Study: Math-Anxious Parents Can Hinder Children’s Math Achievement

August 22, 2015 by  
Filed under Research

KELO TV has a nice summary of some new research:

If math makes you anxious, you may now be able to blame your parents.

New research published in the Psychological Science, a journal of the Association of Psychology, found that children of math-anxious parents learned less math over the school year than those children of parents who were not math-anxious.

The study, led by two University of Chicago psychological scientists, also found that the children of math-anxious parents were more likely to be math-anxious themselves, but only when the math-anxious parents provided frequent help on the child’s math homework.

Read more on Keloland. If you want to obtain the research study itself, here’s the abstract:

Intergenerational Effects of Parents’ Math Anxiety on Children’s Math Achievement and Anxiety.
Maloney EA, Ramirez G2, Gunderson EA3, Levine SC4, Beilock SL4.
Psychol Sci. 2015 Aug 7.

A large field study of children in first and second grade explored how parents’ anxiety about math relates to their children’s math achievement. The goal of the study was to better understand why some students perform worse in math than others. We tested whether parents’ math anxiety predicts their children’s math achievement across the school year. We found that when parents are more math anxious, their children learn significantly less math over the school year and have more math anxiety by the school year’s end-but only if math-anxious parents report providing frequent help with math homework. Notably, when parents reported helping with math homework less often, children’s math achievement and attitudes were not related to parents’ math anxiety. Parents’ math anxiety did not predict children’s reading achievement, which suggests that the effects of parents’ math anxiety are specific to children’s math achievement. These findings provide evidence of a mechanism for intergenerational transmission of low math achievement and high math anxiety.

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