An Examination of the Effects of Mathematics Anxiety, Modality, and Learner-Control on Teacher Candidates in Multimedia Learning Environments
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This study examined mathematics anxiety among elementary teacher candidates, and to what extent it interacted with the modality principle under various degrees of learner-control. The experiment involved a sample of 186 elementary teacher candidates learning from eight versions of a computer program on division with fractions. The eight versions varied in modality of presentation (diagrams with narration, or diagrams with written text), control of pacing (pacing was controlled by either the learner or the system), and control of sequence (sequence was controlled by either the learner or the system). A pre-test, post-test, demographic questionnaire, subjective measure of mental effort, and the Abbreviated Math Anxiety Survey were also administered. This study revealed that mathematics anxiety was significantly positively correlated with mental effort, and significantly negatively correlated with engagement, pre-test and post-test scores. Additionally, a modality x pacing interaction was observed for both high prior knowledge and low mathematics-anxious students. Under system-pacing, the modality effect was observed, and these students achieved higher far transfer scores when learning from the diagrams and narration modality condition. However, under learner-pacing, the modality effect reversed, and high prior knowledge and low mathematics-anxious students performed better on far transfer scores when learning from the diagrams and written text modality condition. Low prior knowledge, and highly mathematics-anxious students performed poorly in all treatment conditions. Additional interactions involving sequence-control, and a four-way interaction involving prior knowledge, modality, sequence-control, and pacing were also uncovered. The results from this study demonstrate that prior knowledge and mathematics anxiety have a complex relationship with the effectiveness of the format of instruction, and the design of instructional materials needs to take into account these individual differences.