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Stanford University

How to Learn Math: For Students

Stanford University via edX


How to Learn Math is a free self-paced class for learners of all levels of mathematics. It combines really important information on the brain and learning with new evidence on the best ways to approach and learn math effectively. Many people have had negative experiences with math, and end up disliking math or failing. This class will give learners of math the information they need to become powerful math learners, it will correct any misconceptions they have about what math is, and it will teach them about their own potential to succeed and the strategies needed to approach math effectively. If you have had past negative experiences with math this will help change your relationship to one that is positive and powerful. The course will feature Jo and a team of undergraduates, as well as videos of math in action - in dance, juggling, snowflakes, soccer and many other applications. It is designed with a pedagogy of active engagement. The course is planned to remain available indefinitely.


Part 1: The Brain and Math Learning.

1. Knocking Down the Myths About Math.

Everyone can learn math well. There is no such thing as a “math person”. This session give stunning new evidence on brain growth, and consider what it means for math learners.

2. Math and Mindset

When individuals change their mindset from fixed to growth their learning potential increases drastically. In this session participants will be encouraged to develop a growth mindset for math.

3. Mistakes and Speed

Recent brain evidence shows the value of students working on challenging work and even making mistakes. But many students are afraid of mistakes and think it means they are not a math person. This session will encourage students to think positively about mistakes. It will also help debunk myths about math and speed.

Part 2: Strategies for Success.

1. Number Flexibility, Mathematical Reasoning, and Connections

In this session participants will engage in a “number talk” and see different solutions of number problems to understand and learn ways to act on numbers flexibility. Number sense is critical to all levels of math and lack of number sense is the reason that many students fail courses in algebra and beyond. Participants will also learn about the value of talking, reasoning, and making connections in math.

2. Number Patterns and Representations

In this session participants will see that math is a subject that is made up of connected, big ideas. They will learn about the value of sense making, intuition, and mathematical drawing. A special section on fractions will help students learn the big ideas in fractions and the value of understanding big ideas in math more generally.

3. Math in Life, Nature and Work

In this session participants will see math as something valuable, exciting, and present throughout life. They will see mathematical patterns in nature and in different sports, exploring in depth the mathematics in dance and juggling. This session will review the key ideas from the course and help participants take the important strategies and ideas they have learned into their future.

Taught by

Jo Boaler


4.3 rating, based on 17 Class Central reviews

Start your review of How to Learn Math: For Students

  • Initial note: this course does not offer a certificate upon completion. I took this course in an attempt to prepare myself psychologically and emotionally to re-learn college-level mathematics, at the very least. I believe that in doing so, I can e…
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    This course is kind of a mini-MOOC. I completed it in a day with ease. There are virtually no exercises or assignments but only short video lectures.

    That being said, I think that a student will probably pick up some beneficial ideas from this course. This course is quite similar to the Learning How To Learn MOOC provided by Barbara Oakley. It highlights the importance of number flexibility, thinking about the big picture, collaborative learning, using mathematical reasoning, looking for patterns and preferring understanding over memorization. Some of the traditional myths regarding math are also said to wrong. However, I didn't like the frivolity in this course and the poor presentation of evidence by the student instructors.
  • Brian Khor Jia Jiunn

    Brian Khor Jia Jiunn completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    A great course to improve learner's relationship with math. I will recommend it to anyone who struggles with math for them to change their view and perspective about mathematics (and hopefully they will start loving math).
  • Juanra is taking this course right now, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    I never imagined that maths could be so fun!! Incredible course, it opened my eyes in many ways. I discovered new ways of learning/teaching maths, perfect for teachers and parents.
  • Keywords
    Patterns, Numerical Flexibility, Reasoning, Growth Mindset, Math / Speed, Math / Mistakes.
    "Open mind Course"
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Great class, very good ideas for gaining confidence in your abilities. Points out that deep understanding of the concepts in math is far more valuable than just memorizing complicated formulas. Very well done!
  • Erkin Ozlen

    Erkin Ozlen completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    It is a course with fun that includes lots of real cases from our daily life and many examples that even also shows that there are few people around you that have similar views or fears against Math
  • Uros J

    Uros J completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    Very interesting, more of a short psychology course, to motivate you to learn. It basically says you can do/learn anything if you try hard enough.
  • Profile image for A Kim
    A Kim

    A Kim completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    Useless, don't take it . WASTE OF TIME, especially for college students. You can learn from Learning how to learn, improving your study techquies, effective thinking in Maths instead.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    I like mathematics a lot but i do not know much about it .i am not that smart but at least i am trying to do better in studies i like indices and also binary numbers and trigonometry
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    The course doesn't offer anything new and is awfully slow-paced. Additionally, most videos and exercises are completely unnecessary and don't supplement learning.
  • Simon Buchholz completed this course.

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    Ryan Jarrett

    Ryan Jarrett completed this course.

  • Ahmet Arduç completed this course.

  • Dylan Thomas

    Dylan Thomas completed this course.

  • Melanie McGrenere

    Melanie McGrenere completed this course.

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