The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Mathematics Apathy; Exploring the Gap Between Mathematics Anxiety and Mathematics Confidence.

Jamie Smith, University of Lincoln (United Kingdom)


Previously literature supports the existence of bidirectional relationships between achievement and anxiety in mathematics (e.g., Barosso et al., 2021; Hembree 1990) and anxiety and confidence in mathematics (e.g., Li et al., 2021; Harari et al., 2013). Where students with higher levels of mathematics achievement are less anxious about mathematics, and less anxious students are generally more confident. However, the relationship between mathematics anxiety and mathematics confidence - once considered mirror images – requires greater consideration.  


This study explores between-term and between-year changes in mathematics anxiety and mathematics confidence of 1,246 students in secondary school students aged 11–14. Our results show that while measures of mathematics anxiety change over time, mathematics confidence does not. As students become less anxious towards mathematics but do not become more confident with mathematics, we consider if this ‘lost’ emotional energy is due to mathematics apathy.  




Mathematics Education, Mathematics Anxiety, Mathematics Confidence, Mathematics Apathy, Secondary Education




Barroso, C., Ganley, C. M., McGraw, A. L., Geer, E. A., Hart, S. A., & Daucourt, M. C. (2021). A meta-analysis of the relation between math anxiety and math achievement. Psychological Bulletin147(2), 134–168.  


Harari, R. R., Vukovic, R. K., & Bailey, S. P. (2013). Mathematics Anxiety in Young Children: An Exploratory Study. The Journal of Experimental Education81(4).


Hembree, R. (1990). The Nature, Effects, and Relief of Mathematics Anxiety. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education21(1), 33–46.  


Li, Q., Cho, H., Cosso, J., Wang, M., & Areepattamannil, S. (2021). Relations Between Students’ Mathematics Anxiety and Motivation to Learn Mathematics: A Meta-Analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 33(4), 1017-1049. 


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