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Students scared of Maths in Indian middle schools, the fear only grows with time, survey says

There are several reasons for the disconnect, the core being the redundancy of conventional teaching, said the Cuemath survey.

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New Delhi: Every four out of five children in Classes 7-10 across the country are fearful of Mathematics and their fear of the subject grows as they progress to higher classes, a new survey has revealed.

Cuemath, an after-school live-class programme in Maths, surveyed 1,600 students all over India in June and explored key factors like perception, performance and confidence for Mathematics.

“Class 7 students are in the warm-up phase for high school. However, the fear of math continues as they progress to higher classes. The correlation between perception about math and performance becomes more significant in higher grades,” the survey said.

It said 82 per cent of the students surveyed across Classes 7-10 are fearful of Maths. Only two in 10 students were confident about their ability — supported by the drop in persistence to solve Math problems by nearly 14 percentage points (from 23 per cent in Class 7 to 9 per cent in Class 10).

This could be because concepts get more and more challenging, and rudimentary ways of teaching, it added.

In Class 7, one in seven students have negative perceptions about concepts, and require additional intervention, whereas this number increases to one in four in Class 10.

“There are several reasons for the disconnect, the core being the redundancy of conventional teaching. Coupled with it, home schooling during the pandemic have added to student woes, resulting in loss of interest and a fear of mathematics at a critical juncture of their lives,” it added.

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Proficiency falls

According to the Cuemath survey, Maths proficiency decreases in higher classes. Nearly six out of 10 Class 7 students were found to be proficient in basic math concepts — numbers, applied math, algebra, geometry and mensuration. But this drops down to above a third of all students in Class 8.

“Class 7 students are most inclined and enthusiastic towards Math but as they move towards higher classes, their motivation levels drop. Board exams add to the pressure and fear of math, possibly making Class 10 students perform worse than Class 9 students by 6 percentage points,” the survey said.

Class 9 and 10 students have low self-belief about their math ability. Students in Class 7-9 find algebra and mensuration difficult, whereas geometry adds to their worries in Class 10. As for Class 8 students, it’s applied math (37.10 per cent) that keeps them awake at night.

Surprisingly, it’s seen that students in Class 7-8 find the magic in numbers attractive, fun (getting 3 out of 4 questions correct) and as they move to senior classes, this translates into their fondness for statistics and applied math (getting 3 out of 4 questions correct).

Boys outperform girls across grades. But it is most pronounced from Class 8 to 10.

In Classes 7 and 8, girls seem to be more confident, this deteriorates as they move to higher classes. In the case of boys, their confidence is consistent, across all grades, despite their performance.

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