Mathematics for Maths Anxious Tertiary Students: Integrating the cognitive and affective domains using interactive multimedia

Janet Taylor, Linda Galligan


Today, commencing university students come from a diversity of backgrounds and have a broad range of abilities and attitudes. It is well known that attitudes towards mathematics, especially mathematics anxiety, can affect students’ performance to the extent that mathematics is often seen as a barrier to success by many. This paper reports on the design, development and evaluation of an interactive multimedia resource designed to explicitly address students’ beliefs and attitudes towards mathematics by following five characters as they progress through the highs and low of studying a preparatory mathematics course. The resource was built within two theoretical frameworks, one related to effective numeracy teaching (Marr and Helme 1991) and the other related to effective educational technology development (Laurillard 2002). Further, it uses a number of multimedia alternatives (video, audio, animations, diarying, interactive examples and self assessment) to encourage students to feel part of a group, to reflect on their feelings and beliefs about mathematics, to expose students to authentic problem solving and generally build confidence through practice and self-assessment. Evaluation of the resource indicated that it encouraged students to value their own mathematical ability and helped to build confidence, while developing mathematical problem solving skills. The evaluation clearly demonstrated that it is possible to address the affective domain through multimedia initiatives and that this can complement the current focus on computer mediated communication as the primary method of addressing affective goals within the online environment.

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