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Subject:

Re: Math Anxiety

From:

Annette Gourgey <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 14 Jun 2001 15:47:07 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (176 lines)

I absolutely agree with MaryLiz's position that math anxiety is best dealt
with directly in the math classroom rather than in a separate workshop
alone.  I have tutored and taught statistics for many years, a course that
strikes fear in the hearts of many students.  Ultimately, students have to
experience success hands-on in order to believe in their ability.

I found that certain practices increase anxiety (such as lecturing
exclusively rather than doing interactive work, going too fast, being too
abstract and not connecting with students' experience).  If the student
receives counseling but the classes don't improve their ability to engage
students, the counseling is less effective.  Perhaps some faculty
development in the form of a discussion group to share teaching approaches
that work for math-anxious students would be helpful for this.  Things that
have worked well for me and my students have been collaborative learning
where I go around and work with them, making lectures very clear and
step-by-step, and relating mathematical concepts to real-world experiences.

_Mathematical Problem Solving_ by Alan Schoenfeld (Academic Press), in many
college libraries, has an excellent chapter on belief systems in math.
These are students' perceptions that increase anxiety and lower performance,
such as that math is something you "do" rather than "understand."  I think a
math anxiety program that tries to deal with such beliefs head-on,
preferably as the math is being learned, will be more successful than one
that focuses on calming anxiety alone.

Annette Gourgey
CUNY
----- Original Message -----
From: "MaryLiz Pierce" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2001 10:58 AM
Subject: Re: Math Anxiety


> --part1_11e.4ec292.285a2b05_boundary
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"
> Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
>
> Mike --
>        Although my institution does not have a formal program in math
> anxiety, you can tell by my screen name that it is a major interest of
mine.
> I have had  some success in my math classes with removing math anxiety by
> integrating the things I can do to help into my classroom teaching.  The
> biggest part of my effort is ATTITUDE.  I tell my students that they CAN
DO
> MATH. What helps the most is showing them that they can do it. I never
> promise that it will be easy or that it won't take time. I do, however,
tell
> them that I will do whatever I can to find an explanation that works for
them
>  IF  they are willing to do the practice.  I use a variety of techniques
to
> keep their attention and incorporate some lessons with many learning
styles.
> One relatively small item that has a lot of positive comments is using an
> overhead projector, a pad camera, or white board and showing the different
> steps of a problem in  different colors.  Even a color blind person can
tell
> that the colors are different even if he can't tell which colors they are.
> Instead of adding a separate class for math anxiety, why not offer a 4 or
5
> credit version of your normal 3 credit class that would allow plenty of
time
> for practice in class and incorporation of some time in class to work on
> problems. That is what our district is moving towards and, though it costs
> the students more, has become part of the offering of many of the schools
in
> the district.  At my school, which has a fairly small math department,
there
> are both a 3 and a 4 credit version of Introductory Algebra available and
> both a 3 and a 5 credit version of Intermediate Algebra available.
>
> The student can do only so much in relieving the anxiety without help and
> isolating things the student can do tends to isolate the solution.  The
fix
> needs to be integrated right into the classroom itself for maximum
benefit.
> If you decide to go with something separate, you will probably need tutors
to
> help the students in class and then it is imperative that the tutor know
and
> understand what explanation the instructor is using initially so that it
can
> be used as a starting point.  Then, once a student understands a
particular
> subject it can be related back to the instructor's method of teaching.
This
> helps those students learn coping skills so that they can adapt their
> learning style to the traditional classroom setting.
>
> I don't know how much this will help but would be glad to correspond more.
>
>
>
> MaryLiz Pierce
> GateWay Community College
> Phoenix, AZ
>
> --part1_11e.4ec292.285a2b05_boundary
> Content-Type: text/html; charset="US-ASCII"
> Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
>
> <HTML><FONT FACE=arial,helvetica><FONT  SIZE=3>Mike --
> <BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Although my institution does not
have a formal program in math
> <BR>anxiety, you can tell by my screen name that it is a major interest of
mine.
> <BR>I have had &nbsp;some success in my math classes with removing math
anxiety by
> <BR>integrating the things I can do to help into my classroom teaching.
&nbsp;The
> <BR>biggest part of my effort is ATTITUDE. &nbsp;I tell my students that
they CAN DO
> <BR>MATH. What helps the most is showing them that they can do it. I never
> <BR>promise that it will be easy or that it won't take time. I do,
however, tell
> <BR>them that I will do whatever I can to find an explanation that works
for them
> <BR><B>&nbsp;IF </B>&nbsp;they are willing to do the practice. &nbsp;I use
a variety of techniques to
> <BR>keep their attention and incorporate some lessons with many learning
styles.
> <BR>One relatively small item that has a lot of positive comments is using
an
> <BR>overhead projector, a pad camera, or white board and showing the
different
> <BR>steps of a problem in &nbsp;different colors. &nbsp;Even a color blind
person can tell
> <BR>that the colors are different even if he can't tell which colors they
are.
> <BR>Instead of adding a separate class for math anxiety, why not offer a 4
or 5
> <BR>credit version of your normal 3 credit class that would allow plenty
of time
> <BR>for practice in class and incorporation of some time in class to work
on
> <BR>problems. That is what our district is moving towards and, though it
costs
> <BR>the students more, has become part of the offering of many of the
schools in
> <BR>the district. &nbsp;At my school, which has a fairly small math
department, there
> <BR>are both a 3 and a 4 credit version of Introductory Algebra available
and
> <BR>both a 3 and a 5 credit version of Intermediate Algebra available.
> <BR>
> <BR>The student can do only so much in relieving the anxiety without help
and
> <BR>isolating things the student can do tends to isolate the solution.
&nbsp;The fix
> <BR>needs to be integrated right into the classroom itself for maximum
benefit. &nbsp;
> <BR>If you decide to go with something separate, you will probably need
tutors to
> <BR>help the students in class and then it is imperative that the tutor
know and
> <BR>understand what explanation the instructor is using initially so that
it can
> <BR>be used as a starting point. &nbsp;Then, once a student understands a
particular
> <BR>subject it can be related back to the instructor's method of teaching.
This
> <BR>helps those students learn coping skills so that they can adapt their
> <BR>learning style to the traditional classroom setting.
> <BR>
> <BR>I don't know how much this will help but would be glad to correspond
more.
> <BR>
> <BR>
> <BR>
> <BR>MaryLiz Pierce
> <BR>GateWay Community College
> <BR>Phoenix, AZ</FONT></HTML>
>
> --part1_11e.4ec292.285a2b05_boundary--

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