Decreasing Math Anxiety in College Students

By Perry, Andrew B. | College Student Journal, June 2004 | Go to article overview

Decreasing Math Anxiety in College Students


Perry, Andrew B., College Student Journal


This paper examines the phenomenon of mathematics anxiety in contemporary college and university students. Forms of math anxiety range from moderate test anxiety to extreme anxiety including physiological symptoms such as nausea. For each of several types of math anxiety, one or more case studies is analyzed. Selected strategies for coping with math anxiety are included. Some students' own ideas are presented along with analysis from leading experts in the subject of math anxiety.

**********

Math anxiety is an extremely common phenomenon among college and university students today. Steven G. Krantz describes an extreme form of this syndrome: "Math anxiety is an inability by an otherwise intelligent person to cope with quantification, and more generally, mathematics. Frequently the outward symptoms of math anxiety are physiological rather than psychological. When confronted with a math problem, the sufferer has sweaty palms, is nauseous, has heart palpitations, and experiences paralysis of thought ... this quick description does not begin to describe the torment ..." (Krantz, 1999). Of course, most college students don't experience this level of terror. Many do, however, suffer from the problem in some form or other. Approximately 85% of this author's students who take introductory mathematics classes claim to feel at least mild math anxiety, according to surveys administered during the first week of the semester.

Most teachers of mathematics would agree that math anxiety stems primarily from students' fears of failure and feeling of inadequacy. In most cases, math anxiety is not extreme or overwhelming, yet it continues to haunt most students throughout their mathematical careers. Although no classification can be entirely precise, this paper will attempt to classify and analyze different classes of students affected by the syndrome.

Perhaps the mildest variation of math anxiety is moderate test anxiety. Very frequently students report that they understand their mathematics class quite well during ordinary classes and while doing homework assignments, but panic and fail to realize their potential during exams. In one student's words,

   "I feel confident when the professor
   is reviewing ... I think to myself, 'I
   got this stuff, this is easy'. But when
   it comes to me taking the test, I
   somehow forget most of the concepts
   that I had known so well. This
   causes me to panic".

Certainly the most common form of math anxiety is the moderate and intermittent variety found in a student who has mixed feelings towards the subject. A classic case is "Jason," who writes:

   "Throughout my mathematics experiences
   I have come to find that I
   have math anxiety. What I mean by
   this is that I am not thrilled about
   math and quite frankly it frustrates
   me. Don't get me wrong. I like math
   when I get the right answers but
   when I don't it's another story. Math
   is one of the most important things
   you can learn in life but the hard
   part is learning it and remembering
   it. All the formulas and methods to
   do different kinds of problems are
   mind boggling. I would have to say
   that the most frustrating thing about
   math is doing a long problem. A
   math problem that has many equations
   and answers which takes a long
   time such as a word problem. The
   worst is when you do everything
   right except one little part in the
   beginning and it messes up the
   whole problem."

Often math anxiety starts at a young age. If a student has a single insensitive math teacher, that can create a recurring anxiety problem which may be difficult to overcome. Jessica is typical of a large number of students, in that she is haunted by memories of one particular mathematics class that she took long ago. Jessica describes her experience:

   "My math anxiety started because of
   a teacher that I had for math in the
   third grade. 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Decreasing Math Anxiety in College Students
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.