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Concern regarding teachers and how they transfer anxiety to some students

A new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science claims female teachers who show an anxiousness in math can share that attitude with female students.

The study was based on 17 first- and second-grade elementary school teachers, along with 52 boys and 65 girls.  At the beginning of the school year, researchers learned boys' and girls' math achievement didn't correlate depending on the attitude of their teacher.  

Boys weren't affected, but girls who began to believe boys are naturally better at math yielded lower grades.

"We are not sure whether it's something overt, whether it's non-verbal behavior or perhaps (teachers are) not spending much time on the subject," said Susan Levine, University of Chicago psychology and human development professor, co-author of the “Female Teachers' Math Anxiety Affects Girls' Math Achievement” study.  "It's not just a teacher's knowledge of the subject, but there' something about their feeling about the discipline."

This is a significant problem since there is a high demand for scientists, engineers and mathematicians, as these are in-demand jobs that help stimulate the economy.  However, men continue to dominate the engineering and IT jobs, and researchers believe it's detrimental to research to "dismiss 50%" of researchers because they are women.

The National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education indicates more than 90% of all elementary school teachers in the U.S. are women -- an inadequate level of mathematics study is required to receive a teaching certificate, which is something that may be addressed in the future.





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