Cosgrove, Fay

Research Topic:
Mathematics Anxiety
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Prof Malcolm WIlliams and Dr Charlotte Brookfield
Supervising school:
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

I am a part-time student currently on the SSRM and will be beginning the PhD phase of my studentship in 2022. My research interests lie in the intersection of Education and Psychology. I am a Psychology graduate and an experienced primary classroom teacher. I also have a Masters’ degree in Education.

My proposed research looks at Maths Anxiety (MA). MA is defined as, “feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in ordinary and academic situations” (Richardson and Suinn, 1972, p.551). It is much more than a dislike of mathematics. Individuals with high MA are not necessarily poor at mathematics, rather are prevented from demonstrating their mathematics abilities (Beilock, 2008, National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008). Mathematics-anxious people often avoid doing mathematics (Maloney et al., 2013).

I am interested in developing a psychometrically-robust, UK-specific tool for measuring MA in secondary school pupils, aiming to establish associated normative data for the UK context. I would also like to look at gender differences in feelings toward mathematics and consider why, in general, girls report more MA than boys with a particular view to examining the role of state/trait forms of MA.

Beilock, S.L., 2008. Math performance in stressful situations. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(5), pp.339-343.

Maloney, E.A., Schaeffer, M.W. & Beilock, S.L., 2013. Mathematics anxiety and stereotype threat: Shared mechanisms, negative consequences and promising interventions. Research in Mathematics Education, 15(2), pp.115-128.

National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008. (Online) Available at

Richardson, F., & Suinn, R., 1972. ‘Mathematics anxiety rating scale: psychometric data’, Journal Of Counselling Psychology, 19, pp. 551-554.