Mathematics teachers' anxiety towards applied mathematics: The case of mechanics

Hemant Bessoondyal, Ajay Ramful

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Motivated by our teaching experiences with in-service and pre-service teachers during the past decade, this study brings to the forth what we have termed as Mechanics anxiety to refer to teachers’ anxiety towards Mechanics, a branch of applied Mathematics. We gauged Mathematics teachers’ perception of Mechanics and the level of anxiety they experienced from 4 cohorts of PGCE students using three instruments. Analysis of the findings shows how Mathematics teachers’ perception of Mechanics leads them to develop an element of anxiety or phobia towards this optional subject at the A-level. Their protracted image results from a number of assumptions, ranging from their own past experiences as students in Mechanics, their effort and motivation to learn Mechanics as well as cultural factors. On the other hand, an increasing number of students are choosing the option Mechanics at A-level. The perceptible negative attitude that teachers carry is a function of a number of variables among which their prior experience is a strong denominator. It appears that teachers may not have given themselves enough opportunities to experience the subject. Their lack of confidence tends to prompt them to avoid teaching the option Mechanics in favour of Statistics. We suspect that such an anxiety towards Mechanics may be so pervasive that it may be difficult to eliminate if early intervention is not effected. A significant contribution of our study is that it illustrates how the well-known construct of Mathematics anxiety is not 100 only restricted to students but equally applies to pre-service and in-service Mathematics teachers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)99-118
    Number of pages20
    JournalMIE Journal of Education
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

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