Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Psychometric Properties of the Revised Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale

Academic journal article The Psychological Record

Psychometric Properties of the Revised Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale

Article excerpt

Interest in mathematics anxiety started with the observations of mathematics teachers in the early 1950s. In 1957, Dreger and Aiken introduced mathematics anxiety as a new term to describe students' attitudinal difficulties with mathematics. They defined it as "the presence of a syndrome of emotional reactions to arithmetic and mathematics" (p. 344).

Notwithstanding the difficulties in defining and measuring mathematics anxiety (Wood, 1988), several attempts have been made to assess it. Atkinson (1988) described three distinct periods in the measurement of mathematics anxiety. In the first period, most studies were merely the authors' opinions and did not employ any standardized mathematics anxiety measures. During this period, an awareness of anxiety about mathematics arose and mathematics anxiety was being defined (e.g., Gough, 1954). Next, studies focused on the assessment of attitudes toward mathematics through surveys that included several variables such as state-trait anxiety, confidence, enjoyment, and misconceptions (e.g., Dutton & Blum, 1968). The third period saw the development of standardized mathematics anxiety instruments. Dreger and Aiken developed the first instrument, the Number Anxiety Scale, in 1957. Afterwards, more comprehensive scales such as the Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale (Richardson & Suinn, 1972), the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scales (Fennema & Sherman, 1976), the Anxiety Towards Mathematics Scale (Sandman, 1980), and the Mathematics Anxiety Questionnaire (Wigfield & Meece, 1988) were developed.

Even though the Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale (MARS; Richardson & Suinn, 1972) is one of the most extensively used mathematics anxiety instruments, Alexander and Martray (1989) reported two major shortcomings. The first is that it is a long assessment instrument (98 items), time-consuming to administer and to score. However, the Revised Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale (RMARS; Alexander & Martray), developed from the original MARS, has only 25 items.

In a more recent attempt to develop an abbreviated version of the MARS, Suinn and Winston (2003) investigated the previous studies that attempted to shorten the original MARS (e.g., Levitt & Hutton, 1984; Rounds & Hendel, 1980; Plake & Parker, 1982; Alexander & Martray, 1989) and generated 30 items from Alexander and Cobb (1984), Alexander and Martray, and Rounds and Hendel. The rules Suinn and Winston used for inclusion were that an item should (a) be found as an important factor in at least two of the studies or (b) show the highest loading among factors in at least one of the studies. The 30 collected items were subjected to a principal components analysis with oblique rotation, and two factors that emerged accounted for 70.3% of the total variability in the MARS items. Mathematics Test Anxiety accounted for 59.2% of the variance, whereas Numerical Anxiety accounted for 11.1% of the variance.

Extensive research has been done on the MARS and its psychometric properties (e.g., Camp, 1992; Capraro, Capraro, & Henson, 2002; Dew, Galassi, & Galassi, 1984; Resnick, Viehe, & Segal, 1982; Richardson & Suinn, 1972; Rounds & Hendel, 1980; Strawderman, 1985; Suinn & Edwards, 1982). However, the second, and more important, shortcoming of the instrument is that the proposed underlying construct of the MARS is unidimensional (Richardson & Suinn, 1972; Suinn, Edie, Nicoletti, & Spinelli, 1972). Nonetheless, more recent studies have revealed that there may be more than one underlying construct in mathematics anxiety (e.g., Alexander & Cobb, 1984; Alexander & Martray, 1989; Brush, 1981; Ferguson, 1986; Plake & Parker, 1982; Resnick et al., 1982; Rounds & Hendel, 1980; Satake & Amato, 1995).

Ling (1982) investigated the validity of mathematics anxiety as a multidimensional construct and found six factors (i.e., Personal Effectiveness; Assertiveness; Math Anxiety; Outgoingness; Success; and Dogmatism) that accounted for 76% of the total variance. …

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