The most prominent form of educational and academic performance anxiety is math anxiety. This is a widespread problem across the world for all ages. In fact, math anxiety can heavily impact a student’s academic progress throughout life, especially in high school where they have to study maths as a subject.
Math anxiety is an anxiety disorder about a person’s ability to perform mathematics. This is a negative emotional reaction that is learned through experiences of humiliation, stress, and self-doubt. As a matter of fact, this happens in both daily life and academic settings.
Causes of Math Anxiety
There are many causes behind this type of education-based anxiety disorder. Usually, the greatest one is a student’s negative experience with math. For example, the embarrassing results of a math test or the failure to meet a deadline.
Parents and teachers often pressure students to perform traditionally in math. As a result, students develop feelings of stress and dread towards math. Moreover, high school students are usually taught to memorize mathematical problems. But in actuality, they should be learning to work through them on their own. Then, their abilities are heavily criticized when they fail to memorize those concepts.
According to Marilyn Curtain-Phillips (1999), there are three major practices in traditional classrooms about math that cause students to develop math anxiety. They are:
- Imposed authority
- Public exposure; public embarrassment
- Timed deadlines
OverComing Math Anxiety: Necessary Actions
1. Encouragement of active learning.
The learners and students of today are active and practical. They need practical applications of math and prefer a more hands-on approach to learning. Unlike the learners of the past, modern students can’t follow rote-learning methods. Teachers should encourage students to experiment and find answers on their own. Students should be shown the practical parts of mathematics.
Variety in the presentation of lessons according to students’ learning styles.
Each student has a different learning style and teachers should consider that when they plan lessons. For instance, some students are more active learners while others prefer learning passively.
Associating math with the more positive parts of life.
Games, hobbies, and other things that fascinate high school students can include mathematical principles. Exposure to them will help ease students’ math anxiety. Moreover, teachers and parents should help students make positive associations with math through humor.
Regular practice in a stress-free environment.
The reason their math anxiety is the worse in exam environments is that they’re completely unused to them. Therefore, students should use past papers and practice taking exams regularly. This will help them both become used to the concepts in their syllabus and understand the examination patterns. The benefits of using past papers are well known among high school students. In fact, similar resources that can make math preparation more convenient should also be encouraged.
Although math anxiety is a major problem, it’s nothing that can’t be overcome with dedicated effort. Teachers, parents, and students should all make math an easier subject to study with modern school technologies. Gamification, experimentation, practice testing with past papers are all methods that can lessen math anxiety.