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  • Writer's pictureRiikka Mononen

iFeelMath – start of the new research project

Today, September 1st, we start our new research project, iFeelMath, funded by the Academy of Finland. This consortium project will be carried out together by the Åbo Akademi University and the University of Oulu, in Finland.

When, how, and why math anxiety develops? (Photo: Pexels)

During the next four years, we will focus on investigating the developmental and situational dynamics of math anxiety (MA) and math performance among primary-school students. Further, to prevent the possible negative consequences of MA, we will develop and test the effectiveness of brief classroom interventions to support students with high MA.

While a negative relation between MA and math performance among adolescents is well-documented, this relation is still poorly understood among primary-school students. Students with MA (prevalence of 11–17%) experience feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with their math performance.

400 students are followed from the 4th to 6th grade

A sample of 400 fourth grade students are followed over five timepoints until the sixth grade, to investigate the causal ordering of MA and performance. Situational dynamics between MA and task performance will be investigated in a subsample of 100 students during eight lessons and linked to the overall longitudinal design. Both self-reported situational MA and physiological responses (skin conductance) will be collected when students are working with digital math tasks. Further, three brief interventions (i.e., mindfulness, math skills and a combined) aimed at reducing MA and improving math performance will be tested with another sample of students (n = 400) using a pre-post-delayed posttest design.

Increasing understanding of when, how and why math anxiety develops

The novelty of our combined study designs (incl. longitudinal, situational, and intervention) is expected to provide answers that increase our understanding of when, how, and why MA develops during primary school years. This project is one of the first ones to incorporate a situational perspective to advance our understanding on the mechanisms of the MA-performance relation. Inclusion of objective physiological measures, instead of only relying on self-reports, is expected to advance the MA research field.

The intervention programs to be developed and tested are a much needed add-on to the MA research field, to reveal effective ways to support the primary-school students experiencing high MA. Together, these studies advance our knowledge on which theoretical accounts concerning the MA–math performance link are the most plausible.

We are happy to announce 1-2 post-doctoral researcher positions connected to the project later on this year.

Follow the project leaders @johan_korhonen and @RiikkaMononen, or #ifeelmath on Twitter, to keep track on our latest news from the project.

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