Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Math Anxiety And Metacognition in Mathematics Education

  • Author(s): Erickson, Shanna Lin
  • Advisor(s): Heit, Evan
  • et al.

This dissertation explores the connections among metacognition, math ability, and math anxiety, predominantly within an educational context. An ultimate goal is to improve student success in math by first addressing student misconceptions of self-ability that drive study habits.

To inform later discussions of these connections, I first provide supporting groundwork research for each of these cognitive functions separately in Chapters 1-3. In Chapter 1, background information on math cognition includes discussion of basic cognitive and neurological processes necessary for numerical and mathematical abilities, numerical representations, number recognition, spatial representation, development of arithmetic skills, as well as deficits and learning disabilities in math. In Chapter 2, background information on metacognition includes a brief history of the development of metacognitive theory, philosophical debates, implications within education, and the possibility of teaching metacognition. This lays the groundwork for understanding the mechanics and influences of metacognition in general contexts as well as educational contexts specifically. Discussions of mental processes for both math cognition and metacognition in Chapters 1 and 2 allow us to gauge how metacognitive judgments of ability might be made in math specifically rather than in general contexts, as both math tasks and metacognitive tasks require overlapping resources (e.g. working memory). Chapter 3 introduces math anxiety as another possible variable that could influence both math ability and metacognitive judgments of math ability. Background information on math anxiety includes effects on math ability, cognitive ability, and causes of math anxiety. I also discuss related research in general psychological stress as well as common methodologies. This discussion of stress research introduces an alternative to traditional self-report measures of math anxiety.

In Chapter 4, I present novel empirical research that explores the connection between metacognition, math ability, and math anxiety. To extend this exploration, I also address key related concepts, including social influences on metacognition (Chapter 5) and psychological and physical stress (Chapter 6).

I conclude with a final summary as well as a discussion of future directions.

Main Content
Current View