Abstract Title

I Can't Do Math! Reflections on Mathematics Anxiety in Secondary Schools

Abstract

The phrase, “I can’t do math” is a common one heard by math teachers all over the country. It was this phrase that inspired me to investigate mathematics anxiety. So many times I have helped students in math class who become anxious and believe they are unable to do a math problem. It is this anxiety that causes them to give up on problems without even trying. This is becoming an issue in this country due to a higher emphasis being placed on standardized tests and grade point averages. The high likelihood of a student exhibiting symptoms of anxiety towards mathematics leads to fewer students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) careers in higher education. This topic was investigated through interviews that were designed with a qualitative approach. A total of 19 students who attended suburban Midwestern high schools were asked four main questions to gain an understanding of the mathematics anxiety they exhibit as well as potential causes and strategies for alleviation. It was concluded that students experience the most anxiety in math class when taking tests or quizzes and are most comfortable asking teachers for help as long as the student perceived the teacher as being comfortable in their own subject. Finally, it was concluded that the strategies that students found most helpful were general stress-relief strategies such as deep breathing or taking a break. These results are limited to the population studied but opens the door for future research.

Modified Abstract

This project was an investigation into the anxiety that secondary school students encounter during mathematics classes as roughly 20% of the population experiences symptoms when confronted with the manipulation of numbers. Nineteen students who attended suburban Midwestern high schools were asked four main questions to gain an understanding of the mathematics anxiety they exhibit as well as potential causes and strategies for alleviation. Multiple conclusions were drawn from these questions. For example, students tend to experience the most anxiety during tests and look towards general stress relievers such as deep breathing and taking breaks to ease anxiety. These results are limited to the population studied but open the door for future research.

Research Category

Social Science/Education/Public Health

Author Information

Leslie DitrickFollow

Primary Author's Major

Mathematics

Mentor #1 Information

Dr. Anne Morrison

Presentation Format

Poster

Start Date

5-4-2018 1:00 PM

Research Area

Educational Psychology | Science and Mathematics Education | Secondary Education

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Apr 5th, 1:00 PM

I Can't Do Math! Reflections on Mathematics Anxiety in Secondary Schools

The phrase, “I can’t do math” is a common one heard by math teachers all over the country. It was this phrase that inspired me to investigate mathematics anxiety. So many times I have helped students in math class who become anxious and believe they are unable to do a math problem. It is this anxiety that causes them to give up on problems without even trying. This is becoming an issue in this country due to a higher emphasis being placed on standardized tests and grade point averages. The high likelihood of a student exhibiting symptoms of anxiety towards mathematics leads to fewer students pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) careers in higher education. This topic was investigated through interviews that were designed with a qualitative approach. A total of 19 students who attended suburban Midwestern high schools were asked four main questions to gain an understanding of the mathematics anxiety they exhibit as well as potential causes and strategies for alleviation. It was concluded that students experience the most anxiety in math class when taking tests or quizzes and are most comfortable asking teachers for help as long as the student perceived the teacher as being comfortable in their own subject. Finally, it was concluded that the strategies that students found most helpful were general stress-relief strategies such as deep breathing or taking a break. These results are limited to the population studied but opens the door for future research.