The article that I chose to examine was titled “Math

anxiety, working memory, and math achievement in early elementary school”,

which was published in the Journal of

Cognition and Development. This article discusses whether “math anxiety is

related to young children’s math achievement (Ramirez, Gunderson, Levine, and

Beilock, 2013, p. 187).” This topic was of interest to me because many children

experience anxiety before a test or quiz, specifically in math, myself

included. Another reason that I was interested in this article was the fact

that it studied younger elementary students, which the article said few

published studies had done.

The purpose

of the study was to, “examine whether math anxiety is present even earlier in

elementary school, in first and second grade students (Ramirez et al. 2013, p.

188).” The article’s hypothesis was, “that young children who are high in

working memory (WM) may be vulnerable to performing poorly in math as a

function of self-reported anxiety (Ramirez et al., 2013, p. 189).” The

participants in the current study were “children from five public schools in a

large urban school district”(Ramirez et al., 2013, p. 189), whose parents

signed a consent form for their child to participate. There were “94

first-graders (47 male, 47 female) and 68 second-graders, who were between the

ages of five and ten with an average age of seven in the original sample

participant group (Ramirez et al., 2008, p. 189).” The final sample had 88

first graders (42 male and 46 females) and 66 second graders (27 male and 39

females) (Ramirez, 2008, p. 192). The authors of this paper chose these

participants because previous studies focused on junior high, high school, or

upper elementary students.

The

researchers used many different methods in the current study in order to find

evidence to support their hypothesis. The first method was to have each student

take the Total Digit Span test, which consists of a forward and backward digit

span test. These test “measure the immediate verbal short-term memory and

executive attention (Ramirez et al., 2013, p. 190).” The next methods the researchers

used were the Woodcock-Johnson III Applied Problems and Letter-Word

Identification subtests. These tests asked students “increasingly difficult

math-related word problems that required comprehension, identifying relevant

information, and performing calculations (Ramirez et al., 2013, p. 190).” The

final method that the researcher used was the Child Math Anxiety Questionnaire

or (CMAQ), which asks students age appropriate math questions and had them rate

the difficulty of the problem. Each of these tests were done “one-on-one with

the experimenter during the first 3 months of the school year in a quiet area

of the school (Ramirez et al. 2013, p. 192).” It is important that each of

these tests were conducted individually in a quiet area of the school, so that

students didn’t feel pressure to complete the tests as fast as their peers and

were not distracted.

The results

of the CMAQ showed that “children as early as first and second grade reported

feeling ”nervous” for various math-related situations, but these feelings of

nervousness were not associated with our (the authors) measure of WM (Ramirez

et al., 2013, p. 193).” The results of the study did find that in “students who

were relatively high in WM, there was a pronounced negative relation between

math anxiety and math achievement (Ramirez et al., 2013, p. 194).” This means

that students who rely more on their working memory when working out math

problems were impacted by math anxiety.

The study has a few implications that affect teachers and

students. The first implication is that the association between math anxiety

and math achievement is not present in all first- and second-graders, just

those who are relatively high in WM (Ramirez et al., 2013, p. 196).” The next

implication is that “educators should not only consider math learning in terms

of concepts, procedures, math curricula, and instruction, but also the emotions

and anxieties children may bring to the learning situation (Ramirez et al.,

2013, p. 198).” This means that teachers need to consider the feelings the

child has towards math, whether positive or negative, when determining if the

child how the child is doing in math.