*第四十篇 Teaching Math, Teaching Anxiety
In a new study about the way kids learn math in elementary school, the psychologists at the
University of Chicagol1 Sian Beilock and Susan Levine found a surprising relationship between what female teachers think and what female students learn:If a female teacher is uncomfortable with her own math skills, then her female students are more likely to believe that boys are better than girls at math.
"If these girls keep getting math-anxious female teachers2 in later grades, it may create a snowball effect on their math achievement3 said Levine. In other words,girls may end up learning math anxiety from their teachers4. The study suggests that if these girls grow up believing that boys are better at math than girls are,then these girls may not do as well as they would have if they were more confident.
Just as students find certain subjects to be difficult, teachers can find certain subjects to be difficult to learn -- and teach. The subject of math can be particularly difficult for everyone. Researchers use the word "anxiety" to describe such feelings: anxiety is uneasiness or worry. The new study found that when a teacher has anxiety about math, that feeling can influence how her female students feel about math. The study involved 65 girls,52 boys and 17 first- and second-grade teachers in elementary schools in the Midwest. The students took math achievement tests at the beginning and end of the school year, and the researchers compared the scores.
The researchers also gave the students tests to tell whether the students believed that a math superstar had to be a boy. Then the researchers turned to the teachers:To find out which teachers were anxious about math,the researchers asked the teachers how they felt at times when they came across math, such as when reading a sales receipt5. A teacher who got nervous looking at the numbers on a sales receipt, for example,was probably anxious about math.
Boys,on average,were unaffected by a teacher's anxiety. On average,girls with math-anxious
teachers scored lower on the end-of-the-year math tests than other girls in the study did.Plus,on the test showing whether someone thought a math superstar had to be a boy,20 girls showed feeling that boys would be better at math -- and all of these girls had been taught by female teachers who had math anxiety.
"This is an interesting study,but the results need to be interpreted as preliminary and in need
of replication with a larger sample6," said David Geary,a psychologist at the University of Missouri7 in Columbia.
snowball /'sn ub :l/雪球；滚雪球式增长的事 replication/repli'kei n/ n ．重复，复现 superstar/'sju:p sta:/ n．超级明星
1. University of Chicago：芝加哥大学。位于美国伊利诺伊州芝加哥市，是世界一流的私立大学，创建于1891 年。
2. keep getting math-anxious female teachers：一直由对数学有焦虑感的女教师教授数学。此处getting是having的意思，math-anxious指的是上文中提到的对数学没有自信的心理状态。另见第三段最后一句对anxiety的解释。
3. snowball effect on their math achievement：在数学成就上的雪球效应。其含义是：在数学上越来越没有信心。
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