COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL TREATMENT OF MATHEMATICS ANXIETY IN COLLEGE WOMEN
DEITCH, IRENE M.
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This study investigated the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral interventions in the reduction of mathematics anxiety in adult women who were returning to college after ten or more years. Previous studies demonstrated the successful utilization of behavioral techniques in other academic areas, applying them to individual or group situations.;The following hypotheses were tested: (1)There would be a significant relationship between cognitive-restructuring treatment and mathematics anxiety reduction; (2)There would be a significant relationship between systematic desensitization treatment and mathematics anxiety reduction; (3)There would be significant differences in mathematics anxiety reduction between groups with cognitive restructuring demonstrating greater treatment effectiveness; (4)Subjects with reduced mathematics anxiety would reflect greater liking for math, increased confidence in math and more effective coping strategies with math and math-related situations.;Forty-five women experiencing mathematics anxiety and mathematics avoidance behavior were selected for this experiment. Fifteen subjects were randomly assigned to each of the treatment groups, and a waiting-list control group. Homogeneity of sample was determined by statistical analysis of demographic and preliminary testing data.;Mathematics workshops led by trained "nonmathematically anxious" peers, met for two-hour sessions for a six-week period. Group observers and recorders monitored subject's behavior.;Effectiveness of treatment was measured by standardized tests, consisting of: Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, attitude rating scales and autonomic measures. Observed tensional manifestations and pre- and post-treatment pulse rates were recorded for each session.;Results indicated significant mathematics anxiety reduction for both treatment groups. The untreated control group remained unchanged in its level of mathematics anxiety. Cognitive restructuring, as an intervention, demonstrated greater effectiveness compared to systematic desensitization.;A three-month, structured interview follow-up assessed the stability of changes and the self-reported workshop effects. Attitude changes and decreases in math avoidant behaviors were noted for subjects of both treatment groups. Coping strategies were generalized to math and non-math related situations. Increased self-confidence and self-esteem were acknowledged.;The experimental results were discussed with regard to subject selection and the use of specific techniques in the reduction of math-anxiety. The relation of cognitive restructuring theory to math anxiety was considered.;The implications of this study with a prospectus for further research and investigation were described. One significant conclusion was that group cognitive restructuring methods become a viable option to remedial, instructional and counseling approaches in the treatment of mathematics anxiety in adult college women.
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