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Learned Math Phobia: The impact on children of parents' and educators' attitude towards mathematics William Devine, MA, LPC

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Presentation on theme: "Learned Math Phobia: The impact on children of parents' and educators' attitude towards mathematics William Devine, MA, LPC"— Presentation transcript:

1 Learned Math Phobia: The impact on children of parents' and educators' attitude towards mathematics William Devine, MA, LPC

2 Math Anxiety - What is it? "Math anxiety is commonly defined as a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance. (Ashcraft, 2002) Shown to have a significant positive correlation with academic and test anxiety

3 DSM-V (proposed) Dyscalculia Difficulties in production or comprehension of quantities, numerical symbols, or basic arithmetic operations that are not consistent with the person's chronological age, educational opportunities, or intellectual abilities. …significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living that require these numerical skills.

4 Math Anxiety (contd) Negative impact –Taxes working memory Acts as a secondary task –Math aversive => avoid math Fear of wrong answer => decreased attempts => learning is stalled –Fewer upper level math classes taken –In college, leads to the eventual limitation of job and career possibilities –Cycle is perpetuated Mom, Dad, teachers pass it on

5 Math Anxiety (contd) Negative Impact (contd) –"To protect self-worth, students who are uncertain about their ability to achieve competitively may develop strategies that deflect attention from their ability. (Turner et. al., 2002) –'My body language said I cant do it, 'my hands sweat, 'I wanted to crawl under the desk, 'I felt frustrated, 'sometimes I just refused to attempt a new concept'. (Allen, 2010)

6 Sources of Math Anxiety Fear of others reactions –scolding (teacher) –punishment or disappointment (parents) –embarrassment (peers) Fear of failure –making a mistake or doing it differently is NOT ok Pressure of performance –Abilities seen as natural, not necessarily learnable –Implication of poor aptitude –Implication of inabilities

7 Sources of Math Anxiety "A substantial portion of the adult population seems nervous or reluctant to pursue mathematical activity, often feeling that they will simply not be able to do it. (Stodolsky, 1985)

8 Social and Interactive Influences Society - youre either good at math, or youre not. Parents - Go ask your father, I was never any good at that stuff. Teachers - No, Billy, thats not the way we do it. –Math instruction dominantly assumes only one way to learn: teacher presentation followed by practice. (Stodolsky, 1985) The student - Im trying really hard, why does she get mad at me?

9 Far Reaching Impact "High levels appeared in remedial mathematics and declined with more advanced study. Mathematics and science majors were predictably low in the construct. The highest levels occurred for students preparing to teach in elementary school. (Hembree, 1990) This issue is of major concern to our economy, to a childs future employment and their success in higher education. Creating a country of mathophobes does not bode well for us in the uncertain global economy of the future. (Geist, 2010)

10 WHAT to Change –Negative to Positive Influences Its ok to be wrong Talking about math early on –Its all around us, not just in the classroom Expressing the positive –Awareness of parent and teacher effects Promoting creativity and autonomy in childrens exploration of math "The words of the interviewees emphasized the fact that a caring teacher in a supportive environment who uses multiple teaching strategies to address the needs of all students is the best remedy for reducing math anxiety. (Tchibozo, 2010)

11 HOW to Change Bringing together knowledge and mainstream support –Knowledge Of what to do informed by experience AND the research –Support From those in positions to spread informed awareness –Awareness To court AND inform the public

12 How to Change (contd) Knowledge –The use of experience AND research in informing the direction of improving numeracy Addressing math anxiety as a part of this –Research on: working memory scaffolding supportive learning environments –In the school –At home –With other children motivation and autonomy its already there

13 How to Change (contd) Awareness –Numeracy campaign What would an effective one look like? –Its already started… kind of Talk of need for improvement in STEM –(Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) –How do we use the momentum of STEM movement to push a community-assisting agenda regarding math anxiety?

14 Other Change Topics –Training for teachers Instructional vs. Behavioral/motivational support –Tap the motivation Use the momentum of the childs interest –Help working memory Being able to increase, at virtually no cost, childrens ability to retain and manipulate information therefore offers promising prospects for application in education. (Autin, 2012) –Offering truly instructional texts to teachers –Supporting changes conducive to creating an environment where these things can happen.

15 Works Cited Ashcraft, M. H., (2002). Math anxiety, personal, educational, cognitive consequences. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11(5), Autin, F., & Croizet, J.-C. (2012, March 5). Improving Working Memory Efficiency by Reframing Metacognitive Interpretation of Task Difficulty. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Geist, E. (2010). The Anti-Anxiety Curriculum: Combating Math Anxiety in the Classroom. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 37(1), Hembree, R. (1990). The nature, effects, and relief of mathematics anxiety. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 21, Stodolsky, S. S. (1985). Telling Math: Origins of Math Aversion and Anxiety. Educational Psychologist, 20(3), Tchibozo, G., ed. (2010), Proceedings of the 2nd Paris International Conference on Education, Economy and Society, Vol. 1, Strasbourg (France): Analytrics Turner, J.C., (2002). The Classroom Environment and Students Reports of Avoidance Strategies in Mathematics. Journal of Educational Psychology 94(1),

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