The ripple effect: How teachers' anxiety impacts students' anxiety levels in math, science and literacy

Nov 6, 2023

1 min

Leigh McLean

In a new study funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, University of Delaware Associate Research Professor Leigh McLean and her co-authors found a strong connection between teachers’ math and science anxiety and the respective math and science anxiety of their low socioeconomic status (SES) students. When a teacher was more anxious in these content areas, their low-SES students were also more anxious; and, when teachers were less anxious, so were their low-SES students.



Teachers play a significant role in shaping students' experiences and attitudes towards learning. When teachers themselves exhibit anxiety or stress about specific subjects, it can inadvertently send signals to students that these subjects are difficult or intimidating.


McLean can speak more broadly about this phenomenon and discuss the interesting pattern of associations that emerged from their analysis. She has been featured in multiple publications including The Associated Press and Education Week. Click the "View Profile" to connect with her. 

Connect with:
Leigh McLean

Leigh McLean

Associate Research Professor, Education

Prof. McLean investigates how teachers’ emotions and emotion-related experiences including well-being impact their effectiveness.

Developmental PsychologyInstructional PracticesTeachers and TeachingWell-BeingClassroom Behavior

You might also like...

Check out some other posts from University of Delaware

2 min

Gold medal-worthy experts for Olympic Summer Games coverage

The University of Delaware boasts several experts who can comment on health-related topics such as injuries and training and business-focused areas like marketing and team behavior as they relate to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, which begin next week. Matt Robinson Professor, sport management Relevant expertise: Will be in Paris and can discuss the Olympics from an onsite perspective; can give the backstory on The International Coaching Enrichment Certificate Program (ICECP) and what’s new in the Paris Olympics. Link to profile and contact Tom Kaminski Professor, kinesiology and applied physiology Relevant expertise: Has studied heading in soccer (women's football) and the risks of concussions for nearly three decades. Link to profile and contact Karin Silbernagel Professor, physical therapy Relevant expertise: Research aims to advance the understanding of tendon and ligament injuries and repair. Can also discuss sailing. Link to profile and contact Tim DeSchriver Associate professor, sport management Expertise: Sport finance, economics and marketing Link to profile and contact Other experts: INJURIES: Tom Buckley Associate professor, kinesiology and applied physiology Expertise: Head impacts from boxing. Stephanie Cone Assistant professor, biomedical engineering Expertise: Studies the structure-function relationship that exists in tendons and ligaments with a special interest in changes in this relationship during growth and following injury. Mike Eckrich Clinical instructor, physical therapy Expertise: Weightlifting; can talk about the difference between men’s and women’s injuries and form in the sport. Donald Ford Physical therapy Expertise: Shoulder injuries/rehab expert Jeffrey Schneider Senior instructor, kinesiology and applied physiology Expertise: Athletic training and injury prevention, with a particular interest in ice skating injuries. Worked with athletes competing in Winter Olympics (2002, 2006) as a strength and conditioning coach and athletic trainer. EVENTS: Jocelyn Hafer Assistant professor, kinesiology and applied physiology Expertise: Race Walk events and how biomarkers are used in walking studies. Airelle Giordano Associate professor, physical therapy Expertise: Gymnastics; she was a collegiate gymnast Kiersten McCartney Doctoral student Expertise: Can chat about Paralympic Triathlon (running, hand cycling, swimming). Steve Goodwin Associate professor, health behavior and nutrition sciences Expertise: He is also in Paris leading a study abroad cohort. He has been to multiple Olympics, and can also speak to on-site experience, differences in games, etc. George Edelman Adjunct professor, physical therapy Expertise: Works with USA Swimming. BUSINESS: John Allgood II Instructor, sport management Expertise: Sport business management, event management SCIENCE: Joshua Cashaback Assistant professor, biomedical engineering Expertise: Specializes in neuromechanics and control of human movement. His research falls under two major themes: The neuroplasticity and adaptation research line tests how reinforcement feedback can subserve our ability to acquire new motor skills.

1 min

Researchers find ‘narrow’ depictions of fatherhood in children’s literature

When children read picture books, they are often greeted with depictions of family and life lessons their young minds soak up. What happens then, when those depictions don’t offer a thoughtful image of gender or family as they have changed over the years? That is one of the questions University of Delaware Professor Bill Lewis and Social Science Research Analyst and UD alumna Laura Cutler explored in their recent paper, published in the quarterly journal Children's Literature in Education. In “Portraits of Fatherhood: Depictions of Fathers and Father–Child Relationships in Award-Winning Children’s Literature,” Lewis and Cutler looked at more than 80 children’s books to analyze how authors and publishers depicted fathers and fatherhood. What they found was that over a span of nearly 20 years, from 2001 to 2020, these books presented "a narrow view of fatherhood," both in what roles fathers have in familial units and which types of fathers are presented. They also noted that these portrayals have remained relatively static over the last two decades. Lewis, a professor in the College of Education and Human Development’s School of Education, broke down what spurred the research and what he and Cutler hope changes as a result of the research in a new Q&A. Contact mediarelations@udel.edu to set up an interview with Lewis.

1 min

Professors address students' climate anxiety

Professors at the University of Delaware preparing students for careers working on climate change are making sure to consider mental health issues as they send them out into the world. UD's Climate Change Science and Policy Hub, led by director A.R. Siders, is starting a series of initiatives – on campus and in the region – to tackle the challenge of what is known as climate anxiety. This involves traditional trainings but also innovations with creativity, art, video games and play. "Learning about and working on climate change causes climate anxiety, ecogrief, solastalgia – there’s a whole new set of terms being created just to describe the problem," said Siders, also an associate professor in UD's Disaster Research Center and Biden School of Public Policy and Administration. "This is a real mental health concern." This new way of approaching climate education has become even more critical as universities expand climate education – such as new climate schools, degrees, courses and even embedding it in general education courses, Siders said. The U.S. government is supporting a growing climate workforce, and it is expected that more people will work in climate-related careers. To reach Siders and set up an interview, visit her profile and click on the "contact" link. This will automatically send an email directly to her.

View all posts