Mathematics is probably one of the most important skills a student will learn. However, many will argue on practical significance of calculus in everyday life. There are people who get fearful at just the thought of taking that required math class. They worry about having to figure out problems and remembering order of operations. Not only just in the classroom but outside, problems such as having to figure out everyone’s part in a bill from lunch or dividing up partial payments for a lay-a-way is a result of math anxiety. If you answer yes to some these questions, you may be a candidate for math anxiety. Do you believe that you simply do not have a math mind? Do you avoid activities or other classes that may involve mathematics? If any one or more of these situations describes you, you may be suffering from Math Anxiety.
What is Math Anxiety? Math anxiety is an intense emotional feeling of anxiety that people have about their ability to understand and do mathematical equations. People who suffer from math anxiety feel that they are incapable of doing activities and classes that involve math. Some people go beyond anxiety and even have a fear of math. This is what is known as math phobia. The frequency of math anxiety among college students has risen significantly over the last decade. Many students have even chosen their college major in the basis of how little math is required for the degree. Math anxiety has become so prevalent on college campus that many schools have designed special counseling programs to help math anxious students. Math anxiety is an emotional, rather than a logical problem. However, math anxiety interferes with a person’s ability to learn math and therefore results in a logical problem.
What Can Cause Math Anxiety? Math anxiety doesn’t just come from one source. Most times, math anxiety is the result of a student’s negative experience with math or math teachers in previous years (Russel). Experiences like those of past can leave a student believing him/she is inefficient in math ability. This belief can actually result in poor performance, which serves as that evidence to the student. This marvel is known as the self-fulfilling prophecy. Math anxiety results in poor performance rather than the reverse.
Math Myths There are a number of erroneous beliefs about math, which contribute to students’ fears, and anxiety about math (Marily Curtain-Phillips). Some of those myths include: • Men are better in math than women. Research has failed to show any difference between the sexes in math ability. • There is a best way to do a math problem. Most math problems can be solved a number of ways. • Some people have a math mind and others don’t. Most people are much more capable in math than they believe they are. • It’s bad to count on your fingers. Counting your fingers actually indicated an understanding of arithmetic. • Those good in math do problems quickly in their heads. Even math professors review example problems before teaching them in class.
Mind Games Math anxiety is often perpetuated by a number of mind games that students play themselves. Some include I don’t do math fast enough. People learn at different rates. How fast one does math is not important. Another would be I don’t have a math mind. This belief interferers with one’s real ability to learn math. Finally one could say that math is unrelated to my life. Freeing yourself of the fear of math adds choices and freedom to your life. Math anxiety can be deferred if you don’t align your mind to believe that these are reasons that you couldn’t do math.
What to Do About Math Anxiety? Math anxiety is a learned psychological response to math, which interferes with a student’s ability to perform math. It is not a reflection of a student’s true ability in math. There are a number of strategies a student can use to overcome the anxiety response. One strategy includes reviewing and learning basic arithmetic principles and methods. Many students never really developed a solid foundation in basic arithmetic, particularly multiplication and fractions.
Because math is a accumulative discipline, a student who has not developed a solid arithmetic foundation will have trouble learning higher order math. A short course of arithmetic is often a significant first step in reducing the anxiety response to math. Math anxiety affects different not only students but also people in different ways. It’s important to be familiar with the thoughts you have about yourself and the situation when you encounter math. If you are aware of unrealistic or irrational thoughts you can work to replace those thoughts with more positive and realistic ones.
In conclusion, math anxiety is an intense emotional feeling of anxiety that people have about their ability to understand and do mathematical equations. It is something anyone can overcome. It just takes willpower and a mind that is focused to believe on can achieve.