Current employment trends and future projections all point towards continued growth in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs, as well as the need for STEM-related skills in other fields. Yet, recent math proficiency levels among American students remain low, at just 44 percent in fourth grade and 33 percent at the eighth-grade level, and the math score trend lines are not showing significant improvement.
The attitudes of many students toward math are also not positive, and in order to improve those attitudes and actual math performance, David Woods, a senior director at Dreambox Learning, explained during a recent edWebinar how developing a strong math culture can engage students in authentic and effective learning, and result in increased achievement.
Using a problem-solution approach, Woods outlined a number of the challenges educators face when teaching math, and he explained training and planning strategies designed to address those issues. He also identified classroom techniques teachers can use to help students improve their math performance and attitudes.
Preparing to build a strong math culture
Surveys have shown that it’s not only the students who may have a negative attitude toward math. Many K-5 teachers perceived themselves as being “bad” at math, and therefore may have their own “math anxiety” when trying to teach the subject. This can impact the effectiveness of their instruction, as well as the cues they may transmit to students, thereby perpetuating the same feelings, attitudes, and achievement levels.