Published on Mon Oct 14 2013

Do girls really experience more anxiety in mathematics?

Thomas Goetz, Madeleine Bieg, Oliver Lüdtke, Reinhard Pekrun, Nathan C Hall

Two studies were conducted to examine gender differences in trait (habitual) versus state (momentary) mathematics anxiety in a sample of students. For trait math anxiety, the findings replicated previous research showing that female students report higher levels of anxiety than do male students. No gender differences were observed for state

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Abstract

Two studies were conducted to examine gender differences in trait (habitual) versus state (momentary) mathematics anxiety in a sample of students (Study 1: N = 584; Study 2: N = 111). For trait math anxiety, the findings of both studies replicated previous research showing that female students report higher levels of anxiety than do male students. However, no gender differences were observed for state anxiety, as assessed using experience-sampling methods while students took a math test (Study 1) and attended math classes (Study 2). The discrepant findings for trait versus state math anxiety were partly accounted for by students' beliefs about their competence in mathematics, with female students reporting lower perceived competence than male students despite having the same average grades in math. Implications for educational practices and the assessment of anxiety are discussed.