Mathematics Anxiety and Performance among Secondary School Students in Imenti South Sub-County, Kenya.
Mutegi, Casty Mukami
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Mathematics is an essential subject worldwide though it is one of the poorly performed subjects in Kenya. There are many reasons that have been attributed to poor performance in Mathematics. While some studies have examined Mathematics test anxiety, it is not clear on the role of Mathematics anxiety on performance. Mathematics anxiety is caused by several factors and it manifests itself in different ways among students. This study explored the Mathematics anxiety and performance among secondary school students. Specifically, the study explored on gender differences towards mathematics anxiety, relationship between Mathematics anxiety and attitude, relationship between Mathematics anxiety and performance and strategies used to reduce Mathematics anxiety. The study employed descriptive research survey design and was guided by arousal performance theory by Yerkes Dodson. The study targeted 70 public secondary schools, 113 Mathematics teachers and 18,514 students in Imenti South Sub-County. The sample size was computed using Yamane’s formula n= N/[1+N(e) 2 ]. The study participants consisted of 59 schools, 367 students and 77 Mathematics teachers. Stratified sampling technique was used to select the schools, purposeful sampling technique was used for Mathematics teachers and simple random sampling was used to select the students. The researcher administered the questionnaires personally. The data was collected using standardized questionnaires consisting of Mathematics Anxiety Scale and Attitude Towards Mathematics Inventory. A checklist was used to get the information from teachers about the strategies they employed to reduce Mathematic anxiety in students. The data from the questionnaire was analyzed through the use of descriptive statistics, the independent samples t-tests and Spearman’s correlation coefficients. The study found out that the students experienced anxiety in low, moderate and high levels. The t test analysis results showed that there were no gender differences between males and females in respect to low mathematics anxiety (t (365) = -.433, p = .665), moderate anxiety level (t (365) = .353, p = .724) and high anxiety level (t (365) = .520, p = .603). The Spearman’s correlation coefficient revealed that there was a statistical association between Mathematics anxiety and Mathematics attitude (r= 0.538, p< 0.05). The Spearman’s correlation coefficient revealed a significant relationship between mathematics anxiety and Mathematics performance (r= -0.723, p< 0.05). The checklist results showed that there are common strategies used by teachers to reduce mathematics anxiety. These strategies included assessment of different varieties, encouraging active participation, group discussions, boosting positive attitude towards mathematics and others. The study recommends that further studies be carried out in both private and more public sec schools for a broader perspective on mathematics anxiety and performance.