Quantitative Skills > Community > Workshop 2006 > Breakout Session: Math Anxiety Questions and Tips

Breakout Session: Math Anxiety Questions and Tips

Math Anxiety Questions and Tips


  • Students don't panic in the grocery store or when they play electronic games, so why do they panic in class?
  • The issue may not be anxiety or inability, but the motivation to use math appropriately. Fear, inability, and inexperience may lead to anxiety. We must provide opportunities to become less anxious using math.
  • What do kids do for entertainment? There are a lot of role playing games that require calculations and rates. They do keep track of a lot of information. What strategies do the kids use in the games? Why aren't they anxious?
  • College math testing may play a role in supporting math anxiety if students place poorly.
  • One view: Math skills may not be bad, but they just can't apply the skills. Another view: Students are so anxious about formal math.
  • How do we test to find out if students shut down when they see algebra yet they are quantitatively literate?
  • Is it the symbolism and algebraic substitution that cause problems?
  • Students may not see the connections; especially when there are multiple issues that students don't understand.
  • Do students with an anxiety toward math have a barrier to learning?
  • What is the relationship between confidence and anxiety?


  • To help reduce stress and anxiety
    • Repetition of a mathematical skill throughout the semester may reduce the stress as the semester continues.
    • Teach heuristics (a method) as a means to reduce anxiety.
    • Need to help build student confidence: repetition (with continuous improvement in success rate) and scaffolding.
  • To help overcome the lack of confidence and math anxiety, include:
    • scaffolding, repeated success, heuristics, hand holding
    • The classroom dynamics are also important: fun, exciting and engaging