
Research Article


Teaching Anxiety and the Mathematical Representations Developed
Through WebQuest and Spreadsheet Activities 

Murat Peker
and
Erdogan Halat



ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to find out the effects
of mathematical representations developed through WebQuest and spreadsheet
activities on the teaching anxiety level of the preservice elementary
school teachers in mathematics. The number of preservice elementary school
teachers involved in this study was seventy three. Thirty five of the
participants were in the experimental group and thirty eight of them were
in the control group. Whereas the participants in the experimental group
developed WebQuest activities during seven weeks of mathematics instruction,
the others in the control group did spreadsheets activities in the classroom.
The researchers used a Likertype questionnaire, the Mathematics Teaching
Anxiety Scale (MATAS) including twenty three items as pre and posttests
to investigate teaching anxiety level of the participants in mathematics.
After the collection of the data, the researchers used the independent
samples ttest and ANCOVA to analyze the quantitative data. The study
indicated that there was a statistically significant difference found
in terms of teaching anxiety level between the groups favoring the one
who developed WebQuests. In other words, developing WebQuest activities
reduced the teaching anxiety levels of the preservice elementary school
teachers more than doing spreadsheet activities in mathematics.







INTRODUCTION
There are many factors, such as priorknowledge, gender, instruction, selfconfidence,
motivation, pedagogical content knowledge, use of technology and so forth appearing
to affect students’ anxiety and success in mathematics (Vinson,
2001; Altermatt and Kim, 2004; Abramovich
and Cho, 2006; Malinsky et al., 2006; Iossi,
2007). For instance, according to Altermatt and Kim (2004)
and Malinsky et al. (2006), gender is a great
factor influencing students’ mathematics anxiety. They stated that female
students had higher anxiety level in mathematics than male students. Likewise,
several studies claimed that having negative experiences in mathematics can
produce negative results in learning and teaching mathematics (Uusimaki
and Nason, 2004). Therefore, Vinson (2001) stated,
mathematics anxious teachers may serve to foster the early development of mathematics
anxiety among their students. On the other hand, Iossi (2007)
claimed that strategies for minimizing anxiety involve curricular strategies,
instructional strategies and noninstructional strategies. In particular, using
technology as well as selfpaced learning, math anxiety courses, distance learning
and psychological treatments reduce mathematics anxiety (Goldberg
and Waxman, 2003).
Furthermore, several research studies reported that the use of technology plays
prominent roles in teaching and learning mathematics and has positive impacts
on students’ motivation and achievements in mathematics (NCTM,
2000; Drier, 2001; Abramovich
and Cho, 2006; Halat, 2008a; Wachira
et al., 2008; Yao Lin, 2008). For example,
Abramovich and Cho (2006) stated that one of the main
tenets of mathematics education is to have an appropriate use of technology
in teaching and learning of mathematics at all grade levels. In Principles and
Standards for School Mathematics of National Council of Teachers of Mathematics,
it is reported that computers are essential tools for teaching, learning and
doing mathematics. They furnish visual images of mathematical ideas, they facilitate
organizing and analyzing data and they compute efficiently and accurately (NCTM,
2000).
Furthermore, Yao Lin (2008) claimed that preservice
teachers have great attitudes toward the use of computers and web based resources
in teaching mathematics. According to Yao Lin (2008),
the interactive web sites can provide a rich environment for student learning
activities. Using interactive web sites could be helpful for the students in
the organization and representation of their data. Therefore, mathematics teachers
should be able to appropriately use a variety of computer tools such as, geometer’s
sketchpad, spreadsheets and so forth and utilize the Internet as a resource
in the mathematics classrooms (Dodge, 2001). WebQuests
have become important in many educational areas and have received considerable
attention from teachers and educators since it was proposed and developed by
Dodge (2001), Yoder (1999),
Kelly (2000), March (2000) and Halat
(2008a). Moreover, Halat (2008b) found that WebQuests
had positive effects on the motivation of the preservice elementary school
teachers in mathematics.
In addition, research has documented that spreadsheets have been used in teacher
education and K12 classrooms to explore a variety of mathematical concepts
and to help students solve problems for more than two decades (Bright,
1989; Baki et al., 2000; Isiksal
and Askar, 2005). There are many benefits of using spreadsheets. For example,
the spreadsheets allow students to talk about essential mathematical concepts
without using algebraic notation (Neuwirth, 1996). Therefore,
in this study the researchers tried to find out the impacts of developing WebQuestbased
activities and doing spreadsheet activities on the teaching anxiety level of
preservice elementary school teachers in mathematics.
Wei and Chen (2006) claimed that one of the rapidly
emerging uses of the Internet is webbased activities. Besides, WebQuest is
a computerbased learning and teaching model in which learners are actively
involved in an activity or situation and use the Internet as a resource. WebQuest
has become prominent in many educational areas and has received considerable
attention from teachers and educators since it was proposed and developed by
Dodge (2001), Yoder (1999), Kelly
(2000), March (2000) and Hassanien
(2006). According to Schofield (1995), the use of technology
in teaching and learning has positively influence the motivation and achievement
of students. Likewise, Wei and Chen (2006) argued that
the Internet has a great impact on both students and teachers. It must also
be remembered that although the web has a lot of valuable information, it is
also full of useless information. The misuse of the Internet concerns parents,
educators, administrators, teachers and others (Mason, 2000).
Dodge (2001) proposed and developed a WebQuest model,
new teaching and learning technique, which uses the Internet in the classroom
and meets the concerns of those expressed above.
In addition, several research studies showed that an instruction that uses
WebQuestbased applications in the classrooms had positive effects on students’
attitudes toward mathematics learning (Halat and Jakubowski,
2001; Halat, 2008a). Moreover, according to
Halat (2008b), the followings are several strengths of WebQuests: is an
alternative teaching technique that enhances students’ motivation in class;
serves as an alternative assessment tool of student’s learning; gives
teachers an idea of the students’ degree of acquisition of knowledge and
implementation of the knowledge; enhances teachers’ higherorder thinking
skills, such as finding topicrelated Web sites and examining and selecting
professional, wellprepared and reliable Web sites; requires students to be
active learners.
During the last two decades, the use of spreadsheets has been very popular
in teacher education and K12 classrooms (Hunt, 1995;
Edwards and Bitter, 1989; Cinar and
Ardahan, 2003; Dede and Argun, 2003). These researchers
believe that spreadsheets offer the potential to encourage students to explore
and express mathematical ideas that they are likely to use when solving problems.
The spreadsheets can help students move from specific examples to generalized
relationships. According to Edwards and Bitter (1989),
one of the beauties of using spreadsheets is that it is possible to set up calculations,
change some cell values and look at the effect on the results immediately. Today,
it is clear that educational research supports the use of spreadsheets both
in teacher education and K12 classrooms. There are many benefits of using spreadsheets.
For example, the spreadsheets allow students to talk about essential mathematical
concepts without using algebraic notation. Edwards and Bitter
(1989) claimed that students can answer a variety of questions based on
one problem and see the relationships among the variables as number change.
The spreadsheets allow mathematical concepts to be shown through concrete and
numerical examples (Neuwirth, 1996). Moreover, Sgroi
(1992) claimed that it allows the students to apply a variety of mathematics
skills, both thinking and computing. The spreadsheets build an ideal bridge
between arithmetic and algebra and allow the student free movement between the
two worlds (Friedlander, 1998).
Today mathematics anxiety is a common phenomenon for many students. According
to Baloglu (1999), mathematics anxiety comes first among
the most vital problems in teaching and learning mathematics. Mathematics anxiety
is equated with poor performance and avoidance of certain subjects in school
mathematics (Acelajado, 2004). Richardson and Suinn defined
mathematics anxiety as feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with the
manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in a wide variety
of ordinary life and academic situations (Engelhard, 1990).
The research has showed that there were many studies done on the mathematics
anxiety with the preservice teachers (Austin et al.,
1992; Sloan et al., 1997; Newstead,
1998; Vinson, 2001; Uusimaki and
Nason, 2004; Brady and Bowd, 2005; Idris,
2006). For example, according to Uusimaki and Nason (2004),
the origin of the preservice teachers’ negative beliefs and anxiety about
mathematics could be attributable to prior school experiences. Moreover, they
found that preservice primary school teachers’ negative experience and
anxiety about mathematics are attributed to the teachers rather than to other
factors, such as mathematical concepts.
On the other hand, mathematics teaching anxiety is a frequent fear of the preservice
teachers. It may reflect real or perceived knowledge deficits in mathematics
content as well as in mathematics teaching skills (Levine,
1993). Gardner and Leak (1994) defined the teaching
anxiety as anxiety experienced in relation to teaching activities that involve
the preparation and execution of classroom activities. Mathematics teaching
anxiety can be defined as teachers’ feelings of tension and anxiety which
occurs during teaching mathematical concepts, theories and formulas or during
problem solving (Levine, 1993; Peker,
2006).
In recent years, there are many studies done on the mathematics teaching anxiety
with the preservice teachers (Levine, 1996; Peker, 2006,
2008; Peker and Halat, 2008). For example, Peker
and Halat (2008) investigated the genderrelated differences in preservice
elementary school teachers’ teaching anxiety about mathematics. They found
that there were no genderrelated differences in mathematics teaching anxiety
between preservice male and female elementary school teachers. Levine
(1996) stated that preservice elementary school teachers usually experience
anxiety for teaching mathematics and show feeling of mathematics anxiety. Furthermore,
Peker (2006) found that there were several factors, such
as content knowledge, attitudes towards mathematics, attitudes towards mathematics
teaching and self confidence related to both mathematics anxiety and mathematics
teaching anxiety.
Research indicated that abstract discussions regarding mathematical concepts
increased the teaching anxiety of the preservice elementary school teachers
who had high level of anxiety for teaching mathematics, but using manipulative
materials, getting familiar with developing creative teaching strategies for
teaching mathematics and learning to design lesson plans in mathematical concepts
reduced the teaching anxiety level of the preservice elementary school teachers
(Levine, 1996). Likewise, Sloan et
al. (2002) reported that using both manipulative materials and hands
on activities in the mathematics method courses may reduce math anxiety. According
to Vinson (2001), preservice teachers are better in
understanding of mathematics concepts and procedures when they are presented
in a concrete way.
The study focused on the effects of using technology on the preservice
elementary school teachers’ teaching anxiety level in mathematics.
In particular, the following question guided the study:
• 
Is there a difference, if any, with respect to mathematics teaching
anxiety level between the preservice elementary school teachers who
were required to do WebQuestbased activities and their counterparts
who were required to do spreadsheet activities? 
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Methods of Inquiry: In the study the researchers followed the quasiexperimental
statistical design procedure. With this procedure the control group was compared
with the experimental group, but participants were not randomly selected and
assigned to the groups (Creswell, 1994; McMillan,
2000). According to Creswell (1994), the nonequivalent (Pretest and Posttest)
control group design model is a popular approach to quasiexperiments.
In this study, while the experimental group included students who were required
to design their WebQuests, the control group included students who were required
to do spreadsheet activities in the classroom. The experimental research method
was chosen by the researchers because of the fact that it provides the best
approach to investigating causeandeffect relationships (McMillan,
2000). In the study pretest and posttest were given to the participants
before and after the instruction as an independent variable. The researchers
examined the impacts of doing both spreadsheet and WebQuest activities on the
preservice elementary school teachers’ teaching anxiety level in mathematics.
The comparison of students’ teaching anxiety levels was made in the study.
Therefore, this experimental approach enabled the researchers to evaluate the
effectiveness of developing both spreadsheet and WebQuestbased applications
in mathematics classroom.
Participants: In this study, the researchers followed the convenience
sampling procedure defined by McMillan (2000), where a
group of participants is selected because of availability. There were a total
of 73 preservice elementary school teachers, 35 in experimental group and 38
in control group, involved in this study. Twenty two of the participants in
the experimental group were females and thirteen of them were males. Nineteen
of the participants in the control group were females and nineteen of them were
males. Participants in the study were preservice elementary school teachers
enrolled in mathematics teaching course at university located in central southwest
part of Turkey.
Data instrument and scoring guide: The researchers gave the Mathematics
Teaching Anxiety Scale (MATAS) to the participants in 10 min before and after
the instruction. The MATAS developed by Peker (2006)
is a Likertype questionnaire including twenty three positive and negative items.
The researchers made factor analysis that revealed four factors, content knowledge10
items (factor loading ranging from 0.53 to 0.86), selfconfidence6 items (factor
loading ranging from 0.57 to 0.76), attitude towards mathematics teaching4
items (factor loading ranging from 0.61 to 0.70) and Teaching knowledge3 items
(factor loading ranging from 0.68 to 0.78). Reliability estimates of the MATAS
obtained by using Cronbach’s alpha measure for the total scale was 0.91
and for the each subscales were; 0.90 (content knowledge), 0.83 (selfconfidence),
0.71 (attitude towards mathematics teaching) and 0.61 (teaching knowledge),
respectively.
The objective of using this scale was to find out the mathematics teaching
anxiety levels of the preservice elementary school teachers. The followings
are several statements from the MATAS so as to give some information about
it; “I got anxious when it comes to the point of teaching some mathematical
topics”, “It is very easy for me to teach mathematics”,
“I like answering questions about the topic I am teaching”,
“Throughout my career as a teacher, i think i can make use of the
different views and theories about teaching mathematics”.
The highest point a person can make on the MATAS is 115 (23x5) and the
lowest point is 23 (23x1). While calculating scores of the preservice
teachers’ teaching anxiety in mathematics, the total points based
on the criteria determined above at the 23item scales are considered.
Procedure: The researchers conducted this study in a mathematics teaching
course requiring; problem solving and writing based on major mathematical concepts
at their levels, such as operations, fractions, numbers, measurements and so
on, developing teaching methods and materials that are appropriate to elementary
school students from 1st grade to 5th grade and learning how to teach certain
topics in mathematics. These were the main tenets of the course offered to the
students at Elementary School Teacher Education Program. In addition to these
requirements, whereas the participants who were in the experimental group were
required to design WebQuestbased applications as an individual project, the
others who were in control group were required to develop spreadsheets activities.
The study was conducted during the spring semester of 2008 and it took place
seven weeks. Each group had 4 h of instruction in a week.
Analysis of the data: In the analysis of the data, first the researchers
conducted the independentsamples ttest statistical procedure with α =
0.05 on the preservice elementary school teachers’ pretest scores from
the MATAS to determine any differences in regard to the teaching anxiety level
between the experimental and control groups. This ttest procedure showed means
score differences in terms of levels between the two groups. The lower teaching
anxiety level was in favor of the experimental group. Then, scores from the
MATAS were compared using oneway analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with α
= 0.05, which is a variation of ANOVA, to adjust for pretest differences that
existed between control and experimental groups. For instance, suppose in an
experiment that one group has a mean value on the pretest of 15 and the other
group has a pretest mean of 18. ANCOVA is used to adjust the posttest scores
statistically to compensate for the 3point difference between the two groups.
This adjustment results in more accurate posttest comparisons. The pretest used
for the adjustment is called the covariate (McMillan, 2000).
In other words, because of the initial differences with reference to the participants’
mathematical teaching anxiety levels between the groups, ANCOVA was used to
analyze the quantitative data in the study. The pretest scores from the Mathematics
Teaching Anxiety Scale served as the covariates in the analysis of participants’
teaching anxiety level by WebQuests and spreadsheet activities. ANCOVA enabled
the researchers to compare the teaching anxiety level of each group.
RESULTS
Table 1 shows the descriptive statistics for the preservice
elementary school teachers’ mathematics teaching anxiety level based
on the MATAS scores and indicates that there is a change in the participants’
teaching anxiety levels between pre and posttest scores for both groups.
There was a decrease between the pre and posttest scores in the teaching
anxiety level of the participants in the experimental and control groups.
Table 1: 
Descriptive statistics for the preservice elementary
school teachers’ mathematics teaching anxiety 

a: Covariates appearing in the model are evaluated at
the following values: Pretest = 46.452. *Estimated marginal means 
Table 2: 
Summary of ANCOVA for preservice elementary school
teachers’ mathematics teaching anxiety 

α = 0.05, *p = 0.014, *p<0.05 
The mean score of the experimental group on the pretest (M = 45.914)
was numerically lower than that of control group (M = 46.947). Likewise,
the mean score of the participants in the experimental group on the posttest*
(M = 42.615^{a}) was numerically lower than that of control group
(M = 46.407^{a}) (Table 1).
Table 2, however, presents the analysis of covariance
(ANCOVA) for both groups to the participants’ teaching anxiety level
and is based on the Mathematics Teaching Anxiety Scale. It demonstrates
a significant main impact for the preservice elementary school teachers
who were required to design WebQuestbased applications, [F (1, 73) =
6.35; p = 0.014<α = 0.05]. In other words, the participants in
the experimental group developed WebQuestbased applications had lower
teaching anxiety level in mathematics than the ones who did spreadsheet
activities in mathematics teaching course.
DISCUSSION
This study revealed that both developing WebQuestbased applications and doing
spreadsheet activities reduced the teaching anxiety level of the preservice
elementary school teachers in mathematics. Schofield (1995)
stated that using technology in teaching and learning has great effects on students’
motivation, attitudes and achievements. This finding of the study supports the
argument of Schofield (1995) because of the fact that the
participants in the experimental group involved in this study used computer
and several software programs and designed WebQuests that caused a significant
decline in the preservice teachers’ teaching anxiety level in mathematics.
However, on the other hand, the result of this study is not consistent with
claim of Schofield (1995) because the preservice elementary
school teachers in the control group also used computer and did spreadsheet
activities that had not a considerable effect on the teaching anxiety level
of the preservice teachers in mathematics.
According to the result of this study, although the participants in both groups
had low level of teaching anxiety in mathematics, the mean score level of the
experimental group was lower than that of control group. In other words, the
preservice elementary school teachers who were required to develop WebQuestbased
activities indicated lower teaching anxiety level in mathematics than the ones
who were required to do spreadsheet activities. This result is lined up with
the several research findings by Halat (2007) and Halat
and Jakubowski (2001). For example, Halat and Jakubowski
(2001) stated that designing a WebQuest gave the preservice middle and
secondary mathematics teachers an opportunity to practice their mathematics
knowledge in a different way, showed them how to adapt technology in their teaching
and taught them how effectively the Internet and other programs could be used
in the classrooms. They added, all groups provided positive responses to wanting
to use WebQuests as a break from textbook and traditional ways of teaching.
Moreover, Halat (2008a) found that the service teachers
who developed WebQuests showed stronger motivational performance towards mathematics
than the others who did not.
What would be the reasons behind the great impacts of designing WebQuests on
the teaching anxiety level of the preservice teachers in mathematics? Research
has documented that the preservice teachers demonstrated positive attitudes
toward the use of computers, the interactive multimedia and web based resources
in teaching mathematics (Taylor and Galligan, 2006; Yao
Lin, 2008; Halat, 2008b). For instance, Yao
Lin (2008) claimed that the interactive web sites could provide a rich environment
for student learning activities. Using interactive web sites could be helpful
for the students in the organization and representation of their data. Furthermore,
Taylor and Galligan (2006) reported that using the interactive
multimedia regarding mathematics with examples through animations and videos
reduced the students’ mathematics anxiety. Likewise, Rochowicz
(1996) and Acelajado (2004) found that the use of
technology in mathematics teaching and learning environment reduced students’
mathematics anxiety. Therefore, WebQuests defined as an alternative teaching
and learning technique in which students are actively involved in an activity
or situations and use the internet as a resource. As stated earlier, it gives
the preservice teachers an opportunity to practice mathematics in a visual
environment that might enhance students’ motivation towards mathematics
and selfconfidence in mathematics. In the current study, this may have caused
the preservice teachers to have a low teaching anxiety level in mathematics.
On the other hand, doing spreadsheet activities is more about learning
and practicing mathematical topics or rules in comparison to designing
WebQuests. Therefore, this might have contributed to the preservice teachers’
mathematics content and pedagogical content knowledge. But, if it was,
then it could have caused a considerable decline in the teaching anxiety
of the preservice teachers in the control group.
According to Zakaria and Nordin (2008), when students’ mathematics anxiety
scores increase, their achievements scores decrease. Similarly, they reported
that if students’ mathematics anxiety scores increase, their motivation
scores decrease. Indeed, Ryan and Pintrich (1997) and
Dev (1998) claimed that there is a positive correlation
between student achievement and motivation in mathematics. In this study, doing
WebQuestbased activities in mathematics reduced the teaching anxiety level
of the preservice teachers more than that of others who did spreadsheet activities.
Therefore, this implies that doing WebQuestbased activities may positively
affect the students’ motivation towards mathematics. However, this is
not consistent with the reports of research Gottfried et
al. (2001) claiming that there is a decline in students’ motivation
towards mathematics courses. Therefore, WebQuestbased activities either as
a group project or a new instructional approach can be used in teaching and
learning at college level (Halat, 2007). This supports
the claims of Stipek (1998) and Middleton
and Spanias (1999) stated that carefully structured instructional design
including clear and meaningful task activities and level of difficulty had a
great impact on students’ achievement and motivation in mathematics because
WebQuests includes welldesigned and meaningful task activities in its structure.
In short, this study concluded that there was statistically significant
difference found in regard to the teaching anxiety level in mathematics
between the preservice elementary school teachers who were required to
design WebQuestbased activities and their counterparts who were required
to do spreadsheet activities. This was in favor of the ones who did WebQuestbased
activities in mathematics. In other words, doing WebQuestbased activities
in mathematics teaching and learning can cause a decline in preservice
teachers teaching anxiety.
Implications and recommendations: The finding of this current study
implies that doing WebQuestbased activities in a college level mathematics
course may strongly cause a decline in the teaching anxiety levels of preservice
elementary school teachers in mathematics. This study also underlined the importance
of use of technology in mathematics teaching and learning, which enhances student
motivation and achievement in mathematics (Schofield, 1995;
Yao Lin, 2008; Halat, 2008a).
Furthermore, this supports the recommendation of NCTM (2000)
stating that new educational theories and strategies be implemented in mathematics
classrooms. According to Hardy (1998), successful technology
adaptation requires careful planning and plenty of time. If the ones find time
and carefully plan to work on this technique, they might successfully practice
WebQuest in their teaching.
Limitations and future research: There is enough support to encourage
the further study of doing WebQuestbased activities in teacher preparation
programs. WebQuests, when done successfully, can be meaningful teaching strategies
that utilize student use of technology in the classroom and can be a great factor
that enhances students’ attitudes towards mathematics and success in mathematics
teaching and learning. This supports the claim of Freitas
and Jameson (2006) stated that the ways in which technological developments
can and do contribute to increased successful learning outcomes. Limitations
in using WebQuests include the possibility of lack of access to the Internet,
the time spent by the teacher to develop a WebQuest, finding reliable links
for resources for the WebQuest and adapting scenario or story to the math topic.

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