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Dhaka Tribune

Adopting teaching styles to reduce math anxiety

Update : 05 Aug 2013, 02:46 AM

Mathematics, queen of science and language of nature, rules the modern world. It is difficult for a student to survive if they face math anxiety.

Math anxiety makes students panic towards mathematics, making them anxious about any numerical activities; they don't feel comfortable with math, avoiding and consequently failing at it.

A teacher, Danielle Swanson (2006) got this point and did a research to help the students suffering from math anxiety. It was obvious that students' uncomfortable feelings about mathematics are indicating math anxiety which has also been revealed from my study in 2010 among Bangladeshi students.

Teachers are always key persons to take the initiatives to help students and it was done by Danielle Swanson very effectively. She took several steps to reduce math anxiety among students; she used the research findings to develop a threat-free learning environment. Teaching methods considering the learning style of the students were found effective and successful among Danielle Swanson's strategies.

Teachers of Bangladesh may change their teaching methods by following the actions of Danielle Swanson for mathematics classes to help the students who are suffering from math anxiety. But how possible is it?

Without advanced training on teaching techniques and student psychology, it may become harder for our teachers to adopt teaching styles that support learning styles of students. Some other issues also arise simultaneously regarding curriculum and educational administrations.

Curriculum should be developed in such a way that the text books become more attractive, explanatory and easy to understand. The math courses should be designed with more focus on practical problem solving. Evaluation system should not only depend on written examination. Rather, different evaluation techniques like class performance, group work, assignments, open book exams, etc should be incorporated.

Educational administrations as well as all concerned bodies related to the educational institutions should be concerned about students' mental health and should actively participate to mitigate any teaching-learning problems that could be a barrier for students' learning process.

But it is always difficult for teachers and authorities to help the students if the students are not prepared to take the help. Students should become more aware of math anxiety and its basic symptoms to have a basic idea of whether they are suffering from the problem or not. Students should also have a clear vision about the importance of mathematics in their academic and daily life and should be encouraged to talk about their problems in mathematics. In this case an educational psychologist, with a background on education, could help the students effectively.

Educational psychologists should be introduced in each educational institution for better understanding of this kind of psychological problems the students may face and to provide a quick solution to the problems through proper guidance and counseling. Parents may also need support from the psychologists to understand their children's psychological problems related to the teaching and learning process.

Students facing math anxiety should not be additionally burdened by parents with physical or mental stress. If necessary, the parental training should be introduced to make the parents aware about child psychology, math anxiety and other psychological issues.

As a developing country we are fascinated about modern education but we are not aware about many educational problems. We have lots of preconceived notions about the behaviour of students which may not always be true. If root causes for math anxiety and other anxieties students face are eliminated we can develop a mentally healthy society.

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