How to Bridge the “Math Enjoyment Gap”

How to Bridge the “Math Enjoyment Gap”

A YouthTruth project that contains survey responses from 90,000 high school students seeks to help educators bridge the math enjoyment gap, according to K-12 Dive.

The YouthTruth Math Learning and Identity Project spent 15 months gathering data on three fronts: 

  • A comprehensive student experience survey issued to nearly 90,000 high school students during the 2022-23 school year.
  • Open-ended responses from about 66,000 students as part of the same survey.
  • Workshops featuring the input of 100 students from two school districts.


Most students — 70% — said math is something they can become good at if they work hard at it, and 61% said they often or always continue trying even when it gets difficult. Plus, 57% of students said they agree or strongly agree math is important for everyone to know.

Major concerns to be addressed by educators:

  • Less than half of students surveyed — 47% — said their class often or always explores interesting math problems
  • Only 46% said they often or always feel comfortable asking questions when they don’t understand.
  • Students see “school math” as disconnected from the math used in practical or “real” situations.
  • Uninteresting math problems hinder students’ motivation to learn math skills.


Students who are “determined” math learners have strong identities tied to math and positive learning experiences, and they say their teacher relationships are an important part of their motivation and desire to learn the subject.

Takeaways: teachers should:

  • Delve into interesting math problems;
  • Create an environment that invites questions;
  • Connect classroom math to real-life math applications; and
  • Focus on math problems that interest and motivate students to learn math skills.


K-12 Dive

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