Students and maths’ anxiety: 10 key facts

Here we have put together 10 facts teachers should know about student maths’ anxiety.
Students and maths’ anxiety: 10 key facts

Do you know what maths’ anxiety is?

Maths’ anxiety is a negative response to maths which produces an emotional, physical, and behavioural response. It worsens over time and makes learning maths difficult as fear sets in which blocks concentration. It has been around for at least 50 years and seems to exist a lot more than in any other subject. One theory for this is because every question has a right or wrong answer which can lead to a fear of failure. Also, a lot of people report their ability to do maths as good or bad, more than other topics.

Lost learning impact

The disruption of the pandemic on learning, is thought to have affected student maths’ performance more than any other subject.

So here are 10 facts teachers should know about student maths anxiety

  1. Maths’ anxiety starts in primary school and worsens in secondary school.
  2. Studies about Maths’ anxiety suggest it is not related to gender, age, or position in school.
  3. Physical anxiety signs are panic, tearfulness, breathlessness, sweating, and butterflies in the stomach.
  4. Behavioural signs include being unable to ask maths related questions in class, misbehaving and dropping maths as soon as possible.
  5. Emotionally, students fear maths altogether, feel a failure and feel hopeless. Fear makes it harder for them to concentrate and learn.
  6. Teachers can pass on their own maths anxiety to students, especially in primary school from female teachers to females’ students.
  7. Parents can play a key role  through praise their child, restricting their frustrations/expectations, and encouraging practice little and often.
  8. Working in pairs on maths problems helps students feel supported.
  9. Encouraging students who have better verbal abilities, to talk out their strategy and explanation of what and why they are going to do first, can improve maths performance and confidence.
  10. Mnemonics can help some students. E.g., Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally represents the correct order of operations: Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction for sequencing actions for an equation like 10 + (5 x 52) – 15.
If you want to find out more

If you want to watch a simple video, explaining what anxiety is aimed at primary school students, then please click here

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