1. Mathematics Anxiety SME 3023:TRENDS AND ISSUES IN EDUCATION FOR MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT: The W H Phenomenal of Mathematics Anxiety NAME & MATRIC NO: NUR ASHIKIN BT ISMAHUN D20081032212 DATE OF SUBMISSION: 17.11. 2011 LECTURER’S NAME: PROF DR MARZITA PUTEH
2. Mathematics Anxiety1. What is mathematics anxiety? Mathematics anxiety has been defined 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 Math anxiety can cause one to forget and lose one’s self-confidence (Tobias, S., 1993). Mathematics anxiety makes a large number of student’s minds go blank momentarily even when a simple mathematical calculation is called for. Sweating palms, queasy stomach, panic, fear, clenched fists, cold sweats, helplessness, tension, distress, dry mouth, shame and an ability to cope and so on : there are just a few of signs of mathematical anxiety (Burton, 1979). Sigmund Freud (1936) regarded anxiety as something felt; an unpleasant emotional (affective) state is universally experienced. But then, Freud changes his formulation. He conceived of anxiety as a signal indicating the presence of a danger situation and differentiated between objective anxiety and neurotic anxiety. Objective anxiety referred to that which was experienced by most people in their daily life and involved a complex internal reaction to anticipated harm from danger. Neurotic anxiety was characterized by feelings of apprehension and physiological arousal but differed from objective anxiety in that source of the danger that evoked this reaction was internal rather than external. Mathematics anxiety can be seen as having both state anxiety and trait anxiety. For example, state anxiety can be provoked by a situation such as student undertaking a mathematics assessment which has serious implication to their educational or vocational future. In the other cases, it would be seem that mathematics anxiety is an A-trait, deeply entrenched in the student’s dispositions as a result of previous experiences and likely to manifest itself in the face of any kind of mathematical challenge (Freud). According to Phillips et al (1972), anxiety is elicited by psychological stress, and stress is reflected in threatened deprivation of an anticipated satisfaction. In conclusion, there are many definition of mathematics anxiety but there are only one in common which is math anxiety is very real and occurs among thousands of people. Math must be looked upon in a positive light to reduce math anxiety. Hence, the joy of mathematics could remain with them throughout the rest of their lives.
3. Mathematics Anxiety2. Why mathematics anxiety does occur? Many interrelated factors contributed to the formation of mathematics anxiety and especially among teacher trainees are not uncommon as previous studies have already indicated (Haylock, 1995). Lazarus (1974) argued that mathematics anxiety results from poor instruction and poorly designed mathematics curricula. It is related to abstract nature of mathematics (Burton, 1979; Brush,1981; Ferguson, 1989). Poor spatial skills (Tobias, 1976) make mathematical comprehension difficult for many people. In fact there are many points contributing to mathematical anxiety. From the research conducted (Puteh, 1998), it was found that the causes of mathematic anxiety were related to:  Teacher personality and their style of teaching.  Public examinations and their effect.  Affective domain – the self sector, such as personality, perception.  Feelings, worries, difficulties(memory, innate disability);  Parental expectations –their aspirations and standards;  Peer group influences;  Relevance – the usage of mathematics in everyday life. Other than that, the other factors link to mathematics anxiety is usually linked to a negative math experience from a persons past. This could be being punished by a parent or teacher for failing to master a mathematical concept or being embarrassed in front of a sibling or group of peers when failing to correctly complete a math problem. To a parent, this could have been the smallest or silliest mistake, but it very well could have left an impression on the student if made to feel ashamed or embarrassed. Timed tests and the risk of public embarrassment are two of many contributing factors of math anxiety. Even if a student has no problems completing their work at home, they could temporarily forget the needed math concepts in the middle of a major test. Since the outcome of tests usually affects a students overall math grade, the negative results of math anxiety reinforce their feeling of inadequacy, thus creating a cycle of anxiety and failure.
4. Mathematics Anxiety3. Who has the mathematical anxiety? There are three prime group that have mathematics anxiety which is students, parents, and teachers. Teachers often give mathematics anxiety to student without even noticed it. While parents gives to students due to their prior experienced in mathematics. Primary school teachers are often found to suffer most acutely from mathematics anxiety (Briggs, 1993; Briggs and Crook, 1991), possibly because of the lack of a firm foundation in mathematics, coupled with the nature of the subject itself. Other than that, teacher trainee is also suffering from mathematics anxiety. It was evident from the interviews conducted that mathematics anxiety is indeed extensive among these trainees. The mere fact that there exists such extensive mathematics anxiety among these trainees suggested that it would inhibit them from achieving their full potential in the subject (Tobias, 1978) and caused concern about the implication for their role as teachers as mathematics in Malaysia primary schools.4. When does it occur? Mathematics anxiety often happen when trainees’ self-images with regard to mathematics were identified from the interview (Puteh, 1998). These are dislike of being challenged, low confidence, slow learner and low self esteem, easily giving-up and self blaming for poor mathematics performance. Mathematics anxiety can occur when participating in class, listening to a lecture, while doing a math related problem, or during a test. Moreover, such anxiety can happen on elementary school children, high school and college students (Tobia, 1993). It is important to know that it can happen to anyone at any age no matter of their mathematical ability. A positive experience while learning mathematics can help overcome these past feelings to allow success and future achievement in math.
5. Mathematics Anxiety5. What created it? According to Skemp (1971), if a student is too worried about hostile and critical mathematics when he cannot fully understand some parts of mathematics syllabus learned, they will be more work to understand in the field. The study was conducted (Puteh, 1998), found that the cause of the concerns related to the personality of mathematics teachers and teachers own teaching style. Besides these concerns also exist with the public examinations and the effects of this examination in the student life. Next, the affective domain factors, like personality and perception, feelings, anxiety, difficulty (memory, natural defects), responses of parents, peer influence and relevance (use mathematics in everyday life) to encourage the existence of anxiety in mathematics. Math anxiety is often developed as a result of student’s prior negative experience when learning math in the classroom or at home. Teachers and parents often exacerbate a child’s level of anxiety by imposing their personal views about math. Each negative experience is transferred into the thoughts of any future math work and ultimately causes a lack of understanding of mathematics. Traditionally, students have been taught to memorize mathematical concepts without actually working through problems and comprehending the reason behind the math skill.
6. Mathematics Anxiety6. How can you reduce it? There are many reasons why enhancing the awareness of mathematics anxiety among teachers and especially teacher trainees is potentially important and should not be overlooked. First, teacher’s attitude is a potent force in the classroom and their attitudes and their enthusiasm toward a subject have a great impact on students’ attitudes (Ernest, 1991). Hence a teacher who is in love with the subject tends to infect students with a similar enthusiasm, whereas a teacher who hates and fears mathematics will influence students negatively. Second, student-teacher relationship should also be improved. Teacher should shows cares for students so they will not be fear of asking for help regarding mathematics problems. The teacher’s habit for blaming students for not understanding seems to created a barrier between the teacher and the student relationship. Also, the way of teacher ridiculing students seems to play an important role in this. Besides that, teacher’s strictness and fierceness includes. Hence, it is important for teacher to realize the way of their teaching and change if there are any wrong.
7. Mathematics Anxiety7. How do you eliminate it? Parents and peer group seems to have great impact on the student, which does not come as a surprise as parents are the closest and the first people that will have any influences on student. Parent affects the child’s attitude and performance in three ways according to Poffenberger and Norton (1959) that is:  Parental encouragement  Parent’s own attitudes  By parental expectations of child achievement. First, the parental encouragement. Many of the students that are interviewed said thattheir parents were always encouraging them one way or another. They might not beencouraging them specifically in mathematics, but however the element of encouragementwas always there. But, with parents show interest in their mathematical endeavor and hence,according to them, their interest had developed from there on. Regardless of whether it isboth parent and just one of the parent who showed interest and gives encouragement, it isapparent that it has a positive impact towards their mathematical interest. Second is the family and parental attitudes. The parent’s attitudes towards students studyis the parents attitude towards their children study and in particular in mathematics. Some ofthe parents drilled their children with mathematics questions until the child is paranoid of allthe memorization. But, some parents did not pushing her into studying or anything, and likeshe had always been on her own when her studies are concerned. Hence, family and parentsattitudes towards their mathematical experiences do have an effect on their attitudes towardsthe subject generally. Third, is the peer group and its influences towards mathematics. Aiken (1970) indicatedthat one possible determiner of attitudes towards mathematics is the attitudes of one’s peer.He citied that Shapiro’s (1962) findings indicated that peer attitude in elementary school mayindeed be influential, especially in the cases of girls. In conclusion, parents, family and peer group have equally an enormous impact on thestudent when mathematics is concerned.
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