Many students possess a deep fear of math when entering Algebra I that often inhibits them from putting forth their best effort. How can a teacher help students internalize their learning and increase their motivation to learn despite a fear of math? This article explores this question in more detail.

Most math teachers have felt the burden of motivating students. Getting students to achieve their best often requires strategies and research based activities to motivate algebra students to go the extra mile.

**Dissolve anxiety**

While teaching new material, a teacher should review basic concepts as part of the discussion. Making connections helps students feel less like algebra is a separate, foreign entity. Chunk the material into manageable tidbits, using step-by-step approaches. Give medium length assignments to start in class and finish on their own so students will have a few good examples to follow as a guide if they do not take notes. Starting the lesson in class also teaches them to get started right away. These strategies alleviate math anxiety and give students a plan to follow.

**Accountability to peers**

Use a cooperative learning strategy such as share-pair algebra pages. This consists of a two-column format of algebra problems. In pairs, students take turns coaching or performing a problem. When finished, students split the page down the middle to keep their own work.

**Demand student contribution**

Refuse to spoon feed. Raise performance expectations by only taking students so far, and make them finish the thought. Gradually provide less and less of the process until he or she is doing the entire problem on their own. Most important, though, is to never answer your own question. Rephrasing works, but when teachers answer their own questions, students stop responding. In essence, make sure students are the ones doing the work rather than the teacher.

**Pace the class**

If quantity is not an issue, require a “ticket out the door.” Tell students that in order to leave class they must turn in however much work they finish in class correctly. Collect the assignment as they leave. Students will often strive for accuracy or to finish during the allotted time if they know they will not be allowed to procrastinate until they are at home.

**Application of skills**

Make algebra topics project-based to apply to real life. More than just story problems, ask students about a particular use from within a profession. For example, tie in proportions with administering the correct amount of medication as a nurse. Doing this helps students make connections between algebra and how knowing these skills could help them in the future.

**What do you think? Have you ever experienced any of these strategies from either a teacher or student perspective? Please comment below and share this with others.**

In future articles, contributor Kristen Wilkerson will be exploring each of these strategies in more detail. If you would like to receive an e-mail notification of her publications, please click on “follow” at the top of this article.

Source: Kristen Wilkerson’s teaching experience