Science Anxiety

Science anxiety, “feelings of tension and stress that interfere with the construction of science knowledge, the development of science skills and abilities, and the use of science knowledge, skills, and abilities in life and in academic situations” (Mallow, 1981; Richardson & Suinn, 1972), can negatively impact cognitive processing (Britner, 2010). Different sources contributing to science anxiety have been identified by Mallow (1981), such as gender stereotyping, misconceptions about the scientific method, and associating science with technology. Additionally, Udo and colleagues (2004) also believe that science anxiety in students can by influenced by science anxiety in teachers. Unfortunately, this may be contributing to an intergenerational cycle of fear surrounding learning about science. Science anxiety in high school students is inversely correlated with self-efficacy, science enjoyment, and achievement (Britner, 2008; Kupermintz, 2002; Matyas, 1984; Napier & Riley, 1985; Wynstra & Cummings, 1993). Thus, science anxiety can have similar impacts to those of math anxiety in terms of influencing college acceptance and career choice.


Britner, S. L. (2008). Motivation in high school science students: A comparison of gender differences in      life, physical, and Earth science classes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 45, 955-970.

Britner, S. L. (2010). Science anxiety: Relationship to achievement, self-efficacy, and pedagogical factors. In J. C. Cassady (Ed.), Anxiety in schools: The causes, consequences, and solutions for academic anxieties (pp. 79-94). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Kupermintz, H. (2002). Affective and cognitive factors as aptitude resources in high school science achievement. Educational Assessment, 8(2), 123-137.

Mallow, J. V. (1981). Science anxiety: Fear of science and how to overcome it. New York, NY: Van Nortrand Reinhold.

Matyas, M. L. (1984). Science career interests, attitudes, abilities, and anxiety among secondary school students: The effects of gender, race/ethnicity, and school type/location. Paper presented at the  annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, New Orleans, LA.

Napier, J. D., & Riley, J. P. (1985). Relationship between affective determinants and achievement in science for seventeen-year-olds. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 22, 365-383.

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

Udo, M., Ramsey, G. P., Mallow, J. V. (2004). Science anxiety and gender in students taking general education science courses. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13, 435-446.

Wynstra, S., & Cummings, C. (1993). High school science anxiety: Easing common classroom fears. The Science Teacher, 60, 19-21.