Increased Math Confidence = Improved Math Performance

math confidence

Does this sound familiar?

Amelia completes all the questions in her twenty-page study guide. She reviews her work and tries the questions again.

Then she spends time after school with her teacher to get extra help with a few topics.

But at the end of the day, how Amelia performs on a test depends on how confident she feels!

Multiple studies have found that confidence plays a key role in how students perform.

What does research say?

Professors Lazar Stankov, Suzanne Morony, and Lee Yim Ping at the National Institute of Education in Singapore studied 600 students in multiple schools to see how confidence affects performance.  The complete article can be accessed here:

They found that all students who believed they’re skilled in math actually performed well on math tests!

From the Singapore study, Professor Lazar noted “we know that confidence is a much better predictor of students’ achievements than any other non-cognitive measure. In fact, it acts in a way that it overcomes everything else; so confidence is very important.”



Ripple effect for Calculating Minds 4th grade students

Lily Kate and Merrin wanted to perform better in math class.  When they began tutoring, I noticed that both girls exhibited low math confidence.  They were reluctant to tackle new ideas; were frequently frustrated; tended to give up easily; and overall, did not enjoy math.

Since one of the mathematical building blocks is multiplication facts, we started each tutoring session by reviewing and practicing math facts.  The girls and I set a goal of learning all the facts, 2 – 12, in 8 weeks.  Each time they demonstrated solid mastery of a set of facts, they earned part of an Ice Cream Sundae (to be enjoyed at the end of the 8 weeks).  The girls were extremely motivated to reach their goal and worked tirelessly at home to learn the facts.   And yes, during the 8th tutoring session, they were able to create and devour an Ice Cream Sundae!

Lily Kate and Merrin were thrilled to have met their math goal.  By setting and achieving a measurable goal, there was an observable ripple effect of math confidence – they both gleefully reported that, for the first time, they have an ‘A’ in math!

How can we help foster math confidence?

It is our responsibility as parents and tutors to help set up an environment that allows students to feel confident in their mathematical abilities as they persevere, make mistakes, set and achieve goals and take risks with new ideas.  When students possess this confidence, little stands in the way of their mathematical development!






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