"Math anxiety is commonly defined as a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance" (Ashcraft, 2002, p. 181). Symptoms of math anxiety are reported by 33% of students by the time they reach the age of 15, possibly contributing to this workforce dilemma (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2013). Many models and perspectives of math anxiety have been established including conceptualizing math anxiety as a function of working memory deficits, sociocultural conditioning, lack of reappraisal, and anxiety as a precursor to escape-maintained behavior. Math anxiety is more common in individuals with certain disabilities, such as developmental dyscalculia and deaf and hard of hearing. Hembree (1990) conducted a meta-analysis of research evaluating intervention effects on math anxiety and its moderators. They reported that cognitive-behavioral interventions were most effective at reducing math anxiety. While definitions of, models examining, and causes and co-occurrences of math anxiety are well examined in current literature, Hembree's (1990) meta- analysis remains the only such investigation for the past 30 years. The purpose of the present study is to conduct an updated meta-analysis based on previous research (Hembree, 1990) but focused on interventions in K-12 school settings. We identified 11 articles between the years of 1990-2020 that met our inclusion criteria. From those articles, we calculated an omnibus effect size, tested homogeneity, evaluated publication bias, explored moderating variables, and assessed methodological rigor. Our Q statistic indicated homogeneity; however, the forest plot and I2 indicated a small amount of heterogeneity. The asymmetric shape of the funnel plot may be indicative of publication bias. The omnibus effect size was g = 0.316. The results of our moderator analysis indicated that math anxiety interventions produce the best results when conducted in targeted small groups. Additionally, three studies were considered methodologically sound. Our findings support the use of school-based interventions to reduce math anxiety, especially when those interventions are implemented as a targeted, small group intervention.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





math anxiety, math achievement, elementary education, secondary education, systematic reviews



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Education Commons