Poor performance in previous math classes and low confidence are some of students’ biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to math success, according to a new survey about math education.
The survey of more than 400 high school math teachers comes from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). Teachers in the survey are all coaches for student teams participating in the MathWords Math Modeling (M3) Challenge, a national online contest SIAM organizes.
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The results indicate that students don’t need innate math genius to excel. Instead, they need practice, confidence, and real-world connections.
“Contrary to public opinion, the results of the survey demonstrate that success in math is not based on nature, but rather, an aptitude for math can be nurtured with effort, motivation, and self-assurance,” says Michelle Montgomery, M3 Challenge project director at SIAM. “The results also reinforce the importance of making math relevant to everyday life as a foundation to increase students’ desire to learn.”
1. Top 3 success factors
Teachers said the top three success factors for high math performance are: working hard to understand math concepts and knowing when to apply them versus simply memorizing formulas (75 percent); having the desire, initiative, and motivation to succeed (63 percent); and having confidence in their abilities and believing they can succeed (48 percent).