New book set to tackle ‘mathematics anxiety’

Wed 24 February, 2021
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A longstanding academic from the University of Bedfordshire has published a book which provides teacher educators with an understanding of the issues around ‘mathematics anxiety’ in students.

Dr Karen Wicks, a Senior Lecturer with the School of Teacher Education, has always been interested in learning how best to support her cohort in managing anxieties triggered by learning maths – a common trend she has identified in many of her students over the years.

Pile of booksShe decided to explore this area further by completing a Doctorate in Education (EdD) with Warwick University in 2014. Using the promising observations and learnings she obtained during her research, Dr Wicks decided to write a book – Tackling Anxiety in Primary Mathematics Teachers’ – to help other academics in supporting their students.

Discussing the inspiration behind her first published book, Dr Wicks said: “Throughout my career, I have encountered many enthusiastic and confident learners and teachers of mathematics, and I have enjoyed the perspective they bring to the classroom. However, what has always worried me is how to support those who feel anxious about learning mathematics and the impact this might have on their teaching.

“If adults working with children are anxious, this could be passed on to the children they work with – this concern led me to carry out research, as part of my EdD, within the field of mathematics anxiety to identify, from the learners’ perspectives, what strategies might be employed to help develop their confidence.”

Published by Critical Publishing in February 2021, as part of the Critical Guides for Teacher Educators series, ‘Tackling Anxiety in Primary Mathematics Teachers’ offers the reader guidance on identifying anxieties in their students and provides a framework of teaching strategies to help support trainee primary school teachers in developing confidence, both in teaching mathematics and learning it themselves.

Dr Wicks continued: “I have often encountered learners who thought they could not learn mathematics and I’m always encouraged to see them achieve something they thought was not possible. I hope that by sharing the findings of my research more widely I can aid others who work with anxious learners.”

Dr Karen WicksDr Wicks has had a career in the field of mathematics education for over 35 years, having worked as a primary school teacher in Luton, a head of mathematics in a Bedfordshire middle school and as a local authority numeracy consultant in Hertfordshire, before joining the University of Bedfordshire in 2006.

Based at the historical Putteridge Bury campus on the edge of Luton, Dr Wicks oversees undergraduate units in maths education and is Course Coordinator for the BA (Hons) Applied Education Studies undergraduate degree – a four-year course with part-time evening study, perfect for those already working or volunteering in a primary education setting who wish to pursue a full-time career in teaching.

Commending his colleague on the launch of her book, Dr Perry Knight – Associate Dean and Head of the School of Teacher Education – said: “I would like to congratulate Karen on the successful publication of her first book, ‘Tackling Anxiety in Primary Mathematics Teachers’.  As well as sharing the findings of Karen’s research, this book gives strategies and advice for ‘anxious learners’ of mathematics, which makes it an essential read for all teacher educators.”

In an entry on The Critical Blog, Dr Wicks has provided readers with an overview of her new book, which includes teaching characteristics and strategies and how to identify the specific needs of adult learners.

Book cover
‘Tackling Anxiety in Primary Mathematics Teachers’
is available to purchase in paperback and Kindle Edition from a number of online retailers, including Waterstones, W.H.Smith and Amazon Books.

Graduate success stories and further information about courses, including Applied Education Studies and Primary Education, can be found via the School of Teacher Education’s webpage:


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