Math Anxiety

Math anxiety can be described as “…a feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations” (Richardson & Suinn, 1972, p. 551). This type of academic anxiety can lead to negative consequences both in the short and long term (Jameson, 2010). For instance, Hembree (1990) suggests that math anxiety can lead to avoiding enrollment in math courses throughout one’s education. Similarly, a college student may not pursue a major in a quantitatively-based subject area if they have math anxiety (LeFevre, Kulak, & Heymans, 1992). An individual may not even attend college if they wish to avoid math anxiety altogether or if their math scores are not up to the desired university’s standards (Hembree, 1990). These educational implications can even place an individual into a low socioeconomic status group (Schoenfeld, 2002). Taking into consideration our current technology driven, and thus math driven culture, it is imperative that individuals with math anxiety are identified and assisted.


Hembree, R. (1990). The nature, effects, and relief of mathematics anxiety. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 21, 33-46.

Jameson, M. M. (2010). Math anxiety: Theoretical perspectives on potential influences and outcomes. In J. C. Cassady (Ed.), Anxiety in schools: The causes, consequences, and solutions for academic anxieties (pp. 45-58). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

LeFevre, J. A., Kulak, A. G., & Heymans, S. L. (1992). Factors influencing the selection of university majors varying in mathematical content. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 24, 276-289.

Richardson, F. C., & Suinn, R. M. (1972). The Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 19, 551-554.

Schoenfeld, A. (2002). Making mathematics work for all children: Issues of standards, testing, and equity. Educational Researcher, 31, 13-25.