Making Math More Manageable
Do you identify as a math person? “While you don’t hear many people say they can’t read, you do hear many of those same people talk about not being a math person,” says Jamie Schroeder, a McKay School undergraduate studying elementary education. “And that’s such a shame since math is so essential in our lives.”
Negative attitudes toward math often begin in elementary school. Studies show that as early as first grade, nearly half of all students say they are nervous about math. “The first thing you probably think of is timed tests, long, boring worksheets, or memorizing formulas,” says Jamie. “If you’re like me, your heart starts to race with anxiety at the thought of trying to get everything correct as fast as you can. And you never really understand exactly how it all works.”
“I’m learning to teach like the Savior, and through my mentorship, I’m learning how to teach math in a way that focuses on the student.”
- Jamie Schroeder
Jamie is trying to fix that. She is researching ways to mitigate math anxiety through cognitively guided instruction, an educational framework that seeks to understand how mathematical ideas develop in children and how to build on their own thinking. “It allows students to experiment and come up with their own ways to problem solve,” she explains. “That way they are better able to make sense of the problem, solution, and process.”
As part of BYU’s Inspiring Learning initiative, Jamie is being mentored in her research by Dr. Brandon McMillan, assistant professor of teacher education. Together they examine student work to determine how children understand math and what they need to be taught to further their understanding.
Speaking to those who support the McKay School, Jamie says, “Thank you for helping me have all these wonderful experiences. My education here is preparing me to be a better teacher. I’m learning to teach like the Savior, and through my mentorship, I’m learning how to teach math in a way that focuses on the student.”