A workshop for building confidence in learning mathematics
Rich, Joseph David
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This study was undertaken in an attempt to decrease the mathematics anxiety and thereby improve the performance of a group of twenty-four freshmen college students in a special admissions program at Northern Illinois University. The study was conducted in an intermediate algebra class and used a behavior modification approach for reducing anxiety. A book entitled Building Confidence in Mathematics was written by the experimenter and provided for the students’ use. The workshop met twice a week for three weeks and was run by the experimenter and a counselor. The students were given a pre-test and post-test of the Phobos anxiety scale. Data for the difference between pre-test and post-test levels of anxiety in three areas were analyzed. The areas were numerical anxiety, test anxiety, and abstraction anxiety. A paired t-test was used for the data. Results significant at the .05 level were found for two of the areas: (Test anxiety (p = .0108) and abstraction anxiety (p = .0453). A more thorough investigation is called for, but findings indicate that a behavior modification approach may be useful for reducing mathematics anxiety in this population.