Ten Ways To Reduce Math Anxiety 1. Overcome negative self-talk. 2. Ask questions. 3.Consider math a foreign language -- it must be practiced. 4.Dont rely on memorization to study mathematics. 5.READ your math text. 6.Study math according toYOUR LEARNING STYLE. 7. Get help the same day you dont understand. 8. Be relaxed and comfortable while studying math. 9."TALK" mathematics. 10.Develop responsibility for your own successes and failures.http://www.mathgoodies.com/articles/math_anxiety.html The Causes and Prevention of Math Anxiety by Marilyn Curtain-Phillips, M. Ed. 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). Research confirms that pressure of timed tests and risk of public embarrassment have long been recognized as sources of unproductive tension among many students. Three practices that are a regular part of the traditional mathematics classroom and cause great anxiety in many students are imposed authority, public exposure and time deadlines. Although these are a regular part of the traditional mathematics classroom cause great deal of anxiety. Therefore, teaching methods must be re-examined. Consequently, there should be more emphasis on teaching methods which include less lecture, more student directed classes and more discussion. Given the fact that many students experience math anxiety in the traditional classroom, teachers should design classrooms that will make children feel more successful . Students must have a high level of success or a level of failure that they can tolerate. Therefore, incorrect responses must be handled in a positive way to encourage student participation and enhance student confidence. Studies have shown students learn best when they are active rather than passive learners (Spikell, 1993). The theory of multiple intelligences addresses the different learning styles. Lessons are presented for visual/spatial, logical/mathematics, musical, body/kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal and verbal/linguistic. Everyone is capable of learning, but may learn in different ways. Therefore, lessons must be presented in a variety of ways. For example, different ways to teach a new concept can be through play acting, cooperative groups, visual aids, hands on activities and technology. Learners are different than they were forty years ago. These learners today ask questions why
something is done this way or that way and why not this way? Whereas yearsago learners did not question the why of math concepts; they simplymemorized and mechanically performed the operations needed.Students today have a need for practical math. Therefore, math needs to berelevant to their everyday lives. Students enjoy experimenting. To learnmathematics, students must be engaged in exploring, conjecturing, andthinking rather than, engaged only in rote learning of rules and procedures.Students’ prior negative experiences in math class and at home when learningmath are often transferred and cause a lack of understanding of mathematics.According to Sheila Tobias, millions of adults are blocked from professional andpersonal opportunities because they fear or perform poorly in mathematics formany, these negative experiences remain throughout their adult lives.Math is often associated with pain and frustration. For instance, unpaid bills,unforeseen debts, unbalanced checkbooks, IRS forms are a few of the negativeexperiences associated with numbers. Parents should show their children hownumbers are successfully used by them in positive pleasant ways, such as incooking, sewing, sports, problem solving in hobbies and home repairs.Math must be looked upon in a positive light to reduce anxiety. A person’s stateof mind has a great influence on his/her success. Many games are based onmath concepts. Some games that are beneficial to learners and are enjoyed arecards playing, Life, Yahtzee, Battleship and Tangrams.With all the tension and anxiety, math humor is greatly needed. Young childrenenjoy cartoons and jokes. Cartoons may be used to introduce a concept or forclass discussion. Most children will master mathematical concepts and skillsmore readily if they are presented first in concrete, pictorial and symbols. Forexample manipulatives are concrete objects used to teach a concept. By usingmanipulatives, pictures and symbols to model or represent abstract ideas, thestage is set for young learners to understand the abstractions they represent.Students enjoy the change from lecture and books and they are more inclinedto explore with manipulatives and show greater interest in classwork.Cooperative groups provide students a chance to exchange ideas, to askquestions freely, to explain to one another, to clarify ideas in meaningful waysand to express feelings about their learning. These skills acquired at an earlyage will be greatly beneficial throughout their adult working life.In conclusion, math anxiety is very real and occurs among thousands of people.Much of this anxiety happens in the classroom due to the lack of considerationof different learning styles of students. Today, the needs of society require agreater need for mathematics. Math must be looked upon in a positive light toreduce math anxiety. Therefore, teachers must re-examine traditional teachingmethods which often do not match students’ learning styles and skills needed insociety. Lessons must be presented in a variety of ways. For instance, a newconcept can be taught through play acting, cooperative groups, visual aids,hands on activities and technology. As a result once young children see math asfun, they will enjoy it, and, the joy of mathematics could remain with themthroughout the rest of their lives. ReferencesSpikell, M. (1993). Teaching mathematics with manipulatives: A resource ofactivities for the K-12 teacher. New York: Allyn and Bacon.Tobias, S. (1993). Overcoming math anxiety. New York: W. W. Norton &
Company. Marilyn Curtain-Phillips teaches high school mathematics and is the author of Math Attack: How to Reduce Math Anxiety in the Classroom, at Work and in Everyday Personal Use,(1999), $15.00. You can purchase her book through our Online Bookstore.Overcoming Math AnxietyDo you feel nervous about math? Do you dislike math? Do you have fear of doing math? Ifso, you are not alone. You may have "math anxiety."Math anxiety is not unusual. You might be experiencing some symptoms of math anxietysuch as: negative self-talk lack of motiviation to work on math not studying regularly putting off math homework until the last minute panic when doing math homework or tests difficulty remembering math facts relying on memorization rather than understandingMath anxiety is a condition that you have the power to change, if you so desire. Math anxietyis a learned behavior; you can change it!Here are a few suggestions to help overcome math anxiety: Do math every day.. You will need to work on your math course each day, if only for a half-hour. You must avoid doing all your math homework and studying on one or two days per week. Schedule quality study time throughout the week and stick to your schedule. Study smart.. Read the information on study skills, time management, note-taking and textbook-reading on this website or in one of the math study skills books. The more you try different approaches, the more you will discover what works for you. Attend class. You must attend class to keep up with the fast pace of a college-level math course. You will also get information regarding tests and instructor expectations. You will see examples that are not in the textbook. You are responsible for all information and concepts presented in class, whether you are present or not. Get organized! You need to keep good class notes. You need to keep a good math notebook with lists of vocabulary, properties, formulas, theorems and procedures. Must anxiety is caused by disorganization. Continually test yourself. Be aware of what you know and of what you dont know. Keep practicing the concepts and problems presented in the classroom and in the textbook. Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. Having a negative attitude is an obstacle that does not need to prevent you from succeeding. Be mindful of what you are saying to yourself. Develop positive affirmations such as "I will succeed in this course!" or "I love math!" to counteract any negative feelings you may have about your abilities or about math itself. Ultiize all your resources. The Math Learning Center, videotapes, textbook, friends, study groups, your instructor, the internet....all are available to help you succeed. Only you can take advanage of them, however.
There are a variety of other proven techniques and activites that will help to to conquer mathanxiety. There are a variety of resources that will address these techniques and activities inmore detail than is possible here. Mission College Mathematics Department Talk to your instructor or a tutor in the Math Learning Center about your feelings toward mathematics. Acknowledging your feelings is the first step in conquering them. Your instructor and tutors can help direct you to good resources and practices that can help you reduce or eliminate the emotional blocks to learning mathematics. Websites: Check out these websites for more details and suggestions. o Ten Ways to Reduce Math Anxiety o Cool video on math anxiety and how to overcome it. o Ten More Ways to Reduce Math Anxiety o Conquering Math Anxiety o Coping with Math Anxiety o Overcoming Math Anxiety o Resources for overcoming math anxiety o More great ways to reduce stress and math anxiety Bookshttp://www.mathpower.com/reduce.htm Ways To Reduce Math Anxiety Professor Daria Santerre Norwalk Community College1. Realize that you are not alone!2. Admit it! Once you recognize that you have math anxiety, you can startto overcome it.3. Become aware of where your math anxiety began.4. Recognize your self-defeating talk and correct it to a more positivetalk. "Talk" mathematics.5. Try to avoid teachers/tutors/peer/family who aren’t helpful orsupportive.6. Trust your instincts and don’t put down your approaches to a mathproblem. Do math in a way that is comfortable for you. Remember thereis usually more than one way to do a math problem.
7. Ask questions. This is the way towards better understanding. Besides,other students will be glad you asked. Keep in mind – there’s no suchthing as a stupid question.8. Know the basics. Go back and review concepts from an earlier mathcourse.9. Consider math a foreign language -- it must be practiced.10. Dont rely on memorization to study mathematics. Try to understandthe concept. If you are anxious, your memory is the first to go.11. Don’t put off math until the last minute. It’s better if you do a littlemath every day – build it into your schedule.12. Read your math text, follow the examples and explanations.13. Decide what type of study environment works best for you (quietplace at a table, or music in the background in a comfortable chair, etc.)Be relaxed and comfortable while studying math.14. Take breaks. Don’t work for hours on end. Sometimes it’s best to walkaway from a problem and come back to it later.15. Study math according to your learning style.16. Get help the same day you dont understand. If you are havingdifficulty, seek help as quickly as possible form your instructor, Math Lab,the Tutoring Center, or fellow students.17. Develop responsibility for your own successes and failures.18. Don’t pressure yourself. Take pride in the strides you do make. Mathanxiety is not cured in a day. It’s a slow process.Go to "Math anxiety"Go to "Math study skills inventory"Go to "Tips for success"http://norwalkcc.libguides.com/content.php?pid=259827&sid=2150242
Reducing Math AnxietyDate: 08/26/2005 at 23:30:30From: MaricelSubject: How to overcome math anxietyI am a teacher in the tertiary level. I would like to know ways bywhich students math anxiety can be overcome?Date: 08/27/2005 at 12:02:00From: Doctor IanSubject: Re: How to overcome math anxietyHi Maricel,I think the best way to reduce math anxiety is by never trying toexplain something in terms of concepts that arent already wellunderstood by the students.Think about some topic that you know relatively little about (e.g.,monetary policy), and imagine that youre attending a lecture forspecialists in that field. The speaker is trying to explain someconcept, but hes doing it using vocabulary that you dont reallyunderstand (even though some of it, like "interest rates", may soundsomewhat familiar). Now imagine that you know youre going to betested on what the speaker has been talking about later on.Youd probably feel pretty anxious, wouldnt you? Thats how a lot ofyour students feel when you use terms that they recognize but dontactually, thoroughly understand.- Doctor Ian, The Math Forumhttp://mathforum.org/dr.math/Date: 08/27/2005 at 17:26:45From: Doctor WilkoSubject: Re: How to overcome math anxietyHi Maricel,I just wanted to add some information to what Dr. Ian said.This is an excerpt from a paper I worked on a couple years back. Ifyou read through this you may be able to pull out a couple "nuggets"of information that may be helpful to you:...Tobias explains that math anxiety is an obsession with the ideathat "everyone knows that I dont understand". "Id better not drawattention to myself by asking questions" (Cited in Stuart, 2000).This feeling of fear can cause headaches, queasy stomach, sweatypalms, dry mouth, and eventually can even develop into math avoidance
or math phobia. Math anxiety can be conquered if teachers and parentswork together to understand its causes, as well as implement effectivestrategies to reduce its harmful effect on students.One of the first and obvious places where math anxiety can developfor a student is his or her home. A parent or guardians influenceon their child is crucial to how the child views and interprets hisor her environment. A child may view math as being unimportant ifhis or her parents either do not like math or see it as useless.Many times parents can be heard saying, "I was never good at math"or "math was hard for me, so I dont expect my child to be able tounderstand it either". Parents need to encourage their children todo their best regardless of how they did in the subject. Inaddition to just encouraging their children, parents can becomeinvolved by working together with the teacher to make a differencefor the child. The main idea stressed here is attitude. A childsattitude will be affected by his or her parents attitude towardsmath.Not only are the attitudes of a parent important, but also those ofa students teacher. Teachers, probably second to parents, arestudents most important influence in how they view math. Jacksonand Leffingwell (1999) conducted research that reveals threecategories of grade levels where math anxiety occurs:1. Elementary level, grades 3 and 4.2. High School level, grades 9-11.3. College level, freshman year.Students face an increase in the level of difficulty during fourthgrade. These students are learning more complex concepts, such asfractions, taking timed tests in competition with their peers, andhaving to memorize multiplication tables and formulas. On top ofthis increased pressure that students experience, their teachers mayget angry when asked for help, and even point out their mistakes infront of the entire class.The next cluster of students who experience math anxiety are in highschool between ninth and eleventh grades. Again, here a teachersattitude towards math and his or her students can either make orbreak them. Often high school teachers become angry when asked forhelp and even verbalize that the students should have learned it thefirst time it was taught. Many high school students also attributetheir math anxiety to having been forced to go to and stay at thechalkboard until they finished a problem that they did not evenunderstand.The last cluster where math anxiety can occur is during a studentsfreshman year in college. Professors often lecture with littleinteraction with their students. Students who do ask questions mayfeel belittled for not having the prerequisite knowledge. Professorsmay even dislike or have less patience with entry level math classes.In addition to the above teacher actions, math anxiety can be inducedmany other ways. A teacher who emphasizes product over processencourages less participation from his or her students. Students whoreceive a low grade for a mistake, regardless if they understood theproblem or not, may develop math anxiety. Many instructors teach mathas rules and symbols in a chapter by chapter fashion. As a result,students often view math as disconnected bits of information that isunrelated to the real world. Probably one of the greatest teacher
mistakes is starting a new concept before the current one has beenmastered, especially since most math is built up from learningprevious material.A parent or teachers attitude toward gender can greatly influence astudent of any grade level. According to Jackson and Leffingwell(1999), girls are ridiculed more often than boys, given less helpthan boys, and even discouraged from taking math as much as boys.However, it is a common myth that boys are better at math thangirls, and it simply may be society that hinders girls fromexperiencing their math potential. In fact, research suggests thatgirls start out ahead of boys in talking, reading, and counting(Zaslavsky Cited in Fotoples, 2000).After reviewing the attitudes and actions that contribute to a studentdeveloping math anxiety, it should be more clear how to prevent thiscondition. Two main strategies that teachers can use to helpeliminate math anxiety and build student confidence are demonstratedin their emotional and physical actions.The first area of strategies appeal more to the emotions of studentsand are more general to the classroom environment. These strategiesare related to the idea of the importance of teachers attitudestowards students. Teachers should only use positive talk, encouragequestions, and demonstrate a sensitive character. Teachers of thischaracter puts themselves in the shoes of their students, acknowledgestheir fears, and have an overall acceptance of all the students.Overall, this type of teacher has a safe classroom where students feelaccepted and are encouraged to learn.The physical strategies are more specific to the teaching of math.Teachers should use manipulatives whenever possible to solidifyconcepts in their students minds. Cooperative learning and peertutoring are also highly encouraged. Students often benefit fromgetting an explanation from the viewpoint of a classmate. In orderthat students do not see math as unrelated and disconnected bits ofinformation, teachers should constantly review past material, makeconnections from the math world to the real world, and master conceptsbefore moving on. Math anxiety appears to be highest on test days.To help with this, teachers need to teach test taking strategies, aswell as give the students study guides to focus them.In their book, _Mind Over Math_, Kogelman and Warren (1978) stressthe importance of acknowledging anxiety and writing about it as afirst step in dealing with it. For teachers, this may mean havingjournal writing where students express their feelings about a topicbeing covered or about math in general. Many teachers also have hadsuccess by writing up a plan of action in which the teacher andstudent sign it and together remain focused on achieving a goal.These are just a handful of suggestions that may help students becomeless anxious during math class.As technology continues to grow, math is becoming more demanded byindustry. This demand for math is causing a surge of math anxietyfor many. For teachers, the challenge remains to teach matheffectively without inducing math anxiety in students. Math anxietycan be lessened and possibly eliminated if parents and teacherscollaborate to understand its causes and implement proper strategiesto reduce its effect. As teachers and parents demonstrate anaccepting, sincere, and positive attitude, they will be able to
build the confidence of their students.BibliographyFiore, G. (1999). Math-abused students: are we prepared to teachthem? Mathematics Teacher, 92 (5), 403-406. Wilson Select Plus.Online. OCLC First Search. 24 Oct. 2000.Fotoples, R.M. (2000). Overcoming math anxiety. Kappa Delta PiRecord, 36 (4), 149-151. Wilson Select Plus. Online. OCLC FirstSearch. 24 Oct. 2000.Jackson, C.D. & Leffingwell R.J. (1999). The role of instructors increating math anxiety in students from kindergarten through college.Mathematics Teacher, 92 (7), 583-586. Wilson Select Plus. Online.OCLC First Search. 24 Oct. 2000.Kogelman, S. & Warren, J. (1978). Mind Over Math. New York: McGrawHill.Schwartz, A.E. (2000). Axing math anxiety. The Education Digest, 65(5), 62-64. Wilson Select Plus. Online. OCLC First Search. 24 Oct. 2000.Steale, D.F. & Arth, A.A. (1998). Lowering anxiety in the mathcurriculum. The Education Digest, 63, 18-23. Wilson Select Plus.Online. OCLC First Search. 24 Oct. 2000.Stuart, V. B. (2000). Math curse or math anxiety? Teaching ChildrenMathematics, 6 (5), 330-335. Wilson Select Plus. Online. OCLC FirstSearch. 24 Oct. 2000.Does this help?- Doctor Wilko, The Math Forumhttp://mathforum.org/dr.math/Math anxietyMath anxiety is a phenomenon that is often considered when examining students’ problemsin mathematics. Mark H. Ashcraft, Ph.D. defines math anxiety as “a feeling of tension,apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance” (2002, p. 1). The first mathanxiety measurement scale was developed by Richardson and Suinn in 1972. Since thisdevelopment, several researchers have examined math anxiety in empirical studies.Hembree  (1990) conducted a thorough meta-analysis of 151 studies concerning mathanxiety. It determined that math anxiety is related to poor math performance on mathachievement tests and that math anxiety is related to negative attitudes concerning math.Hembree also suggests that math anxiety is directly connected with math avoidance.Ashcraft (2002) suggests that highly anxious math students will avoid situations in whichthey have to perform mathematical calculations. Unfortunately, math avoidance results in lesscompetency, exposure and math practice, leaving students more anxious and mathematicallyunprepared to achieve. In college and university, anxious math students take fewer mathcourses and tend to feel negatively towards math. In fact, Ashcraft found that the correlationbetween math anxiety and variables such as confidence and motivation are strongly negative.
According to Ashcraft, because math anxiety can cause math avoidance, anempiricaldilemma arises. For instance, when a highly math-anxious student performsdisappointingly on a math question, it could be due to math anxiety, or the lack ofcompetency in math because of math avoidance. Ashcraft determined that by administering atest that becomes increasingly more mathematically challenging, he noticed that even highlymath-anxious individuals do well on the first portion of the test measuring performance.However, on the latter and more difficult portion of the test, there was a stronger negativerelationship between accuracy and math anxiety.Performance anxietyPeoples fear of math can be related to test taking and performance anxiety. Some scholarshave suggested a strong relation between math anxiety and math performance. Currentresearch in math anxiety concerns working memory.Anxiety Rating ScaleA rating scale for mathematics anxiety was written about in 1972 by Paolo Morden andSuinn. Paolo Morden and Suinn defined mathematical anxiety as "feelings of apprehensionand tension concerning manipulation of numbers and completion of mathematical problemsin various contexts."Math and cultureWhile there are overarching similarities concerning the acquisition of math skills, researchershave shown that children’s mathematical abilities differ across countries. In Canada, studentsscore substantially lower in math problem-solving and operations than students in Korea andSingapore. Researchers have conducted thorough comparisons between countries, and havedetermined that in countries such as Taiwan and Japan, parents place more emphasis on effortrather than one’s innate intellectual ability in school success. Moreover, parents in thesecountries tend to set higher expectations and standards for their children. In turn, studentsspend more time on homework and value homework more than American children.(Stevenson & Lee, 1990).Math and genderAnother difference in mathematic abilities often explored in research concerns genderdisparities. There has been research examining gender difference in performance onstandardized tests across various countries. Beller and Gafni’s have shown that children atapproximately nine years of age do not show consistent gender difference in relation to mathskills. However, in 17 out of the 20 countries examined in this study, 13 year old boys tendedto score higher than girls. Moreover, mathematics is often labeled as a masculine ability; as aresult, girls often have low confidence in their math capabilities. These genderstereotypes can reinforce low confidence in girls and can cause math anxiety as research hasshown that performance on standardized math tests is affected by one’s confidence (Dar-Nimrod & Heine, 2006). As a result, educators have been trying to abolish this stereotype byfostering confidence in math in all students in order to avoid math anxiety.
Mathematics and womenRelated to this is gender and mathematics as younger female scholars are thought to developanxiety towards mathematics and sciences when they become more interested in socialrelations in their teen years. It is thought that women experience more anxiety in mathematicsas a group than men and this has also been suggested in regards computer programming. Seefor instance [Copper, Joel, & Weaver D, Kimberlee. Gender and Computers: "Understandingthe Digital Divide" who explore computing and gender and especially have done experimentsrelating gender and anxiety.Math pedagogyThe principles of mathematics are generally understood at an early age; preschoolers cancomprehend the majority of principles underlying counting. By kindergarten, it is commonfor children to use counting in a more sophisticated manner by adding and subtractingnumbers. While kindergarteners tend to use their fingers to count, this habit is soonabandoned and replaced with a more refined and efficient strategy; children begin to performaddition and subtraction mentally at approximately six years of age. When children reachapproximately eight years of age, they can retrieve answers to mathematical equations frommemory. With proper instruction, normally functioning children acquire these basicmathematic skills, and are able to solve more complex mathematical problems with moresophisticated training. (Kail & Zolner, 2005).High risk teaching styles are often explored to gain a better understanding of math anxiety.Goulding, Rowland and Barber  (2002) suggest that there are linkages between a teacher’slack of subject knowledge and ability to effectively plan teaching material. These findingssuggest that teachers that do not have a sufficient background in mathematics may strugglewith the development of comprehensive lesson plans for their students. Similarly, Laturner’sresearch  (2002) shows that teachers with certification in math are more likely to bepassionate and committed about teaching math than those without certification. However,those without certification vary in their commitment to the profession depending oncoursework preparation.Moreover, a study conducted by Kawakami, Steele, Cifa, Phills, and Dovidio  (2008) theyexamined attitudes towards math and behavior during math examinations. The studyexamined the effect of extensive training in teaching women to approach math. The resultsshowed that women that were trained to approach rather than avoid math showed a positiveimplicit attitude towards math. These findings were only consistent with women low in initialidentification with math. This study was replicated with women either encouraged toapproach math or received neutral training. Results were consistent and demonstrated thatwomen taught to approach math had an implicit positive attitude and completed more mathproblems than women taught to approach math in a neutral manner.Johns, Schmader, and Martens  (2005) conducted a study in which they examined theeffect of teaching stereotype threat as a means of improving women’s math performance. Theresearchers concluded from the study’s results that women tended to perform worse than menwhen problems were described as math equations. However, women did not differ from menin a condition with a test sequence described as problem solving or in a condition in which
they learned about stereotype threats. This research has practical implications; educatingfemale teachers about stereotype threat can reduce its negative effects in the classroom.Common beliefsIn the United States, many people believe that only a few "gifted" individuals have "what ittakes" to learn math, and that hard work cannot compensate for this. Studies have shown"When asked to explain why some children do better in math than others, Asian children,their teachers, and their parents point to hard work, their American counterparts to ability."Women mathematicians in the United States have almost always been a minority accordingto Margaret Murray. Although the exact difference fluctuates with the times as she hasexplored in her book [Women Becoming Mathematicians: Creating a Professional Identity inPost-World War II America]. "Since 1980, women have earned over 17 percent of themathematics doctorates.... [In The United States]". The trends in gender are by no meansclear, but perhaps parity is still a way to go. Thus parity will take more work to overcomemathematical anxiety and this is one reason for women in mathematics being role models foryounger women.Mathematical anxiety in schools: Causes and potential solutionsCausesStudents often develop mathematical anxiety in schools, often as a result of learning fromteachers who are themselves anxious about their mathematical abilities in certain areas.Typical examples of areas where mathematics teachers are often incompetent or semi-competent include fractions, (long)division, algebra, geometry "with proofs", calculus, andtopology. In many countries, would-be math teachers are required only to obtain passinggrades of 51% in mathematics exams, so that a math student who has failed to understand49% of the math syllabus throughout his or her education can, and often does, become a mathteacher. His or her fears and lack of understanding then pass naturally to his or her students.As John Taylor Gatto has demonstrated at length, modern Western schools weredeliberately designed during the late 19th century to create an environment which is ideal forfostering fear and anxiety, and for preventing or delaying learning.Math is usually taught as a right and wrong subject and as if getting the right answer wereparamount. In contrast to most subjects, mathematics problems almost always have a rightanswer. Additionally, the subject is often taught as if there were a right way to solve theproblem and any other approaches would be wrong, even if students got the right answer.When learning, understanding the concepts should be paramount, but with a right/wrongapproach to teaching math, students are encouraged not to try, not to experiment, not to findalgorithms that work for them, and not to take risks. “Teachers benefit children most whenthey encourage them to share their thinking process and justify their answers out loud or inwriting as they perform math operations. […] With less of an emphasis on right or wrong andmore of an emphasis on process, teachers can help alleviate students anxiety about math”.
While teaching of many subjects has progressed from rote memorization to the currentConstructivist approach, math is still frequently taught with a rote learning behavioristapproach. That is, a problem set is introduced a solution technique is introduced practice problems are repeated until mastery is achievedConstructivist theory says the learning and knowledge is the student’s creation, yet rotelearning and a right/wrong approach to teaching math ensures that it is external to the student.Teachers who actually understand what they are teaching tend to encourage questions fromthe students. Those teachers who do not understand much about their subject, on the otherhand, impose fear on the students to prevent them asking questions which might expose theteachers ignorance.It has long been well established that anyone (other than a tiny minority who have seriouslearning disabilities) can learn any area of mathematics, given a desire to learn, a coherentpresentation of the information, and adequate practice. Nevertheless, many educationaladministrators continue to profess the belief that anything more complex than simplearithmetic is too difficult for most people.In spite of the unfortunate design of the modern school system, a remarkably high percentageof schoolchildren continue to find mathematics interesting, relaxing, easy, and enjoyable.SolutionsStudies by Herbert P. Ginsburg, Columbia University, show the influence of parents andteachers attitudes on "the childs expectations in that area of learning.... It is less the actualteaching and more the attitude and expectations of the teacher or parents that count." This isfurther supported by a survey of Montgomery County, Maryland students who "pointed totheir parents as the primary force behind the interest in mathematics.".Math Academy Online/Platonic Realms contends that math has two components. The firstcomponent, commonly focused on in many schools, is to calculate the answer. Thiscomponent also has two subcomponents, namely the answer and the process or method usedto determine the answer. Focusing more on the process or method enables students to makemistakes, but not fail at math. The second component is to understand the mathematicalconcepts that underlay the problem being studied. “… and in this respect studyingmathematics is much more like studying, say, music or painting than it is like studyinghistory or biology.”Amongst others supporting this viewpoint is the work of Dr. Eugene Geist, AssociateProfessor at Ohio University – Athens, Ohio and an early childhood education specialist.Dr. Geists recommendations include focusing on the concepts rather than the right answerand letting students work on their own and discuss their solutions before the answer is given.Emphasis is given that young people hate to be wrong and hate situations where they can beembarrassed by being wrong.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (1989, 1995b) suggestions forteachers seeking to prevent math anxiety include: Accommodating for different learning styles Creating a variety of testing environments Designing positive experiences in math classes Refraining from tying self-esteem to success with math Emphasizing that everyone makes mistakes in mathematics Making math relevant Letting students have some input into their own evaluations Allowing for different social approaches to learning mathematics Emphasizing the importance of original, quality thinking rather than rote manipulation of formulasMath (and Statistics) Therapy is a combination of coaching and counseling, provided foradults by people with credentials in both counseling and math education. In Math Therapythe reasons for anxiety are addressed, as well as the mathematical skills which are lacking.New coping skills are introduced and practiced, so that fear, distaste or other negativeemotions do not block math (or statistics) learning.There are several anxiety reducing techniques that teachers can teach their children andpractice periodically throughout the year. Teachers will need to learn these techniques andencourage the students to practice them at home and to use them prior to testing or whenfeeling anxious during math class.Several studies have shown that relaxation techniques can be used to help alleviate anxietyrelated to mathematics. In her workbook Conquering Math Anxiety, 3rd edition, CynthiaArem offers specific strategies to reduce math avoidance and anxiety. One strategy sheadvocates for is relaxation exercises and indicates that by practicing relaxation techniques ona regularly basis for 10–20 minutes students can significantly can reduce their anxiety.Dr. Edmundo Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation taken from the book MentalToughness Training for Sports, Loehr (1986) can be used in a modified form to reduceanxiety as posted on the website HypnoGenesis.Visualization has also been used effectively to help reduce math anxiety. Arem has a chapterthat deals with reducing test anxiety and advocates the use visualization. In her chapter titledConquer Test Anxiety (Chapter 9) she has specific exercises devoted to visualizationtechniques to help the student feel calm and confident during testing.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 differentlearning styles. Math lessons can be tailored for visual/spatial, logical/mathematics, musical,auditory, body/kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal and verbal/linguistic learningstyles.Everyone is capable of learning, but may learn best in different ways. Therefore, lessons mustbe presented in a variety of ways. New concepts can be taught through play acting,cooperative groups, visual aids, hands on activities or information technology. To helpwith learning statistics, there are many applets found on the Internet that help students learn
about many things from probability distributions to linear regression. These applets arecommonly used in introductory statistics classes, as many students benefit from using them.Active learners ask critical questions, such as: Why do we do it this way, and not that way?Some teachers may find these questions annoying or difficult to answer, and indeed may havebeen trained to respond to such questions with hostility and contempt, designed to instill fear.Better teachers respond eagerly to these questions, and use them to help the students deepentheir understand by examining alternative methods so the students can choose for themselveswhich method they prefer. This process can result in meaningful class discussions. Talking isthe way in which students increase their understanding and command of math. Teacherscan emphasize the importance of original thinking rather than rote manipulation of formulas.This can be done through class conversations. Teachers can give students insight as to whythey learn certain content by asking students questions such as "What purpose is served bysolving this problem?" and "why are we being asked to learn this?"Reflective journals help students develop metacognitve skills by having them think abouttheir understanding. According to Pugalee, writing helps students organize their thinkingwhich helps them better understand mathematics. Moreover, writing in mathematics classeshelps students problem solve and improve mathematical reasoning. When students know howto use mathematical reasoning, they are less anxious about solving problems.However, there is still a large part of school math teaching which consists of memorization,repetition, and mechanically performed operations. Times tables are one example, whereinrote learning is essential to mathematics performance. When a student fails to learn the timestables at a young age, he or she can experience math anxiety later, when all the studentsclassmates can remember the tables but he or she cannot.Children learn best when math is taught in a way that is relevant to their everyday lives.Children enjoy experimenting. To learn mathematics in any depth, students should beengaged in exploring, conjecturing, and thinking, as well as in rote learning of rules andprocedures.See also Cognitive science of mathematics Dyscalculia Educational psychology Foreign language anxiety Gilah Leder Learning theory Primary education Pygmalion effect Stage frightReferences 1. ^ abcAshcraft, M.H. (2002). Math anxiety: Personal, educational, and cognitive consequences.Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 181-185. 2. ^Hembree, R. (1990). The nature, effects, and relief of mathematics anxiety. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 21, 33-46.
3. ^Ashcraft, M. H., & Kirk, E. P. (2001). The relationships among working memory, math anxiety, and performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 130, 224-2374. ^Cates, Gary L.a; Rhymer, Katrina N. "Examining the Relationship Between Mathematics Anxiety and Mathematics Performance: An Instructional Hierarchy Perspective", Journal of Behavioral Education Vol: 12, Issue: 1, March 2003 pp. 23- 345. ^Ashcraft, Mark H.; Kirk, Elizabeth P., "The Relationships Among Working Memory, Math Anxiety, and Performance", Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 2001 pp. 224-2376. ^Paolo Morden, F.C., Suinn R.M., "The Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale", Journal of Counseling Psychology, Volume: 19, (1972), pp. 551-5547. ^Hopko, Derek R.; McNeil, Daniel W.; Lejuez, C.W.; Ashcraft, Mark H.; Eifert, Georg H.; Riel, Jim "The effects of anxious responding on mental arithmetic and lexical decision task performance" Journal of Anxiety Disorders Vol: 17, Issue: 6, 2003 pp. 647-6658. ^Stevenson, H.W., & Lee, S. (1990). Contexts of achievement: A study of American, Chinese, and Japanese children. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 55, 1-1199. ^Ian Dar-Nimrod and Steven J. Heine (2006). <a href="http://www.medicine.mcgill.ca/epidemiology/hanley/tmp/Applications/WomenM ath.pdf">Exposure to Scientific Theories Affects Women’s Math Performance</a>. Science, 314, 43510. ^ abKail, R.V., & Zolner, T. (2005). Children. Toronto: Prentice Hall.11. ^Copper, Joel, & Weaver D, Kimberlee. Gender and Computers: Understanding the Digital Divide (Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erbaum, 2003).12. ^Goulding, M., Rowland, T., Barber, T. (2002). Does it matter? Primary teachers trainees’ subject knowledge in mathematics. British Educational Research Journal, 28, 689-704.13. ^Laturner, R.J. (2002) Teachers’ academic preparation and commitment to teach math and science. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 653-663.14. ^Kawakami, K., Steele, J. R., Cifa, C., Phills, C. E., & Dovidio, J. F. (2008). Approaching math increases math = me, math = pleasant. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 818-825.15. ^Johns, M., Schmader, T., Martens, A. (2005). Knowing is half the battle: Teaching stereotype threat as a means of improving women’s math performance. Psychological Science, 16,175-179.16. ^Tobias, Shiela, Overcoming Math Anxiety. (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993), page 5217. ^ abMurray M. A. M., Women Becoming Mathematicians: Creating a Professional Identity in Post-World War II America (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2000)18. ^Gatto, John Taylor .""An Underground History of American Education."" http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/index.htm19. ^Furner, Joseph M., Berman, Barbara T., "Math anxiety: Overcoming a major obstacle to the improvement of student math performance", Childhood Education, Spring 200320. ^ abZaslavsky, Claudia, Fear of Math, pages 198-199. (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1994)21. ^"Episode 54: Math Anxiety – Causes and Cures", by Michael on April 13, 2008, http://www.thepsychfiles.com/2008/04/episode-54-math-anxiety-causes-and-cures/ September 7, 200922. ^Arem, C. (2010). Conquering Math Anxiety. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. pp. 43.23. ^HypnoGenesis.: Magazine for Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy, HypnoGenesis:. "The Progressive Muscle Relaxation of Dr. Edmund Jacobson". http://www.hypnos.co.uk/hypnomag/jacobson.htm.
24. ^Arem, C. (2010). Conquering Math Anxiety, 3rd Ed.. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. pp. xxi. 25. ^Spikell,M .Teaching Mathematics With Manipulatives: A Resource of Activities for K-12 Teacher. (New York: Allyn and Bacon, 1993) 26. ^ abCurtain-Phillips, M. Math Attack: How to Reduce Math Anxiety in the Classroom, at Work and in Everyday Personal Use. (Atlanta: Curtain-Phillips Publishing, 1999) 27. ^Rittenhouse (1998). Lampert, M & Blunk, M. ed. Talking Mathematics: Studies of Teaching and Learning in School (P. ed.). New York, New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 163–189. 28. ^Franklin, Margaret (2006). Add-ventures for girls: building math confidence, Junior High teachers guide.. Newton, Massachusetts: WEEA Publishing Center.^Pugalee, D. (2004). "A Comparison of Verbal and Written Descriptions of Students’Problem Solving Processes". Educational Studies in Mathematics