Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Livingston Alexander, Doris Redfield, Carl Martray

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The purpose of this study was to investigate the validity of a 25-item abbreviated version of the Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale (Richardson & Suinn, 1972). Convergent and discriminant properties of the Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale -Abbreviated (Alexander, Cobb, & Martray, 1986), as well as its sensitivity to individual differences were examined.

Convergent validity was examined by studying the correlation between the two math anxiety scales, the MARS -A and the Fennema-Sherman Math Anxiety scale (FSMA). Discriminant validity was examined by studying the correlations between: (a) the MARS-A and a test anxiety scale (TAI), and (b) between the MARS -A and a general trait anxiety scale (STAI). Stepwise multiple regression analysis and Pearson Product -Moment correlation coefficients were used to investigate sensitivity to individual differences. The MARS-A functioned as the criterion variable. The predictor variables were American College Test (ACT) math scores, math coursework grade (Grade), confidence towards learning mathematics as measured by the Fennema-Sherman Confidence Scale (FSC), race (Race), sex (Sex), and age (Age).

Convergent validity was demonstrated by a relatively high correlation between scores yielded by the two measures of math anxiety, viz., the MARS-A and FSMA (r = -.61). Evidence of discriminant validity was demonstrated by positive but compared to the convergent validity coefficient, lower correlations between the MARS -A and TAI (r = .44), and yet still a lower correlation between the MARS -A and the STAI (r = .31). The positive correlations among these instruments indicated that instruments of general trait anxiety, test anxiety, and mathematics anxiety measure various aspects of anxiety; however, the order in which the correlations rank suggest that these instruments do not all measure the same trait. The degree of correlation among scores supports the idea that as the instrument becomes more item specific (from measuring general trait anxiety to test anxiety to math anxiety), the correlation between scores obtained on the instruments become stronger in magnitude.

FSC was the only predictor variable to enter the stepwise multiple regression prediction equation. The relationship indicates that confidence towards learning mathematics is the single, best predictor of scores obtained on the MARS -A. The negative direction of the correlation between FSC and MARS-A scores suggests that the more positive one's confidence is towards learning math, the lower one's math anxiety level. Although the MARS -A correlated significantly with other predictor variables, viz., ACT, Grade, and Age the shared variance between FSC, ACT, and Grade, and between ACT and Age imply that once the contribution of FSC to MARS-A scores was accounted for, remaining variables made no unique contribution.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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