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Motivation Matters and Interest Counts: Fostering Engagement in Mathematics

By James A. Middleton and Amanda Jansen

Motivation is an issue for every teacher, but it is particularly critical to math teachers who face daunting obstacles to engaging students in challenging math and helping them realize their potential. NCTM’s new book Motivation Matters and Interest Counts: Fostering Engagement in Mathematics gives an account of the entire body of research on motivation in mathematical education, written in an approachable language so that teachers can apply it in their classrooms. This timely book provides an answer to what the authors describe as a motivational epidemic in the United States, one that keeps students from engaging in mathematics and pursuing it toward a degree or an occupation. The book discusses why motivation is a core issue and how to cultivate it in a wide variety of classroom settings. The authors show how to maintain interest as mathematics becomes less obvious to the beginning learner; how to recognize and overcome task-specific resistance, and how to handle math anxiety. As the authors point out, the goal for every mathematics classroom teacher goes beyond cultivating “mastery” in their students to motivating students to “develop mathematics as a personal long-term interest.”

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