Mathematical Anxiety - Anxiety Rating Scale

Anxiety Rating Scale

A rating scale for mathematics anxiety was written about in 1972 by Richardson and Suinn. Richardson and Suinn defined mathematical anxiety as "feelings of apprehension and tension concerning manipulation of numbers and completion of mathematical problems in various contexts." Richardson and Suinn introduced the MARS (Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale) in 1972. Elevated scores on the MARS test translate to high math anxiety. The authors presented the normative data, including a mean score of 215.38 with a standard deviation of 65.29, collected from 397 students that replied to an advertisement for behavior therapy treatment for math anxiety. For test-retest reliability, the Pearson product-moment coefficient was used and a score of 0.85 was calculated, which was favorable and comparable to scores found on other anxiety tests. Richardson and Suinn validated the construct of this test by sharing previous results from three other studies that were very similar to the results achieved in this study. They also administered the Differential Aptitude Test, a 10 minute math test including simple to complex problems. Calculation of the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient between the MARS test and Differential Aptitude Test scores was -0.64 (p < .01), indicating that higher MARS scores relate to lower math test scores and “since high anxiety interferes with performance, and poor performance produces anxiety, this result provides evidence that the MARS does measure mathematics anxiety”. This test was intended for use in diagnosing math anxiety, testing efficacy of different math anxiety treatment approaches and possibly designing an anxiety hierarchy to be used in desensitization treatments. The MARS test is of interest to those in counseling psychology and the test is used profusely in math anxiety research. It is available in several versions of varying length and is considered psychometrically sound. Other tests are often given to measure different dimensionalities of math anxiety, such as the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scales (FSMAS). The FSMAS evaluates nine specific domains using Likert-type scales: attitude toward success, mathematics as a male domain, mother‘s attitude, father’s attitude, teacher’s attitude, confidence in learning mathematics, mathematics anxiety, affectance motivation and mathematics usefulness. Despite the introduction of newer instrumentation, the use of the MARS test appears to be the educational standard for measuring math anxiety due to its specificity and prolific use.

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