Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Maths Anxiety-Literature Review

For our collaborative literature review Jenni and I are looking How can having a growth mindset alongside engaging in mindfulness techniques reduce maths anxiety in Year 7/8 female Students.

Mark H. Ashcraft defines math anxiety as "a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance" (2002, p. 1). 

We have narrowed down our literature review to Year 7 and 8 females and the intention is to identify what mindfulness activities help lowering anxiety which will benefit all learners. 

I have a year 4/5 class and the digital collaboration between maths learners is very limited. We have begun using Google Docs to collaborate and I hope to see more sharing of how the children problem solve in mathematics. I am a visual learner and I find it hard to process an explanation if it is only said to me. 

Each day in maths we do 20 facts on the board. During this time I ask the children to share their strategies for solving maths problems. As I am looking for 2 or more strategies to solve a problem it is a great opportunity for the children to discuss how they solved the question. At start of our 4 week block of learning I noticed the less able children wouldn't offer ideas but by the second week all children were giving it a go. I purposely get the children to give me the answers each day rather than me being the person at the front with all the knowledge. All of the children know they are expected to participate and I scaffold strategies for the less confident learners. When I/the children show the strategies on the board I/we share common mistakes and talk about different ways to work out an answer. 

Maths anxiety is apparent when we are about to do tests. I have changed the language I use with my leaners as the wording I was using created higher anxiety levels.

Although my intentions were to encourage the children to do well in their mid year aTTles i felt i actually made my learners more anxious. The first mistake was at news time I said today you are doing an important maths test. What i should have done was mentioned we were doing asTTle today just so they were prepared but then said the test is only a snapshot of what you can do at the moment. It is only one test and it will provide me with information on how you solve a set of particular maths questions. Do your best and remember we also use your maths profiles and snapshots to see how you are going in maths. 

Teacher statements I have heard in my time as an educator "You need to do your best as this affects your groupings for next year" and "hopefully you can do well like mid year samples. The worst comment I have heard from a teacher though was the mid year test was easy so your end of year marks wont necessarily be as high. This really stole the feeling of success that the child had in achieving a great asTTle score.

When we do maths testing I remind the children to try their best. They know that I am testing them on what we have been learning and I am looking for information to see what they know and what needs to be worked on later. 

This year I moved three girls that were working at a lower strategy level into my class. The three girls would be the only Y5 and 2x Y6s in with year 3s and 4s.It would be the second time they were in the same group and I could see that it would be perceived by them that they were not good at maths compared to their peers. By the end of the unit of work they had gone up two strategy levels and were now working at the same level of the children in the next level up.

 In my class i have different levels of work I always start with easier concepts and then make the work more challenging. I knew the girls would have a great chance to succeed because each of the lessons were carefully scaffolded. For my more able children i have harder examples of work to make sure interest levels are high and the children are motivated to keep working towards improving their maths levels. The success in my maths class came from children sharing how they problem solved the maths equations. When they talk aloud or write how they worked it out he children hear/see another way to solve a problem. It also clarifies any mistakes when the children are working out and it also identifies any missed steps.

Last term we had Mindful Yoga all of the children felt more relaxed after the session. Finding appropriate mindfulness apps/activities and digital resources that will relax students during mathematics and give them self efficacy will be our next step. 

Psychologist Albert Bandura has defined self-efficacy as one's belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. One's sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges.



Ashcraft, M.H. (2002), "Math anxiety: Personal, educational, and cognitive consequences", Current Directions in Psychological Science 

Bandura, Albert (1977), Social Learning Theory, Alexandria, VA: Prentice Hall, p. 247,

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