Action research: Coaching to build maths students’ confidence

By Rosie Sharp, Director of Quality, Faculty and Higher Education, Fareham College

The action research led by Fareham College explored the impact of coaching for students who felt they suffered with maths anxiety, specifically their progression and confidence in their mathematical ability. The coaching focused on not only developing academic skills but supporting students to adopt a growth mindset.

We collaborated with five other colleges in our region to implement a coaching model that allowed for GCSE resit students to have coaching once a week in addition to their timetabled maths classes.  Coaching took place between January and May with students completing surveys at the beginning, middle and end points of the coaching cycle.

Evaluation of the data has demonstrated that the implementation of a coaching model that develops not only academic skills but additionally supports the development of a growth mindset does indeed impact positively on a students’ mathematical confidence and ability.

Headline data demonstrated that there was a definite improvement in students’ confidence as they progressed through the coaching period.  At the beginning of the study only 32% of students responded positively about their mathematical confidence yet at the end this had risen to 57% clearly demonstrating that coaching did impact somewhat on their feelings regarding their ability. 

90% of participating students stated that they were unhappy about maths assessments at the beginning of the coaching period.  This did improve with the score decreasing to 60% of students stating they were unhappy at the end.

Finally, students were asked to rate how they felt about maths overall.  The data demonstrated a significant increase in students’ positivity about the subject after undertaking the period of coaching.  32% of participating students responded positively at the beginning of the research and by the end, this figure had increased to 55%. 

The coaches also noted that students were more willing to ‘give it ago’ when presented with written maths tasks, problem solving skills improved, confidence in mental maths and multiplication got better and attendance to coaching sessions and extra revision increased.  The attainment of 9-4 GCSE maths grades also improved.  If you are interested in finding out more about the coaching programme please do get in touch.

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