What does a ‘math person’ look like?

What does a ‘math person’ look like?

Math is more than just the “M” in “STEM” — it unlocks all the other subjects and is a prerequisite for jobs in industries like healthcare and technology. But students of all ages feel anxious about learning math, and it can be an especially intimidating subject for adults who face other challenges — from time and resource constraints to conflicting work and family obligations — when pursuing academic goals. Overcoming those obstacles requires persistence and motivation.

Over the past three years, our Power in Numbers work on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education has focused on helping adults acquire the applied math skills they need to succeed. Our research and conversations with subject matter experts resulted in three reports exploring the potential for technology to serve the unmet needs of adult math learners and educators. Two user groups — dozens of educators from across the country — have evaluated and created open educational resources. And just in time for graduation season, a new video series spotlights three inspiring students who went back to school to earn their high school equivalency degrees and continue their academic studies.

Each video highlights a real person’s experience learning math — and the academic, professional, and everyday benefits of gaining higher-level math skills. And perhaps more importantly, these videos show real humans with diverse backgrounds and motivations, and help adult learners see themselves as success stories in progress. Mohammed, Lakiesha, and Angelo offer an inspiring response to students who say “I’m just not a math person” or “When am I going to use this?”

The videos (in English and Spanish) and a classroom discussion guide are available on LINCS, the U.S. Department of Education’s hub for adult education resources. The fourth and final Power in Numbers report will be available later this year; sign up for the project newsletter to receive updates.


Emily Hallquist
Head of Communications


Head of Content & Community