# Prior mathematics achievement, cognitive appraisals and anxiety as predictors of Finnish students’ later mathematics performance and career orientation

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Stony Brook University]On: 30 October 2014, At: 02:18Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Educational Psychology: AnInternational Journal of ExperimentalEducational PsychologyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cedp20</p><p>Prior mathematics achievement,cognitive appraisals and anxiety aspredictors of Finnish students latermathematics performance and careerorientationMinna Kyttl a & Piia Maria Bjrn ba Department of Applied Sciences of Education , University ofHelsinki , Helsinki, Finlandb Department of Educational Sciences , University of Jyvskyl ,Jyvskyl, FinlandPublished online: 20 Jul 2010.</p><p>To cite this article: Minna Kyttl & Piia Maria Bjrn (2010) Prior mathematics achievement,cognitive appraisals and anxiety as predictors of Finnish students later mathematics performanceand career orientation, Educational Psychology: An International Journal of ExperimentalEducational Psychology, 30:4, 431-448</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01443411003724491</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cedp20http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01443411003724491</p></li><li><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Ston</p><p>y B</p><p>rook</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 0</p><p>2:18</p><p> 30 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Educational PsychologyVol. 30, No. 4, July 2010, 431448</p><p>ISSN 0144-3410 print/ISSN 1469-5820 online 2010 Taylor & FrancisDOI: 10.1080/01443411003724491http://www.informaworld.com</p><p>Prior mathematics achievement, cognitive appraisals and anxiety as predictors of Finnish students later mathematics performance and career orientation</p><p>Minna Kyttla* and Piia Maria Bjrnb</p><p>aDepartment of Applied Sciences of Education, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; bDepartment of Educational Sciences, University of Jyvskyl, Jyvskyl, FinlandTaylor and FrancisCEDP_A_472971.sgm(Received 4 May 2009; final version received 23 February 2010)10.1080/01443411003724491Educational Psychology0144-3410 (print)/1469-5820 (online)Original Article2010Taylor & Francis0000000002010MinnaKyttlminna.kyttala@helsinki.fi</p><p>The aim of this two-year longitudinal study was to investigate the role and impactof prior mathematics performance, cognitive appraisals and mathematics-specific,affective anxiety in determining later mathematics achievement and future careerorientation among Finnish adolescents. The basic ideas of the control-valuetheory, assumed to be culturally universal, and previous controversial resultsregarding the relationship between mathematics anxiety and mathematicsachievement were tested in the Finnish cultural context with a longitudinal design.The key premise of the control-value theory is that control and value appraisals aresignificant determinants of both activity and outcome achievement emotions. Ourresults suggest that mathematics anxiety, a prospective outcome emotion, isdetermined by outcome expectancies (success or failure) and outcome value (theimportance of performing well). They also suggest that anxiety as a negativeaffective emotion is a problem not only for those who perform poorly but probablyalso for certain pupils across all achievement levels. Compared with theperformance level and with the boys, the girls exhibited inaccurately low outcomeexpectancies in mathematics. These low expectancies connected to the negativevalue of failure are a potential cause for their higher anxiety level. The educationalimplications of the findings are discussed.</p><p>Keywords: mathematics anxiety; cognitive appraisals; outcome expectancy;outcome value; mathematics achievement</p><p>Introduction</p><p>According to Banduras (1986) social cognitive theory, students academic self-efficacy beliefs predict their subsequent academic performance. Thus, a judgement ofconfidence in a certain academic domain promotes good performance in a similardomain later on. These self-efficacy beliefs are composed of experiences of priorachievement. Self-efficacy beliefs are also assumed to act as mediators between priorand later performance and, furthermore, these self-related appraisals are assumed tobe important antecedents of human emotions (Pekrun, 2006). According to recentresearch, students experience a range of different emotions related to learning andachievement (Goetz, Frenzel, Pekrun, & Hall, 2006). Almost all common emotions,such as enjoyment, hope, pride, anger, anxiety and shame, can be experienced inacademic settings.</p><p>*Corresponding author. Email: minna.kyttala@helsinki.fi</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Ston</p><p>y B</p><p>rook</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 0</p><p>2:18</p><p> 30 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>432 M. Kyttl and P.M. Bjrn</p><p>Academic emotions are important for several reasons. First, because emotions arepertinent components of subjective well-being (Diener, 2000; Diener, Oishi, & Lucas,2003), they are important educational outcomes in themselves. In addition, they directboth interest development and motivation (Izard, 2009; Krapp, 2005; Pekrun, Goetz,Titz, & Perry, 2002) as well as the use of cognitive resources (Derakshan & Eysenck,1998; Easterbrook, 1959; Eysenck & Calvo, 1992; Eysenck, Derakshan, Santos, &Calvo, 2007; Humphreys & Revelle, 1984), affecting student learning and achieve-ment. Finally, academic emotions are considered to predict well future career orienta-tion; emotional attraction to a given domain (e.g. mathematics) arouses the will tochoose a career in that domain (Wigfield, Battle, Keller, & Eccles, 2002).</p><p>Academic emotions can be divided into achievement activity emotions andachievement outcome emotions (Pekrun, 2006). Anxiety, which is one of the mostinvestigated emotions in the field of academic achievement, is an outcome emotion.It is determined by both outcome expectancy and outcome value, which Pekrun(2006) refers to as cognitive appraisals. Outcome expectancy refers to the perceivedcontrollability of achievement outcomes and outcome value includes the subjectivevalue of those same outcomes. The control-value theory suggests that a lack ofcontrollability and the negative value of an outcome produce negative outcomeemotions such as anxiety (Pekrun, Elliot, & Maier, 2006). Thus, when a person simul-taneously expects a failure and would like to avoid the failure but thinks that theoutcome (failure) is hard to avoid, anxiety results. Poor outcome expectancies refer topoor self-efficacy beliefs (see Bandura, 1986); a person with poor self-efficacy in acertain domain does not have a judgement of confidence in his own skills in thatdomain. In addition, the outcome value is very important because if a person does notcare about the outcome, negative outcome expectancy alone does not cause anxiety.</p><p>Students academic emotions, such as anxiety, are organised in domain-specificways (Beasley, Long, & Natali, 2001; Goetz et al., 2006; Pekrun, 2006). Thus, theintensity of different emotions seems to vary depending on the academic domain.Mathematics anxiety, especially mathematics test anxiety, is an active research area inthe field of education. There is a large body of research suggesting that mathematicsanxiety (see, e.g., Ashcraft, 2002; Beilock, 2008; Hembree, 1990) may have an effecton mathematics performance. The term mathematics anxiety refers to a state ofdiscomfort, such as fear, tension or distress, when performing mathematical tasks orwhen otherwise faced with mathematics. Simultaneously, anxiety refers to a state ofuncertainty. The object of anxiety is not a danger in itself but rather the uncertaintyabout some event or state which implies a possible danger (Miceli & Castelfranchi,2005, p. 295). Mathematics anxiety can be considered a separate anxiety domain.Thus, it is restricted to mathematics, not to achievement in general (Ashcraft &Moore, 2009; Sepie & Keeling, 1978). Furthermore, mathematics anxiety is not just aform of domain-specific test anxiety but rather a persons negative, affective reactionto situations involving numbers, math, and mathematics calculation (Ashcraft &Moore, 2009, p. 197).</p><p>The effects of mathematics anxiety</p><p>Compelling evidence suggests that mathematics anxiety is connected to poor mathe-matics performance (see the meta-analysis by Ashcraft, 2002; Beilock, 2008;Hembree, 1990). Based on previous research, anxiety has both online and long-termeffects. General anxiety is often accompanied by cognitive processing impairment</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Ston</p><p>y B</p><p>rook</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 0</p><p>2:18</p><p> 30 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>Educational Psychology 433</p><p>(e.g. Derakshan & Eysenck, 1998; Easterbrook, 1959; Eysenck & Calvo, 1992;Eysenck et al., 2007; Hopko, Ashcraft, Gute, Ruggiero, & Lewis, 1998; Humphreys& Revelle, 1984), decreasing the information processing resources available. Besidesavoiding mathematics by taking fewer mathematics courses and choosing study fieldsnot connected to mathematics (long-term effects), mathematics anxious students tendto avoid the unpleasantness of mathematics by rushing through the tasks. Thus,regardless of high error rates, they work through difficult problems very fast (onlineeffects; Faust, Aschraft, & Fleck, 1996). The overall avoidance of mathematics istypical of individuals with high mathematics anxiety levels.</p><p>Females seem to display higher mathematics anxiety levels than males (Casey,Nuttall, & Pezaris, 1997; Hembree, 1990; Ma & Cartwright, 2003; OECD, 2004;Osborne, 2001), and mathematics anxiety has been observed to be more stable acrosstime in girls than in boys (Ma & Xu, 2004). In Osbornes (2001) results, the anxietylevel also explained gender differences in mathematics achievement to some extent.However, Hembree (1990) cited evidence suggesting that, compared with males, thehigh anxiety level of females does not always result in lower mathematics performance.</p><p>In fact, the relationship between mathematics anxiety and mathematics perfor-mance is marked by controversial results. As stated before, Hembree (1990)concluded that mathematics anxiety depresses performance in mathematics, not viceversa. He (Hembree, 1990) based his conclusion partly on the results of certain treat-ments that have been able to improve the mathematics performance of formerly high-anxious students to the level of low-anxious students. However, based on longitudinaldata, Ma and Xu (2004) showed that prior low achievement in mathematics seemed tocause later anxiety in mathematics but not the other way round. Thus, prior mathemat-ics anxiety did not relate to later low performance in mathematics. There was also asignificant gender difference in the causal pattern: while prior low achievement inmathematics caused later higher mathematics anxiety in boys across the period ofobservations, in girls, prior low achievement was related to later mathematics anxietyonly during certain critical transition points (e.g. from elementary school to juniorhigh school) (Ma & Xu, 2004).</p><p>Individuals with high levels of mathematics anxiety do not perform poorly in alldomains of mathematics (Ashcraft, 2002). Thus, it is possible that results concerningthe consequences of mathematics anxiety are strongly dependent on the way the math-ematical skills are measured. The attentional control theory of Eysenck et al. (2007)supports this notion. According to this theory, anxiety depresses performance effi-ciency by distracting the performance but does not necessarily impair performanceeffectiveness. Thus, despite the distraction, the outcome, for example, responseaccuracy, might be at a good level. Eysenck et al. (2007) suggested that the effect ofanxiety on effectiveness might be more impressive when task demands increasebecause then it becomes harder to compensate for the impaired efficiency. This meansthat the effects of anxiety on performance outcome depend simultaneously on both theskills of an anxious individual and the demands of the task to be completed.</p><p>The results of the consequences and antecedents of mathematics anxiety may alsobe highly dependent on the measured domain of anxiety (Balo[gbreve] lu & Koak, 2006).The construct mathematics anxiety is multidimensional and has often been separatedinto different domains such as mathematics test anxiety and numerical anxiety (Rounds& Hendel, 1980) or numerical task anxiety, mathematics test anxiety and mathematicscourse anxiety (Alexander & Martray, 1989). Wigfield and Meece (1988) managed toseparate two different components of mathematics anxiety: a negative affective reaction</p><p>g</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Ston</p><p>y B</p><p>rook</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 0</p><p>2:18</p><p> 30 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>434 M. Kyttl and P.M. Bjrn</p><p>(fear, discomfort and nervousness) component and a cognitive (worry about doing well)component. Thus, depending on the measurement, the concept mathematics anxietymay contain either the affective reaction in different mathematics-related situations orthe cognitive worry about success or both. When investigating the role of mathematicsanxiety and comparing the results of previous studies, the multidimensionality of theconstruct should be taken into account. In fact, it is hard to compare the results of differ-ent studies because the results are highly dependent on the anxiety measurement, whichdiffers from study to study (Keedwell & Snaith, 1996).</p><p>In the present study, the concept mathematics anxiety is restricted to the affectivecomponent. Beasley et al. (2001) suggested that affective mathematics anxiety is morelike a pervasive trait than a state varying occasionally. The difference between stateand trait anxiety is temporal. State anxiety refers to a momentary anxiety, while traitanxiety refers to a more general proneness to be anxious (Newbegin & Owens, 1996).From...</p></li></ul>

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