Improving students' confidence in mathematics

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Publication details

Markopoulos, C 2016, 'Improving students' confidence in mathematics', paper presented to the SCU Scholarship of teaching symposium 2016.


Teacher education students must have a level of numeracy equivalent to the top 30% of the population to graduate. From 2016, all pre-service teachers must sit a literacy and numeracy test, at the above standard, before undertaking their final professional placement. In the School of Education, we are addressing these requirements through a core unit: MAT10002 Mathematics and Numeracy, completed by all pre-service teachers in their first year. Key topics include: problem-solving, systems of numeration, number theory, real numbers, pre-algebra, measurement, geometry, probability, and statistics. Since implementation in 2015 we have observed a high failure rate and large withdrawal rate. An investigation of these negative outcomes revealed a number of factors: students’ poor mathematical backgrounds, negative dispositions towards mathematics, and high mathematical anxiety. Our research data shows that students’ dispositions towards mathematics and low confidence in their mathematical capacity contributes to anxiety and a self-fulfilling failure. To address this, we implemented initiatives to improve students’ engagement and success rate. These include MyMathLab online component, MOOC video tasks and continuous monitoring of students’ engagement. In this presentation, these will be described, along with the process we used to demonstrate the success of these initiatives in improving students’ success and engagement.