Date of Graduation

Summer 2016


Master of Science in Education in Secondary Education in Mathematics



Committee Chair

Gay Ragan


math anxiety, secondary mathematics, coping strategies, attitudes toward mathematics, A-MARS

Subject Categories

Science and Mathematics Education


The purpose of this action research study was to explore student and teacher perceptions on the usefulness of teaching students to practice positive coping strategies for managing math anxiety in a high school International Baccalaureate mathematics classroom. This study used a reflective action research methodology in which students' math anxiety levels were assessed using Alexander and Martray's Abbreviated Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale (1989). Students were then surveyed on their use of coping strategies for managing math anxiety, presented with a variety of positive coping strategies, and asked to rate each strategy on its perceived worth and the likelihood that they would continue to use the strategies in the future. A variety of open-ended and Likert scale questions were used, and the teacher-researcher maintained a reflective journal on how the lessons and strategies were received. In this study, a survey of 48 juniors and seniors in an International Baccalaureate mathematics course revealed that the majority of the students had experienced varying degrees of math anxiety, with 21% being highly math anxious. Nearly half of the participants reported either using negative coping strategies or not being aware of any coping strategies at all for handling math anxiety or academic stress. Almost all of the students reported that it was a valuable use of their time to talk about math anxiety and practice these strategies in class. The results of this study indicate that there is a need for mathematics educators to include a discussion of math anxiety and how to cope with it in their classrooms.


© Courtney Kathleen Smith-Nelson

Open Access