Title: A Strategy for Addressing Elementary Pre–Service Teachers’ Mathematics Anxiety
Abstract: Mathematics anxiety among elementary preservice teachers is a well–documented phenomenon that greatly affects their ability to engage in teacher preparation courses (e.g., Dutton, 1951; Gresham, 2007; Sloan, 2010). One way for instructors to engage with PSTs is to interact with them informally (Lamport, 1993). Informal conversations present an opportunity to increase students’ confidence and address their anxiety regarding mathematics content. A potential venue for informal conversations is office hours; however, college students often do not take advantage of office hours that are offered. This talk will describe preliminary results of a policy designed to increase instances of informal interactions between students and their instructors during office hours, by solely providing homework solutions to students during office hours. Initial evidence from surveys and course evaluations suggests that students who come into office hours engage with the instructor on topics they did not intend to discuss before coming to office hours, and suggests that these conversations have the potential to help reduce mathematics anxiety.
Bio: A faculty member in mathematics education, Monica Karunakaran is interested in improving mathematics teacher education. She works with elementary preservice teachers when they take mathematics content courses prior to entering the teacher preparation program. Her research focuses on better understanding how mathematics anxiety affects elementary preservice teachers. This includes identifying and studying instructional methods that have the potential to decrease their mathematics anxiety.