New Research Spotlights What Goes Right and Wrong in Doing Math; Two Studies Look at How Education in Different Cultures May Influence Higher Math Skills and How Math Anxiety Inhibits Performance

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Psychologists Jamie Campbell, Ph.D., and Qilin Xue, Ph.D., of the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, report in “Cognitive Arithmetic Across Cultures” on a straightforward study that compared the math performance and strategies of three groups of students who either were educated in different places or grew up in somewhat different cultures, resulting in interesting findings about their differing math performance, especially for complex math. Specifically, Campbell and Xue asked Canadian college students in each group — Chinese educated in the People’s Republic of China, Chinese educated in Canada, and non-Chinese educated in Canada — to solve simple and complex arithmetic problems, and to report how they solved them. Both Chinese groups were better at simple math no matter where they had gone to school, but only the China-educated Chinese were better (far better, at that) at complex math.

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