Writing Away Academic Anxiety

A simple, 10-minute writing exercise can significantly improve test performance for students with math anxiety. These findings were reported by Sian L. Beilock of the University of Chicago, who spoke about her research on math anxiety at the 24th APS Annual Convention before signing copies of her book Choke: The Secret to Performing Under Pressure. Beilock discussed behavioral and brain imaging work examining how students’ knowledge and general cognitive abilities interact with social and emotional factors to influence performance in academic arenas such as math. “If you can understand just a little bit about the mechanisms that influence performance, then you can develop pretty simple psychological tools and techniques to help students perform at their best when the stress is on,” Beliock says. There’s a real power with understanding the cognitive and neural mechanisms of why we fail because it gives us the tools and tips and techniques to figure out how to make us all sail instead.”

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