20 SES 13 JS A, Issues of Inclusion in Mathematics Education I
Joint Session with NW 24
This paper describes a longitudinal case study of one maths phobic student primary teacher, the co-author (name changed), and how she overcame this condition.
The European Commission key competences for lifelong learning include Mathematical Competence and Learning to Learn (European Commission, 2007). The former promotes the ability to develop mathematical thinking and the latter the ability to pursue and persist in learning. In Scotland the national curriculum (Scottish Executive, 2004) recognises the importance of both abilities in learners yet no reference is made to the importance of the teacher’s development of these or barriers that may prevent such development. These barriers include teachers’ own mathematical aptitudes and attitudes to the subject. Mathematics can be separated into both the affective and cognitive domains of learning (Martinez and Martinez, 1996). If the affective domain is positive students can be motivated to learn regardless of their mathematical aptitude. However, if it is negative even students who are able in mathematics may develop maths anxiety.
Maths anxiety is a recognised construct (Hembree, 1990) that can prevent teachers being effective in their teaching of mathematics. Some early critics of the construct (Olsen and Gillingham, 1980) suggested that what was actually occurring was general anxiety and that it was not peculiar to mathematics at all. However, Hembree’s (1990) meta-analysis of 151 studies into maths anxiety reported that when the constructs of maths anxiety and test anxiety are in play, only 37% of one construct’s variance is predictable from the variance of the other and that the remaining 63% must be attributed to other sources. One such source for student teachers is their own learning experiences in primary school (Uusimaki and Nason, 2004; Bekdemir, 2010). Additionally research suggests that maths anxiety causes a decline in performance when mathematics tasks are performed under high-stake conditions (Ashcraft andMoore, 2009; Beilock, 2008). This may be the reason that pupils in Asian countries such asKoreaandJapandemonstrate high levels of maths anxiety despite performing well in the subject, while Western European countries likeFinlandandSwitzerlandwith high levels of mathematics performance have low levels of maths anxiety (Lee, 2009).
MartinezandMartinez(1996) suggested that a teacher can only deal with their own personal maths anxiety once they acknowledge it as a condition which affects them. Moreover, they posited that a teacher with personal experience of maths anxiety can recognise it quickly in children. They believe that by treating the maths anxiety in a teacher, confidence strategies for children can be integrated into lessons.
This study seeks to answer the following research questions:
- How can maths anxiety be overcome in one highly anxious student primary teacher?
- How can a teacher’s experiences as a maths phobic be used to help the children they teach?
Beilock, S.L. (2008). Math performance in stressful situations. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17, 339-343. Bekdemir, M. (2010). The pre-service teachers’ mathematics anxiety related to depth of negative experiences in mathematics classroom while they were students. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 75, 3, 311-328. European Commission (2007). Key Competences for Lifelong Learning: European Reference Framework. Available online at http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/publ/pdf/ll-learning/keycomp_en.pdf. Accessed 20th November 2012. Hembree, R. (1990). The nature, effects and relief of mathematics anxiety, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 21, 33-46. Lee, J. (2009). Universals and specifics of math self-concept, math self-efficacy, and math anxiety across 41 PISA 2003 participating countries, Learning and Individual Differences, 19, 3, 355-365. Martinez, J.G.R. and Martinez, N.C. (1996). Math without Fear: A Guide for Preventing Math Anxiety in Children. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Olsen, A.T. and Gillingham, D.E. (1980). Systematic desensitization of mathematics anxiety among preservice elementary teachers, Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 26, 2, 120-127. Scottish Executive (2004). Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. Uusimaki, L. and Nason, R. (2004). Cases underlying pre-service teachers' negative beliefs and anxieties about mathematics, Proceedings of the 28th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, 4, 369-376. Wellington, J. (2000). Educational Research. London: Continuum.
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