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New Research Points to Problems for Math Teachers

A new survey of middle school students published by Raytheon finds that there is a dramatic increase in the number of students who "hate" math (from one in 10 to one in five) between the 6th and 8th grades. The survey also reveals that 61 percent of middle schoolers would rather take out the trash than do math home work. On the bright side, only 20 percent would rather get a shot at the doctor's office.

While 39 percent of the students surveyed did cite math as the most important subject for their future careers, only 28 percent of them could actually identify an interesting career that uses math. The results show that girls in particular are "overwhelmingly attracted to to careers that don't use math skills."

Relatedly, a new longitudinal study out of the University of Texas at Austin finds high school teachers tend to see white girls as less capable in math than their male counterparts, even when their performance in the subject is comparable. The reseachers say this bias could affect girls' motivation and career decisions. "If you perceive the message 'You're just not quite as good at math as the boys are' often enough, you may start to believe it," noted the study's lead author.

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