Addressing the affective domain to increase effective-ness of mathematical thinking and problem solving

Johnston-Wilder, Sue and Lee, Clare (2017). Addressing the affective domain to increase effective-ness of mathematical thinking and problem solving. In: IMA and CETL-MSOR 2017: Mathematics Education beyond 16: Pathways and Transitions, 10-12 Jul 2017, University of Birmingham.

URL: https://ima.org.uk/2996/mathematics-education-beyo...

Abstract

Mathematics anxiety, a prevalent, acquired, disabling and treatable condition, can be thought of as “an emotional handbrake” on mathematical thinking and problem solving. Thus, in or-der to develop mathematical thinking and problem solving as effectively as possible, it is im-portant to enable learners to address any mathematics anxiety explicitly.
Some interventions have been found effective in reducing mathematical anxiety, and some in building mathematical resilience. Being asked to engage in problem solving can have short-term impact on learners’ ability to manage the affective domain. However, the use of the Growth Zone model and other resources designed to develop mathematical resilience can have long-term positive impact on learners’ ability to manage the affective domain.
The paper draws on the work of a teacher working with us on the Growth Zone model in Spain and three teachers undertaking post-graduate study at the University of Warwick to illustrate the underlying premise, that addressing anxiety will enable higher attainment in problem solving. Teachers such as Silversides (2013), Chisholm (2017) and King (2016) have found the Growth Zone model to have high efficacy in enabling learners to communicate and learn to manage their feelings when learning to problem solve.
Interviews with learners reveal that most find the Growth Zone model effective to build mathematical resilience and communicate emotions. This is important, since success in mathematics is heavily dependent on emotion. We conjecture that explicit use of a tool such as the Growth Zone model is most effective in improving learners’ willingness and ability to engage in problem solving when combined with artefacts such as a ‘stuck’ poster.

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