One of the biggest deliberations for students considering a Computer Science related career is the mathematical aspect of the field.
A quick search on Google will bring up numerous threads posing a variety of questions. Such as how much maths is involved in Computer Science and is it used much in following careers. Or whether students should quit while they’re ahead and avoid Computer Science entirely if math is a weakness for them.
People generally struggle in one academic subject or another, but most commonly math is the culprit. Society is actually losing out as people avoid taking maths-related university courses or pursuing careers involving mathematics. Including people who could actually be good at it if they’d pushed passed their fear of the subject.
The UK, US and many other countries are suffering from a lack of STEM workers. Who are vital to economic development and international competitiveness. Helping people embrace math would be a partial solution to the problem.
However, part of that problem is determining what being bad at maths actually means. Because as much as people believe they’re naturally bad at it, it’s usually an education issue rather than ability issue.
You can conquer your fear of Maths
Maths anxiety or ‘Mathephobia’ as it is otherwise known, is a real problem. You might think you’ve always struggled with mathematics, but chances are you’ve developed this phobia because of external factors.
Numerous studies have been conducted in this area since it affects so many people. And there are several reasons why it takes hold of us early in our learning lives.
Math is generally the first subject you get right or wrong. So, from a very young age it has the power to either make us feel good at something or not. If children start off on the wrong foot, it can set the tone for a worrisome and negative experience.
What’s also interesting is the correlation between primary school teacher math anxiety and that with pupils. Maths anxiety is more prominent in primary teachers who are more likely to pass it onto young, impressionable learners. So, having a teacher who enjoys and is enthusiastic about math is the best starting point.
Another way this negative knock on effect occurs is through math being taught at home. Young learners generally get assistance from parents or carers with their homework. If they struggle and get frustrated with it, this also gives the impression it is too hard to learn.
Those with math anxiety typically try their best to avoid the subject. As math generally builds on itself, missing out on earlier lessons can make future ones more difficult. Whereas if learners took a gradual and consistent approach to it, they wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed.
Other reasons it troubles people is the fear of looking bad in front of others or receiving poor marks. Which could be improved by approaching mistakes positively, modifying the ranking system and making the learning experience more enjoyable.
Maths in Computer Science isn’t the Monster you think it is
So, your fear of math is likely not a result of your inability to do it. You’ve probably just had bad experiences which have led you to overthink its difficulty.
And while mathematical thinking underpins computing and programming concepts, the complexity with which it’s applied can also be overexaggerated. You will have to learn subjects like Calculus, Algebraic Methods, Trigonometry, Probability and Statistics. However, some aspects of Computer Science are more math heavy than others.
This can influence your future career choice, as you explore each avenue and discover the areas which you enjoy. For instance, Software Developers for the most part need basic algebra or Boolean logic. Whereas a Machine Learning Engineer or Data Scientist uses more advanced math like linear algebra, multivariable calculus and probability theory.
But don’t go writing off half of the curriculum just yet. You need to consider how different your use of math is going to be this time around. Just because you didn’t excel at it in school doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t pick it up now.
Bear in mind that you’re now using math to solve problems and apply logic to something you’re interested in – computers. This alone can put things into a new perspective for you. If it’s the key to exploring something you find fascinating, you’re going to have a more vested interest to learn.
With each topic you tackle, you’ll start to understand how math helps you solve intricate and complex problems. Gaining a deeper insight into these multifaceted systems and how you can utilise them to human advantage. The more math allows you to go further into the subject, the more you’ll want to conquer it for yourself.
Maths is probably the most stable element of Computer Science
Aside from the math involved in Computer Science courses not being the villain it’s portrayed to be, it doesn’t change.
Tech trends come and go. But you’ll never have to bury your head in books and courses to catch up with the latest math craze. So, once you’ve learnt the mathematical elements of Computer Science, you’ll have them for life.
When you think about it that way, math is going to be the easiest part of your course to learn. Since you only have to do it once. Many of the other areas regularly evolve and change, but math will be a loyal friend throughout your career.
So, while it may be tricky to learn initially, it’s well worth persevering.
Get math savvy ahead of time
If you have mathematical anxiety, there are many ways you can tackle this fear ahead of a Computer Science course.
You could enlist the help of a dedicated tutor, study GCSE Math or take a Functional Skills course. These are all excellent ways to practice and prepare for the mathematical elements of Computer Science. Building your confidence ahead of time and breaking down any walls you may have built up earlier in your education.
Once you’re ready, you can take the next step and study one of our Computer Science courses online. Learning at your pace gives you the flexibility to spend as much time as you need on trickier modules. So, if you need to take the math elements a little slower, that’s ok. You’ll also have a dedicated tutor on hand to help with whatever you need.
Don’t let maths anxiety stop you from achieving your goals and embarking on a fascinating career. There is plenty of help on hand to help you get there.
Stonebridge Associated Colleges is a leading UK distance learning provider. With many online courses that allow learners to overcome obstacles and reach their goals.
Click to find out more about our different math courses below.