Transition of latent classes of children’s mathematics anxiety in primary school and the distinctive effects of parental educational involvement: a three-wave longitudinal study

SI Jiwei1 GUO Kaiyue1 ZHAO Xiaomeng1 ZHANG Mingliang1,2 LI Hongxia1 HUANG Bijuan1 XU Yanli1

(1.School of Psychology, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250358)
(2.Shandong Academy of Governance, Jinan 250014)

【Abstract】Mathematics anxiety is a sense of tension and anxiety that an individual feels when solving the problems related to mathematics. This phenomenon has a considerable prevalence among children and youth, even in adults. Currently, most studies regard mathematics anxiety as a single-dimensional structure. However, mathematics anxiety is a multi-dimensional structure. For example, individuals with high mathematics learning anxiety are often associated with low mathematics achievement, while individuals with high mathematics evaluation anxiety do not necessarily lead to low mathematics achievement. And the developmental dynamic bio-psycho-social model holds that the interaction between individual factors and environmental factors makes the development of individuals’ mathematics anxiety heterogeneity. As individual factors and environmental factors are constantly developing and changing, the developmental trajectories of mathematics anxiety are dynamic. However, there were no studies that have examined the individual heterogeneity of mathematics anxiety and its development and transitions from a longitudinal perspective. Moreover, parental educational involvement as one of important environmental factors might predict the transitions of mathematics anxiety over time. Thus, person-centered approach was used to solve these two problems in this study. In this study, 1720 students of Grade three and Grade four in county primary schools were selected as participants. Children’s Mathematics Anxiety Scale compiled by Chiu and Henry (1990) and revised by Geng and Chen (2005) and Questionnaire on Parental Involvement Behavior of Primary School Students compiled by Wu et al. (2013) were used to measure children’s mathematics anxiety and their perceived parental educational involvement separately over three years. Latent profile analysis and latent transition analysis were used to explore the possible subtypes of children’s mathematics anxiety and the transitions between different subtypes over three waves in this study. Multiple logistic regressions were used to examine the effect of parental educational involvement in the latent transitions of different mathematics anxiety subtypes. All data were analyzed by SPSS 22.0 and Mplus 8.0. Some valuable results were obtained as follows. (1)There were three different subgroups of mathematics anxiety in primary school children, including low mathematics anxiety group, high mathematics evaluation anxiety group and high mathematics acquisition anxiety group; (2) as time went by, high mathematics evaluation anxiety group tended to change to low mathematics anxiety group, high mathematics acquisition anxiety group tended to change to high mathematics evaluation anxiety group, and low mathematics anxiety group was relatively stable; (3) positive father involvement could promote the change of children’s mathematics anxiety from high mathematics acquisition anxiety group to low mathematics anxiety group, which was mainly in girls. For girls, mother involvement was able to promote the change of their mathematics anxiety from high mathematics evaluation anxiety group to low mathematics anxiety group; however for boys, mother involvement was able to promote the change of their mathematics anxiety from high mathematics evaluation anxiety group to high mathematics acquisition anxiety group. For the low mathematics anxiety group, the positive effect of parental educational involvement was significant. There was group heterogeneity in mathematics anxiety, and distinct subtypes of individuals may change over time, and parental educational involvement played different roles in different subgroups of children’s mathematics anxiety. This study confirmed that the developmental dynamic bio-psycho-social model hypothesized that different individuals were affected by the different interaction of individual factors and environmental factors, and there were heterogeneity and dynamics in the developmental trajectories of individual mathematics anxiety. In view of this, parents or teachers should use different teaching methods for different subtypes of mathematics anxiety in mathematics learning. In addition, future researchers should consider individual heterogeneity of mathematics anxiety.

【Keywords】 primary school children; mathematics anxiety; parental educational involvement; latent transition analysis; longitudinal study;


【Funds】 National Natural Science Foundation of China (31971010) Humanities and Social Sciences Planning Fund of the Ministry of Education (18YJA190014)

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Vol , No. 04, Pages 355-370

February 2022


Article Outline


  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Method
  • 3 Results
  • 4 Discussion
  • 5 Conclusions
  • References