Last Updated: 04/06/2012*

Is math relevant to middle school students? Findings from the February 2012 “Math Relevance to U.S. Middle School Students” survey reveal mixed attitudes toward this foundational subject. While students say they like math (70 percent) and know it would be important to their future (58 percent), 44 percent of them would rather take out the trash than do their math homework.

The Raytheon-commissioned survey also found that while 94 percent recognize that math is required to build a bridge, only 47 percent thought math was an important part of skateboard design, and only a third of students realize math’s role in photography.

Other key findings include:

In the Classroom

  • Math and science are subjects that students said they favor over social studies, English and foreign language.
  • 85 percent of middle school students prefer hands-on, interactive activities or computer-based lessons to more traditional approaches such as textbooks when it comes to learning.

At Home

  • Almost half of students (48 percent) reported that they enjoy learning about math outside of school. Yet, many students would rather perform unpleasant tasks than do their math homework.
  • Students report spending almost eight hours per day in front of a screen interacting with technology such as computers, tablets, smartphones and televisions, although less than two hours of this “screen time” is related to school and homework.

In their Futures

  • The vast majority of students recognize the role math plays in certain careers involving technology (e.g., building robots, bridges, smartphones) and money (e.g., running a restaurant).

A summary of key findings are depicted in an infographic. Full survey results are also available for download.

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Math Relevance to Middle School Students

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