Evaluation of math anxiety and its remediation through a digital training program in mathematics for first and second graders

Chan Tat Ng, Yin Hua Chen, Chao Jung Wu, Ting Ting Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Math anxiety severely impacts individuals’ learning and future success. However, limited is understood about the profile in East Asian cultures where students genuinely show high-level math anxiety, despite that they outperform their Western counterparts. Here, we investigate the relation between math anxiety and math achievement in children as young as first and second graders in Taiwan. Further, we evaluate whether intensive exposure to digital game-based learning in mathematics could ameliorate math anxiety. Methods: The study first evaluated a group of 159 first and second graders’ math anxiety and its correlation with math performance. Subsequently, a quasi-experimental design was adopted: 77 of the children continued and participated in multi-component digital game training targeting enumeration, speeded calculation, and working memory. Post-assessment was administered afterward for further evaluation of training-associated effects. Results: Results confirmed that math anxiety was negatively associated with school math achievement, which assessed numerical knowledge and arithmetic calculation. Furthermore, children's math anxiety was remarkably reduced via digital training in mathematics after 6-week intensive remediation. Crucially, this math anxiety relief was more prominent in those with high-level math anxiety. Although the children who underwent the training showed training-induced math achievement and working memory enhancement, this cognitive improvement appeared to be independent of the math anxiety relief. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that students can show highly negative emotions and perceptions toward learning even in high-achieving countries. Auspiciously, the feeling of distress toward learning has the feasibility to be relieved from short-term intensive training. Our study suggests a new approach of early treatments to emotional disturbance that can lead to permanent consequences in individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2557
JournalBrain and Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May


  • cognitive training
  • computerization technology
  • exposure therapy
  • game-based learning
  • math anxiety
  • mathematical learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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