Hidden Figures: Invisible barriers in mathematics education and how to overcome them.

Student on the classroom floor in frustration in front of a blackboard with maths
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Wednesday 06 December 2023

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM


Swan room at Elm Bank and online via MS Teams



Event details

When faced with a mathematical task or problem, many children and adults alike begin to feel worried or stressed. It maybe that they had a bad experience with maths when at school, such as a teacher making them complete a difficult task in front of the class, or simply find the process of working with numbers too stressful.

This phenomenon is called Maths Anxiety and differs from general anxiety in that it occurs only when doing mathematics, although many of the symptoms are the same. Furthermore, the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue for those who suffer from maths anxiety.

Indeed, there are increasing fears surrounding the mathematical capabilities of students on entry to university in the UK and evidence of high levels of maths anxiety amongst students, particularly on courses that do not require A level mathematics on entry. Tackling maths anxiety and increasing mathematical resilience is therefore currently high on the agenda, particularly to those who offer mathematics and statistics support services.

One way to begin to overcome maths anxiety is to increase one’s mathematical resilience. By employing various techniques, learners can increase their mathematical resilience and begin to reduce their maths anxiety. Increasing resilience helps maths anxious students to regulate their feelings towards mathematics thus enabling them to increase their mathematical understanding.

In this seminar, I will discuss the current issues surrounding maths anxiety and mathematical resilience, focusing particularly on work with students in higher education who are not mathematicians but have some form of mathematics or statistics on their course. Some of the techniques employed to help students who suffer from maths anxiety will be explained whilst giving attendees a chance to experience parts of the training themselves. Finally, I will report some promising results on new research conducted at Coventry University showing the effectiveness of simple interventions on levels of maths anxiety and engagement with support services.