Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Frances K. Harper

Committee Members

Sherry M. Bell, Lynn L. Hodge, Sondra M. LoRe


Empirical research has determined the detrimental effects of mathematics anxiety on students, but little is known about the influence of mathematics anxiety-avoidance behaviors on secondary mathematics enrollment in urban private schools in India, the purpose of the current study. This study followed a concurrent mixed methods approach and triangulation design to investigate the research problem. Participants were grade eleven students (n=16) and secondary mathematics teachers (n=4) from four private schools in an eastern state in India.

Data were collected quantitatively from students via an online questionnaire (RMARS) to measure their anxiety levels under mathematical situations and tasks. In addition, qualitative data were collected online from individual semi-structured interviews of students and teachers. Finally, an art-based research technique called self-portraits was administered to the students. Based on previous studies, three factors, namely, mathematics examination, mathematics curriculum, and numerical tasks, were adopted to connect the research problem to three research questions.

Key findings emerged from interview response statements after two cycles of coding. The questionnaire's descriptive and statistical analysis using SPSS version 27 revealed that students associated anxiety with mathematics examinations at the secondary level. Results indicated that anxiety was primarily physiological while answering the National Board Examination. Research participants from the qualitative study attributed mathematics anxiety to several sources, such as low self-belief, poor time management skills, large class sizes, and low mathematical concepts. However, interview responses showed disagreements between research participants on instructional practices and strategies. Findings revealed participants' belief in selective studies and private tuition, indicating they were adopted as strategies to alleviate anxiety. Practical ideas for students and recommendations on interventions and instructional practices for school leaders and teachers are provided to mitigate students' anxiety in mathematics, ultimately leading to improved enrollment at the secondary level.

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