A student who has difficulty in understanding Mathematics can be because of Math Anxiety. Math anxiety is defined as the feeling of tension and anxiety that affect the performance of students when manipulating numbers and solving mathematical problems whether it’s just an ordinary day or academic situations (Sanci, 2014). It can cause the person to forget and lose self-confidence (Tobias, 1993). Math anxiety can cause lack of self-confidence, because a student having Math anxiety may feel unwise when comparing themselves with other students. Embarrassment, peer pressure, high-expectations to one’s self, and lack of self-confidence can cause students to develop tension and nervousness that can lead them to low performance to the subject. Commonly, the tension and nervousness that students felt during an exam may cause mind-blocked. Thus, students suffering from Math anxiety get lower grades and lesser achievements in Mathematics.
Researchers show that pressure in timed tests and risks of public embarrassment are some sources of unproductive tension among many students. Imposed authority, public exposure, and time deadlines are three factors that cause great anxiety to students. Although these are the regular part of the traditional mathematics classroom, it can still cause a great deal of anxiety (Philips, n.d.). It seriously affects the student’s performance and capability of understanding lectures in mathematics. The more tense, pressure, and conscious a person to what others may think, the more anxious the person becomes.
There have been great variations of assumed reasons for why students develop anxiety in mathematics. Tobias (1993) analyzed that gender plays a large role in mathematics anxiety. Outcomes indicated that math anxiety occurs frequently and is more likely to occur among women and students with poor high school math backgrounds. Tobias theorizes that “Ironically, fear of being too smart may lead to such passivity in the mathematics class that eventually these girls develop a conviction that they are dumb.” (Tobias, 1993, p.63). Hembree (1990) does support her conclusions that women experience more mathematics anxiety. Though, it seems that most students are occasionally subject to enough anxiety to alter their performance capability.
The type of instructional method that is used in the classroom is another factor that gives mathematics anxiety to students. Clute (1984) analyzed how two instructional methods: discovery and expository, related to students’ mathematics anxiety in an undergraduate mathematics course. Clute found out that those students with higher levels of mathematics anxiety scored higher on the achievement test if the format course is expository while students with lower levels of mathematics anxiety did better in the discovery format course. Clute came up with a conclusion that there is a relation between mathematics anxiety and confidence. Students with higher levels of anxiety would have lower levels of confidence in mathematics. Therefore, it would be less possible for them to do well in courses where they would need the confidence to learn mathematics for themselves.