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William Devine, MA, LPC

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1 William Devine, MA, LPC
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 (cont’d) 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 More difficult to focus Makes students want to avoid engaging in math Avoid taking classes when they don’t have to Especially concerning in college where it limits career possibilities They graduate, have children or become teachers, the cycle continues

5 Math Anxiety (cont’d) Negative Impact (cont’d)
"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 can’t 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) To illustrate The “oh no, please don’t call on me” syndrome Acting out, class clown Don’t call on me don’t call on me don’t call on me. And some self reported symptoms

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 Where does it come from? Reaction of others when we do a math problem differently or make a mistake while trying The pressure kids get to perform well, never mind focusing on the learning process to get them there

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) Chicken or the egg?

8 Social and Interactive Influences
Society - you’re either good at math, or you’re not. Parents - Go ask your father, I was never any good at that stuff. Teachers - No, Billy, that’s not the way we do it. “Math instruction dominantly assumes only one way to learn: teacher presentation followed by practice.” (Stodolsky, 1985) The student - I’m trying really hard, why does she get mad at me? Message from Society: You can’t do anything about it. Don’t even try. From Parents: This is hard and I can’t do it. The kid thinks they can’t do it either. The attitude from the teacher stifles self-confidence and creativity. Kid feels: Confusion, feeling unsafe to explore, avoidance.

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 child’s 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) 20 years ago, a study showed that out of a number of college majors including upper level science and math majors, “The highest levels occurred for students preparing to teach in elementary school.” Head scratcher? The second speaks for itself.

10 WHAT to Change Negative to Positive Influences It’s ok to be wrong
Talking about math early on It’s all around us, not just in the classroom Expressing the positive Awareness of parent and teacher effects Promoting creativity and autonomy in children’s 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) Things that we want to change, specifically, to help math anxiety are the negative influences READ OFF SOME POINTS

11 HOW to Change Bringing together knowledge and mainstream support
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 So what can we do about it?

12 How to Change (cont’d) 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 it’s already there Use experience AND research There is existing research on all of these

13 How to Change (cont’d) Awareness Numeracy campaign
What would an effective one look like? It’s 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? STEM advocates are wanting more focus on math and sciences

14 Other Change Topics Training for teachers Tap the motivation
Instructional vs. Behavioral/motivational support Tap the motivation Use the momentum of the child’s interest Help working memory “Being able to increase, at virtually no cost, children’s 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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