Why is maths so hard? And other maths thoughts from students

What do you think about maths? Is it enjoyable, or is it the most dreaded part of your day? Nearly 100 students said what they really think about maths.

Will you keep studying maths?

89% of students surveyed said; Yes, I will continue studying maths in years 11 & 12.

You might be surprised to learn that this figure is higher than the Australian average. According to a study from AMSI, 80.8% of high school students in Australia were studying some level of maths. Boys are also more likely than girls to be enrolled in higher level maths, the study shows. In the decade from 2006 to 2015, boys’ participation rates for Advanced Maths were between 10% to 15% of the entire maths cohort, where girls accounted for 5-10% of participants.

What level of maths will you study, and why?

  • 21% will study Unit 1 Maths
  • 16% will study Unit 2 Maths
  • 25% will study Unit 3 Maths
  • 7% will study Unit 4 Maths.

Here’s what they had to say about why they choose to study maths:

A student in 2 Unit Maths said; “Maths is important for most careers.”

A Unit 3 student says; “I enjoy Maths and I hope my future career will involve Maths.”

Students from Unit 4 Maths said; “I want to challenge myself” and “Advanced Maths will aid me in my HSC and bring more career opportunities.”

How do you de-stress from maths study?

Here are the top suggestions from students on how to de-stress when maths anxiety kicks in:

1. Take a break and study something else

2. Practise more problems to learn from your mistakes

3. Watch Netflix (or TV)

4. Eat chocolate

Do you find maths fun?

  • Yes – 42.5%
  • No – 27.5%
  • Undecided – 30%.

According to a 2016 report from the Australian Industry Group, 93% of employers are disadvantaged by low-level numeracy skills from their employees. Could our attitudes towards maths be to blame? Saying “I’m not good at maths” is worn as something of a badge of honour in our society. Maths’ bad reputation could be letting students shrug off difficulties and stop them from trying to improve. See why Lily Serna thinks the phrase “I’m not good at maths” should be banned.

How can we make maths more enjoyable?

Here’s how students think maths can be improved:

  • 28% voted for maths games
  • 19% said less homework
  • 16% said less repetitive and more interactive.

Eliza Brockwell

First published on CareerswithSTEM.com

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