SME 3023:TRENDS AND ISSUES IN EDUCATION FOR MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES INDIVIDUAL ASSIGNMENT: The W H Phenomenal of Mathematics Anxiety NAME & MATRIC NO: WAN ROHANA BT TON MANAN D20081032225 DATE OF SUBMISSION: 17.11. 2011 LECTURER’S NAME: PROF DR MARZITA PUTEH
1) What is mathematics anxiety? Mathematics is perceived as an important subject in general and sometimes it is lookedupon as an indication of intelligence and a degree of mystique surrounds it. Mathematics is alsomeans many things to many people such as an organized body of knowledge, an abstract systemof ideas, a useful tool, a key of understanding the world, a way of thinking and so on. In addition,the meaning of anxiety is something felt, an unpleasant emotional (affective) state that isuniversally experienced (Sigmund Freud, 1936). In his later formulation, Freud conceived ofanxiety as a signal indicating the presence of a danger situation and differentiated betweenobjective anxiety and neurotic anxiety. So from the above statement we can conclude that Mathematics anxiety means feelingsof tension and anxiety that interfere with manipulation of numbers and the solving ofmathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situation. Most ofstudents have mathematics anxiety. According to Tobias, 1978 say that mathematics anxiety cancause one to forget and lose one’s self-confidence. People who suffer from mathematics anxietyfeel that they are incapable of doing activities and classes that involve mathematics. Somemathematics anxious people even have a fear of mathematics or mathematics phobia. Manystudents have even chosen their major in the basis of how little mathematics is required or thedegree. The concept of mathematics anxiety had been investigated as far back ago. Dreger andAiken (1957) investigated the presence of a syndrome of emotional reactions to mathematicswhich they designated as number anxiety. Lazarus (1974) described mathematics anxiety iscalled mathophobia, as irrational dread of mathematics. As a conclusion, mathematics anxiety is an emotional rather than intellectual problem.However, it interferes with a person’s ability to learn mathematics and therefore results in anintellectual problem.
2) Why does it happen? Many interrelated factors contributed to the formation of mathematics anxiety andespecially among teacher trainees is not uncommon (Haylock, 1995). Lazarus (19974) arguedthat mathematics anxiety resulted from poorly designed mathematics curricula. It is related to theabstract nature of mathematics (Burton, 1979). In addition, many earlier works have analyzedcauses (Pundt, 1990) only a few research studies recognize the interwoven factors that contributeto the feelings of anxiety towards mathematics and try to point to the sources of mathematicsanxiety, reveal aspects of its nature and provide recommendations for dealing with it (Hartman-Abramson, 1990). Bush (1991) commented that mathematics anxiety arises from a climate inwhich negative attitudes and anxiety are transmitted from adults to children. McMillan (1976)found that teacher’s attitude and enthusiasm toward a subject had greater impact on studentattitudes than did instructional variables. More specifically, teachers with mathematics anxiety transmit their anxiety to theirstudents (Kelly and Tomhave, 1985). In addition, Lazarus (1974) and Wilhelm and Brooks(1980) added that negative parental attitudes may be transmitted to their children and that parentsoften reinforce their children’s mathematics anxiety. From the research that was conducted (Puteh, 1998), it was found that the causes ofmathematics anxiety were related to: Teacher personality and their style of teaching Public examinations and their effect Affective domain-the self factor, such as personality, perception Parental expectations-their aspirations and standards Peer group influences Relevance – the usage of mathematics in everyday life.
3) Who has it? 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 inmathematics, coupled with the nature of the subject itself. Other than that, teacher trainee is alsosuffering from mathematics anxiety. It was evident from the interviews conducted that mathematics anxiety is indeedextensive among these trainees. The mere fact that there exists such extensive mathematicsanxiety among these trainees suggested that it would inhibit them from achieving their fullpotential in the subject (Tobias, 1978) and caused concern about the implication for their role asteachers as mathematics in Malaysia primary schools.4) When does it occur? Math anxiety can occur when participating in class, listening to a lecture, while doing amath related problem, or during a test. Moreover, such anxiety can happen on elementary schoolchildren, high school and college students (Tobia, 1993). It is important to know that it canhappen to anyone at any age no matter of their mathematical ability. A positive experience whilelearning mathematics can help overcome these past feelings to allow success and futureachievement in math.5) Who create it? Math anxiety is often developed as a result of student’s prior negative experience whenlearning math in the classroom or at home. Teachers and parents often exacerbate a child’s levelof anxiety by imposing their personal views about math. Each negative experience is transferredinto the thoughts of any future math work and ultimately causes a lack of understanding ofmathematics. Traditionally, students have been taught to memorize mathematical conceptswithout actually working through problems and comprehending the reason behind the math skill.
6) How do you reduce it? There are many reasons why enhancing the awareness of mathematics anxiety amongteachers 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 enthusiasmtoward a subject have a great impact on students’ attitudes (Ernest, 1991). Hence a teacher whois in love with the subject tends to infect students with a similar enthusiasm, whereas a teacherwho hates and fears mathematics will influence students negatively. Secondly, making teachers or trainees aware of the existence of mathematics anxietymight be a starting point for them to help their students overcome their mathematics anxiety,while addressing their own mathematics anxiety at the same time. Thirdly, a discussion or a comptemplation of the events in our past that have formed thebasis for our feelings about and attitude toward mathematics today should help focus ourfeelings. Feeling and attitudes are a part of what we are and we should recognize them and try toidentify their origin. Lastly, as far as mathematics is concerned, it appears that teachers play an important rolein making students like or dislike the subject. Educators may need to take a more proactive rolein encouraging students to become exited about mathematics. These measures include teacherswho: Show that they like mathematics Make mathematics enjoyable Show the use of mathematics in carees and everyday life
7) How do you eliminate it? A positive attitude will help. However, positive attitudes come with quality teaching forunderstanding which often isnt the case with many traditional approaches to teachingmathematics. Ask questions, be determined to understand the math. Dont settle for anythingless during instruction. Ask for clear illustrations and or demonstrations or simulations. Practiceregularly, especially when youre having difficulty. When total understanding escapes you, hire a tutor or work with peers that understand themath. You can do the math, sometimes it just take a different approach for you to understandsome of the concepts. Do not just read over your notes. Practice the math and make sure you canhonestly state that you understand what you are doing. Lastly, be persistent and do not over emphasize the fact that we all make mistakes.Remember, some of the most powerful learning stems from making a mistake.