Intergenerational effects of parents' math anxiety on children's math achievement and anxiety
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Dr Erin A. Maloney, Professor Gerardo Ramirez, Professor Susan Levine and Professor Sian Beilock

This study by the Association for Psychological Science (APS), of US first and second grade pupils, explores how parents’ anxiety around maths relates to their children’s mathematical achievements. Led by psychologists from the universities of Chicago, California, Los Angeles and Temple University, the goal of the study was to better understand why some pupils perform worse in maths than others.

The researchers tested whether parents’ maths anxiety predicted their children’s maths achievement across the school year. They found that when parents were more maths anxious, their children learnt significantly less maths over the school year, and also had more maths anxiety by the end of the school year, but only if their maths-anxious parents had frequently helped with maths homework. When parents did not help with maths homework, children’s maths achievement and attitudes were not related to their parents’ maths anxiety.

These results highlight the importance of parents’ attitudes towards maths in their children’s mathematical achievements, and suggest that many parents also need support to effectively help their children succeed in maths.

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Dr Erin A. Maloney, Professor Gerardo Ramirez, Professor Susan Levine and Professor Sian Beilock

Published by:
Psychological Science

Date of publication:
August 2015

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This research will be informative for maths teachers, offering evidence that might go some ways to explaining some pupils’ poor performance in the subject.  


Record ID:
R167 / 190
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