Published at Friday, 10 May 2019. math worksheet. By Vignetta Delaunay.
“You become sort of worried or heightened and then you get that vicious cycle going where you underperform because you’re anxious,” explains Dr. Pagirsky. “Then you think: ‘Here’s proof that I’m not good at this!’ which reinforces the belief.”
When people are feeling anxious, it becomes harder for them to access their working memory because they are preoccupied with their fear. This preoccupation drains the cognitive resources they would otherwise have at their disposal. There is a lot of research to back this up, including research specifically about math anxiety. For example, in a 2001 study by Mark Ashcraft and Elizabeth Kirk, people with math anxiety exhibited a pronounced decline in working memory capacity when tested on a computation-based task but no decline on a verbal-based task, indicating that their working memory was only compromised when their math anxiety was triggered.
Math anxiety can also function similarly to test anxiety — the fact that there’s a right and a wrong answer in math can be intimidating to kids who are already a little anxious or afraid of failure. The way we evaluate math skills is also more intimidating for anxious kids. There are no timed drills in history class, for example.
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