Investigating Rural Pre-Service Teachers' Mathematics Anxiety Using the Revised Mathematics Anxiety Scale (RMARS)
Keywords:mathematics anxiety, preservice teachers, anxiety scales, achievement
Engaging successfully in the modern technological society requires a command of mathematics. Hence, successfully engaging with mathematics has social, economic and political implications. There has been a history over a long period of time of significant numbers of people not forming productive relationships with learning mathematics. Failure in mathematics can have an impact that may extend far beyond the classroom. Mathematics anxiety leads to avoidance of mathematics, limiting opportunities for people to reach their full potential.
Mathematics anxiety is an important research topic in the mathematics education community. Significant numbers of students come to their tertiary teacher education with limited mathematics understandings, and a pattern of avoidance and anxiety. International researchers of primary pre-service teachers report high levels of mathematics anxiety, low confidence levels to teach mathematics and low mathematics teacher efficacy. Pre-service primary teachers‘ mathematics anxiety affects their engagement with and future teaching of mathematics, as high levels of teacher mathematics anxiety can be perpetuated in classrooms (Martinez, 1987, Furner & Berman, 2005).
The project investigated the range of mathematics anxiety in a sample of pre-service teachers (PST) starting a teacher education course in an Australian university. 219 first year primary PST enrolled in the Bachelor of Education (Primary) degree course from two campuses completed the survey in the first few weeks of the first semester of their university course. PST responded to the Revised Mathematics Anxiety Scale (RMARS) (Alexander & Martray, 1989) and a set of demographic questions. Sample 1 was from a campus in a regional city and Sample 2 from a metropolitan campus. Age differences in anxiety were found to be significant, and relationships were found between the RMARS scores and students‘ self-perceptions of their current mathematics anxiety levels. Pre-service teachers who had attended rural high schools demonstrated a range of levels of mathematics anxiety. This research showed that these anxieties may present differently when taking a mathematics test, doing mathematical computations, or undertaking a mathematics course. Teacher educators should be aware of the extent of range of anxiety that PST may present with at the beginning of their teacher education course, and hence that the needs of students coming to their teacher education mathematics units may vary considerably.
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