What is it about?

The emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in the twenty-first century has focused attention on students' proficiency in areas such as math and the use of standardized tests to document students' proficiency and progress. Although research has established that test anxiety predicts poor test performance, the underlying mechanisms of how test-takers' characteristics influence their test performance is not well understood. The purpose of this study was to examine the roles of avoidance temperament and evaluative threat in two types of math performance (standardized math test scores and math course grades) in college students. Specifically, a mediation model was proposed and tested with evaluative threat as the mediating mechanism by which avoidance temperament influences performances in the standardized testing and class settings. Results indicate that avoidance temperament was linked to social-evaluative threat and low standardized math test scores. Furthermore, evaluative threat mediated the influence of avoidance temperament on both types of math performance.

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Why is it important?

To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate evaluative threat as a mediating mechanism in the linkage between avoidance temperament and math performance. Findings have implications for managing test or math anxiety and for preventing underperformance. By offering support to students who suffer from test anxiety, their performance would be optimized through empowering them with emotion regulation and stress management skills.

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This page is a summary of: Avoidance temperament and social-evaluative threat in college students' math performance: a mediation model of math and test anxiety, Anxiety Stress & Coping, April 2014, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/10615806.2014.910303.
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