Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood, Multilingual, and Higher Education

First Committee Member

Joseph Morgan

Second Committee Member

Monica Brown

Third Committee Member

Kyle Higgins

Fourth Committee Member

Tiberio Garza

Number of Pages



Students in mathematics classrooms are found to experience various levels of stress and anxiety during instructional time. Negative feelings associated with participation in math activities can lead to both physical and emotional manifestations, affecting performance, achievement, and even confidence with the academic subject. Students found to be at-risk for mathematics difficulties have greater risks when it comes to the possible experience of mathematics anxiety. Students with learning disabilities, students needing supplemental interventions, and students who are English learners can experience potential bouts of anxiety and stress, magnifying academic struggles in the math classroom. In addition, academic deficits can intensify levels of anxiety because of a shortage of working memory capacity that many students that are at-risk are found to have.

Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the relationship of mathematics anxiety, mathematics achievement, and working memory capacity associated with students at- risk for mathematics difficulties. The understanding of the cognition process during math instruction, as well as the variables needed to develop effective mathematic interventions to support the decrease or onset of math anxiety were also investigated. This study further examined potential interconnections between math anxiety and age, inspecting the links between academic achievement and studying foundational math concepts. Participants were recruited from a Title I elementary school in a large urban environment located in the Southwestern United States. Through the implementation of math anxiety rating scales, math achievement scores, working memory measures, classroom observations, and student focus groups this research seeks to explore the existence of mathematics anxiety of students at-risk for mathematics difficulties.

Results indicated that all participants identified as at-risk for mathematics difficulties experienced varying levels of math anxiety, with significant differences found across levels of working memory and English language proficiency. Students with learning disabilities reported the lowest levels of math anxiety while English learners reported the highest levels of math anxiety. Results also indicated that working memory is a predictor of math anxiety and a significant difference levels of math anxiety was found across both levels of working memory and English proficiency. Results of this study indicated may encourage future research to focus on interventions and support specifically for the prevention and reduction of mathematics anxiety for students at-risk for mathematics difficulties.


at-risk students; English learners; learning disability; math anxiety; working memory


Science and Mathematics Education | Special Education and Teaching

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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