Developmental and situational dynamics of students’ math emotions, motivation, and performance (eMotMath)


eMotMath is a 4-year project funded by the Eudaimonia Institute at the University of Oulu. We investigate the developmental and situational dynamics of math emotions, math performance, motivation, and well-being among primary-school students.


Two children looking at the teacher

Project information

Project duration


Project funder

Eudaimonia Institute

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Contact information

Project leader

Project description

Recently an interplay between learners’ emotional states and learning outcomes has received considerable attention. Math in particular, arguably occupying a central place in school curriculum and being involved in various daily tasks, is highly emotionally charged, negatively and positively alike. While negative emotions tend to be inversely related to math performance, positive emotions usually are associated with better performance. Moreover, the emotions associated with math learning affect students’ well-being as much as their academic outcomes. However, longitudinal dynamics of students’ emotions, math performance and well-being is somewhat understudied. Similarly, the situational dynamics of the students’ emotions during performing a math task has also not received sufficient attention. 

The project, consisting of three interrelated studies, aims for filling this twofold research gap. The first study examines the longitudinal patterns of emotions, math performance and well-being in the primary school students from the grade 4 to 5 using structural equation modeling. Employing facial analysis, the second pilot study aims at identifying the types of emotions displayed while performing a math task, triggers thereof and their relation to the self-reported emotional states. Drawing upon the second small-scale study, the third study with an increased sample size will also focus on the observed emotions during a math task performance and their relation to both self-reported emotional states and math performance. 

Taken together, the results of these three studies might assist in developing recommendations for teachers to provide better personalized support to the students experiencing math difficulties and negative emotions associated with math learning. Increased personalized guidance, in its turn, translates into long-lasting changes in one’s educational career leading to less school dropout rate, stimulating people currently underrepresented in the STEM field to pursue STEM careers and, eventually, to more life-long learning opportunities and overall improved social cohesion.