Math 7-9

Systems Change

Factor Connections

Hover to see how factors connect to Emotion. Then click connected factors to explore strategies related to multiple factors.

Emotions are complex psychological states stemming from our positive and negative experiences. They can affect our minds and bodies and therefore can support or hinder learning. Cultural and family differences can impact how emotions are expressed and recognized in others.

Main Ideas

Several aspects of Emotion can drive mathematical development:

  • Emotion knowledge, understanding the different kinds of emotions, develops in early childhood and contributes to academic success. As students get older, they develop the ability to recognize more complex emotional concepts and facial expressions, such as mixed emotions.
  • Emotion regulation is the ability to control emotional arousal in order to learn adaptive functioning (the ability to complete daily tasks, cope with changes in the environment, and function successfully in a classroom) and is an important aspect of social competence. As children grow into adolescents, they may face challenges that require emotion regulation due to social, hormonal, or academic pressures. However, maturational changes, including brain plasticity, during this time also offer opportunities to encourage students to use strategies to reframe negative emotions.
  • Mental health is the combination of our emotional and psychological well-being and adjustment. Emotions will fluctuate over time, so it is normal to experience both positive (e.g., excitement, joy) and negative (e.g., anxiety, depression) emotions. Several types of psychiatric disorders first appear during adolescence and girls are at greater risk of developing depression and anxiety. However, students who tend to experience more positive than negative emotions overall, and who are able to successfully manage and minimize stress, will have better overall psychological well-being.

Evidence suggests that Emotion knowledge is vital for Emotion regulation, and Emotion regulation impacts many academic skills, including the development of math skills. Educators may also misinterpret students' emotional states due to biases such as being more likely to perceive Black students as angry or hostile. As a result of different social norms and experiences around Emotion, students may benefit from linguistically and culturally-responsive approaches to addressing emotions.

Students' positive (e.g., enjoyment) or negative (e.g., frustration, anger) emotional reactions during and after they've completed math tasks can also contribute to their Math Mindset and Motivation to engage. Math anxiety is a specific Emotion associated with discomfort around doing math and can negatively impact math performance and self-efficacy. Math anxiety increases from about sixth grade to ninth grade, when it peaks. Guiding students to reframe their struggles with math as normal can help shift their mindsets and boost their self-efficacy.

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