Struggling in maths adds up to positive results

Teachers said struggling in maths helps students build autonomy and learn through mistakes (Bigstock)

Primary school teachers believe students struggling in mathematics build resilience and develop problem-solving skills, according to a new report partially funded by Catholic organisations. Source: EducationHQ.

New research by James Russo from Monash University’s Faculty of Education shows a shift in teachers’ willingness to embrace struggle in mathematics, believing this sense of challenge is critical to learning.

Published in the Journal of Mathematical Behaviour, researchers interviewed 93 early-years teachers about the role of struggle in the mathematics classroom and how this corresponds with student learning capacity.

More than 90 per cent of teachers interviewed held either positive or conditionally positive beliefs about struggle in the mathematics classroom. Just five of the teachers interviewed held negative views.

The most frequently cited benefits of struggle were the opportunities it provided students to persist through challenge, take risks, build autonomy, develop confidence, foster self-efficacy, learn through mistakes, and acquire a growth mindset.

Dr Russo said close to half of the teachers surveyed believed providing students with opportunities to struggle was effective in building their resilience. In addition, almost one-third of teachers (30 per cent) indicated that the process of struggling was central to learning mathematics.

While the majority of teachers embraced the notion of struggle, others questioned whether it could further disadvantage underachieving students.

The project was funded by the Australian Research Council, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta and Catholic Education Melbourne.


Australian teachers embrace student struggle in maths: study (EducationHQ

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