Deconstructing maths anxiety: Helping students to develop a positive attitude towards learning maths

Sarah Buckley

Higher maths ability is often believed to go hand-in-hand with greater levels of general intelligence. At the same time, many students have a negative attitude towards maths. Maths anxiety is defined in the research literature as feelings of concern, tension or nervousness that are experienced in combination with maths. In 2005, researchers in the United States estimated that approximately 20 per cent of the US population were highly maths anxious. Given the cultural similarities between the US and Australia, we can assume that the percentage would be comparable here.

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The power of expectation

Geoff N Masters

Success in most fields of endeavour depends on an ability to visualise success. It has long been known that elite athletes mentally rehearse each performance prior to its execution. Advances in neuroscience show why this may be so important: the neurological processes involved in visualising a performance are almost identical to those involved in the performance itself. Indeed, simply watching somebody else perform activates 'mirror' neurons in the observer paralleling neuronal activity in the performer. The ability to visualise success and an accompanying belief that success is possible appear to be prerequisites for most forms of human achievement.

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Preparing 21st century learners: The case for school-community collaborations

Michele Lonsdale and Michelle Anderson

Highly effective schools have high levels of parent and community engagement. Community here includes parents, business and philanthropic organisations, and various services and not-for-profit groups. How engagement is defined and what it looks like in practice will vary from school to school. But, as the growing body of research makes quite clear, support from those beyond the school gates is an essential part of preparing learners for the twenty-first century.

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Towards a growth mindset in assessment

Geoff N Masters

The approaches we take to assessing learning, the kinds of tasks we assign and the way we report success or failure at school send powerful messages to students not only about their own learning, but also about the nature of learning itself. Assessment and reporting processes shape student, parent and community beliefs about learning—sometimes in unintended ways.

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The hard work of improvement

Geoff N Masters

A common strategy for promoting improved employee or organisational performance is to place a strong focus on organisational results. For example, in commercial businesses, it is common to focus on results such as sales volumes, total business revenue, annual company profit or share price. With desired results clearly identified, results metrics are then established to measure existing performance levels, set targets for improvement, monitor improvement over time and hold employees accountable for achieving better results.

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Assessing student learning: Why reform is overdue

Geoff N Masters

Advances in our understanding of human learning require new approaches to assessing and monitoring student learning. Much assessment thinking has changed little over the past fifty years. The field continues to be dominated by twentieth century introductory textbook concepts, including such dichotomies as formative versus summative assessment, criterion-referenced versus norm-referenced testing, quantitative versus qualitative assessment, informal versus formal assessment—distinctions that often hamper rather than promote clear thinking about assessment.

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Teaching reading comprehension

Independent reading and teacher-scaffolded reading both contribute to the development of students' reading comprehension skills.

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Why is text complexity important?

The skills a reader requires to comprehend a text are determined by the complexity of the text and the difficulty of the task. Easy questions tend to be easy, even when the text is complex. Deep understanding of a complex text is more difficult to acquire than a superficial understanding.

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