## Controlling-Supportive Homework Help Partially Explains the Relation between Parents’ Math Anxiety and Children’s Math Achievement

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**Title**

Controlling-Supportive Homework Help Partially Explains the Relation between Parents’ Math Anxiety and Children’s Math Achievement

**Authors**

Retanal F, Johnston NB, Di Lonardo Burr SM, Storozuk A, DiStefano M, Maloney EA. (2021)

**Journal and DOI**

*Education Sciences*,* 11*(10), 620

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11100620

**Previous Research: **

Math anxiety (feelings of apprehension or fear about math) can negatively impact math attitudes and outcomes.

When higher math anxious parents frequently help with math homework, their children have lower math scores and higher math anxiety at the end of the school year compared to children of lower math anxious parents.

Autonomy supportive help (when parents allow their child to direct the homework-helping interaction) has been shown to positively predict grades, SAT math scores, and growth in math performance.

Controlling support (when parents direct the homework-helping interaction) has been linked to lower intrinsic math motivation and lower math achievement for children.

**What did we ask?**

What is the relation between parents’ math anxiety, their homework-helping styles (autonomy-supportive vs controlling-supportive), and their children’s math achievement?

**How did we do it?**

Parents (N=247) of children in grades 6 to 8 completed measures of their homework-helping style, math anxiety, general anxiety, and math performance. Parents were also asked to report their child’s grades in math in order to gauge children’s math achievement.

**What did we find?**

Parents’ math anxiety was negatively related to their children’s math achievement.

High math anxious parents reported using both autonomy-supportive and controlling supportive homework-helping strategies.

Interestingly, however, only the controlling supportive homework-helping strategy explained the negative relationship between parents’ math anxiety and their children’s math achievement.

**Why is this important?**

The results of this study support the theory that one reason why homework-help from high math anxious parents can negatively impact children’s math achievement and math attitudes, is because math anxious parents are more controlling in homework-helping interactions than low math anxious parents.

Interventions seeking to improve child math achievement of parents with high math anxiety should consider teaching parents to use less controlling-supportive homework-helping strategies.

**Brought to you by Dr. Erin Maloney’s Cognition and Emotion Lab at the University of Ottawa.**