Helping students overcome mathematics anxiety

  • Ernest K Awanta Department of Mathematics Education, University College of Education of Winneba, Ghana


The main thesis of this article is that relationship between anxiety and the learning of mathematics is complex. Anxiety as a form of arousal, of alertness, of paying attention can be helpful in learning. But too much anxiety, especially when combined with real or perceived lack of ability or complicated by distractions, can seriously hinder learning. “Any of you who has taught a course in mathematics has surely sensed the anxiety that permeates the classroom during the first few class sessions”, Runyon (1977) comments. The sense of foreboding is not in the least lessened by the students' first glimpse of the textbook, replete with strange and incomprehensible hieroglyphics and ponderous verbiage. In fact, in my experience most withdrawal (psychological as well as physical) occurs during this first week. The article intends to outline causes of these strong negative feelings about things mathematics. It also suggests cures for mathematics anxiety.

Mathematics Connection Vol. 4 2004: 39-43

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eISSN: 0855-4706