What is math anxiety? It is the intense anxiety that people feel about their ability to understand and apply math.
What are the symptoms? Students with math anxiety would typically avoid their responsibilities for math class, often find themselves blanking out or freezing up on tests and have very low self-confidence in class.
What are the causes? The causes of math anxiety may vary by person. Some causes are:
A negative or embarrassing experience in a previous math class
Belief in myths that society perpetuates such as:
“Men are better at math than women.”
“You need a ‘mathematical mind’ to succeed in math.”
“There is a best way to do a math problem.”
These are all FALSE. There are no credible studies that support them.
The use of learning styles that do not work for the student (see Learning Styles in Math Student Toolkit)
How to manage math anxiety?
Use various relaxation techniques prior to a math test such as deep/slow breathing and meditation.
Forget about all past negative or embarrassing experiences in math class. Do not let those experiences define who you are now.
Dispel any belief in math myths.
Explore different learning styles and use one that will help you do well in math class (see Learning Styles in Math Student Toolkit). The four primary learning styles are:
Visual - you learn by looking at images
Auditory - you learn by hearing and listening
Reading/Writing - you learn by reading/writing information
Kinesthetic/Tactile - you are a “hands-on” learner; you learn by touching and doing
Some students learn best when using one style while others use a combination of styles.