiety predicts pain network activation in anticipation of doing math. PloS One, 7(10),

Marshall, E.M., Wilson, D.A., and Mann, V.E., 2016. Attitudes and anxiousness about maths. In Brave New World: Proceedings of the CETL MSOR Conference 2016, Loughborough, UK, pp. 66-74.

Marshall, E.M., Wilson, D.A., and Mann, V.E. (in press). Evaluating the effectiveness of maths anxiety awareness workshops. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.

Martinez, J. G. R. and Martinez, N. C., 1996. Math without fear. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

McCabe, D.P. and Castel, A.D., 2007. Seeing is believing: The effect of brain images on judgements of scientific reasoning. Cognition, 10(7), pp. 343-352.

Núñez-Peña, M. I., Bono, R., and Suárez-Pellicioni, M., 2015. Feedback on students’ performance: A possible way of reducing the negative effect of math anxiety in higher education. International Journal of Educational Research, 70, pp. 80-87.

Charles-Ogan, G. and Williams, C., 2015. Flipped classroom versus a conventional classroom in the learning of mathematics. British Journal of Education, 3(6), pp.71-77.

Uusimaki, L. S. and Kidman, G. C., 2004. Reducing maths-anxiety: Results from an online anxiety survey. Presented at the AARE Annual Conference, Melbourne, Australia: Australian Association for Research in Education.

Richardson, F. C., and Suinn, R. M., 1972. The Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale: Psychometric data. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 19(6), pp. 551.

Simzar, R. M., Martinez, M., Rutherford. T., Doina, T., and Conley, A.M., 2015. Raising the stakes: How students’ motivation for mathematics associates with high-and low-stakes test achievement. Learning and individual differences, 39, pp. 49-63.

Spicer, J., 2004. Resources to combat math anxiety. Eisenhower National Clearinghouse Focus, 12(12).

Woodard, T., 2004. The Effects of Math Anxiety on Post-Secondary Developmental Students as Related to Achievement, Gender, and Age. Inquiry: A Journal of Medical Care Organization, Provision and Financing, 9(1).

Young, C. B., Wu, S. S., and Menon, V., 2012. The neurodevelopmental basis of math anxiety. Psychological Science, 23(5), pp. 492–501.



  • There are currently no refbacks.