The ever-growing strain of examinations, cramming and top-down teaching is turning students off studying maths at university - according to new research.
Professor Julian Williams from The University of Manchester says the pressures caused by cramming for up to 12 exams a year leaves too many AS level maths students tired at the thought of studying more at university.
Professor Williams leads a team of researchers at the School of Education who quizzed 1,700 students from 40 sixth form and further education colleges across England.
The researchers provided evidence that so called 'transmission teaching' - heavily based on preparing for tests - has a statistically significant negative effect of students' intention to study more maths in the future.
They also surveyed and interviewed teachers, with many saying the system presses them to adopt a more top-down style - a root cause of the problem according to the team.
The results follow revelations in May from the Institute of Psychiatry and the mental health charity Rethink that thousands of students are suffering from unprecedented levels of 'exam stress'.
Professor Williams said: "Our results suggest that the present extreme post-16 examination regime supports a strictly traditional, top down teaching approach that discourages many students.
"And that form of teaching is having a negative impact on the intentions of students to continue with maths at university.
"This has to be worrying as maths is a crucial element of science and technology - a key priority of the Government.
"Indeed the economic significance of mathematics and the shortage of mathematically well-qualified students and graduates has been strongly emphasised by recent reports.
"We hope this research will help us understand how mathematics can become more accessible to those students for whom AS/A2 mathematics is a barrier to progressing into mathematically demanding courses."
He added: "Maths is too often regarded as a black and white subject - in other words it's thought to be either right or wrong - so it is possible that this problem is particularly acute in maths.
"But we do feel the findings may also have wider implications on post-16 study as a whole - and questions really need to be asked about the strict auditing and testing regime in general."
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