• Alison Walker

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


A solid understanding of basic mathematics is essential for many practical, everyday tasks and good mathematical skills are increasingly necessary in the workplace. For some, however, mathematics can evoke an adverse emotional reaction, increasingly recognised in both psychology and education as 'Mathematics Anxiety' (MA); nationally funded projects are currently undertaking research in this area. Studies show that MA can develop in early childhood and increase in intensity with age; this emphasises the importance of early intervention and educational psychologists are well-placed to promote and support this. Paper One details a systematic literature review evaluating the impact and effectiveness of interventions on the reduction of MA in school-aged children. Nine studies, published between 2010 and 2017, met inclusion criteria and were assessed using quality frameworks. Findings indicated that MA might be amenable to intervention in children aged between seven and eighteen years; potential factors contributing to effective amelioration were identified and discussed. In Paper Two, the relationship between MA and working memory (WM) is highlighted and explored. Having established a possible bi-directional relationship, a quasi-experimental, empirical study aimed to assess the potential benefits of WM training for reducing MA. A comparison group completed activities encompassing many of the potentially effective factors identified in Paper One. 50 children, aged between eight and nine years, participated in six-week long interventions. MA was measured through self-report and qualitative questionnaires; data were analysed quantitatively (using descriptive and inferential statistics) or qualitatively (using content analysis) respectively. Findings question the validity of self-report measures of MA in this age group and implications for effective intervention are considered. Paper Three provides an overview of the concepts of evidence-based practice and practice-based research in addition to considering current literature in relation to effective dissemination of research. Implications resulting from the current research are discussed alongside the proposed dissemination strategy.
Date of Award31 Dec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKathleen Tyldesley (Supervisor) & Caroline Bond (Supervisor)


  • School Children
  • Working Memory Training
  • Review
  • Mathematics Anxiety
  • Intervention

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