11 Strategies to Boost Interest in Mathematics
It is essential for math teachers to change and update their teaching game frequently. That's because math and sciences are often viewed as complex subjects that only the brightest students should take. Besides, the teaching techniques used last year may not work anymore and will do little to engage students or to get them excited about math. Here are practical strategies math educators should include in their teaching methods to boost student motivation.
Why Do Students Find Math Scary?
The teaching methods and materials used can impact how students perceive math. If these methods aren't engaging or don't cater to different learning styles, it can contribute to fear. It's also common for students worldwide to blame their math failures on an educator. That's because students hear negative comments about math from family or friends, which can reinforce the perception that math is scary. In addition, when educators give students negative comments such as "You're bad in math," it demoralizes them and cements the notion that they are just poor in math.
However, students often find math scary for several other reasons:
Math can become progressively more complex as students advance through different levels of education. This increasing complexity can be intimidating.
Fear of Failure
Students may worry about getting math problems wrong, leading to fear and anxiety, especially if they have had negative experiences.
Social pressure and comparisons with peers who excel in math can make learners feel inadequate, regardless of academic level, adding to their fear.
Failure to Grasp Fundamentals
If learners struggle to grasp fundamental math concepts, it can make the subject seem daunting.
Math anxiety is a recognized psychological condition where individuals experience fear and anxiety, specifically when dealing with math.
Some students struggle to see the real-world applications of the math they're learning, making it seem abstract and scary.
Read on to find out the effective strategies modern educators use to boost interest in mathematics.
Make Math Look Less Scary
Students often see equations and numbers as scary and difficult to comprehend. In some cases, students also consider themselves average and assume they aren't going to understand math. This can make students settle for getting average or low scores, and often, the excuse would be, "I just don't get math." If you show students that math is fun they are more likely to be motivated to learn.
Eradicate Fear of Failure in Mathematics
As an educator who wants students to excel in math, you must help students overcome their fear of failure in mathematics. To achieve this, start by creating a supportive environment where everyone in the class feels safe to talk and make mistakes without judgment.
In addition, you should encourage a growth mindset by emphasizing that mistakes are opportunities to learn. Also, divide math problems into manageable steps to make them less daunting. This fosters an understanding of the basics before moving on to more advanced concepts.
Encourage Outside Class Studies
Encourage students to work together on math problems. This is crucial because collaborative learning reduces anxiety and makes math more enjoyable. Students can even turn to a subject expert and order cheap essay to grasp problematic topics better.
Don't Hesitate to Teach Basics Again
Math is often used in conjunction with other subjects. Thus, by grasping basics, students can understanding how math can bridge several disciplines, which in turn enriches overall learning. Once they comprehend the basics, they are more likely to enjoy math in advanced classes. By ensuring learners grasp the fundamentals and demonstrating real-life applications, math educators prepare students for future career opportunities. Besides, seeing the relevance of what they're learning can motivate learners to retain knowledge long-term.
Successful math educators recognize that students have different learning paces and styles. Thus, they include a variety of teaching methods and resources to cater to individual needs. This can include incorporating visual aids, diagrams, and hands-on materials to help students grasp abstract concepts. So, as an educator, don't hesitate to provide various learning materials, such as textbooks, videos, and other learning resources. This strategy allows students to choose material that best suits their learning style.
Set Realistic Expectations
Part of an educator's role is to help students set achievable goals and acknowledge that it's okay to make mistakes along the way. This helps encourage perseverance and resilience. Setting realistic expectations is also a way for an educator to build student confidence. Realistic expectations allow students to experience success, even if it's in smaller steps. This, in turn, boosts confidence and encourages learners to take on more challenging math concepts.
However, if you set unrealistic expectations, it can lead to burnout, as students may push themselves too hard. Realistic expectations help balance the workload and allow for a healthier approach to learning.
Use Real-Life Examples
Educators need to show practical applications of math concepts to help learners understand their relevance in daily life. This can make math more engaging and relatable. When they realize that math can help solve real-world problems, learners become more excited about the subject. In addition, practical examples can help learners grasp abstract mathematical concepts more easily. When they can visualize how math is used in everyday situations, it becomes less intimidating and more understandable.
Offer Personalized Help
Despite their busy schedule, math educators at all academic levels need to offer one-on-one support or additional resources for struggling learners. This is to ensure such learners don't feel left behind. The trick to succeeding with this strategy is to begin by assessing each student's current level of understanding, strengths, and weaknesses. This may involve tests, quizzes, or discussions to identify areas where the student needs help.
Based on the assessment, the educator designs a customized learning plan for each student to address the student's unique needs. This is followed by sessions that can be in person or conducted virtually, depending on the learning environment.
The math teacher may also take a step further and recommend or provide adaptive learning resources, such as digital math programs or apps that adjust to the student's skill level and progress. Finally, the math educator provides ongoing feedback and assessments to track the student's progress and make necessary adjustments to the personalized plan.
Maintain open lines of communication with students. Encourage them to express their concerns and fears about math and work together to find solutions. You can also set regular office hours or opportunities for students to seek help or clarification outside class. Let them know you're available and willing to assist.
There are many math apps and games available that make learning math enjoyable. They often have interactive features, challenges, and rewards to keep students engaged. Encourage students to solve math puzzles or riddles using online resources or apps. Brain teasers can also be a fun way to develop problem-solving skills.
If possible, teach students to code using math-related programming languages like Scratch or Python. This connects math to technology and can be both educational and fun. Use gamification principles to turn math lessons into games. Points, leaderboards, and rewards can motivate students to participate and excel. So, utilize math-related apps, software, or interactive tools to make learning more engaging and fun.
Utilize Flipped Classroom
If you're a teacher who has still not fully utilized the flipped classroom idea, consider incorporating it in upcoming lessons. This method requires learners to watch videos or read at home and then use class time to work on problematic areas and discuss what they've learned. It allows everyone in class to move at their own speed. When a learner encounters a tough topic, they can go back and learn it again. Only when learners grasp the chapter can they proceed to the next one.
This is especially helpful in math when some students are on a different page. In a regular class, if you get stuck on homework, you have to wait until the teacher grades you, then they can point to what you did wrong. But in the flipped model, teachers help out in class immediately if there's an issue. The main point is that by learning before a lesson, students are more ready to ask questions and understand the material when they're in class. This makes class time more fun and informative.
Start by recognizing and celebrating even small math-related accomplishments to help foster a sense of achievement. Celebrating small successes in math can boost students' confidence. It validates their efforts and progress, making them more confident in their abilities. For students who experience math anxiety, celebrating small achievements can help reduce fear and apprehension. It can make math feel less intimidating.
By recognizing and celebrating every accomplishment, math teachers can instill a growth mindset in students. This mindset is essential for long-term success in math and other areas. In addition, celebrating small wins ensures that all students receive recognition and encouragement regardless of their starting point. This promotes inclusivity in the classroom. Finally, continually develop your own teaching skills and stay updated on best practices in math education.