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Maths anxiety – and what to do about it

13 October 2017

ACER is piloting a professional learning program to support primary teachers who experience maths anxiety.

Researchers at ACER are developing a professional learning program designed to address maths anxiety in primary teachers. The initiative, funded by a Sidney Myer Grant, will be piloted in 10 Victorian primary schools, in effect providing participating schools with high-quality professional learning hours at no cost.

Maths anxiety is a significant problem for teachers and their students. Research suggests that primary teachers who are maths anxious experience more problems with their maths teaching and may transmit negative attitudes about maths to their students.

The pilot professional learning program has been designed to support maths anxious primary teachers by increasing their understanding of maths anxiety, how it disrupts the learning process and how it can influence long-term behaviour in relation to maths. Teachers who participate in the program will also learn and practise strategies to alleviate the effects of maths anxiety in themselves and their students. The program has also been designed to be useful for teachers who do not themselves experience maths anxiety.

The professional learning program builds on research by Dr Sarah Buckley and Dr Kate Reid through the Science of Learning Research Centre on the impact of maths anxiety workshops on pre-service teachers. The pilot professional learning program addresses maths anxiety by drawing on research from psychology, neuroscience and education to help participants better understand anxiety and its impact.

Drs Buckley and Reid are currently seeking expressions of interest from Victorian primary schools willing to participate in the pilot program from July to December 2018. The pilot will involve the participation of three or four of each school’s Grade 3-6 teachers, their students and the maths coordinator/specialist. ■

Further information:

For more information about the pilot professional learning program or to register an expression of interest, visit mathsanxiety@acer.org

Read more on maths anxiety in ‘Deconstructing maths anxiety.’

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