The mathematics anxiety of bilingual community college students

Laura Hillerbrand Iossi, Florida International University


Math anxiety levels and performance outcomes were compared for bilingual and monolingual community college Intermediate Algebra students attending a culturally diverse urban commuter college. Participants (N = 618, 250 men, 368 women; 361 monolingual, 257 bilingual) completed the Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale (AMAS) and a demographics instrument. Bilingual and monolingual students reported comparable mean AMAS scores (20.6 and 20.7, respectively) and comparable proportions of math anxious individuals (50% and 48%, respectively). Factor analysis of AMAS scores, using principal component analysis by varimax rotation, yielded similar two-factor structures for both populations -- assessment and learning content -- accounting for 65.6% of the trace for bilingual AMAS scores. Statistically significant predictor variables for levels of math anxiety for the bilingual participants included (a) preparatory course enrollment (β = .236, p = .041) with those enrolled in prior preparatory courses scoring higher, (b) education major (β = .285, p = .018) with education majors scoring higher, and (c) business major (β = .252, p = .032) with business majors scoring higher. One statistically significant predictor variable emerged for monolingual students, gender (β = -.085, p = .001) with females ranking higher. Age, income, race, ethnicity, U.S. origin, science or health science majors did not emerge as statistically significant predictor variables for either group. Similarities between monolingual and bilingual participants included statistically significant negative linear correlations between AMAS scores and course grades for both bilingual (r = -.178, p = .017) and monolingual participants (r = -.203, p = .001). Differences included a statistically significant linear correlation between AMAS scores and final exam grades for monolingual participants only (r = -.253, p < .0009) despite no statistically significant difference in the strength the linear relationship of the AMAS scores and the final exam scores between groups, z = 1.35, p = .1756. The findings show that bilingual and monolingual students report math anxiety similarly and that math anxiety has similar associations with performance measures, despite differences between predictor variables. One of the first studies on the math anxiety of bilingual community college students, the results suggest recommendations for researchers and practitioners.

Subject Area

Community college education|Mathematics education|Bilingual education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Iossi, Laura Hillerbrand, "The mathematics anxiety of bilingual community college students" (2009). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3380825.