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Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

Article Title

Conquering Math Anxiety

Authors

Kendra Ellett

Faculty Sponsor

Kang, Hyun Jung

Abstract

Mathematics is often perceived as a vigorous and demanding subject, and many students treat it as such, developing high affective filters that inhibit the process of learning math. This adverse reaction is the origin of math anxiety, a critical issue that plagues fifty percent of the U.S. population (Boaler, 2012). Much of the research on math anxiety suggests low test scores and feelings of disenchantment are direct consequences of math anxiety, and other literature goes further in asserting that students’ futures are put on the line (Boaler, 2012). There are a variety of innovative pedagogical methods designed to assuage the symptoms of math anxiety: subject integration, creative methods, visual/kinesthetic models, and real-life applications. The purpose of this study is to promote math’s value and lessen negative feelings towards the subject by implementing carefully structured, real-life warm-ups in the elementary classroom. This program evaluation utilizes a qualitative research method to explore what teachers should consider when incorporating real-life applications in math pedagogy. Student reactions to the warm-ups are analyzed through biweekly observations. Emphasizing math’s applicability to reality is expected to yield positive perceptions of math because students will be able to visualize how math is useful and relevant.

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