Title:

The influence of mathematics anxiety on pupils' choice of mental calculation strategies for twodigit addition and subtraction

The ability to calculate mentally is a core skill in mathematics and is now a required feature of mathematics teaching. Mathematics anxiety is an established affective construct, associated with mathematical outcomes. The focus of this research is on the affective construct of mathematics anxiety and this may influence a pupil's choice of mental calculation strategy for two digit addition and subtraction. The main study (preceded by a pilot study) was divided into two parts and focused solely on Year 5 pupils; background data with permission, was obtained for each pupil. In the first part, pupils were given a mental calculation assessment, the Myself As Learner Scale (Burden, 1998) and the Mathematics Anxiety Scale for Children (Chiu Henry, 1990; Beasley, Long Natali, 2001). In the second part, the mental calculation strategies of pupils with either high or low mathematics anxiety was explored individually through a series of two digit addition and subtraction questions. Pupil responses were recorded, transcribed and classified. Strategy classification particularly distinguished pupils partitioning both two digit numbers and only one of the two digit numbers. Pupils with high mathematics anxiety tend to use lower order (less effective) strategies, whereas pupils with low mathematics anxiety tend to use higher order (more effective) strategies. No gender differences were found regarding strategy use. When controlled for mathematical competence, low mathematics anxious pupils produced more accurate mental calculation, whereas high mathematics anxious pupils produced less accurate mental calculations. Implications for Educational Psychologists and teachers in schools are discussed.
