Developmental and Situational Dynamics of Students’ Math Anxiety and Performance


iFeelMath is a 4-year consortium project between University of Oulu and Åbo Akademi University, funded by the Research Council of Finland. We investigate the developmental and situational dynamics of math anxiety and math performance among primary-school students, and develop some interventions for reducing math anxiety.


When, how, and why math anxiety develops? (Photo: Pexels)

Project information

Project duration


Funded by

Research Council of Finland - Academy Project

Funding amount

799 761 EUR

Project coordinator

Abo Akademi University

Contact information

Project leader

Other persons

  • Pinja Jylänki

Project description

While a negative relation between math anxiety (MA) and math performance among adolescents is well-documented, this relation is still poorly understood among primary-school students. Students with MA (prevalence of 11–17%) experience feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with their math performance. In the iFeelMath project, we bring new scientific knowledge into this field by investigating the developmental and situational dynamics of MA and math performance among primary-school students. Further, to prevent the possible negative consequences of MA, we develop and test the effectiveness of brief classroom interventions to support students with high MA.

A sample of 400 fourth grade students are followed over five timepoints until the sixth grade, to investigate the causal ordering of MA and performance. Situational dynamics between MA and task performance will be investigated in a subsample of 100 students during eight lessons and linked to the overall longitudinal design. Both self-reported situational MA and physiological responses (skin conductance) will be collected when students are working with digital math tasks. Further, three brief interventions (i.e., mindfulness, math skills and a combined) aimed at reducing MA and improving math performance will be tested with another sample of students (n = 400) using a pre-post-delayed posttest design.

The novelty of our combined study designs (incl. longitudinal, situational, and intervention) is expected to provide answers that increase our understanding of when, how, and why MA develops during primary school years. This project is the first to incorporate a situational perspective to advance our understanding on the mechanisms of the MA-performance relation. Inclusion of objective physiological measures, instead of only relying on self-reports, is expected to advance the MA research field. The intervention programs to be developed and tested are a much needed add-on to the MA research field, to reveal effective ways to support the primary-school students experiencing high MA. Together, these studies advance our knowledge on which theoretical accounts concerning the MA–math performance link are the most plausible.

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