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Mathematics Anxiety (Part 1)

Professor Albert Einstein:

“…Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater”.

Mathematics is one of the important parts of life. If people know more math, they can exploit a variety of personal and professional situations. Many students have a problem with math and believe math is unimportant and boring. The students think math is difficult and harder than other subjects. In 2005, Gallup conducted a poll that asked students to answer the question, what is the most difficult subject in school? Obviously, mathematics was in the top rank of subjects. The United States has a lack of graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) (Beilock). The U.S. government increased the number of permissions for individuals who work in the technology field. Although many believe that learning mathematics is hard, and students have some difficulties, however, students enjoy math with removing math anxiety. Math anxiety disappears by increasing prior knowledge of students, improving the teaching methods, helping the student to fall in love math, explaining applications of math that connect in real life, increasing confidence in their ability to solve math.

Researchers focus on math anxiety. Math anxiety is: “… a feeling 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 situation” (Ashcraft). Most American people experience different levels of math anxiety at any age. Math anxiety has some physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms such as increased heart rate, inability to concentrate, disgrace, avoidance of math class and not studying regularly.

Math anxiety is not low ability in math, it means people with poor math skills feel anxiety about math. When people want to do the math, they are afraid, and it causes prevention of using math knowledge. Math anxiety causes poor math performance and achievement. Also, students avoid math, math processing, and math-related careers. Researchers believe some strategies help people prevent or reduce math anxiety and improve students’ ability and achievement.

Math anxiety is a complicated issue. Educators, politicians, parents, and others are looking for some reasons to reduce the weakness of math skills. The causes of math anxiety vary from the influence of teachers and the school system, students’ attitudes, and parents’ backgrounds. Principals or other administrations have the main role in the school. They lead teachers, students, and parents in the same goal. Teaching techniques and poor math instruction are factors related to the teachers. Teachers should use different methods to prevent math anxiety, such as using technology, techniques of estimation, the group working, self-evaluation of one’s learning, and the discussing math feelings. Teachers must emphasize thinking methods rather than drills and practice to memorize the formulas. Also, they should support approaches to problem-solving rather than just result. Math educators need training, development of their math skills and positive attitudes in math. The teachers could link math in a student’s life and explain the application of math everywhere like welfare, business, and the grocery store. This way helps students to realize that math is an important tool. Teachers should encourage students, and never punish them. Also, instructors should tell the students that everyone makes mistakes in math.

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