Maths anxiety is defined as feelings of tension that interfere with dealing with numbers and mathematical problems. Self-efficacy, which is related to maths anxiety, can be defined as perceptions of one's abilities to math problems, tasks and math-related course work. This study aimed to investigate the effect of gender, age and year level on maths anxiety and self-efficacy and to study the relationship between self-efficacy and maths anxiety among paramedic students.
A cross-sectional study of paramedic students at Monash University in Victoria was conducted. Participants completed a 15-minute paper-based questionnaire which is composed of Maths Anxiety Rating Scale – Revised (MARS-R),) the Maths Self-Efficacy Scale (MSES) and demographic information.
The questionnaires were completed and returned by 344 students. (81.3% return rate). The mean score for the MARS-R was 25.71 (SD=8.80) and for the MSES was 125.59 (SD=29.55). Females had higher maths anxiety levels (M=26.83, SD=9.00) than males (M=23.67, SD=8.26) and lower self-efficacy (M=119.59, SD=29.30) than males (M=135.73, SD=27.39). There was a significant negative relationship between MARS-R and MSES levels. Multiple linear regression indicated that maths self-efficacy (beta = -0.626, p<0.001) made the strongest contribution to maths anxiety levels.
There was a significant negative relationship between maths anxiety and self-efficacy levels reported by the paramedic student cohort. Gender plays an integral part in determining maths anxiety and self-efficacy level. To improve maths performance and reduce anxiety during calculation tasks, such as dose determinations, targeted education should be developed to improve maths self-efficacy.
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