How to Respond to a Student Who is Struggling with

    Math Anxiety

    Information was obtained from the following article.
    “Math Anxiety: Can Teachers Help Students Reduce It?”
    American Educator A Quarterly Journal of Educational Research and Ideas, Summer 2014
    Written By “Sian L. Beilock and Daniel T Willingham
    Endnote: Maloney and Beilock, “Math Anxiety"


         Think carefully about what to say when students struggle. When a student struggles with math (or any subject), it’s natural to want to console him. You can see he’s frustrated and unhappy, and you want to help him feel better. But consoling the student-by saying, for example, “It’s OK, not everyone can be good at these types of problems” – may send the wrong message. The student may understand the subtext to be, “You failed, and I am really sorry about that, but I’m not contradicting your conclusion that this math work is too hard for you.” Consolation sends a subtle message that validates the student’s opinion that he’s not good at math, and can lower a student’s motivations and expectations for future performances.

         A better message is only slightly different: “Yes, this work is challenging, but I know that with hard work you can do it! This acknowledges the student’s experience-there’s no sugarcoating the fact that he can’t do it – but it expresses confidence that he has the capability. Also, giving strategies for changing up study habits or for approaching a particular problem differently in the future helps him understand that, with added hard work and effort, he has the potential for success.