El Camino College Compton Center Helps Student Overcome Math Anxiety

Tywanna DavisMath anxiety had plagued Tywanna Davis since she was in the third grade. By the time she was a young adult, she had convinced herself that her lack of math skills would hold her back from earning a college degree.

Davis graduated last week from El Camino College Compton Center with an associate degree in general and biological sciences. She was recently accepted to California State University, Dominguez Hills and plans to transfer there to study nursing while also working.

Davis graduated from high school in St. Louis, Missouri and moved to California by herself when she was 19. She decided to attend the former Brooks College to study animation and gain some skills so she could get a job. "I was afraid to apply to a university because I could not perform basic math operations such as division," said Davis. "In math, I was equivalent to someone who can not read a book, math illiterate."

After graduating from Brooks, she worked for several years in telemarketing, customer service, and as an administrative assistant. Then the recession hit and she was laid off in 2009 at the age of 25. The next year she became a single mother. Unemployed and with no family-support system in the state, Davis made the decision to return to college so she could secure a future for her daughter.

Her situation improved when she began using ECC Compton Center's Supplemental Instruction (SI) as soon as she enrolled in Mathematics 12 (basic arithmetic skills) class. The Library-Student Success Center offers SI, which is a peer-facilitated study group geared toward promoting engagement and effective study techniques for basic skills courses, as well as difficult courses that have a low success rate. In the last two years, ECC Compton Center faculty have supported growth and enhancements for the Supplemental Instruction program. Initial results have been very positive and Davis is one example of the significant impact this structured peer-tutoring program can have on student success.

During her time at ECC Compton Center, Davis has received straight A’s in all of her math classes, including statistics. She was so appreciative of her experience working with her SI tutor that she decided to become one herself. She completed the necessary SI coach training and has served as a SI math coach this semester helping other students.

"My whole life, I always said that English was my strongest subject," said Davis. "It is unbelievable that I prefer math over writing now."

Davis hopes other students who are terrified of math are inspired by her story. “If you have difficulties understanding it, you just don’t want to put forth the effort,” she said. “I wanted to learn math so bad and worked hard at it. I cried when I successfully finished my statistics final because it was the turning point when I realized I had been holding myself back.”

"I had worried about math since I was in the third grade, and yet it only took me two years to master," said Davis. “Often times it takes much longer to decide to do something than it does to actually achieve that goal.”

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