Don’t let math stress you out – Science News for Students (blog)

soap and towel

Math is often one of the most difficult and challenging courses for many young students. Being able to learn the new formulas, concepts, and ideas and apply them in a way that they will get good grades. However, new studies provide insight into how different methods of learning can diffuse the stress that is so often applied to learning new types of math.

Key Takeaways:

  • To diagnose math anxiety, researchers administer a questionnaire. It asks things like: “How anxious would you feel about being given a set of division problems to solve on paper?” Some people will rate their reactions as being very panicky.
  • Those who score high on these surveys about stress over making numerical calculations will be labeled math anxious. The exact share who get this diagnosis, however, will vary, depending on where researchers choose to draw the line at what counts as high.
  • Math anxiety affects people of all ages. It can lead to poor performance in math classes. And its impacts don’t end at graduation.

“Anxiety, it turns out, can interfere with the brain’s “working memory.” This type of memory allows the mind to hold onto several different pieces of information at once.”