‘MTSU On the Record’ learns math skills from...

‘MTSU On the Record’ learns math skills from the ‘unknown student’

The “MTSU On the Record” radio program recently examined a clever way to help reduce math anxiety.

Dr. Angela Barlow, professor of mathematical sciences and director of MTSU's Mathematics and Science Education Doctoral Program

Dr. Angela Barlow

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Angela Barlow, director of the Mathematics and Science Education Doctoral Program at MTSU, first aired June 6 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and at You can listen to their conversation above.

In “Learning from the Unknown Student,” a report Barlow co-wrote for the September 2016 edition of Teaching Children Mathematics, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’s academic journal, the professor describes how to create a fictional student to introduce problem-solving methods into the classroom.

The “unknown student” could be a real former student, a totally fictional student or a composite of several former students, Barlow and her colleagues explained. By telling the class that this “unknown student” tried to solve a problem in a certain way, students can feel free to try it without fear of embarrassment or reprisal.

“What we’ve learned is that when we … show students what to do, then the students just accept that and don’t critically think about it,” said Barlow. “That doesn’t effectively support their learning.”

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at

For more information, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.