Math anxiety

Math anxiety, a feeling of “tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations.” Math seems to be one of the most dreaded subjects in school. Calculus, statistics, algebra, geometry, where does it end? Filled with formulas and shapes, it would scare any sane person. In some way they all can be applied to everyday life although it may not seem to have any relevance while we sit and find the tangent or slope of a line. Math anxiety has become an increasing problem that many professors are beginning to face in the classroom.
What exactly is anxiety? Anxiety is a disorder that effects the way we think and behave, ranging from mild to more severe cases that can be very weakening to one’s mental state. Some may experience occasional anxiety which is expected in life such as being nervous for a test or making a tough decision, but anxiety disorders are far more complex than a temporary feeling of being nervous. Anxiety disorders are not easy to get rid of and may actually intensify as time progresses. The symptoms of anxiety can interfere with school, work and even one’s personal life.
The anxiety that comes along with math has become more noticeable in what one would call the “nontraditional” student, someone over the age of 25, does not enter postsecondary enrollment in the same year that he or she completed high school, has dependents other than a spouse, is a single parent and many characteristics that would identify someone as a nontraditional college student. If the stress of everyday life isn’t enough, math anxiety only adds onto that making it much harder for adults to succeed in their classes. Math anxiety causes adults to lose confidence in themselves and their abilities, makes them nervous about tests and failure, causing a big problem when it comes to math or anything that may deal with numbers. This anxiety may cause students to “freeze up” during tests, and even memory loss. I am sure many students can relate to a time where they took a test and all of the information they thought they knew disappeared, which is a symptom of anxiety that plagues many students. If a student experiences these symptoms, somewhat of a cycle can begin, leading to more bad experiences with math.
Mathematics is a vital source of knowledge for students to have; according to a Frances Rosamond of National University, starting salaries went up $2000 per year for every math class taken after ninth grade. As society progresses we see more implementations of math in various aspects of life, as well as other school subjects such as biology, chemistry, and advertising, and research in newsrooms ( As much as the tons of students who may want to avoid classes, they in face might be hindering themselves greatly. A consequence of avoiding these classes is that in comparison with those who do not experience math anxiety, students who experience this anxiety shower lower levels of achievement because they are exposed to less math in school and learn even less of the little amount of math they do take. These students also tend to show lower scores of understanding which are measure by standardized tests. This can be mistaken by an increase in their math anxiety when in fact, their low performance is just evidence of their lack of competence of the subject (mark H ashcraft).


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