1 University of Warwick (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 Open University (UNITED KINGDOM)
3 The Progression Trust (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 2326-2333
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
The construct of Mathematical Resilience (Johnston-Wilder and Lee, 2010) has been developed to describe a positive stance towards mathematics. This stance enables learners to develop approaches to mathematical learning which enable them to overcome the barriers and setbacks that are part of learning mathematics for many people. A resilient stance towards mathematics can be engineered by a strategic, and explicit, focus on the culture of learning mathematics within both formal and informal learning environments. As part of that cultural engineering, we suggest there is a role for coaches specifically to support emergent resilience. The work described here is focussed on developing coaches who work alongside learners, helping them to think about and use resilient learning ideas when facing difficulties in mathematics. Coaches develop a culture of ‘can do’ mathematics which works to counter the culture, prevalent in the general population, of mathematics helplessness and mathematical anxiety. The coaches are not required to know the answer, but rather to suggest approaches that can yield greater understanding of the mathematical ideas involved.

This paper discusses the outcomes of a pilot programme designed to develop ‘coaches for mathematical resilience’ between April and June 2013. The programme recruited 11 participants who regularly work with apprentices, both young and more mature, in work-based environments. The apprentices are required to learn, and to use, mathematics as part of their on-going training. The participants became part of the programme due to a recognition of their own lack of knowledge about how to overcome deep seated antipathy towards mathematics in themselves, and in those with whom they work.

The data collected before, during and after the pilot programme confirms that, in order to become an effective coach, an individual first needs to develop their own personal mathematical resilience, work through their own anxieties and negative stance towards mathematics in a safe and collaborative environment, before they can coach a learner to develop as a resilient learner of mathematics. A programme that enables an individual to learn to be a coach for mathematical resilience will need to expose the participants to mathematical ideas and challenges, in order to enable participants to recognise and manage their own reactions. Having started to do this, the participants can reflect on their experiences and move on to learning how to help someone else find the resources to overcome their barriers to learning mathematics.
Mathematics, mathematical resilience, coaching.