Category Archives: 1 Prof. Values & Personal Commitment

Maths Anxiety

Maths anxieties is defined as when a student has a negative reaction to mathematics (University of Cambridge, 2017) These kind of feelings can often be crippling for the students who are learning the subject and result in the students having a negative relationship with maths. I personally have had these feelings often and believe this is one of the main reasons for the way I still feel about maths to this day. The feeling of nervousness has never left me and due to this I feel I still have a negative relationship with maths. This has even led me to feel nervous about teaching maths while on placement.

There are many different symptoms of maths anxiety (Oxford Learning, 2017). Students often end up having passive feelings towards the subject, they may feel so nervous and like they can’t do it, to the point where they do not even want to try.  Confidence is also an issue, students often feel like they will not get the answers right so do not offer answers. These feelings then often result in panic when it comes to class tests and having to answer in front of people.

Symptoms like this are very common amongst students and often lead to them dropping the subject as soon as possible. Personally for me, this was because I only needed my National 5 to get into University and believed that when it came to sitting my higher subjects, I was better choosing subjects I felt more confident in. However, it has been found that students who have only completed the compulsory level of maths at school and no further, are much more likely to struggle when they attend University (Turner and Berman, 2014, as cited in Metje, Frank and Croft, 2007). This is especially true for students who need even a small amount of maths for their course. Therefore, it is of the upmost importance that we try and help students overcome these feelings so that is does not result in a negative impact on them in the future.

There are many ways teachers can help pupils overcome their maths anxiety. This includes encouragement and making sure that the students understand that it is okay to make mistakes. Class discussions and working together are also a good way of putting students at ease instead of calling on individuals. Along with this, switching it up in the classroom and trying to teach more creatively can also result in a more in depth understanding of the material, therefore resulting in a higher level of confidence when it comes to answering questions and in the subject in general.

It was found that 30% of pupils in Scotland feel nervous and tense when they have to do maths and 50% feel like mathematics is too hard (PISA, 2012). From these statistics it is clear that we must do more in our schools to encourage the learning and development of skills in mathematics. Overall, along with being damaging to the individual themselves, maths anxiety can also have a more serious effect on pupils in the long run. Therefore, I believe it is vital that we support pupils and help them with these feelings to improve their relationship with the subject as this would benefit them greatly in future life.


Metje, N., Frank, H.L., Croft, P. (2007) Can’t do maths – understanding students’ math anxiety.Oxford: Oxford University Press

Oxford Learning (2017)  What is Math Anxiety? Available at:   (Accessed 5th November 2018)

Programme for International Student Assessment (2012) Improving schools in Scotland: an OECD perspective. Available at: (Accessed 5th November 2018)

Teach Hub (N.D.) 12 Ways to Overcome Math Problem Solving and Test Anxiety in Students. Available at: (Accessed 5th November 2018)

University of Cambridge (2017) What is Mathematics Anxiety? Available at:  (Accessed 5th November 2018)

Maths and Art

An input i found very interesting, and thoroughly enjoyed, from the Discovering Maths module, was about how maths can be creative. I have to admit, this thought had never really crossed my mind. We spent time talking about, and looking at, tessellation’s and different forms of islamic art. Although I have seen both of these before, I never understood that maths plays such a big role in their creation.

We first discussed how many sides each shape has and took turns quizzing each other about this. We then moved onto talking about the different types of shape. This included polygons and quadrilaterals, along with talking about regular and irregular shapes. This led us onto tessellation. Tessellation is defined as “an arrangement of shapes being closely fitted together”. We were able to use what we had already discussed to talk about which shapes would be able to do this and which would not. All triangles and quadrilaterals tesselate along with a few regular shapes (squares, hexagons and equilateral triangles).

My favourite part of the input was learning about the different types Islamic art. Many examples of this kind of art have been created by tessellating different shapes.

Another example of Islamic art is the design of Islamic stars. We had the chance to create our own Islamic stars. We did this by firstly drawing a circle using a compass, then drawing a series of lines to create shapes within the circle. I found this activity very enjoyable and it highlighted to me that maths can be fun and creative. Inserted below is one I created in the workshop.

Because I enjoyed this input, I decided to try out a different form of creative maths at home. We were given the link to a digital roots website which showed how you could create patterns (similar to the image above) using digital roots. Digital roots are one digit numbers relating to a numbers times table. For example:

2 x 1 = 2 ( 2 is the digital root)

2 x 2 = 4 (4 is the digital root)

However, when the answer becomes more than a 1 digit number, you add the numbers in the answer together to get the digital root:

2 x 5 = 10 (1 + 0 = 1) 1 is the digital root

2 x 6 = 12 (1 + 2 = 3) 3 is the digital root

Following the instructions from the website, I created a circle using a compass and plotted 9 points on it, numbered 1 – 9. I then drew lines from number to number in the order of the digital roots. I did this for the 2, 5 and 8 times tables creating 3 different patterns.

I thoroughly enjoyed this activity and it has shown me that there are many different ways to learn about maths. Often in maths lessons I have felt nervous about activities and the thought of getting the answer wrong has always worried me. However, I found this type of learning to be a completely different experience. It was much more enjoyable and relaxed while still being  able to learn about maths. Therefore, I believe learning creatively about this subject is very beneficial.

Link to digital roots website:



Semester 1 Reflection

During my first semester at the University of Dundee, I learned a lot. Before I started the education course, I wasn’t very sure what to expect. When I learned that one of the modules entailed us working together with members from other professions, I was, at first, apprehensive. I knew little about the Social Work and CLD professions. However, working together with my group was one of the most important aspects of the first semester for me. I soon realised, after working as a group for only a short period of time, that I had no reason to be apprehensive. Although we were different in many ways, including profession, age and gender, we all had a common goal which enabled us to work well as a team. This was one of the most important things to happen to me as I not only learned a lot about myself and my own profession, but the others in my group too. This played a key role in my professional development as I was given the opportunity to work with people from other professions as I will when I am a teacher. Therefore, it has been a very worthwhile experience.

As much as in the past I have enjoyed working as part of a group, I have always said that I prefer working on my own. This is not to do with me being anti-social but rather I prefer to work at my own pace and not have to face the worry of being judged by others for my thoughts and ideas. However, through the working together module, I have learned how important it is to listen to others and value their opinions as well as sharing my own. I had a very positive experience with my group and I truly believe that we would not have done as well if it wasn’t for the contribution of everyone in the group. This highlights to me how beneficial it can be to work as part of a team and not just independently. As for feeling worried about speaking out in front of my group, I did not find this to be an issue. Everyone valued the opinions of everyone else and it has taught me that I should use my voice and contribute to discussions more. Although at first I did feel slightly nervous, as i got know my group and began to feel more comfortable around them, it soon became easy to speak out. This benefits me as well as the people I work with.

The process of reflection has been very important to me over the last few months. Although I started out apprehensive, when I look back on working with my group, I realise how important and significant it was. It has not only helped me as an individual, but I will also carry the experience with me into my profession when I have to work with people from different professions. I will no longer feel as nervous to share my ideas as I know we all have a common goal and everyone’s opinions will be valued. I feel I have come a long way from when I first started at the University. I very rarely contributed in discussions and when I did, I always felt nervous I was going to give the wrong answer. Since the module, I have become much more open when sharing my views and I truly believe this will help me in the future.

Reflective Response to the Resource Allocation Task

The task we were asked to carry out in the first workshop of our ‘Values: Self Society and the Professions’ module, was to create something that would be useful to a new student starting University. We were split into five groups when we arrived. Each group was given an envelope which contained supplies to enable us to carry out this task. The group I was in was given an envelope containing very few items, such as a few rubber bands, post-it notes and pencils. Upon looking around the room, we noticed a couple of the groups had very full envelopes that contained many more useful supplies than ours did. However, we also noticed that a couple of the other groups had even less. At first, we struggled to come up with an idea using the supplies we had been allocated, but knew it could be worse as we could have even less.

It was very clear from the start that not all of the groups were being treated equally. The two groups that had very full envelopes were given more attention and assistance than the others from the workshop leader. We also had to present our idea to the rest of the groups before we were to make it. The response from the workshop leader towards the groups who had been given more supplies was much more positive and they were given more praise and encouragement than the groups who had less. Once we had finished our designs, we were all scored out of 10. The groups with the most supplies were given much higher scores, whereas the groups with less supplies were given lower scores. This was frustrating as, one of the members of another group pointed out, we had to work much harder to come up with an idea. As we had very little supplies, we had to be much more creative. Because of this, we believed we should have received higher scores as, although our finished product was not as colourful and didn’t look as good as the others, we had worked hard to produce something useful with our limited supplies.

We were asked how this activity made us feel. The three groups which hadn’t received enough supplies and had gotten poor scores all said that it made them feel bad about themselves. It made us feel like we weren’t as good as the other groups and we felt disappointed in ourselves, even though we had tried our best. This is when we were told the truth about the workshop and that us not getting treated equally was done on purpose. This was to make us think about how bad it made us feel to not be treated the same as the other groups and how we should never do this while working in the professions we are training to be a part of.

This really made me think about how important it is to treat people equally and with respect. It showed us how bad it can make people feel if they are treated differently from others, especially if the reason for it is through no fault of their own. It also highlights to us that often, we do not realise how much we have and how lucky we are compared to many others. The groups with the most supplies were asked after the exercise if they had thought to give any of their supplies to any of the other groups. Their response was no. This wasn’t because they were being malicious or selfish, but because they were thinking that because they had enough, everyone else must do to. Also, they had plenty of supplies to carry out the task to a very high standard, so why would they need to think about the other groups and what they had if they had enough themselves?

I believe this task was very important and can be related to the three professions that people taking this module are training to be a part of, Education, Social Work and CLD. It shows us that we must treat everyone that we will work with equally and give them the same guidance and support. It highlighted the negative effects it can have on them if we do not, like leading them to believe they are not as good as others or like they cannot achieve as much. Therefore, I believe this workshop was very worthwhile.

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Welcome to your ePortfolio. This is where you will document and share your professional thoughts and experiences over the course of your study at the University of Dundee and beyond that when you begin teaching. You have the control over what you want to make public and what you would rather keep on a password protected page.

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Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

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