News & Events Serrenna Norlander (l) and Aseel Al Aabed (r) with their research poster.

Published on April 15th, 2016 | by editor


Wright Student Research Impresses at CAURS Symposium

Aseel Al Aabed and Serrenna Norlander, students from Professor Lidia Dobria’s Special Topics Mathematics class, presented their original research at the 2016 Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium (CAURS) on April 9th. Their research poster, An Item Response Theory Analysis of the Revised Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale (Revised MARS), was the only research presented by any two-year college at this year’s event sponsored by Chicago-area research universities including DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University, Northwestern University, Roosevelt University, and University of Chicago.

Aseel and Serrenna’s study used an item response theory model to analyze the responses of 346 developmental mathematics students to the Revised MARS. According to these responses, developmental mathematics students were most anxious about taking a final exam in a math course, receiving their final math grade, and when thinking about an upcoming exam one hour before taking it. The same students indicated that they were least anxious about solving numerical problems involving addition, reading a cash register receipt, and solving numerical problems involving subtraction.

The study also revealed that some students whose anxiety measures were, on average, low, tended to respond to two specific questions (buying a math book and reading a cash register receipt after a purchase) with high anxiety ratings. Aseel and Serrenna’s research suggested that this aberrant response pattern might be due to financial factors, such as the cost of the purchases, rather than to the presence of actual mathematics anxiety. The analysis also revealed the presence of four redundant questions which contributed little to the measurement of the mathematics anxiety construct. The findings indicate that the Revised MARS could be improved upon by eliminating and/or replacing these questions with better-performing ones.

Judges and observers at the symposium alike commended the Wright College team on their research and analysis. The entire Wright College community should be very proud of Aseel, Serrenna and Professor Dobria for representing Wright at this prestigious event. For the mathematically inclined, or just the generally curious, please take a look at the full An Item Response Theory Analysis of the Revised Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale poster.

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