Dimensions of Math Anxiety as Measured by the MARS-Brief: Factor Analysis

by Sandra Wilder.

Abstract: Because of the complexity of math anxiety, there is no unique measure that reflects the consensus of current thought on this construct that could be used to determine a single, generally agreed-upon estimate of the fraction of the population that is experiencing math anxiety. This study compared the dimension dominating the MARS (Math Anxiety Rating Scale) based instrument (MARS-Brief) with the dimensions dominating its scores. The assumption motivating this study was that if the assessment of math anxiety by MARS-Brief is still relevant, then these two dimensions should align and pertain to anxiety related to manipulation of numbers. This was accomplished by investigating the dimensions underlying the construct of math anxiety and the scale measuring it. The factor analysis used to analyze the data identified two major dimensions: Numerical Anxiety and Math Test Anxiety. The results indicate that the anxiety related to evaluation of one’s math ability is more dominant than the one stemming from manipulation of number. This implies that college students’ anxiety comes, not necessarily from facing a mathematical task, but rather from being evaluated on one. While the current study recognized two major dimensions of math anxiety that were consistent with the findings in the literature, the results also suggested that these dimensions which seemed to be dominating the scores of the instrument, did not necessarily dominate the measured construct.

Key Words: Math Anxiety, Dimensions, Factors, Factor Analysis, EFA, MARS, MARS-Brief

Sandra Wilder, swilder@biomedscienceacademy.org

Editor: Ahmed H. Youssef, ahyoussef@hotmail.com

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