Students do not pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) because of a lack of ability, but rather a lack of positive experiences with mathematics. Research has concluded that attitudes in math directly influence success in mathematics. As many as 75% of high school graduates in the United States suffer from mild to severe forms of math anxiety. The improvement of student achievement in mathematics in the United States lags behind that of many other nations in the world. Efforts to improve student achievement in mathematics have focused on developing effective teachers and teaching practices, creating state and national standards, and raising test scores. Advances in neuroscience and understanding how the brain learns mathematics are often not reflected in current instructional practices, and being "bad at math" is not viewed as a problem by American society. As a response to the current state of mathematics in the United States, the researcher created an informal educational center to provide positive mathematical experiences that demonstrate how math works. The Metamo4ic Math Center opened in 2007.
This study investigated the effectiveness of a two-hour field trip visit to the Math Center on 114 elementary students, six teachers, and 42 preservice teachers. A Math Anxiety Scale - Revised (MAS-R) and knowledge concept map were administered to treatment and control groups pre-visit, post-visit, and post-post visit. Interviews were conducted pre and post visit. In addition, an independent evaluator observed each field trip visit.
The results of the study indicated that the Math Center does significantly lessen anxiety and reduce negative attitudes toward mathematics in elementary students and their teachers. Although pre-service teachers demonstrated a lessening in anxiety, the decrease was not significant, and the results demonstrated that the pre-service teachers in both the treatment and control groups had anxiety levels significantly higher than the student and in-service teacher groups. This study led the researcher to conclude that a "Cycle of Anxiety" is contagious and continually perpetuated through the current instruction of mathematics. This study indicated that efforts to improve math achievement void of addressing negative attitudes and math anxiety might not be successful.
|Commitee:||Gismegian, Mary, Schroeter, Darline|
|School Location:||United States -- Missouri|
|Source:||DAI-A 73/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Math Anxiety Scale - Revised (MAS-R), Math anxiety, Student achievement|
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