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Title: The role of working memory and inhibition efficiency in mathematics anxiety
Author: De Agostini, Ruggero
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 6281
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2020
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Mathematics anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and, sometimes, fear, that arises in people when they engage in mathematical tasks and has a negative relationship with mathematical performance. A possible reason for this relationship could be that mathematics anxiety might have a detrimental effect on working memory, which then could cause a drop in performance during mathematical tasks. I first assessed the relationship of mathematics anxiety with working memory and inhibition efficiency in university students during mathematical and neutral situations (Chapter 2). Participants with high mathematics anxiety had lower working memory spans and lower inhibition efficiency but being in a mathematical situation or not had no effect on working memory. I then developed a new working memory capacity task and reassessed the relationship between mathematics anxiety and inhibition efficiency using an extreme group design in university students (Chapter 3). Here, participants with high mathematics anxiety tended to have lower inhibition efficiency. Moreover, I carried out a longitudinal study in secondary school students assessing concurrent and longitudinal relationships of mathematics anxiety with mathematical performance, working memory, inhibition efficiency, and mathematics self-belief. In Chapter 4 I describe the significant concurrent relationships between mathematics anxiety, mathematical performance, mathematics self-belief, and working memory. In the longitudinal analysis in Chapter 5 mathematics self-belief did not show a significant longitudinal relationship with mathematics anxiety despite a strong concurrent relationship. This suggests that although mathematics self-belief is a relevant factor to assess when studying mathematics anxiety, it might play a smaller role in the development of mathematics anxiety. In contrast, inhibition efficiency and mathematical performance were significant longitudinal predictors of the development of mathematics anxiety. Overall, my results highlight that poor inhibition efficiency is related to mathematics anxiety in adults and might contribute directly and indirectly to the increase of mathematics anxiety during secondary school.
Supervisor: Silke, Göbel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available