Many of America’s top math students may be naturally good at numbers, but when it comes to the appeal of the subject, a vast number of them point to teachers as being the most influential in boosting their interest.
That’s the finding of a national survey of 1,253 11th and 12th graders, conducted by the Philadelphia-based Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) that queried the students about their views on math and STEM. The students are participants in this year’s MathWorks Math Modeling (M3) Challenge, an annual internet-based, intensive math modeling contest organized by SIAM. Similar to the gender breakdown of the M3 Challenge, respondents of the survey were about 60 percent male and 40 percent female.
When asked who or what has been most influential in boosting their interest in math, 39 percent of the respondents (40 percent of males and 37 percent of females) said they’re naturally good at math, while 32 percent of those queried (35 percent of females and 31 percent of males) credited a teacher for their interest.