Validity, reliability, and gender invariance of the Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale (AMAS) in middle school students.

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Math anxiety is a common form of state anxiety that is associated with poorer math performance and achievement in children, adolescents, and young adults. It is also associated with avoidance of advanced education and career paths in STEM-related fields and is disproportionately higher in females than males across the lifespan. The Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale (AMAS) is a brief self-report measure of math anxiety comprised of two subscales that has been shown to be a reliable and valid measure of math anxiety for elementary, high school, and college-aged students. The AMAS also demonstrates factorial invariance across gender in these populations, indicating that it can be used to compare mean score differences in males and females. Despite the importance of the middle school years on the trajectory of math anxiety, the psychometric properties of the AMAS have not yet been examined in a middle school population. The purpose of the current study was to address gaps in the literature by examining the reliability, validity, and gender invariance of the AMAS in middle school students. A group of 604 students from two middle schools in the Southern United States completed the AMAS in person or online, as well as measures of math anxiety, test anxiety, worry, attitudes towards math, positive affect and career interest in STEM fields. Confirmatory factor analyses and multigroup confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to assess the factor structure of the AMAS and test for factorial invariance across gender. Internal consistency reliability was assessed and correlations between the AMAS and other measures were examined to assess for convergent, and divergent validity. The AMAS demonstrated good internal consistency reliability, convergent and divergent validity, and factorial invariance across boys and girls in the middle school sample. A bifactor model provided a good fit for the data and an improved fit over unidimensional and bidimensional models. Results from the current study suggest that the AMAS is a valid and reliable measures of math anxiety for middle school students and can be used to measure differences in math anxiety between boys and girls in this population.

Math anxiety. Middle school. STEM. Gender invariance.