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Math Anxiety and the “Math Gap”: How Attitudes Toward Mathematics Disadvantages Students as Early as Preschool

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This study was conducted to examine the attitudes of Head Start teachers toward mathematics and how it may influence how and what they teach in the classroom. In general, the findings of this study can be summarized as this:

1) Math anxiety affects how teachers assess their ability at mathematics. The more math anxiety they report, the lower they rate their ability at mathematics.

2) The more mathematics a teacher feels that they know the more confident they are in their ability at mathematics and the better they like mathematics.

3) The more confident they are in their mathematic ability, the more important they feel mathematics is in the preschool classroom.

4) If a teacher is confident that they know enough mathematics to teach preschoolers, they plan to teach mathematics in their classroom more.

5) The more confident a teacher is in their ability at mathematics and that they know enough mathematics content, the more likely they are to use developmentally appropriate methods of teaching mathematics in the classroom.

The findings from this present study suggest two future actions to enhance the mathematics outcomes for Head Start children and their future ability and enjoyment of mathematics. First, in-service trainings for Head Start teachers need to add a focus on the teachers' confidence in mathematics. A second suggest is that teachers be encouraged and trained on reflective techniques so that they can reflect upon their own feelings toward mathematics and its effects that it has on their curricular decisions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2015

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