Perception Of Teachers On The Causes And Effects Of Mathematics Anxiety Among Secondary School Students In Bayelsa State

Mathematics Education Project Material

Perception Of Teachers On The Causes And Effects Of Mathematics Anxiety Among Secondary School Students In Bayelsa State


Anxiety in mathematics is a reoccurring phenomenon in students of different grades and classes. The impact of mathematics anxiety spans from poor academic performance to poor individual analytical and problem solving skills. This study was undertaken in this light to critically examine and assess the causes and effect of mathematics anxiety among students of secondary school. This assessment was uniquely carried out from the perception of the teachers. A quantitative research methodology was adopted and a survey research design employed. A sample of 121 student were enrolled in the study after obtaining due consent from the various school authorities. The results of the survey were analysed using frequency and percentage counts. The null hypothesis was tested using the one-sample t-test statistics tool. The findings from this study revealed that teaching style of teachers is among the major causes of mathematics anxiety among students. Other causes of mathematics anxiety includes sample questions issued to students during classwork, test and exams. Further findings also shows that background information form family and peers contribute to mathematics anxiety among students. The hypothesis test result revealed that there is a significant difference in anxiety between male and female students. This study recommends reassessment of teaching style of teachers and ensuring that mathematical formula and process are broken into easy steps for adequate comprehension for the students.

Table of Content

Chapter One


  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Objectives of the Study
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Research Hypothesis
  • 1.6 Significance of the Study
  • 1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study
  • 1.8 Definition of Terms
  • 1.9 Organization of the Study

Chapter Two

Literature Review

  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2.1 Concept of Anxiety
  • 2.2.2 Mathematics Anxiety and Gender
  • 2.2.3 Causes of Mathematics Anxiety
  • 2.2.4 Mathematics Anxiety and Achievement
  • 2.2.5 Effects of Mathematics Anxiety on Mathematics Performance
  • 2.2.6 Mathematics Anxiety and Gender
  • 2.2.7 Causes of Mathematics Anxiety
  • 2.2.8 Mathematics Anxiety and Achievement
  • 2.2.9 Effects of Mathematics Anxiety on Mathematics Performance
  • 2.3 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3.1 The Bandura’s Social Learning Theory
  • 2.4 Empirical Studies

Chapter Three

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 Research Design
  • 3.3 Research Settings
  • 3.4 Sources of Data
  • 3.5 Population of the Study
  • 3.6 Sample Size Determination
  • 3.7 Sample Size Technique
  • 3.8 Instrumentation
  • 3.9 Reliability
  • 3.10 Validity
  • 3.11 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.12 Method of Data Analysis
  • 3.13 Ethical consideration

Chapter Four

Data Presentation, Analysis and Discussion

  • 4.1 Preamble
  • 4.2 Demographic Information
  • 4.3 Data Analysis
  • 4.4 Test of Hypothesis
  • 4.5 Discussion of Findings

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Mathematics has been viewed as one of the key courses because most fields depend on employing mathematical reasoning. It is an important component of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Mathematical knowledge is a vital factor for students’ future professional success; consequently research (Carter, 2008) on teaching and studying mathematics has gained a lot of attention over the years. According to Foong, (1987), mathematics is frequently considered as difficult, supporting the premise that rather than teaching the substance and practices of mathematics, the major emphasis should be on students’ experiences with the subject and giving mathematical sense-making possibilities. More precisely, since students’ experiences with mathematics have not been particularly favorable, the role of mathematics in other disciplines of study has been a developing research issue at tertiary institutions.

According to LeViness (2017), pupils’ unpleasant mathematics experiences have been connected to anxiety. In the context of mathematics education, little investigation has been done on the connection between mathematics anxiety, mathematics self-efficacy, and learning approaches among STEM and social science students. In general, anxiety is viewed as a mental health disorder in children and adolescents that is crucial to manage as it might have long-term effects. Young persons are more susceptible to their immediate surroundings than adults, and they have less resources and past experiences to cope with stressful occurrences (Stadler & Walitza, 2021). (Stadler & Walitza, 2021). As a consequence of their sentiments of insecurity, people are more impacted by stressful events. Individual, family, or parental-related risk and resilience variables impact the amount and capacity of children and adolescents to cope (Stadler & Walitza, 2021). (Stadler & Walitza, 2021).

Anxiety problems plague millions of children, according to the Child’s Mental Health Report (2018), and hinder them from realizing their full potential. “We still have a long way to go”, the study says. Anxiety is a gateway disorder that may lead to despair, school failure, suicide, and drug misuse if left untreated. Because children are often relatively young when anxiety hits, they learn to suffer in quiet from an early age. Worry, problems with ambiguity, an excessively reactive reaction to perceived dangers (including freezing), and avoidance are the characteristics of anxiety. Some young individuals avoid or become extremely terrified of school topics, events or items that arouse their phobias, while others respond with wrath and terror. This conduct is sometimes misconstrued as fury or disagreement. Few instructors identify the considerable suffering suffered by secondary school pupils with phobias or social anxiety disorder, and their issues may be ascribed to “shyness.” Many young folks are unaware that their unreasonable emotions might be the consequence of a curable ailment rather than a character failing. In past years, health care practitioners have grown more conscious of anxiety in young people, with one research indicating a 17 percent rise in anxiety disorder diagnoses (Bitsko, Holbrook, Ghandour, Blumberg, Visser, Perou, & Walkup, 2018). (Bitsko, Holbrook, Ghandour, Blumberg, Visser, Perou, & Walkup, 2018). Teens and their parents are becoming more aware of the importance of anxiety disorders, and they are starting to urge for treatment at a level that far surpasses that of a generation before. LeViness, Bershad, & Gorman, (2017) reported that anxiety is the most prevalent cause of worry in schools. Despite greater awareness, the percentage of adolescents who get treatment remains the lowest of all the major categories of mental health problems, far below the population’s anxiety prevalence. Thirty percent of children and adolescents will fit the criteria for an anxiety disorder at some time, however eighty percent will never seek help.

Anxiety problems impact about 117 million young people globally. Although roughly 10 percent of youngsters ages 6–17 have an anxiety condition, over 20 percent will have functional problems owing to anxiety in at least one element of life by early adulthood (Copeland, Angold, Shanahan,& Costello, 2014). (Copeland, Angold, Shanahan,& Costello, 2014). Anxiety may influence a child’s social and scholastic performance, as well as other parts of their life. According to Twenge (2015) secondary school kids now report higher anxiety symptoms and are twice as likely to consult a mental health professional than adolescents in the 1980s. LeViness et al. (2017) noted and agreed that anxiety has surpassed depression as the most prevalent complaint among secondary school students seeking mental health treatment, he confirmed with this assessment, stating that anxiety is the most common concern, followed by stress.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Mathematics anxiety is a psychological situation that is less talked about in schools and homes. It is an undeniable situation that exists among students of secondary schools and even the tertiary institutions. Anxiety in mathematics has the potential of resulting to poor performance in mathematics and general academic achievement of students. Research (Claessens & Engel, 2013; Konvalina, Wileman, & Stephens, 1983)has shown that mathematics achievement in students is influenced by psychological factors such as mathematics anxiety. In the mathematical context, it appears that many students who are weak in mathematics worry while attempting to use maths skills to solve problems (Mohamed and Tarmizi, 2010; Arem, 2003; Rahim, 2002; Tobias, 1995). The findings of Marsh and Tapia (2002) indicate that students with low levels of maths anxiety feel more excited, more confident and highly motivated to learn mathematics when compared to students who have high anxiety levels. Puteh (2002) describes mathematics anxiety as arepetitive process that is based on information gathered by individuals from their surroundings. This information is accumulated and becomes the personal experience of individuals, which finally informs their beliefs toward mathematics. It is the focus of this study to critically examine from the teachers perspective, the causes and effects of mathematics and based on this information make valuable suggestions.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The primary goal of this study is to examine the perception of teachers on the causes and effects of mathematics anxiety among secondary school students in Bayelsa state. Specifically, the objectives of this study are:

  1. To determine the causes of students anxiety towards mathematics.
  2. To examine the performance of students with regards to anxiety in mathematics.
  3. To examine whether there is a difference in anxiety between male and female students.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions guided this study:

  1. What are the causes of students’ anxiety towards mathematics?
  2. What is the effect of students’ anxiety to their performance in mathematics?
  3. Are there significant differences in anxiety towards mathematics between male and female students?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

  • H0: There is no significant difference in mathematics anxiety between male and female secondary school students.
  • H1: There is a significant difference in mathematics anxiety between male and female secondary school students.

1.6 Significance of the Study

Anxiety among students is not greatly discussed, thus, this research will serve as a discussion material that captures the causes of mathematics anxiety from the perspective of the students. Also, the study will provide insights to teachers on proactive ways to mitigate anxiety in students not just for mathematics but for other core subjects which students consider difficult. Finally, this study serves as an academic contribution to knowledge.

1.7 Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study is carried out to accommodate the views and perception of secondary school students in Agege local government area. The respondents includes students from the ages of 14 to 18. The findings of this study can be applied to other students in Lagos state, although its source is from one LGA. The researcher experienced some shortfalls like poor willingness of students to participate in the survey and the cost of eliciting information from different secondary schools.

1.8 Definition of terms


The way and manner a situation, phenomenon, or condition is understood and interpreted.


A psychological feeling of fear and failure before undertaking a task or event.


A group of individuals that attend a formal setting of learning.

1.9 Organizations of the Study

The chapter one consist of the introductory part of the study which includes the study background, the statement of the research problem, the study objective and scope of the study.

The second chapter is a critical review of other literatures relevant to the study and its objectives including the theoretical framework for the study. While the third chapter is methods of data collection, sampling and data analysis used in conducting the study. The fourth chapter centres around the research findings including an analysis of how it relates to previous findings. The fifth chapter consists of the summary of findings, conclusion and recommendations base on the study objectives.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

The focus of this study was to critically examine with the intention to provide solution to mathematical anxiety among students. This study was reported in five distinct but related chapters. In the first chapter, a problem statement was raised on the need to examine mathematical anxiety among students. However, much emphasis was on the perception of teachers towards this research problem. This is the unique feature of this study as it examines mathematics anxiety of secondary school students from the perspective of the teachers. In the second chapter, a review of related and relevant literature were conducted. The literature searched, selected and referenced in this study comprises of mostly empirical local and international researches that aligned with the objectives of the study. In the third chapter, the research approach was spelled out. This study is a quantitative study and hence adopted the survey research design. Students of ten secondary schools in Bayelsa state were selected and enrolled after due consent was obtained from the school authorities. A population of 500 students made up the study. Using Taro yamane formula, 121 students responded to the survey. The responses were analyzed, presented and interpreted in chapter four of this project.

5.2 Conclusion

The issue of mathematical anxiety has been a long age issues amongst students. Our findings has revealed that there are major causes of mathematics anxiety. The most prominent among them was identified by the students as teaching style of students. Learning is more of a psychological process than a physical exercise, mentally are at the risk of disconnect when the teaching style of the teacher do not capture their attention. This could be due to the teachers’ audibility, gesticulation, side comments, and breakdown of lessons. Teachers overall lesson delivery style affects learning pattern of students in mathematics. More so, other causes includes sample questions and exam question type. Other causes identified by students includes learning environment, learning materials and background influence from family and peers.

5.3 Recommendation

Based on the findings as made available from the survey, the researcher makes the following suggestions:

  1. The teaching style of teachers should be reassessed by school administrators to ensure that it is serving the best purpose of deployment.
  2. Teachers should provide adequate mathematical information to students. Rigorous questions should not be reserved for test and obviously, examination purposes as it causes anxiety among students.
  3. Rigorous mathematics process or formula should be broken down in simple steps for students to quickly grasp.
  4. Side comments of students inability by teachers should be avoided as student once put down in front of other students tends to suffer psychologically. Rather demanding for applause from classmates for students who attempts some questions will serve as a better morale.
  5. Parents should guide against letting fear into their wards and children on the difficulty of mathematics. Children tend to believe them more than the possibility presented to them by the teachers.
  6. School authorities should provide or enforce a situation where students have necessary mathematics tools and textbooks needed for improved performance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I have math anxiety?

Mathematics anxiety related to the nature of mathematics. Nature of mathematics Some 73 students find mathematics very computational and difficult ( Figure 4 Others are troubled by what is known as abstraction anxiety which stems from more abstract mathematics topics taught in the middle grades (Ferguson, 1986).

How does mathematics anxiety affect secondary school students in Asia?

The detrimental consequences of mathematics anxiety have repeatedly been evidenced empirically, yet little is known of its influence on secondary school students in Asia. This study thus examined its origins and impact on 294 secondary students in Singapore through interviews and surveys.

Do traditional methods of teaching make students more anxious?

Norwood (1994, as cited in Preston,2008) argued that traditional methods intensified students’ anxieties though he found that college students who were weak in mathematics were more at ease with lecture-based teaching.

What is the main cause of tension in students?

The most frequently cited cause is the teacher, identified by Foong (1987) as the main source of students’ tension. Highly-tensed students dread presenting solutions in front of their classmates, viewing such situations as threatening (Ashcraft, 2002). 

Does mathematics anxiety affect students’ perceptions of the value that society places?

There will be no significant relationship between mathematics anxiety and students’ perceptions of the value that society places on mathematics. Table 4: Score associated with mathematics anxiety and students’ perceptions of the value that society places on mathematics.

Do pre-service teachers exhibit high level of anxiety?

The results of the study, generally, indicated that most of the pre-service teachers did not exhibit high level of anxiety. Student prior experiences with mathematics teachers and other influential persons have been identified as the greatest influence on the development of mathematics anxiety.

Does pre-service teachers’ level of mathematics anxiety depend on self perceived measure?

According to the hypothesis of the current investigation, the analysis of data is divided into two parts; at first part, the research hypothesis was evaluated and in the second part, pre-service teachers’ level of mathematics anxiety based on self perceived measure and MARS are analyzed

Why do I have a fear of math?

A number of students believed that algebra is the root cause of their panicky nature, and they are perplexed by the countless symbols and formulae. Negative experiences Constant failure in mathematics strikes fear in some students especially those from the weaker classes (67).

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