Common European Numeracy Framework

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Math anxiety

INTRODUCTION

Math anxiety is a product of schooling. Only when children enter school at a certain age, they are confronted with a subject matter which not only pretends to equip them with valuable skills, but also is a source of endless negative feedback during learning (wrong answers, red pencils, red crosses in digital lesson materials) and of selection and negative labelling (“no math talents”, “low numerate”, “innumerate”, “gaps”: , “remedy’s”,  etcetera). The phenomenon was described for the first time by Sheila Tobias (1978) in her ground breaking publication “Overcoming Math Anxiety”.

KEY ISSUES

  • What role does math anxiety play in the life of adult individuals?
  • How can math anxiety be addressed in adult numeracy courses?
  • Which educational activities or approaches can trigger and worsen math anxiety?

Relationship to framework

Suggestions for PD meetings

Possible causes

Read:

“There are books, research and journal articles about maths anxiety that are disproportionately higher than subject specific anxiety around any other National Curriculum subject. Perhaps it is the idea that maths is either right or wrong, that causes this anxiety- the unforgiving nature of a subject felt to be largely black or white, without the shades of grey in English or the openness to interpretation of the social sciences? Maybe it is the way in which maths so often becomes too abstract too quickly in many classroom contexts, with little or no reference to concrete manipulatives and pictorial representations beyond early key stage two? It could even stem from the lie that some people are ‘maths people’ whilst others are not, or the systemic view in some cultures that it is OK to be rubbish at maths and even joke about this in a way in which illiteracy would never be held up in self-ridicule.”  
(source: https://www.dyscalculianetwork.com/math-anxiety-the-bear-in-the-classroom/)

Discuss these possible causes in the PD-meeting

Biographical conversations instead of assessments

To determine a learner’s current numeracy level, the most common approach is to use a test, without considering whether it will trigger a long history of math anxiety and terrible math or numeracy experiences.

In adult education, it is a very sensible approach to conduct an empathetic interview about school, about their experiences, about the way they use math now in their daily lives, focused on success.

Reduce math anxiety

Read:

“There are books, research and journal articles about maths anxiety that are disproportionately higher than subject specific anxiety around any other National Curriculum subject. Perhaps it is the idea that maths is either right or wrong, that causes this anxiety- the unforgiving nature of a subject felt to be largely black or white, without the shades of grey in English or the openness to interpretation of the social sciences? Maybe it is the way in which maths so often becomes too abstract too quickly in many classroom contexts, with little or no reference to concrete manipulatives and pictorial representations beyond early key stage two? It could even stem from the lie that some people are ‘maths people’ whilst others are not, or the systemic view in some cultures that it is OK to be rubbish at maths and even joke about this in a way in which illiteracy would never be held up in self-ridicule.”  
(source: https://www.dyscalculianetwork.com/math-anxiety-the-bear-in-the-classroom/)

Discuss these possible causes in the PD-meeting

Background information

Some history

Read the first article by Sheila Tobias published in 1976.   PDF is available here. Describe how you relate to this article. What has changed in 50 years? What is still the same in your opinion?

BTW: The concept of “number anxiety” was introduced by Dreger and Aiken  in 1957.
Sheila Tobias (1978) Overcoming math anxiety.
Sheila Tobias (1993) Overcoming math anxiety. (New and expanded edition)
In several places in the Internet free copies in pdf can be found.

 

Assessment and Instruments

Study several surveys/test/instruments to determine math anxiety. Which are suitable for your own teaching situation? 

Translate and adapt instruments to determine math anxiety.

Math anxiety versus performance anxiety

See Dowker (2016) and other resources to make a summary of the overlap and distinction between math anxiety and other anxieties.

Overview

Dowker c.s. (2016) gave an overview of research on Math Anxiety in the last 60 years.The construct of mathematics anxiety has been an important topic of study at least since t and has received increasing attention in recent years. The paper focuses on what research has revealed about mathematics anxiety in the last 60 years, and what still remains to be learned.

Topics which are discussed are:

  • what is mathematics anxiety
  • how distinct it is from other forms of anxiety;
  • how it relates to attitudes to mathematics.
  • the relationships between mathematics anxiety and mathematics performance.
  • research on treatment

Also you can find some ways in which mathematics anxiety is measured, both by questionnaires, and by physiological measures. They discuss some possible factors in mathematics anxiety, including genetics, gender, age, and culture.



Recent literature

Recent resesrch and ideas on math anxiety and adult learners can be found in a article by Ryan & Fitzmaurice (2017: Behind the Numbers

The Preliminary Findings of a Mixed Methods Study Investigating the Existence of Mathematics Anxiety Among Mature Students.

Literature

Büchter, R. B., Fechtelpeter, D., Knelangen, M., Ehrlich, M., & Waltering, A. (2014). Words or numbers? Communicating risk of adverse effects in written consumer health information: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6947-14-76

Coben, D., Hall, C., Hutton, M., Rowe, D., Weeks, K., & Wolley, N. (2010). Benchmark assessment of numeracy for nursing: Medication dosage calculation at point of registration. NHS Education for Scotland.

Dulam, T., & Hoogland, K. (2021). The relationship between self-rated health and proficiency in numeracy and technological problem solving in OECD-countries. In L. Heilmann & D. Kaye (Eds.), Proceedings of the 28th International Conference of Adults Learning Mathematics: A Research Forum. ALM.  https://alm-online.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/ALM28Proceedings-final.pdf

Golbeck, A. L., Ahlers-Schmidt, C. R., Paschal, A. M., & Dismuke, S. E. (2005). A Definition and Operational Framework for Health Numeracy. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 29(4), 375–376. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2005.06.012

Heilmann, L. (2020). Health and numeracy: the role of numeracy skills in health satisfaction and health-related behaviour. ZDM, 52(3), 407–418. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11858-019-01106-z

Hutton, M., Coben, D., Hall, C., Rowe, D., Sabin, M., Weeks, K., & Woolley, N. (2010). Numeracy for nursing, report of a pilot study to compare outcomes of two practical simulation tools–An online medication dosage assessment and practical assessment in the style of objective structured clinical examination. Nurse Education Today, 30(7), 608–614.

Lau, N. T. T., Wilkey, E. D., Soltanlou, M., Cusiac, R. L., Peters, L., Tremblay, P., Goffin, C., Alves, I. S., Ribner, A. D., Thompson, C., van Hoof, J., Bahnmueller, J., Alvarez, A., Bellon, E., Coolen, I., Ollivier, F., & Ansari, D. (2022). Numeracy and COVID-19: Examining interrelationships between numeracy, health numeracy and behaviour. Royal Society Open Science, 9(3). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.201303

Mühlbauer, V., Prinz, R., Mühlhauser, I., Wegwarth, O. (2018) Alternative package leaflets improve people’s understanding of drug side effects—A randomized controlled exploratory survey. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203800

Neiva Pantuzza, L. L., Nascimento, E. do, Crepalde-Ribeiro, K., Botelho, S. F., Parreiras Martins, M. A., Camila de Souza Groia Veloso, R., Gonzaga do Nascimento, M. M., Vieira, L. B., & Moreira Reis, A. M. (2022). Medication literacy: A conceptual model. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, 18(4), 2675–2682. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sapharm.2021.06.003

Peters, E., Hibbard, J., Slovic, P., & Dieckmann, N. (2007). Numeracy skill and the communication, comprehension, and use of risk-benefit information. Health Affairs, 26(3), 741–748. https://www.healthaffairs.org/toc/hlthaff/26/3

Rodgers, J., Kakarmath, S., Denis, V., Encinas-Martin, M., & Subramanian, S. v. (2019). Association between numeracy and self-rated poor health in 33 high- and upper middle- income countries. Preventive Medicine, 129(September 2018), 105872. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105872

Rolison, J. J., Morsanyi, K., & Peters, E. (2020). Understanding Health Risk Comprehension: The Role of Math Anxiety, Subjective Numeracy, and Objective Numeracy. Medical Decision Making, 40(2). https://doi.org/10.1177/0272989X20904725

Raynor, D. K., Blenkinsopp, A., Knapp, P., Grime, J., Nicolson, D. J., Pollock, K., Dorer, G., Gilbody, S., Dickinson, D., & Spoor, P. (2007). A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative research on the role and effectiveness of written information available to patients about individual medicines HTA Health Technology Assessment NHS R&D HTA Programme www.hta.ac.uk. Health Technology Assessment, 11(5). http://www.hta.ac.uk

Schapira, M. M., Fletcher, K. E., Gilligan, M. A., King, T. K., Laud, P. W., Matthews, B. A., Neuner, J. M., & Hayes, E. (2008). A Framework for Health Numeracy: How Patients Use Quantitative Skills in Health Care. Journal of Health Communication, 13(5), 501–517. https://doi.org/10.1080/1081073080220216

Schwappach, D.L.B.,  Mülders, M., Simic D., Wilm, S., Thürmann, P.A. (2011) Is less more? Patients’ preferences for drug information leaflets. https://doi.org/10.1002/pds.2212

Systematic Reviews

Raynor, D. K., Blenkinsopp, A., Knapp, P., Grime, J., Nicolson, D. J., Pollock, K., Dorer, G., Gilbody, S., Dickinson, D., & Spoor, P. (2007). A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative research on the role and effectiveness of written information available to patients about individual medicines HTA Health Technology Assessment NHS R&D HTA Programme www.hta.ac.uk. Health Technology Assessment, 11(5). http://www.hta.ac.uk

Mafruhah, O. R., Huang, Y. M., Shiyanbola, O. O., Shen, G. L., & Lin, H. W. (2021). Ideal instruments used to measure health literacy related to medication use: A systematic review. In Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy (Vol. 17, Issue 10, pp. 1663–1672). Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sapharm.2021.01.017

Büchter, R. B., Fechtelpeter, D., Knelangen, M., Ehrlich, M., & Waltering, A. (2014). Words or numbers? Communicating risk of adverse effects in written consumer health information: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6947-14-76