A changing, economically competitive world has necessitated reform in mathematics education. Yet mathematics anxiety has been a prevalent concern among educators and others in our society for decades. Some students tend to be more anxious about the testing process and can often freeze up, others just cringe when they are confronted with any form of computational exercise, or others dread taking math classes which can occur in the elementary, middle, high, and even at the college levels. Educators, parents, politicians, and others are trying to assess the cause for the apparent academic weakness of mathematics, and solutions to the problem are being sought. Our focus in this paper is to tease apart the underlying causes of math anxiety that result from a teacher’s instructional practice, particularly how mastery and performance goals relate to the construct of math anxiety, and how a teachers’ understanding of creating mastery-oriented classrooms can help to prevent or reduce the anxiety students experience during mathematics. Research indicates that classroom practices can influence the goals students adopt, and that educators should strive to create mastery-oriented classrooms by examining the nature of the tasks they assign students, the authority or degree they involve students in academic decision-making, the types of evaluation and recognition they utilize, and the classroom climate they create.
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