Analyzing Math Anxiety
Researchers at the Numerical Cognition Lab and the University of Chicago have been analyzing the causes of "math anxiety". This is a situation familiar to many K-12 students, who seem to freeze when they see a math problem. Their research shows that the anxiety of math teachers and parents can rub off on their students, ultimately affecting their learning.
- Focus on learning the process behind math concepts, rather than merely trying to get a right answer.
- Similarly, don't refer to the textbook's answer key very often. Instead, value the problem and have students arrive at their own answers.
- Encourage every student to work on the problem on paper. This is in contrast to more traditional methods where one student raises his/her hand, blurts out the answer, and then the teacher promptly moves on to the next question.
- Give students time to make mistakes, realize their own mistakes, and then time to attempt problems multiple times.