Mathematical anxiety (MA) is a feeling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solution of mathematical problems. Past studies have shown that high MA individuals experience difficulties at different levels and domains of mathematics, and that MA results from weakness in spatial abilities, subsequent to deficits in basic numerical abilities. Hence, the main goal of the present study is to examine developmental trajectories of number space associations and their role in MA. In the present study, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade children (n = 94) participated in number line estimation tasks, half with low MA (LMA) and half with high MA (HMA). They performed two number line estimation tasks (bounded- with numerical values for beginning and end of the number line, or unbounded- only the beginning of the number line is marked) in addition to examination of strategy during arithmetical problems. Results indicated that younger children with HMA showed non-mature numerical estimations compared to participants with LMA. However, for older HMA children, estimations were normalized and group differences were eliminated. Moreover, we found that estimations predicted usage of advanced memory-based strategies in simple addition operations. These results indicated that (1) non-mature numerical estimations characterize younger participants with MA, and (2) that numerical estimations are associated with arithmetical performances.
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© 2023 The Authors. Applied Cognitive Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
- bounded number line estimations
- math anxiety
- number space associations
- strategy use
- unbounded number line estimations