SME 3023:TRENDS AND ISSUES IN EDUCATION FOR MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT: The W H Phenomenal of Mathematics Anxiety NAME & MATRIC NO: NUR ADILAH BINTI YAHAYA D20081032234 DATE OF SUBMISSION: 17.11. 2011 LECTURER’S NAME: PROF DR MARZITA PUTEH
The W H Phenomenal Of Mathematics Anxiety. 1. What is mathematics anxiety? Math anxiety or designated by Dreger and Aiken as number anxiety is a situation where students tends to block any intellectual improvement regarding mathematics. Lazarus describes mathematics anxiety as “mathophobia” or irrational dreads of mathematics. According to Sigmund Freud, there are two types of anxiety which are objective anxiety and neurotic anxiety. Objective anxiety referred to somewhat most people experienced as complex internal reaction from anticipated harm from the external danger. In the other hand, neurotic anxiety differed from objective anxiety in a way that the danger is actually come from within and usually the object of original danger situation was not recognised. Anxiety can be portrayed through physiology, phenomenon and behaviour. According to Philips et al, there are two factors pertaining mathematics anxiety which is state anxiety and trait anxiety. State anxiety can be defined as situational in nature and is a function of stressful condition having a contemporary locus while trait anxiety is depositional in nature. Student who has mathematics anxiety generally finds it very difficult to make progress in Mathematics. Hence, this will cause the person or student to achieve badly in Mathematics. 2. Why does it happen? Mathematics anxiety occurs due to these seven main factors. First are the teacher personality and their style of teaching. The way the teacher embraced mathematics will influenced how their students thinks about mathematics. Teacher who hates mathematics tends to implement a negative student’s attitude towards mathematics. Secondly, public examination and their effects. It is commonly known in Malaysian scenario that the education is highly examination-oriented and most students raced to get good grades as an indicator of their achievement. Mathematics is used as filter to determine their future education opportunity, hence creating unnecessary tension toward mathematics examination. Thirdly, it is caused by affective domain. Affective domain is contributed by self factor such as personality and perception toward mathematics. Another factor contributing mathematics anxiety is parental expectation. Parents usually expect their children to score well in mathematics as an indicator of their achievement, this will cause the students to have the feeling of being forced to do so well unwillingly. The next factor is peer group influences. According to Aiken,
that one possible determiner of attitudes towards mathematics is the attitude of one’s peer. This factor closely related to parental influenced because, not all parents or family can assist their children in solving mathematics related questions, hence, this cause students or in this case, trainees to rely on their peer to help them doing their assignment or homework. Lastly, the main factors contributing mathematic anxiety are the relevance of study mathematics. Many trainees mention the word abstract when it came to mathematics. Basic calculation like addition and subtraction are relevance to daily lives, however the used of symbol such x, y, square roots and pi seems so detached from their daily lives.3. Who has it ? Mathematics anxiety usually suffered by person who has a feeling 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. This person will also feel incapable of doing anything involving mathematics and tends to choose an activity or major that require minimum usage of mathematics. We can also detect person who suffer this anxiety when they were being assessed on a mathematical task. They often show sign such as tremor in the hands or sweating of hands. They will also show feeling of restless and tense. Avoidance in Mathematics is also one of the ways of detecting if a person has mathematics anxiety or not. This person tends to avoid doing any mathematical activities so that they don’t have to confront their fear.4. When does it occur? The feeling of frightened, afraid, threatened and panicky towards mathematics is often used by trainees to express their feelings towards mathematics. Mathematics anxiety occurs among trainees or students when they were given a challenging task that they think they will likely to fail. Most students or trainees will be afraid that they will get scolded if they did not get the right answer, hence putting a pressure on them and making them anxious about the subject. Having a low confidence will contribute to mathematics anxiety because they got easily frightened that they might not be able to solve any mathematical task that is given to them. Due to the lack of confidence, many trainees express their worries and fear towards mathematics. Apart from the two
situations given above, the anxiety occurs when the trainees blame themselves for poor mathematics performance.5. Who or what create it ? Factors contributing towards mathematics anxiety differ from one student to another. To answer “what” create it, first, the feelings towards mathematics itself. Many students look at mathematics as a subject which students with high IQ will achieve very well. Next, besides having their own perspective about mathematic, the “things” creating mathematic anxiety is their feelings towards mathematic teachers. Having a class with 40 to 50 students per class may lead the student to believe that the teacher is teaching either too fast or they were learning too slowly. This will cause them to become anxious whenever mathematics being taught. Being humiliate is the last thing that a person wants to face. Many students will feel anxious when they were called to the blackboard to answer the question given. Although this act is one of the method or learning, teachers might unintentionally cause their students to suffer mathematics anxiety. When a student feel inadequate in mathematics, they tends to spend their time and energy worrying about appearing inadequate and they put a lot of effort into trying to protect themselves from others finding out their inadequacy, hence making self-protect as their central theme. Therefore, constant vigilance about being exposed means constant anxiety. Apart from that, the teacher-student relationship also condone to mathematics anxiety. Fear of asking help, teachers blaming students for not understanding, teacher ridiculing students, teachers’ strictness and fierceness, use of threats and force by teachers, some positive effect of disciplined required, teachers not showing interest in their students is the factor contributing to dysfunctional teacher- student relationship, which lead to mathematics anxiety.6. How do you reduce it ? There is several anxiety reducing techniques that teachers can teach their children and practice periodically throughout the year. Teachers will need to learn these techniques and encourage the students to practice them at home and to use them prior to testing or when feeling anxious during math class. Several studies have shown that relaxation techniques can be used to help alleviate anxiety related to mathematics. In her workbook Conquering Math Anxiety, Cynthia Arem offers specific strategies to
reduce math avoidance and anxiety. One strategy she advocates for is relaxation exercises and indicates that by practicing relaxation techniques on a regularly basis for 10–20 minutes students can significantly can reduce their anxiety. Apart from that, studies have shown students learn best when they are active rather than passive learners. The theory of multiple intelligences suggests that there is a need for addressing different learning styles. Mathematics lessons can be tailored for visual/spatial, logical/mathematics, musical, auditory, body/kinaesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal and verbal/linguistic learning styles. Everyone is capable of learning, but may learn best in different ways. Therefore, lessons must be presented in a variety of ways. New concepts can be taught through play acting, cooperative groups, visual aids, hands on activities or information technology.7. How do you eliminate it ? Eliminating mathematics anxiety is not easy task to be done. However these steps can be taken as preliminary steps to achieve that goal. First, accommodating for different learning styles. As we know, different student, different learning style, so we have to try to accommodate our teaching styles so that each students were given opportunity to learn effectively. Next is creating a variety of testing environments. Apart from that, designing positive experiences in math classes. By doing so, students will feel more confident to handle anything pertaining mathematics hence eliminating this anxiety. Next, students should refrain from tying self-esteem to success with mathematics. As teachers, we can also emphasizing that everyone makes mistakes in mathematics so that they don’t feel humiliated or embarrassed whenever they make mistakes in mathematics. Next, making math relevant. As discussed earlier, students tend to feel anxious around mathematics because they couldn’t relate mathematics usage in daily life apart from basic calculations. Another step that can be taken is allowing for different social approaches to learning mathematics. Last but not least, we as teacher have to emphasizing the importance of original, quality thinking rather than rote manipulation of formulas.