Maths Anxiety: are you passing it on to your pupils?
What the research says: filtered and distilled
In this issue, we are pointing you to the most recent Espresso from Cambridge Mathematics, distilling the latest good-quality research on Maths Anxiety.
Probably you have observed some association between maths anxiety and poor performance – but did you know that it is shown to affect the working memory? Did you know that girls report getting maths anxiety more than boys, and that teachers with maths anxiety can pass it on to pupils? What strategies do you have for reducing maths anxiety for yourself and for your pupils?
Espresso is a relatively recent offering from Cambridge Mathematics, for teachers with an interest in academic findings. Engaging with educational research can be hard-going and time-consuming, and there has traditionally been little expectation for teachers in this country to keep abreast of the current academic thought beyond their initial training. However, there is a growing expectation on schools to have an eye on the ‘evidence base’ for anything new they might try. Describing itself as “a small but intense draught of filtered research on mathematics education, expressly designed with teachers in mind”, each Espresso considers, in two pages, a particular issue in mathematics education, and how the latest good-quality research can provide helpful guidance or further reading. Recent topics addressed include number sense, attainment grouping, learning and assessing times tables, and more.
Maths Anxiety was also the topic for our weekly #mathscpdchat discussion in September 2015. Promoting the idea of ‘growth mindset’ is one strategy that may help reduce maths anxiety. You can read more about a Sheffield school using it effectively in our case study. Or you can watch the children from an Oxfordshire school talking about how they embrace making mistakes as a positive process in learning, in this video from the GLOW Maths Hub (it can also be viewed on their YesUCan webpage).