Mathematics anxiety in young children: Concurrent and longitudinal associations with mathematical performance

Rose K. Vukovic, Michael J. Kieffer, Sean P. Bailey, Rachel R. Harari

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182 Scopus citations


This study explored mathematics anxiety in a longitudinal sample of 113 children followed from second to third grade. We examined how mathematics anxiety related to different types of mathematical performance concurrently and longitudinally and whether the relations between mathematics anxiety and mathematical performance differed as a function of working memory. Concurrent analyses indicated that mathematics anxiety represents a unique source of individual differences in children's calculation skills and mathematical applications, but not in children's geometric reasoning. Furthermore, we found that higher levels of mathematics anxiety in second grade predicted lower gains in children's mathematical applications between second and third grade, but only for children with higher levels of working memory. Overall, our results indicate that mathematics anxiety is an important construct to consider when examining sources of individual differences in young children's mathematical performance. Furthermore, our findings suggest that mathematics anxiety may affect how some children use working memory resources to learn mathematical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported, in part, by challenge grants to Rose K. Vukovic from New York University and the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Michael J. Kieffer’s work on the research was supported by a small grant from the Spencer Foundation. The authors thank the participating principals, teachers, and students. Thanks also to research assistants Chelsea Ziesig, Steven Roberts, Nina Berke, Amanda Carlson, Karen Chaney, Nicole DeMartino, Katie Iorio, Victoria Jackson, Sarah Klevan, Melissa Perez, Christine Rosalia, Eric Shafarman, and Tempestt Taylor.


  • Early childhood
  • Mathematics achievement
  • Mathematics anxiety
  • Working memory


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