Associations Between Teacher and Student Mathematics, Science, and Literacy Anxiety in Fourth Grade

The present study explored associations among teachers’ anxiety for teaching mathematics, science, and English language arts and their students’ own anxiety in each content area, and how these associations varied depending on student sex and socioeconomic status (SES). Participants included 33 fourth-grade teachers and 463 students from 14 schools in the Southwestern United States. Multiple regression models with cluster-robust standard errors were run regressing students’ mid-year, self-reported content-area anxiety on teachers’ self-reported content-area anxiety at the beginning of the year and controlling for students’ beginning-of-year anxiety in that content area. Two interaction effects were detected whereby teachers’ mathematics and science anxiety were each positively associated with the mathematics and science anxiety of their low-SES students. Findings provide additional evidence for processes of emotional transmission between teachers and students in the classroom and provide additional information about the learning contexts and student groups for whom these processes may be particularly relevant. Educational Impact and Implications Statement: We investigated associations among teachers’ and students’ anxiety in mathematics, science, and literacy. We found that teachers’ anxiety in mathematics and science was associated with the mathematics and science anxiety of their low-SES students. Results highlight STEM content areas as contexts in which transmission of negative emotions between teachers and students may take place, as well as highlight the particular impacts these processes might have on students from underserved socioeconomic backgrounds.
This article was originally published in Journal of Educational Psychology. The version of record is available at:
teacher anxiety, student anxiety, teacher emotions, content areas, elementary education
McLean, L., Janssen, J., Espinoza, P., Lindstrom Johnson, S., & Jimenez, M. (2023). Associations between teacher and student mathematics, science, and literacy anxiety in fourth grade.Journal of Educational Psychology, 115(4), 539–551.