Contrary to Popular Belief, Students Actually Like Math a Lot More Than They Let On

Sep 25, 2019 | Rockridge

Ask any teacher and they've likely heard more than their fair share of students say they hate math or that it's too hard and they will never use it. However, as kids return to school, they might be looking forward to math class more than they let on, according to a new study commissioned by Texas Instruments and conducted by Research Now Group, Inc., a global leader in digital research. The survey polled approximately 1,000 students across the U.S., between the ages of 13 – 18, to gauge their moods about math and understand what motivates them as they head back to class.

"There is a misconception in this country that kids hate math," said Peter Balyta, former math teacher turned president of TI Education Technology. "Our findings suggest middle and high school students naturally like math, so it's up to us as parents and educators to help kids fuel that passion to develop a deeper understanding of – and hopefully – a lifelong love and appreciation for math."

For the love of math

According to the survey data, nearly twice as many students (46 percent) report they like or love math compared to those who said they hate or dislike it (24 percent). The remainder of students (30 percent) said they were indifferent on the subject. Of those surveyed, a majority (68 percent) of students indicated they would like math more if they better understood how it applied to their future.

The value of math adds up

Additional findings reveal that three quarters (75 percent) of students reported hearing a parent or other adult speak negatively about math with almost half (44 percent) hearing adults say, "I hate math." Despite what they've heard, the vast majority of students see the value in learning math. Most students (77 percent) believe that success in math class equals success in college or career.

Motivated by self, security and salary

As for what motivates students to do their best in math, many students (55 percent) cite proving to themselves that "they can do it" as the ultimate motivator, followed closely by a desire to get into a better college (46 percent) and also landing a better job or career (40 percent). Add to that, when students were told that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 20 jobs with the highest median pay require advanced or applied math skills, most (63 percent) said that stat would motivate them to work even harder in class.

"At TI, we want to help teachers bring math to life for their students by connecting the things that kids are naturally interested in, from fashion to robotics, and revealing the beautiful, complex math behind it," said Balyta. "With a solid understanding of mathematics, students will have the ability and drive to go on to solve some of the world's biggest problems."

With this in mind, TI created a series of fun, free activities called "STEM Behind Cool Careers," that helps students see how math skills are a must for any career, even ones they would least expect. Students can use their TI-Nspire CX or TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculator to explore the math involved in real-life careers from that of a commercial airline pilot to high-end fashion designer.

About the survey:

To view the student math moods and motivations infographic, visit The Texas Instruments survey of 1,007 students ages 13 to 18 years old was conducted July 17-23, 2018 by Research Now Group, Inc., an independent survey research firm ( The margin of sampling error was +/-3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

Provided by Texas Instruments