Developmental trajectories of strategy use in children with mathematical anxiety

Sarit Ashkenazi*, Nitzan Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The main goal of the present study was to explore strategy selection in high mathematical anxiety (MA) individuals, and to test the role of development in the selection of strategy. We tested 2nd, 3rd and 5th graders with high or low MA in simple and complex addition problems. Participants first solved the problems and were then asked to report the strategy that they used. During elementary school, typically developing children change strategy use. In the first years backup strategies of counting are very frequent, but with maturation and schooling, they can shift to memory- based strategies. Hence, we tested finger counting and advanced memory based strategies in high MA children. In finger counting, high MA children showed developmental delay. For example, in the third grade, low MA children stopped using finger counting, while high MA participants continued to use it. However, in the case of advanced strategy use, we found a different pattern: regardless of age, high MA children used less advanced strategies than low MA participants. Moreover, usage of advanced memory based strategies was modulated by visuospatial working memory abilities in the two groups. The present results suggest that the MA participant has atypical developmental trajectories in strategy use.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number103293
Pages (from-to)103293
JournalActa Psychologica
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Development
  • Mathematical anxiety
  • Strategy selection


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