Making Math Accessible Lesson One: What keeps a student from learning and appreciating mathematics


Return to: Making Math Accessible or ETAP 623 Spring 2014

Lesson Objectives and Overview

The goal of this lesson is to understand why students students have difficulties with learning mathematics by looking at various reasons for such difficulties. We will begin by thinking about what difficulties we have seen from our own students and in our own experiences, then look at common barriers and look at resources that detail this further, and lastly reflect on how our understanding has changed.

Opening Activity

Consider the following questions in light of your thoughts on the suggested activity from the introduction:

  • What are some difficulties you have seen students encounter in your experience?
  • What do you think is the biggest barrier to students learning mathematics?
  • What motivational strategies do you think would be effective?

Now post your answers to these questions as a post in Padlet. Click this link to take you to the discussion page for this activity.

Common Barriers


For this section click the links given and read the page linked to for more details on the barrier given.

  • Misconceptions held by students.
  • Learning disabilities that effect mathematics ability.(PBS Misunderstood Minds: Difficulties with Mathematics)
  • Students think that math is hard or get anxious about math. (Math Anxiety)
  • Students not understanding the language of mathematics.
  • Poor study and practice skills.
  • Students do not find mathematics interesting.
  • Students do not see mathematics as relevant to their own lives.
  • Students think that they will never use math, so why learn it.

Closing Activity

After reading through the the barriers listed as well as the three reading linked to above, respond to the following question: How has your view of students difficulties with mathematics changed and are there any difficulties that you hadn't anticipated? Follow this link to respond for this activity.

Next Steps

Before moving on to the next lesson consider the barriers given. Try to come up with one or more methods to address each barrier and list them out for yourself.

Continue on to Lesson Two: Lesson Two: Working with disabilities and anxiety in math