Wednesday, April 10, 2013
L&B NYC - Sean L. Beilock
Learning and Performance in School: Mindset, Attitudes and Anxiety L&B New York Sian Beilock Math anxiety begins to develop as early as first grade More math anxiety = poorer performance in math Just a correlation, don't have a direction of causality Students who are the highest in executive functioning show a higher correlation. In other words, those who are usually at the top of their class perform the worst on math tasks when their anxiety is high. The worries may rob them of the brain power needed to complete the tasks Higher achievement may equal higher susceptibility Not just people who are bad at math are showing anxiety. Where does the math anxiety come from (it's higher than for other subjects) Elementary Education majors have the highest levels of math anxiety of all college majors Elementary teachers in US are 97% female. May be having a particularly strong impact on the girls in their classrooms via modeling For girls, the higher the teacher's math anxiety, the lower the girls' math achievement No correlation for boys Girls in math-anxious-teacher classrooms confirmed academic stereotypes (books for girls, math for boys) more strongly at the end of the school year, even though they didn't at the beginning of the year. Girls who DON'T confirm the stereotype have much better math ability, same as boys. Girls who confirm it perform significantly lower than boys, other girls. We MUST equip the teachers so they are not anxious! Parents play a role too. Teacher and mom are the worst for a girl. But non-anxious parents can help counteract teacher effect and vice versa. The anxiety robs people of the ability to show what they know Pain centers activate when math anxious people are told they have to do math Her research shows that pressure/anxiety reduce performance/accuracy on tasks that require a heavier working memory load (requiring executive function, involvement of frontal cortex. not true of easy tasks) Treatment Write about your worries before you go in to a high stress situation - reduces ruminations, takes that load off of working memory, downloads them so they won't "pop up" during performance. Expressive Writing by James Penebaker (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/write-yourself-well/201208/expressive-writing) Boost score on high stakes final by 6% just by doing this writing - boosted to same level as low-anxiety students Many students are able to re-evaluate their feelings and find insight by the end of the writing - like writing a really angry email you're never going to send Whole toolbox of techniques in her book Choke Testing helps people learn! Get them ready through practice tests. People need experience with the types of situations that make them anxious "Success is more than simply what you know. Attitudes, motivation and anxieties are critical."