A new report finds alarming ‘math anxiety’ rates among students in the Gulf nation.
A newly-released study by Qatar University has found that a significant number of students in Qatar’s Grades 7 to 12 experience high levels of mathematics anxiety.
The term “maths anxiety” refers to a state of tension and dread that impairs one’s capacity to perform mathematical operations, manipulate numbers, and solve mathematical problems in a variety of real-world and academic contexts.
In total, around 12,000 students were sampled in the first subproject of the study, which is titled “PRP-C Project: Promoting Sustainable Development of K12 STEM Education in Qatar in a Digital Age.” The study was then published a year later in the most recent issue of Qatar University Research Magazine.
Conducted by Ahmed Abdulrahman Al Emadi, Professor of Psychological Sciences at the College of Education QU, and a team of academics from the fields of math, science, psychology, and engineering, the study launched in January 2021 using the fund of the National Priorities Research Program-Cluster (NPRP-C).
“A large-scale epidemiological study on more than 12,000 students from grade 7 to 12 in a wide range of government schools in Qatar reported that 1 in 5 students suffers from a high level of math anxiety, with a higher prevalence of math anxiety in female students,” the study said.
It also found that, regardless of the student’s gender, high school students in the “Arts” track reported higher levels of math and science anxiety than those in the “Sciences” track. This implies that having a strong understanding of STEM fields and having a positive attitude toward math and science are necessary for success in a STEM career.
In the second subproject, researchers examined how STEM is being implemented by Qatar’s K–12 science and math teachers using the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge Framework (TPACK).
The results show that the impact of teachers’ contextual and background factors on their opinions of the TPACK-PBL in STEM varied, primarily depending on the TPACK components that were examined.
The study came to the additional conclusion that gender and educational specialisation matter and have an impact on teachers’ perceptions of TPACK-PBL in STEM. On the other hand, views of TPACK-PBL in STEM are notable for teachers’ primary areas of expertise and their subject areas.
A teacher’s professional development programme using PBL as a pedagogical intervention is being developed and will be implemented, according to the report. This will assist K–12 science and math teachers in Qatar in building their TPACK–STEM and learning how to integrate PBL into their instructional strategies.
STEM education is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, enhancing people’s lives, and ensuring inclusive and equitable education, all of which are cornerstones of the Qatar National Vision 2030.
The survey found that Qatar still has a severe shortage of STEM teachers, citing Qatari students’ subpar performance on international exams like the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. This makes the study important for the country’s implementation of crucial policies, which build up to the 2030 vision.
In the meantime, according to Prof. Al Emadi’s report, a third subproject that was just commissioned aims to design, implement, and evaluate a technology-enhanced programme using project-based learning to promote K12 STEM efficacy and career interest.
The project’s goal is to provide policymakers in the Qatari Ministry of Education with recommendations and a list of sustainable technologies that can be used to enhance K–12 STEM instruction.