MATH ANXIETY

Math anxiety is sometimes a major roadblock to learning mathematics successfully. In general, anxiety can be thought of as  fear-based responses such as anger, despair, avoidance, negative self-talk, etc.  These are responses are unpleasant and distract you from your goal of learning. Fortunately,  you can learn to manage these fears so that you can focus all of your attention on the mathematics you need to understand.

The following resources available in the Mathematics Tutoring Center to help alleviate your anxiety:

  • How to Study Mathematics by J. Margenau and M. Sentlowitz.
  • Mastering Mathematics: How to Be a Great Math Student by R. M. Smith.
  • Math a Four-Letter Word (book and videotape) by A. Sembera and M. Hovis.
  • The Math Tutor by P. Rosnick.
  • Studying Mathematics by M. C. Hudspeth and L. R. Hirsch.
  • Tips for Reducing Math Anxiety by Somerset Community College

Using these print, video, and tutorial resources available in the Math Tutoring Center, you can begin to

  1. Identify and acknowledge your fears (e.g., "I'm scared I'm going to fail.").
  2. Replace negative self talk with more realistic (and positive) statements.
  3. Develop a study plan for understanding the mathematics you need to learn and put it into operation.
  4. Develop a plan for dealing with the physical aspects of anxiety (e.g., exercise, caffeine deprivation, relaxation techniques, etc.).
  5. Develope methods of dealing with test anxiety
     
Negative Self Talk

Negative self talk is the  unrealistic, over critical statements you make about yourself or your situation when you are feeling anxious. These statements can be voiced aloud or silently and keep you  in self-defeating behaviors making you think that you are powerless to overcome them!

To overcome negative self talk, try this for one month:
    1.  Identify the negative put downs you use when you're upset and construct more realistic alternatives.
    2   Each time you catch yourself using one of your negative statements, replace it with the realistic alternative.

NEGATIVE STATEMENT
REALISTIC ALTERNATIVE
I'm stupid! I can't learn this stuff!
I'm not stupid and I can learn! If I start in the right math course and work hard, I can learn most of this, maybe all of it!
 
 
Well, duh! What's the matter with me? I should have seen that right away!
Mathematical ideas are subtle. After you figure them out, they seems obvious, but they're not obvious beforehand.
 
 
Come on, Dummy! Why'd you miss that sign? You can't do anything right!
 
 
I need to slow down and watch what I'm doing.
I hate math! Nobody should have to learn this stuff to get a degree!
I never liked math, but this course is required for my major, so it must be important. I'm going to do the work and see how I do.
 

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