A new study shows encouragement is essential for math success, giving students confidence and clarity.
Florida International University Professor Zahra Hazari has found that keeping students on track involves clear explanations of ideas, and expressions of encouragement from teachers, parents, and peers.
“We see a lot of kids who do well in math, but they don’t end up picking math-related careers,” said Hazari, a specialist in STEM Education at FIU’s College of Education and STEM Transformation Institute. “If parents, friends or peers “see you as a math person, then you’re much more likely to see yourself as a math person and take that on as your identity.”
Hazari and her colleagues inverviewed 9,000 college calculus students who believed they were doing well in the course. More than 60 percent of them said they had been praised for math skills, or that they found math to be fascinating.
The researchers just don’t accept that someone is either a math or word person.
“There are these stereotypes that if you’re this kind of person, you’re not the other kind of person,” Hazari said. “You can have a math identity as well as a language identity.”