Almost two decades have passed since the publication of Jackson and Leffingwell’s (1999) influential article on math anxiety in preservice school teachers and their worst math experiences. The present dissertation represents both a replication and an extension of the original study. Study Arm A was the replication study with preservice school teachers. Study Arm B was the extension to preservice school counselors. The participants were graduate-level preservice teachers and school counselors matriculated at a public university on the west coast of the US. The method used for both arms was a cross-sectional survey design. The data were collected using machine-readable paper forms that the researcher created. Measures used were the Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale (AMAS) and the Worst Experience and Most Troublesome Mathematics Classroom Experience Reflection Test (WMTMCERT).
The study arms used the same six research questions. The first two questions focused on rates of math anxiety and worst math experience. Results for the teacher arm were: 47% reported moderate to high math anxiety, and 97% noted having a worst math experience. Results for the counselor arm were: 53% reported moderate to high math anxiety, and 88% noted having a worst math experience. The subsequent four research questions involved inferential statistics. Two of these four research questions returned statistically significant results. Research question three addressed whether participants’ levels of math anxiety differed from a known college student norm. A one-sample t test was performed with both Study Arm A and Study Arm B. In neither arm were the data significant. Research question four examined whether the proportion of participants who reported a worst math experience differed from a known proportion among American educators. In neither study arm did a one-sample z test of proportions yield significant results. Research question five explored whether the proportion of participants who reported a worst math experience differed from a known proportion among Turkish educators. Significant results with a one-sample z test of proportions were found in both arms. The sixth research question was about the timing of a worst math experience (i.e., occurred in grade ranges of 1 to 5, 6 to 8, 9 to 11, or 12 to 14). A chi-square goodness-of-fit test produced significant results in both arms. In both arms, the worst math experience occurred earlier for the Turkish educators.
For research questions that yielded significant results, this paper discussed reasons for the obtained results. With research question five, the most probable reason for the obtained results was that preservice educators who selected math as a career did not differ in math anxiety related to their classroom experience. With research question six, the most probable reason for the obtained results was that preservice educators reported worst experiences in both the US and Turkey, but the grade levels of when these worst experiences occurred differed. The implications of the results of this dissertation were fivefold. First, in terms of teacher preparation, the results suggest that a substantive number of preservice teachers have a problematic level of math anxiety that should be addressed in their math pedagogy classes. Second, with reference to teacher education research, the results evidence that an overwhelming majority of preservice teachers had negative experiences in their own math education, which should also be addressed in their math pedagogy classes. Third, with regard to school counselor preparation, the results conclude that preservice counselors experience math anxiety similar to preservice teachers. Counselor educators who are responsible for statistical instruction must attend to the identified barrier. Fourth, with reference to counselor preparation, counselor educators responsible for career counseling coursework should help preservice counselors who had negative math experiences in their own math education become aware of how those experiences may influence their career guidance work. Finally, in terms of both teacher and counselor preparation, the timing of when negative math experiences most commonly occur suggests the points at which students are most vulnerable in math class. As such, teachers and counselors are alerted to when extra support of students could be most valuable.