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EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education
Volume 7, Issue 4 (November 2011), pp. 227-242

DOI: 10.12973/eurasia.2019

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Research Article

Published online on Jul 01, 2016

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How do Students’ Mastery and Performance Goals Relate to Math Anxiety?

Joseph M. Furner & Alyssa Gonzalez-DeHass

Abstract

A changing, economically competitive world has necessitated reform in mathematics
education. Yet mathematics anxiety has been a prevalent concern among educators and
others in our society for decades. Some students tend to be more anxious about the
testing process and can often freeze up, others just cringe when they are confronted with
any form of computational exercise, or others dread taking math classes which can occur
in the elementary, middle, high, and even at the college levels. Educators, parents,
politicians, and others are trying to assess the cause for the apparent academic weakness of
mathematics, and solutions to the problem are being sought. Our focus in this paper is to
tease apart the underlying causes of math anxiety that result from a teacher’s instructional
practice, particularly how mastery and performance goals relate to the construct of math
anxiety, and how a teachers’ understanding of creating mastery-oriented classrooms can
help to prevent or reduce the anxiety students experience during mathematics. Research
indicates that classroom practices can influence the goals students adopt, and that
educators should strive to create mastery-oriented classrooms by examining the nature of
the tasks they assign students, the authority or degree they involve students in academic
decision-making, the types of evaluation and recognition they utilize, and the classroom
climate they create.


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