Publication Date

Fall 2004

School

College of Arts and Sciences

Major

Mathematics; Mathematics--Teacher Certification

Primary Subject Area

Education, Mathematics; Mathematics

Disciplines

Science and Mathematics Education

Abstract

Math anxiety is a real problem facing students and teachers today. The mathematics teacher especially needs to understand the causes and effects of math anxiety as well as ways to help students overcome it. There are many symptoms of math anxiety including an unwillingness to attempt mathematics problems, a fear of taking advanced mathematics classes, and being unusually nervous when in mathematics class. Math anxiety hinders students' working memory (Perina, 2002). It occurs at different ages in different people for different reasons. The main cause of math anxiety is the teacher himself It has been shown that students tend to internalize their instructor's interest in and enthusiasm for teaching math (Jackson and Leffingwell, 1999). If the teacher has a bad attitude about mathematics, his students most likely will as well. However, the teacher can take many steps to reduce math anxiety including reviewing basic mathematics skills, by making sure students understand the mathematical language, and by providing a support system for their students (Schwartz, 2000). The more a teacher understands math anxiety the more he will be able to prevent it and help students overcome it.

The present study further investigates the role that teachers play in their students' math anxiety. Two different classes with different teachers were assessed, using the Mathematics Attitude Inventory, which measures students' attitudes towards mathematics. A version of the test was also given to the teachers of the two classes, in order to assess their attitudes towards mathematics. The results were then compared, and it was found that teachers' attitudes towards mathematics do have an impact on their students' attitudes towards mathematics.