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Departments EDUCATION
A SURVEY TO THE FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE STUDENTSâ€™ POOR PERFORMANCE IN MATHEMATICS IN SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS

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ABSTARCT

Mathematics is intimately connected to daily life and everybodys lifelong planning. Shut out mathematics from daily life and civilisation comes to a standstill. It is in the light of this, that the research seeks to build and elicit among students and teachers the proper appreciation and interest in the value of mathematics to the individual and society. This is done with a particular focus on the senior secondary schools in Idah local government area of Kogi state, Nigeria. The relevant data and information was collected by a teacher questionnaire. It is based on the 4points Likert scale responses. Simple mean was used to analyse the data. Numerical values 4, 3, 2, and 1 were assigned to the options respectively. The mean value for acceptance is X2.5 otherwise reject. For each cluster the acceptance point is 12.5.

The finding of this survey confirmed the fact that; the teacher factor, students attitude and commitment, methods of teaching mathematics, use of instructional materials and the school environment are to a great extent valid factors that influences the students poor performance in mathematics in the senior secondary school certificate Examination.

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Osokoya 2003 defines Education as a continuous process which the society

establishes to assist its members to understand the heritage of the past and to

participate productively in the future. It is the leading out of the inborn powers and

potentialities of the individuals in the society and the acquisition of skills, aptitudes,

and competencies necessary for selfrealisation and for coping with lifes problem.

For Afe 2000, Education is considered as a tool to be used for the integration of the

individual into the society to achieve selfrealisation, develop national consciousness,

promote unity, and strive for social, economic, political, scientific, cultural and

technological progress. Education in science and mathematics therefore becomes

bedrock and indispensable tools for scientific, technological and economic

advancement in any nation. It gives the nation the capacity to apply technology for

the exploitation of the resources of nature. Such exploitation will depend greatly on

mathematics for laying the foundation for political, governmental, military, civil,

scientific, technological advancement, economic development, sociocultural and

environmental peace.

There are number of questions which need to be answered at this stage. What then is

Mathematics Why should everybody learn Mathematics What is the importance of

this subject in life and in school curriculum What shall be the advantage of devoting

so much effort, time, and money to the teaching of Mathematics The importance of

mathematics transcends all the definitions and the prosperity of any country

depends on the volume and quality of mathematics offered in its school system. Obe

1996 conceptualises mathematics as the master and servant of most disciplines and thus, a source of enlightenment and understanding of the universe. He further

opines that without it, the understanding of national problems would be superficial.

Greaber and Weisman 1995 agree that mathematics helps the individual to

understand the environment and to give accurate account of the physical phenomena

around every person. To this end, Setidisho 2001 submits that no other subject

forms a strong binding force among various branches of science as mathematics, and

without it, knowledge of the sciences often remains superficial.

Emphasising the importance of the subject to the society, Robert 1987 stated that in

the United States, mathematics has come to play important roles: in the engineering

of highways, the search for energy, the designing of television sets, the profitable

operation of most business, astronauts flying spacecrafts, the study of epidemics,

the navigation of ships at sea all depends on the study of mathematics. Ogunbanjo

1998 opines that all over the world, sciences has been accepted as a vehicle of

technology, social and economic development. Mathematics is not only basic to these

but is the language of science. In another related study, Igbokwe 2003 highlights

the intricate link of mathematics to science and technology, and contends that

without mathematics there will be no science and without science there will be no

technology, and without technology there will be no modern society. These and many

more reasons are why the Nigerian government believes that the subject should be

taken seriously in our school system; and Nigeria in her march towards technological

development, has not made mathematics a compulsory subject in the curriculum of

the primary and secondary school levels of her educational system Federal Republic

of Nigeria, 2004 but also as a prerequisite to the study of science courses in her

colleges, polytechnics and universities JAMB Brochure, 199922007.

Shapiro 2000 defines Mathematics as the study of qualitative relations; put simply,

it is the science of structure, order, numbers, space and relationships about counting,

measuring and describing of shapes and objects. It qualifies in its own right as a

science but it is often regarded as a language of and a link between all the sciences.

Soyemi 1999 Mathematics is a body of knowledge that opens up the mind to logical

reasoning, analytical thinking and the ability for creative thinking, deep focusing and

clarity of thought and precision. It is the hub on which all scientific and technological

studies find their bearings. In pure sciences it is the basis and language of study, in

applied sciences and technology it is an indispensable tool of analysis, with the social

sciences it is a scaffold and for the Arts the light that gives consistently and

completeness to its study. Osafehinti 1990 observes that the learning of

mathematics in schools represent first, a basic preparation for adult life and secondly

a gateway to a vast array of career choices. And from the societal perspective,

competence in mathematics is essential for the preparation of an informed citizenry

and for continuous production of highly skilled personnel required for industry,

technology and science. The progress of any nation depends upon her scientific and

technological advancement which can only be built on a sound mathematical

education capable of making the citizens effectively functional in the natural and

applied sciences. The study of Mathematics therefore will go a long way to equip

students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology NPE 2004.

Fakuade 1977 sums up this assertion; for the purposes of economic survival, the

ordinary citizen needs to be able to compare and estimate values of articles,

determine prices of foodstuffs, reckon distances and time, weigh evidence and be

able to sift substances from chaffs. Thus in the complexity of the modern society

everyman requires a certain amount of competence in basic mathematics for

purposes of handling money, prosecuting daily businesses, interpreting

mathematical graphs and charts and thinking logically.

In concluding this section therefore, Mathematics Education must contribute

towards the acquirement of these values: knowledge and skills, intellectual habits

and power, desirable attitudes and ideals that are indispensable tools for a successful

and balanced human existence.

During the last fifty years there had been unprecedented efforts in curriculum

reforms in Mathematics education in Nigeria, from the indigenous innovation of the

Africa Mathematic Programme AMP The Entebbe Mathematics 19611969,

through the formation of Nigeria Educational Research Council NERC in 1969. In

spite of the efforts made by these bodies, students failures rate in mathematics has

been on the increase.

Similarly workshops and conferences have also been held to salvage the situation and

gave a solid foundation to mathematic education, curricula developments and

implementation. To name but a few of such events are: The comparative Education

Study and Adaptation Centre 1976 that took care of the secondary level mathematics syllabus, the Benin Conference 1977 and The National Critique Workshop at Onitsha 1978.

Subsequently The National Mathematics Centre formulated and adopted the following objectives for teaching mathematics in Nigeria secondary schools:

i. To generate interest in mathematics and provide a solid foundation for everyday living.

ii. To develop computational skills

iii. To foster the desire and ability to be accurate to a degree relevant to the problem at hand.

iv. To develop and practice logical and abstract thinking

v. To develop capacity to recognise problems and to solve them with related mathematics knowledge.

vi. To provide necessary mathematical background for further education

vii. To stimulate and encourage creativity.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Observations and reports from examining bodies like WAEC, NECO and JAMB revealed that a high percentage of secondary school students continue to perform poorly in mathematics examinations. Despite the laudable efforts at developing an acceptable general mathematics curriculum students performance in the subject appears to be declining over the years. To alleviate the situation in the 1989, the National Mathematics Centre was established. Chief amongst its functions include:

1. To encourage and support activities leading to the improvement of the teaching and learning of mathematical sciences at all levels.

2. To tackle national set goals in the development of mathematical sciences.

3. To inject mathematical education to the rarefied area of theoretical mathematics with a view to increasing the number of mathematicians.

Yet in the face of all these efforts the rate and degree of students poor performance in senior secondary school examination in mathematics must now be a problem of national concern. This sad situation is aptly described by Adeniyi 1988 who rightly observes, that ones involvement in the marking of mathematics for the West African

Examinations Council WAEC is enough to get anyone sorrowful at the state of

Mathematics in Nigeria secondary schools. Some candidates submit their answer

scripts without writing anything in them. Some candidates merely recopy the

questions, while a high percentage of those who try to write anything at all score

below 40. This is aptly confirmed with the release of WAEC result for May/June

2011 as quoted in the Leadership newspaper, the West African Examination Council

WAEC released results of the May/June 2011 west African senior secondary

certificate examination, WASSCE with an abysmal 30 of the candidates making

credit in English and Mathematics. Details of the results showed that the results of

81, 573 candidates representing 5.29 were withheld.

The question that readily comes to mind is; what are the factors responsible for the

students poor performance in mathematics in secondary school examination This

project will therefore take a survey of the factors responsible for these failures, the

effect on students and the future of our society, the attendant problems and proffer

means of the changing the trend of students poor performance in mathematics.

The decline in the numbers of candidates opting to pursue the studies in the sciences has become a matter of considerable societal concern and debate among researchers Jenkins, 1996. Consequently, the promotion of favourable attitudes towards science and learning of Mathematics is extremely critical and important. However, the concept of poor performance in mathematics is rather illdefined, often poorly expressed and not well understood.

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