From Misery to Mastery: Supporting Adult Online Learners Experiencing Math Anxiety in Quantitative Business Courses

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

 Many adult learners suffer from math anxiety, which affects their performance in quantitative business coursework.  Our study suggests that using supplemental instruction delivered in a servant leadership instructional style significantly reduces math anxiety.  Learn about the instructional techniques, ideas, and methods used to reduce math anxiety in the online modality.


I am the Director of Online Learning and Innovative Technology at Gwynedd Mercy University where I provide instructional technology support to faculty, particularly in the area of online learning where I continually search for new technologies that will engage the online student. I spent a number of years as a Senior Instructional Designer at Montgomery County Community College providing classroom technology support for faculty. My strong interest in Internet2 led to a MAGPI Fellowship in 2010 and nomination to MCCC’s Innovation of the Year Award for my creation of the Virtual Education Collaboration. Prior to working in academia, I spent over 20 years in the business environment as a computer programmer, business analyst and, most recently, as an Instructional Designer for Ellucian. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Business from Immaculata University and my master’s degree in Instructional Systems from Penn State, where I also earned a Web Graphics Design certificate. I received my Master's in Business Administration (MBA) at Gwynedd Mercy University. My speaking experience includes presentations at a variety of conferences including STEMtech, an international convening focused on increasing student access, success, and completion in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Jill Winnington has been Assistant Dean and Business Program Director at Gwynedd Mercy University since June 2015. She previously served as Director of Academic Affairs at University of Phoenix and as a Business Instructor at Wesley College. She earned her BA in Economics from the University of Delaware- Lerner College of Business and Economics, her MM in Management and MBA in Finance from Goldey-Beacom College, and her DBA from Wilmington University.

Extended Abstract

Math anxiety is very common among adult learners and influences performance in quantitative business coursework. This presentation, based on a study of adult online undergraduate business students, identifies the possible causes and developments of math anxiety in adult online learners.  We also investigate the impact of supplemental instruction delivered in a servant leadership instructional style in reducing math anxiety.

In sharing our research, the students in the study were enrolled in a business statistics course, a requirement of their bachelor’s degree program. The adult learners’ math anxiety was measured using the Math Anxiety Rating Scale Short Version (MARS-SV) with a pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design. During the course, the students in the treatment group were supported with supplemental instruction methods delivered in a servant leadership instructional style. The statistical analysis of the pretest and posttest results of the MARS-SV, supported a significant reduction in the levels of math anxiety for the students in the treatment group.

This interactive presentation includes a self-test measurement of math anxiety and offers techniques and strategies for reducing math anxiety in adult online students.

Session Outcomes

  • Define the causes and developments of math anxiety in adult learners.
  • Identify personal level of math anxiety.
  • Describe servant leadership behaviors.
  • Demonstrate ways to reduce math anxiety using supplemental instruction and modeling servant leadership behaviors.
  • Review the various technologies used to supplement quantitative business instruction in the online modality.