Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Overcoming Math Anxiety

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Overcoming Math Anxiety

Article excerpt

Conquering math anxiety is essential to success in higher education and many career opportunities. Research indicates that even students with proven math ability can experience anxiety to such a degree that it impairs their short-term memory, making it difficult to perform mathematical tasks, debunking long-held beliefs that math anxiety is closely related to aptitude.

Regardless of talent, a student's math anxiety can have social roots, as well. Researchers have studied how a lack of role models in mathematics and the sciences-along with stereotypical assumptions that Blacks, Hispanics, and women are poor math students-can negatively impact those groups' math performance. Although race and gender are the factors most studied relating to math anxiety and performance, a third factor, learning disabilities, is becoming recognized as a potential basis for math anxiety as well.

Furthermore, work with learning-disabled students suggests that students' language processing skills should not be overlooked when it comes to beating math anxiety. Students who lack the grammar skills necessary to grasp the meaning of mathematical word problems may be more intimidated than students who can process the language and interpret the logic of such problems.

Mathematics professors have discovered that working in groups is an effective way to combat-and conquer-fear of math. …

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