As reported in Overcoming Math Anxiety 1978, 1980, in 600 interviews with college-age and older returning students, Tobias found three significant variables in her subjects' inability to do college-level mathematics: fear of mathematics, the conviction that mathematics is a white male domain, and the conviction that one is either good in mathematics or in language arts but never both. The students' absence of coping skills in dealing with mathematics classes and with their own anxieties appeared to be the main barrier to their attempting mathematics one more time. Subsequently, Tobias focused her research on entering college students. Her second book, Succeed With Math: Every Student's Guide to Conquering Math Anxiety 1987, was commissioned by The College Board. What follows is a selection of excerpts from that book, reconfigured for the use of counselors and advisors.
Sheila Tobias is an independent scholar who has academic appointments at the University of Arizona and the University of California (Davis and San Diego). Further information about math-anxiety clinics, a complete bibliography, and a videotape are available from the author at 724 North Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719.