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.

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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.

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.

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