Female teachers' math anxiety affects girls' math achievement
The title of this paper says it all--when female elementary school teachers are anxious about mathematics, their female students pay the academic price. The study looked at seventeen first- and second-grade female-led classrooms at the beginning and the end of the school year. Each teacher completed a test of math anxiety, a condition, explain the authors, which is not a reflection of ability, but of how fear inhibits the math-phobic from tapping into their knowledge. By June, female students taught by math-anxious female teachers were performing worse on math achievement tests than female students taught by teachers with no math anxiety and than boys overall. The authors hypothesize that this can be explained by gender stereotyping, which they tested by having students illustrate a story about two (gender-unidentified) students, one who was good at math and one who was good at reading. Girls in classrooms with math–anxious female teachers were more likely to draw a boy who was good at math and a girl who was good at reading. Unfortunately, math has long been known as the weakest subject for elementary school teachers--and over 90 percent of them are female. Yet another reason for more rigorous content preparation and/or elementary math content specialists? You can read it here.
Sian L. Beilock, Elizabeth A Gunderson, Gerardo Ramirez, and Susan C. Levine
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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