Addressing Math Anxiety Using Alternative Assessment

Math anxiety impacts student achievement. Having taught for nine years, I have observed its effect on students in my class every year. While studies show that a number of factors contribute to a student’s math anxiety, the use of traditional assessment is a leading cause. The purpose of this action research, in turn, was to examine the effects of alternative forms of assessment and feedback structures on students’ math anxiety. During the assessment and feedback cycle, students participated in a series of oral formative assessments, lessons and activities involving self-­‐regulated learning, and an oral summative assessment during which they received oral feedback. Data collection included pre-­‐ and post-­‐intervention surveys and focus student interviews, observation data, and a researcher reflective journal. Findings from the data suggested that the use of alternative assessment and feedback structures does lower students’ math anxiety and has other positive benefits as well, including shifts in mindset. Yet, there are potential limitations, such as insufficient time and resources to effectively implement alternative assessments in all classrooms, leaving room for future research about how teachers can most effectively use oral assessment to identify and close gaps in students’ understanding.

Download PDF