Dr. Amira Ibrahim
Math is an essential part of STEM courses and careers, yet many students in math-based courses experience math anxiety that may affect their motivation to pursue careers in STEM. Past research on math anxiety often focuses on its influence on students’ math performance (i.e. during test taking), almost no research has examined how math anxiety relates to students’ use of study strategies in math-based courses. In addition, previous research has often shown a negative relationship between math anxiety and factors of student motivation (i.e. self-efficacy); therefore, it is important to understand how students’ motivation changes during math-based courses. The current research aimed to examine: 1) the relationship between students’ reported math anxiety and their use of eight different study strategies (e.g. rehearsal, planning, help-seeking, etc.); and 2) how students’ study habits and motivation factors (e.g. self-efficacy, interest, etc.) changed over a semester-long physics course. 110 students from an undergraduate physics course completed the Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale and subscales from the Motivated Student Learning Questionnaire on learning strategies and motivation at the beginning of the semester. 61 of these students also completed follow up assessments at the end of the semester. Correlational analysis showed a statistically significant, negative relationship between math anxiety and regulation, suggesting that students experiencing more math anxiety also spend less time regulating their comprehension of course material. No significant relationships were found between math anxiety and other study strategies. In addition, paired samples t-tests showed statistically significant increases in planning, monitoring, and time/environment management over the semester, suggesting that students utilize more metacognitive strategies over time while studying for math-based classes. No significant differences were found among the other study strategies or motivation factors. The current study provides us with insight into the relationship between math anxiety and the study strategies students engage in during math related courses, as well as how student study habits and motivation change over time.