Competency in mathematics is needed to respond to the vast employment opportunities available in the STEM sectors. These employment opportunities all require basic foundational mathematics skills, yet there is a shortfall of mathematics abilities due, in-part, to mathematics anxiety. Mathematics anxiety can surface as fear and avoidance of mathematics and has been linked to low mathematics performance and ability (Ashcraft, 2002; Luttenberger et al., 2018). This thought paper (Snell, n.d.), paper begins with a synthesis of research on mathematics anxiety including the known causal factors: cognitive/affective, social, and genetic as well as the recently proposed causal factor, missed opportunity (Brewster & Miller, 2020). Missed opportunity refers to cases where an individual who is capable academically to comprehend mathematics but has missed the opportunity to learn basic foundational skills in mathematics. Missing the opportunity to learn foundational concepts in mathematics places great stress, which can result in feelings of anxiety. Next, a synthesis of interventions for mathematics anxiety such as mindfulness exercises (Brunyé et al., 2013) and expressive writing (Brewster & Miller, 2022; Park et al., 2014) are discussed, which led to the realization that interventions are more complex than previously reported given that other factors can affect interventions such as duration of writing, quality of instruction, or additional stressors causing anxiety, including test anxiety. Knowing the causal factors influencing an individual’s mathematics anxiety may prove beneficial to designing more focused and influential interventions.
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