Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Promoting Mathematics Resilience

Research students working on mathematical resilience:

Mary Lugalia (completed)
Chris Chisholm (completed)
Katie Baker (Coventry University)

Joyce Nyama
Janet Baker
Holly Heshmati
Aicha Hadji-Sonni
John Thomas
Ben Sinclair
Sarah King

The Shard Symposium

This symposium, held in January 2015, was convened to bring together practitioners, funders and researchers to discuss what was happening to enable learners and supporters of learning to develop Mathematical Resilience. The presentations are available at http://www.mathematical



Thank you for your interest.

Evidence is accruing that developing Mathematical Resilience is fundamental to developing a numerate, empowered society.

Sue Johnston-Wilder of CES and Clare Lee of the Open University are collaborating with a range of partners including Warwick Centre for Lifelong Learning, The Progression Trust, ASDAN and two Maths Hubs (Enigma and Central) to support awareness and encourage the development of Mathematical Resilience among practitioners, funders, researchers, parents and learners through various projects and events.

Leaners who have acquired maths anxiety tend to stay in their mathematical comfort zone. In our work, we introduce learners to the growth zone, just outside the comfort zone, where they might feel challenged, need support, and learn from mistakes; they learn to distinguish this from the danger zone where, because their brains perceive a threat based on prior negative experience, they cannot think mathematically (Siegel, 2010). Learners often feel stupid as a consequence of this experience.

Learners often tell us their mathematical growth zone is 'too narrow'. We build on the work of others to help learners develop their growth zone; we also teach them how to manage their emotions if they find themselves in the danger zone (Benson, 2000). Bandura used the term 'resilient self-efficacy' and much of his work that we have read focusses on developing the learner's growth zone.

Further updates are available from: and

Chaired by Clare Lee
The Second International Conference on Mathematical Resilience March 3/4, 2017
Hosted by The Open University; Convened by Clare Lee and Sue Johnston-Wilder
The First International Conference on Mathematical Resilience March 4/5/6, 2016
Hosted by The University of Warwick; Convened by Sue Johnston-Wilder and Clare Lee; supported by the Warwick ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, which made bursaries available to teacher participants.

Coaching for Mathematical Resilience

This programme is for adults and older learners who are currently maths anxious or maths avoidant and would like to be able to support themselves and other learners to become re-included in learning mathematics.

Teaching for Mathematical Resilience

This programme is for current teachers of mathematics; the programme has been extended to teaching for English Resilience.

Parenting for Mathematical Resilience

This work is being carried out in collaboration with Dr Rosemary Russell and Dr Janet Goodall (Bath University) and also with Katie Baker at Coventry University,

Developing mathematical resilience in learners 1-1

This work is being carried out in collaboration with Ellen Marshall in Sheffield and with Dr Janet Goodall in Bath.

Further reading

We are building an annotated bibliography.

Mathematics Anxiety among Existing Apprentices
Sue Johnston-Wilder and Susan Goodlad (CEI)

In partnership with the Progression Trust and Asdan, the Centre for Education Studies (CES) and the Centre for Education and Industry (CEI) conducted research into the prevalence of Mathematics Anxiety among apprentices across Coventry and Warwickshire. By surveying existing apprentices, the researchers explored the extent to which STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and non-STEM apprentices are affected by mathematics anxiety, the extent to which mathematics anxiety affects choice of apprenticeship, and to what extent STEM and non-STEM apprentices are mathematically resilient.

The project was commissioned and funded by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the final report can be accessed here