Mathematics Attitudes and Anxiety Questionnaire (MAAQ)

A substantial number of children and adults have mathematics anxiety, which may severely disrupt their mathematical learning and performance, both by causing avoidance of mathematical activities and by overloading and disrupting working memory during mathematical tasks. Maths anxiety is a relatively frequent phenomenon and often related to dyscalculia.

Background

A number of research papers lay out the issues of attitudes to and anxiety with mathematics: –

  •  Mathematics depends not only on cognitive abilities but also on emotional factors and attitudes
  • Emotional factors may play a large part in mathematical performance, with mathematics anxiety playing a particularly large role
  • Mathematics anxiety might influence performance more directly, by overloading working memory
  • Relationships between mathematics anxiety and performance may also be in the other direction. Poor mathematical attainment may lead to mathematics anxiety, as a result of repeated experiences of failure, potentially leading to a vicious circle, where anxiety and performance affect each other negatively
  •  Development of mathematics anxiety is likely to be due both to social factors, such as exposure to teachers who themselves suffer from mathematics anxiety, and to pre-existing difficulties in numerical cognition; and that those with initial mathematical difficulties are also likely to be more vulnerable to the negative social influences

Thus, a standardised instrument to detect math anxiety as early as possible and monitor at regular intervals would be useful. The Mathematics Attitudes and Anxiety Questionnaire (MAAQ) has been designed, tested, developed and shown to be a simple to complete assessment of attitudes and anxiety related to the individual (respondents) view of mathematics.

The Questionnaire

The MAAQ uses age-appropriate, simple to understand, pictorial rating scales to capture the student / child’s personal views. The MAAQ is an Interviewer administered questionnaire. Responses are captured during an interview by a teacher, teaching assistant, SEN team member, parent or carer who records the responses.  The MAAQ consists of 28 questions, focused on 7 domains of measuring the respondents view of mathematics:

1.       maths in general

2.       written sums

3.       mental sums

4.       easy maths

5.       difficult maths

6.       maths tests and

7.       understanding the teacher

Each of the seven domains has 4 questions associated with it. For each domain, children were asked about their:-

1)      Self-rating (‘How good are you?’) on a scale consisting of ticks and crosses (‘very good’ to ‘very bad’);

2)      Liking for the items (‘How much do you like it?’); on a scale consisting of sweets and wasps (‘like very much’ to ‘hate very much’);

3)      Anxiety about them (‘How worried would you feel?’) on a scale of facial expressions (‘very relaxed’ to ‘very worried’) and

4)      Unhappiness at poor performance (‘How unhappy would you feel if you did badly?’) on a scale consisting of faces with frowning or happy faces (‘very unhappy’ to ‘very happy’)

 

Target population = Primary school children, 6 – 9 year olds

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Benefits of the MAAQ

A simple to use and score questionnaire designed with sensitivity to the respondent population, the MAAQ is a relatively short assessment of attitude and anxiety of mathematics on the individual level.

High reliability, standard scores corrected for gender, and economic handling make it an instrument well suited for use in clinical settings (e.g., dyscalculia diagnostics and intervention)1.

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References.

1 – Deutschsprachige Version des Fragebogens für Rechenangst (FRA) für 6- bis 9-jährige Kinder. Helga Krinzinger, Liane Kaufmann, Ann Dowker, Gemma Thomas, Martina Graf, Hans-Christoph Nuerk und Klaus Willmes. Zeitschrift für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie, 35 (5), 2007, 341–351

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