Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Last semester, Dr. Janis Mazza gave a presentation on campus addressing the very real problem of math anxiety. As a math professor myself, I see this each and every day while teaching my math courses.
What exactly is math anxiety? Dr. Mazza describes it as an intense frustration or helplessness about one’s ability to understand and do math. Many students who have math anxiety feel they are incapable of doing activities that involve math. Symptoms of math anxiety can include psychological symptoms such as confusion, loss of memory, lack of confidence, panicking and negative thoughts.
Physical symptoms may include sweating, nausea, upset stomach, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing and headaches. There are various reasons that students develop math anxiety. Often times it stems from a previous failure. Whether it was failing a math test, quiz or even an entire math course. It could also be teacher or peer related. Perhaps a student had a bad experience in math class and felt that the teacher embarrassed them, or perhaps another student made a comment to them about an incorrect solution. Things such as giving timed tests and using certain types of teaching methods have contributed to the math anxiety of students.
There is good news for students who suffer with math anxiety! Students need to start with changing their attitude (easier said than done sometimes!). Stop telling yourself that you’re “bad” at math. Preparation is key! The best way to learn math is through practice. If you are prepared for an exam, you will feel much more confident. Start a study group since it helps so much to have other students to work with. Set yourself up for success with good study habits. Studying a little every day is better than trying to cram. Ask for help when you need it! Eat well, practice relaxation techniques and sleep well.
Here at NCC we do have resources to help you with your math anxiety. Check out the Math Center or the Math Anxiety Center. Ask your professors for help. That’s why we are here.