Mathematics anxiety in young children: An exploratory study

Rachel R. Harari, Rose K. Vukovic, Sean P. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


This study explored the nature of mathematics anxiety in a sample of 106 ethnically and linguistically diverse first-grade students. Although much is known about mathematics anxiety in older children and adults, little is known about when mathematics anxiety first emerges or its characteristics in young children. Results from exploratory factor analysis indicated that mathematics anxiety in first grade is a multidimensional construct encompassing negative reactions, numerical confidence, and worry. Negative reactions were related specifically to foundational mathematical concepts whereas numerical confidence was related specifically to computation skill; worry was not related to any outcome. Levels of mathematics anxiety did not differ by sex or language background. Overall, negative reactions and numerical confidence were found to be the most salient dimensions of mathematics anxiety in this sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-555
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The first two authors contributed equally to this article and are listed in alphabetical order. This research was supported in part by challenge grants from New York University and the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. The authors give thanks to participating principals, teachers, and students; to research assistants Tyra Bailey, Candace Barriteau, Justin Bennett, Sonia Park, Steven Roberts, Maggie Vukovic, Tanisha Yong, and Chelsea Ziesig; and to Walter Vukovic for assistance with German translation. Special thanks goes to Dr. Lynn Fuchs and Dr. Matt Mayhew for comments on an earlier version of this article. Address correspondence to Rose K. Vukovic, Department of Teaching & Learning, New York University, 239 Greene St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10003, USA. E-mail:


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