A new research has revealed that although girls report more math anxiety on general survey measures, they are not actually more anxious during math classes and exams.
Education researchers Thomas Gotz and Madeleine Bieg of the University of Konstanz and the Thurgau University of Teacher Education and colleagues asked students to describe more generalized perceptions of mathematics anxiety, rather than assessing anxiety during actual math classes and exams.
They conducted two studies in which they collected data from approximately 700 students from grades 5 to 11.
In the first study, they compared students' responses on two different measures: A questionnaire measuring anxiety about math tests, and their real-time self-reports of anxiety directly before and during a math exam. In the second study, they compared questionnaire measures of math anxiety with repeated real-time assessments obtained during math classes via mobile devices.
Findings from the two studies replicated prior research and existing gender stereotypes, showing that girls reported more math anxiety than boys on generalized assessments, despite similar math achievement.
However, the data obtained during math exams and classes revealed that girls did not experience more anxiety than boys in real-life settings.
The data further suggest that lower self-reported competence in mathematics may underlie the discrepancy between the levels of anxiety reported by girls in the two settings.
The study is published in journal of the Association for Psychological Science.