Student Work

Exploring Math Anxiety, Working Memory, Timed Testing, Math Performance, and Physiological Effects on College Students


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In the U.S alone, an estimated 25 percent of university students and 80 percent of community college students report experiencing moderate to high levels of math anxiety when engaging in math-related tasks. Math anxiety has been associated with feelings of tension, nervousness, apprehension, and interference with the ability to focus during math calculating tasks. Previous research has shown that working memory capacity and math anxiety negatively influence math performance. However, claims that timed tests negatively impact math performance and increase math anxiety have been made despite a lack of evidence. This study examines how working memory, math anxiety, math accuracy, and heart rate interact to affect math accuracy in timed and untimed testing conditions. To investigate these relations, two studies were developed. First, a behavioral study examined how working memory and math anxiety affects math accuracy in timed and untimed testing conditions. Second, an exploratory psychophysiological study was also conducted to investigate the influence working memory, math anxiety, and heart rate have on students’ math accuracy when in timed and untimed testing conditions. Results demonstrated that, as anticipated, students who were assigned to the untimed condition performed better than those in the timed condition. However, students in the timed condition were more accurate than participants in the untimed condition when time was matched for each math expression. However, no relations were found between working memory, math anxiety, and performance or interactions by condition.

  • This report represents the work of one or more WPI undergraduate students submitted to the faculty as evidence of completion of a degree requirement. WPI routinely publishes these reports on its website without editorial or peer review.
  • E-project-042822-123405
  • 65286
  • 2022
UN Sustainable Development Goals
Date created
  • 2022-04-28
Resource type
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