NTLT 2013 - John Mumford - Math Anxiety: Risk Factors, Strategies, & Opportunities.

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Math Anxiety: Risk Factors, Strategies, & Opportunities.

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NTLT 2013 - John Mumford - Math Anxiety: Risk Factors, Strategies, & Opportunities.

  1. 1. Math Anxiety: Risk Factors, Strategies, & Opportunities. By: John Mumford Lecturer (Business Computing) Southern Institute of Technology
  2. 2. Overview • NLT Conference Strands • Background • Introduction • Investigation • Results • Application of Results in context • Conclusion • Questions? National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 2
  3. 3. NLT Conference Strands • Purpose-creating a sense of purpose and relevance • Effective teaching strategies • Contextualised learning • Engagement-engaging learners and meeting needs • In-class learning • Digital learning National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 3
  4. 4. Background • Interests in mathematics especially its relationship with literacy & numeracy. TEC Initiatives (NCALNE) leading to Masters in Adult Literacy & Numeracy (AUT). • Teaching Business Computing, Statistics and other Information Technology Courses at levels 3-7 • Work and educational settings laden with math concepts and can be a common barrier to fuller academic development of student’s potential National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 4
  5. 5. Introduction • Large quantity of literature on Math Anxiety • Wide selection of resources, support and initiatives to help math learners at all levels and contexts • Overseas and NZ initiatives on Literacy & Numeracy. TEC Strategy implementation. • However Math Anxiety is alive and well (Whyte and Anthony, 2012). National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 5
  6. 6. Local Examples • Statistics for Commerce students: demanding literacy, numeracy requirements with some mathematical content and anxiety associated with it. • Pre-entry Nursing students working with Excel formulae and drug calculations • Remedial mathematics offered by colleagues to students in trades, environmental management, and nursing • IT students learning the binary number system National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 6
  7. 7. Investigation • Gain a better understanding of this phenomenon through the literature; reflection; and application. – Define Math Anxiety (MA) and consider the formal & informal contexts – Classify and analyse potential MA risk factors – Classify and analyse potential strategies to address MA – Represent risk factors and strategies visually – Conclusion(s) National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 7
  8. 8. Definition(s) National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 8 “a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance” (Ashcraft, 2002) “the panic, helplessness and anxiety that some individuals experience when required to solve a mathematical problem” (Benner, 2010)
  9. 9. Risk Factors – Intrinsic: focused on intrapersonal, affective aspects e.g. fear of numbers, performance, stress, self-confidence, emotional responses, negative attitude to mathematics – Extrinsic: focused on interpersonal and environmental aspects e.g. the teaching style, methods of problem-solving, teacher’s MA, lack of empathy, approach to errors (students and teachers) National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 9
  10. 10. Strategies: Intrinsic – Learners’ responsibility to develop a positive attitude – Develop mathematical resilience, seek help – Collaborate with others, learn to channel their emotions into determined problem-solving National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 10
  11. 11. Strategies: Extrinsic – Group work, positive attitude modelled to learners, empathy, informal methods of problem-solving, up skilling teachers, managing teacher’s MA, use of computers and applications e.g. Excel to support manual workings, Kinaesthetic approaches e.g. “Math Propulsion” – Making explicit connections between informal and formal knowledge – Positive attitude to errors as learning opportunities and expose alternative approaches / perspectives National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 11
  12. 12. Results – MA is a highly complex and multi-dimensional phenomenon – Teacher mathematical content knowledge crucial – Multiple problem-solving strategies repertoire – The power of informal methods for mathematical problem-solving shifting the locus of control – One strategy could address multiple risk factors National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 12
  13. 13. Representation National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 13
  14. 14. Application of Results in Context: making explicit connections between informal and formal . E.g. Confidence Interval for mean travel times. [Broad similarities in concepts that students often have an informal instinctive knowledge of.] Informal • Multiple journeys • Accuracy of estimated time • Number of journeys • Best case (shortest time) • Worst case (longest time) • Typical weekly time • Typical semester time (long run – but unknown) Formal • Repeated samples • Confidence level • Sample size • Lower confidence level • Upper confidence level • Sample mean travel time • Population mean travel time National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 14
  15. 15. Reflection-Positive Plenty of resources and strongly motivated educators recognise MA and are keen to help. There is broad evidence that MA is learned and hence has potential for ‘unlearning’. – TEC’s foregrounding of Literacy and Numeracy makes MA more visible – MA is clearly a fascinating challenge that offers many opportunities for educators professional development, and continual reflection into the learning process National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 15
  16. 16. Reflection-Minus – MA can involve very strong emotions in learners and teachers – The evidence in the literature and from personal experience that MA is a pervasive challenge to students and to some extent educators – MA occurs at many academic levels and even ‘advanced’ students can suffer from the effects of MA when they encounter numerical situations – Limited PD opportunities for full qualification of existing teachers National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 16
  17. 17. Reflection-Interesting – More highly-qualified teachers have the strongest position to teach from: however this must be complemented by a keen sensitivity to the difficulties and anxiety that many individuals experience on their mathematical journeys – Informal methods of mathematical problem-solving need to be valued and respected as part of the repertoire of strategies learners bring to their study – Collaboration, group work, kinaesthetic approaches, and emphasis on hybrid multiple strategies are important and need to be respected National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 17
  18. 18. Summary – Math Anxiety is a real and persistent challenge(level and sector-wide) – Risk factors (visible and more subtle) exist and can be classified as Intrinsic or Extrinsic – Many strategies exist and the power of one strategy addressing multiple risk factors – Representation of Math Anxiety on continua – Emotional component important (acknowledgement and management) – Students’ responsibility for their learning and the focus on the teacher as the source of the problem needs redress National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 18
  19. 19. Opportunities • Opportunities – Continually review one’s teaching in the light of research – Recognise and support staff in their PD and dealing with their MA – Keep and open mind to whatever helps students to learn and overcome (or manage MA) – Try to develop mathematical resilience in our students (and selves) National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 19
  20. 20. Questions? National Tertiary Learning & Teaching Conference 2013 20

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