Math anxiety is a pervasive problem faced by STEM students and teachers, both nationally and globally. Two studies conducted by Rose Vukovic, NYU Steinhardt Professor of Teaching and Learning, revealed that math anxiety adversely impacts math performance in New York City schools as early as the primary grades. In addition to undermining student performance, math anxiety discourages students from pursuing math-related careers and reduces teaching self-efficacy among STEM teachers. Recent research in educational psychology has revealed important insights into the factors contributing to math anxiety as well as simple strategies that can help mitigate its effects. This course presents the current state of research on math anxiety along with evidence-based psychological strategies that can be implemented immediately to reduce the negative impact of math anxiety on students.
The first half of the course (Module 1) examines the topic of math anxiety and addresses questions such as ‘who suffers from it,’ ‘why does it develop,’ ‘how do we identify and assess it,’ and ‘what are the real-world consequences?’ The second half of the course (Module 2) introduces psychological safety as a critical feature of classrooms in which students feel safe to engage without fear of ridicule or judgment and examines the role of the teacher in fostering such an environment. Several simple interventions for combating math anxiety are presented along with the research evidence that attests to the effectiveness of these strategies. Downloadable templates are offered to facilitate implementation. Participants will ultimately complete a final project in which they develop a multi-faceted action plan, with measurable objectives and timelines, aimed at fostering psychological safety and mitigating the effects of math anxiety using the concepts and strategies learned throughout the course.
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