Mathematics is an important subject in the school curriculum in every country. From a young age, children must learn the basic concepts of mathematics in order to function well in their everyday life (Lebens, Graff, & Mayer, 2011). Mathematics has been taught so that children can understand the numerical data presented to them, and able to perform simple and complex calculations in day-to-day encounters. It is also a common belief among students that mathematics is a hard subject and difficult to learn. In mathematics education, many researchers propose innovative ways of teaching, linking concept and real-life applications and motivating the students to take more interest in the subject to overcome mathematics phobia (Hemmings, Grootenboer, & Kay, 2011).
What is mathematics anxiety? Mathematics anxiety can be defined as an irrational dread of mathematics that interferes with manipulating numbers and solving mathematical problems within a variety of everyday life and academic situations. According to Masooma Ali Al Mutawah (1915) “Math anxiety has also been the focus of much psychological and educational research in the past few years, there are many international studies showing that mathematics anxiety is an influence on student’s achievements in school”. According to the University of Cambridge “Mathematics Anxiety is a negative emotional reaction to mathematics that can be debilitating” and it has been defined as “a feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in an ordinary life and academic situations.
” The severity of Mathematics Anxiety can range from a feeling of mild tension all the way to experiencing a strong fear of maths. The prevalence of extreme mathematics anxiety is estimated at between 2-6% and the less severe can still have a significant effect on the people who suffer from it. Mathematics Anxiety is not restricted to tests or classroom settings. It may generalize to various real-world situations with the consequence that otherwise perfectly intelligent and capable persons develop a severe avoidance of situations involving any kinds of mathematics even extending to not choosing careers which include the application of mathematics. Mathematics Anxiety is also not to be confused with general anxiety. Mathematics Anxiety is an anxiety that is specifically related to mathematics and not anxiety about taking tests. It is unique in this regard, as there are not widespread anxiety conditions for other specific content areas such as reading, writing, or history. (According to Richardson and Suinn (1972, as cited in Preston, 2008) as the first to define it as “feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations”.
(insert) _______________Since then, others have continued their efforts driven by research evidence that not only does mathematics anxiety inhibit one’s ability to perform mathematically (Preston, 2008) but it is highly probable to have originated from classroom experiences too (Newstead, 1998).