The Math Narrative Project

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The Math Narrative Project

A narrative approach to improve students' experiences learning math

How do students feel about learning math, and how can adults help them persist when learning math feels hard?

We asked 6th to 10th graders (Black and Hispanic students, as well as students from lower-income households) how they feel about learning math.

Here’s what they told us:

Hover over any bubble to see the students’ feeling it represents. Bubbles with an audio icon are interactive; click to hear a quote directly from the student.

How Students Feel About Math

All Races and Genders


NEGATIVE NEUTRAL/MIXED POSITIVE confused bored stressed frustrated annoyed hard happy interested fun NEGATIVE NEUTRAL/MIXED POSITIVE bored hard happy fun


NEGATIVE NEUTRAL/MIXED POSITIVE confused tired easy hard happy interested excited NEGATIVE NEUTRAL/MIXED POSITIVE confused easy hard happy

Asian & Pacific Islander

NEGATIVE NEUTRAL/MIXED POSITIVE easy hard challenged interested fun NEGATIVE NEUTRAL/MIXED POSITIVE bored easy hard


NEGATIVE NEUTRAL/MIXED POSITIVE stressed frustrated bored hard excited happy NEGATIVE NEUTRAL/MIXED POSITIVE stressed hard happy



Many students have negative emotions about learning math, and those negative emotions can make it harder for students to persist.

Narratives that adults—like teachers and parents*—hold about math can also discourage kids from learning math before they even get to algebra. 

*Throughout this website, the research team uses ‘parent’ to refer to both parents and guardians.

The Math Narrative Project seeks to use narrative as a tool to improve students’ math learning, so that more students want to learn more math.