Research shows that the greatest anxiety is experienced anticipating math and not actually doing it. Experts also find that "reframing" the anxiety (much more below) will help.
So, before tackling the mammoth math monster, let's laugh at some math anxiety images, 'reframe' and then deal with the issue.
|by Bill Watterson http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/2011/03/09/?utm_term=comics&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter|
While the concept of math anxiety is not new, there now studies supporting how 'real' it is and how it creates 'real' neurological responses in the brain.
"...mathematics anxiety can prompt a response in the brain similar to when a person experiences physical pain...
Using brain scans, scholars determined that the brain areas active when highly math-anxious people prepare to do math overlap with the same brain areas that register the threat of bodily harm—and in some cases, physical pain.
Surprisingly, the researchers found it was the anticipation of having to do math, and not actually doing math itself... “The brain activation does not happen during math performance, suggesting that it is not the math itself that hurts; rather the anticipation of math is painful...”
The current work is also consistent with other research from Beilock and Lyons... Beilock’s work, supported by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education, has also shown that mathematics anxiety can begin as early as first grade, and that female elementary school teachers often transmit their math anxiety to their female students.
This latest study points to the value of seeing math anxiety not just as a proxy for poor math ability, but as an indication there can be a real, negative psychological reaction to the prospect of doing math.
Rather than simply piling on math homework for students who are anxious about math, students need active help to become more comfortable with the subject, Beilock said. Beilock’s work has shown, for instance, that reframing and writing about math anxieties before a test can reduce one’s worries and lead to better performance.[Note: Beilock is the author of the best-selling book about stress and performance, Choke: What The Secrets Of The Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To.]
In an earlier article (Math anxiety causes trouble for students as early as first grade") Harms reported on earlier studies by Beilock which found that,
Worries about math can disrupt working memory, which student could otherwise use to succeed...working memory [is] a kind of 'mental scratchpad' that allows us to 'work' with whatever information is temporarily flowing though consciousness...it's especially important when we have to do a math problem and juggle numbers in our head.The findings of Beilock, Gerardo Ramirez, Elizabeth Gunderson and Susan Levine - published in the article Math Anxiety, Working Memory and Math Achievement in Early Elementary School, in early preview on the website of the Journal of Cognition and Development, the authors noted that:
"Early math anxiety may lead to a snowball effect that exerts an increasing cost on math achievement by changing students' attitudes and motivational approaches towards math, increasing math avoidance, and ultimately reducing math competence.Adding hope, however, the authors noted that:
"Fortunately, there is hope for alleviating the negative impact of math anxiety on math achievement. When anxiety is regulated or reframed, students often see a marked increase in their math performance... One way to reframe anxiety is to have students write about their worries regarding math ahead of time.The researchers further speculated that for younger students, expressive picture drawing (in place of writing) may help them reframe and more effectively reduce the stress and burdens felt by their anxieties towards math.
HOW PARENTS AND TEACHERS CAN HELP RELIEVE MATH ANXIETY
1. Minimize rote memorization by making math meaningful. Here are some suggestions:
- Play math and counting games with your kids even before they get to school. This will help them be much more comfortable with numbers and number concepts.
- When you go shopping, before entering the store give your kids some "spending money" helping learn the value of money while figuring out 'how much' of various items they can afford that trip.
- Provide real life puzzles involving math such as how to divide an apple, cookie or pie evenly; how early you have to get up if it takes 15 minutes to shower, 10 minutes to get dressed, 15 minutes to grab breakfast, etc. These 'games' and puzzles help remove the rote memorizing math seems to entail for many, and becomes involving, creative. For more see this link: How to Make Learning Math Fun
- Help kids 're-tile' the classroom or playroom floor using different shaped tiles (this can be done when learning about shapes, learning about remainders, geometry, area, etc.)
- Integrate math with great story-telling by having kids create comics and graphic novels (creating the panels and pages involves 'area', shapes,etc.).
- Build bridges and structures
- For ratios, proportions, charts and graphing have kids design surveys to ask other classes and then learn to chart the responses - or during political campaigns have them do surveys they can report on.
|by Charles Schulz http://www.gocomics.com/peanuts/1966/04/21|
|By Bill Wateterson http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1985/12/02|
2. Reframe the math anxiety:
- Parents and teachers might show humorous math-anxiety cartoons, help kids draw their own, talk about the anxiety before approaching new math topics, lessons and math tests.
- Math Curse an awesome picture book by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith is a super way to show how math is everywhere and you don't need to be a math 'wiz' to deal with it. It is also deals with math anxiety in a creative way and is a great book for math students of all ages. Here is a YouTube trailer for the book:
- Talk about math and other anxieties and how they can be overcome. Here is a clip of the"quicksand" scene from The Replacements as Gene Hackman clearly illustrates 'reframing'. In this clip the coach is trying to help his players overcome their fears to help them be better players and not freeze like deer in headlights:
- Help kids become more aware of their feelings. Help them recognize when they're getting anxious and try 'calming exercises' (this will clearly mean different things for different kids) BEFORE math study and math homework.
- Create a comfortable, empowering place to do math work/homework.
- There are manipulatives and pictures available but workbooks and textbooks are verbally directed.
- There are wonderful online computer games that can help reinforce math concepts that are not verbally laden. These games and projects such as bridge- building and other hands-on projects help kids conceptualize important math concepts.
- Here is a clip of non-verbal math games and instruction that is solely non-verbal - image and visually literate based. It is put out by MIND Research Institute and the presentation is compelling. We are only at the beginning of multi-medial and visually driven learning and MIND research is helping to provide options and multi-modal reinforcement of learning materials.
MIND Research is a company that has developed an impressive array of computer games that illustrate various math principles. 270,000 students as of 8/2020 and close to 1,000 schools in 20 states (as of 8/2010). The key is the instructional software and the interaction of the student with the software. ST Math Fluency uses a visual approach to teach math facts for students to reach an automatic retrieval / performance level.
For additional links, motivational quotes and advice on general test taking please go to Test Taking Tips.
http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1985/12/02 Statistical Analysis and Sample Size
- http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1985/12/07 Orbit Trajectory
- http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1985/12/30 How many per hour is that?
- March 6, 1983: Doing Math in your sleep. I think the only answer that works is Z equals zero but check me on that. (And you'd get 0/0 so that's not so great)
- June 9, 1983: An unexpected report card
- June 25, 1983: Sometimes the only way to gain unique knowledge is to figure it out yourself the long way
- Nov 15, 1983: Great one for teachers on the importance of wait time
- Dec 7, 1983 : The terrors of multiplying 9 by 12
- Dec 9, 1983: On how to estimate the dumb things you've done
- Dec 13, 1983: More is better!
Clearly, one more way to reduce math anxiety is to both make students comfortable with numbers and to take the fear of the unknown, particularly the unknown math test out of the equations. Preparation and previewing can be a huge help.
|By Bill Watterson found at http://marco.butte.pagesperso-orange.fr/divertissements/calvinhobbes.html|
These are just a few ways of addressing and relieving math anxiety.
I thank you for your visit and hope you'll share your own math-anxiety experiences and coping mechanisms in the comments.