The Math Forum

Ask Dr. Math - Questions and Answers from our Archives
Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

Math Anxiety

Date: 04/04/97 at 00:55:06
From: Melanie Salas
Subject: Math Anxiety

I have been assigned a research project about math anxiety and started 
my search on the 'net when I came across your page.  Could you 
possibly give me some information about this and/or where in the 'net 
I might be able to find a web site devoted to this?

Date: 04/04/97 at 03:10:53
From: Doctor Sarah
Subject: Re: Math Anxiety

Hi Melanie -

I tried searching using Altavista  (    ) 
for the words   math anxiety  and found a good number of references.
Here's one with some information and a couple of books:

Math Anxiety   

A number of books have been written to help kids and parents in 
overcoming anxiety about mathematics. Many times parents pass along 
their own fears about math to children inadvertently. This review 
comes from the "Daily Report Card" for Nov 13, 1995. The Daily Report 
Card is a service of the Education Commission of the States and the 
National Education Goals Panel. 

of read-aloud books is designed to beat the "I-hate-math" syndrome by 
having parents read about math to their young children (Innerst, WASH
TIMES, 11/7). "I'm trying to change how people look at math," said
Marilyn Burns, a former teacher who teamed up with Scholastic, Inc., 
to publish the series called "Hello Math Reader." 

According to Burns, parents often are to blame for their children's 
fear of math. "Don't complain about math in front of your kids," she 
cautions. "Fear of math is inherited." Burns observes that it is 
generally accepted that reading out loud to children benefits their 
language abilities, but few think of reading in connection with math 
skills. She recommends that parents "nip in the bud" early fears of 
math by "engaging in 'math time' reading and other activities," writes 
the paper. 

The colorfully illustrated series beings with "Monster Math," for 
preschool and first grade. The TIMES describes the book's first story: 
"Twelve little monsters wake up at seven. One jogs away. There are 
..." Suggested activities are described at the end of the book, and 
focus on relationships such as one fewer and one more. 

Physical properties such as size and weight are the focus of the next 
level book "Slower Than a Snail," designed for kindergarten to second 
A grade. "Quarter from the Tooth Fairy," is the first- and second-
grade book, which talks about money. Second and third-grade students 
are the target for "How Much is That Guinea Pig in the Window?" which 
is about a class that earns $50 to buy a pet. 

Burns is a promoter of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics 
curriculum guidelines "that place less importance on paper-and-pencil 
drill and more on numbers sense," writes the paper. The TIMES adds 
that the guidelines also stress "talking and writing about problem-
solving strategies rather than focusing on answers per se." 

Books about overcoming anxiety about mathematics 

1. _Overcoming Math Anxiety_ by Sheila Tobias, Houghton-Mifflin, 1978 
Although the title suggests that it is a self-help book it more is a 
description on what math anxiety is, and why it occurs. The book 
contains some ideas about why high school aged students might develop 
math anxiety. 

2. _Mastering Mathematics: How to be a Great Math Student_ by Richard 
Manning Smith, Wadsworth Publishing, 1991 This book is written 
primarily for community college students, but may be useful for high 
school students as well. The author has many ideas about what causes 
poor performance in math classes and how to combat it. One such idea 
is that students who are ill-prepared for a test are more likely to 
get mental blocks on tests. 

You might also want to look for people to write to for information.  
Example:    - home 
page of Beverly K. Michael, Ph.D., Univ. of Pittsburgh, whose "Areas 
of Interest include: Pre-calculus mathematics, Math anxiety, 
Technology in mathematics, Graphing Calculators, Calculus Reform, 
Explorations of real world data in College Algbebra, Distance Learning 
of Calculus." E-mail Address:


Cheryl A. Leech, Lecturer; E-Mail 
M.A., University of Pittsburgh, 1989. Teaching Specialties: General 
Mathematics.  Research Interests: Mathematics Education, Math Anxiety 
Reduction workshops, Textbook Supplemental Writing.

There are hundreds of sites with references to math anxiety to look at 
if you use Altavista, but I don't find one devoted entirely to that 

Does this help?

-Doctor Sarah,  The Math Forum
 Check out our web site!   
Associated Topics:
Middle School About Math

Search the Dr. Math Library:

Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):
Click only once for faster results:

[ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.]

all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase
parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search

Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.