School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Matthew O. Ozolnieks


cognitive presence, community of inquiry, E-Learning, mathematics anxiety, social presence, teaching presence


Mathematics | Online and Distance Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study is to describe the lived experience of mathematics anxiety for self-described math-anxious students who completed an undergraduate mathematics course online at a university in the Pacific Northwest part of the United States. The theory guiding this study is community of inquiry (COI) introduced by early pragmatist philosophers C. S. Peirce and John Dewey and further developed by D. Randy Garrison, Terry Anderson, and Walter Archer as mathematics anxiety is a learned behavior based on students’ experiences. This research study answers the central research question: What are the lived experiences of mathematics anxiety for self-described math-anxious college students who completed a mathematics course online? Data was collected from a purposeful, criterion sample of 10 self-described math-anxious students who have completed an online mathematics course. Data collection methods included questionnaires, individual interviews, and focus group meetings. Data analysis followed a systematic procedure that included epoche, phenomenological reduction, imaginative variation, and synthesis. Three themes emerged from this research: teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence. The findings revealed how self-described math-anxious students who completed an online undergraduate math class experienced math anxiety due to a lack of understanding of the concepts taught through gaps in prior knowledge or the inability to connect new concepts. Further research is needed regarding math anxiety and other factors to include (a) later in life diagnosis or misdiagnosis of conditions that challenge learning, (b) fear of asking for help, (c) social connection with other students, and (d) addressing math anxiety in the online math classroom.