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PROBLEMS MILITATING AGAINST EFFECTIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF MATHEMATICS IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL

ABSTRACT

This study explores the factors affecting the teaching and learning of students in  Mathematics in Enugu state. The choice of this topic was influenced by the fact that teaching and learning in  Mathematics in Nigeria and particularly in Enugu state has remained low over the years. There are some schools in Enugu state that do not offer  Mathematics at Forms Three and Four levels. This study set out to investigate some of the reasons for this state of affairs. The study was carried out in 12 (twelve) schools sampled from the district, two of which were provincial schools, four district boarding schools, and six district day schools. A total of 144 students participated in the study. There were four Form Two students and eight Form Three students from each school. Stratified random sampling was used to come up with the study sample. One  Mathematics teacher in Form Three was selected from each school making a total of 12 teachers. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that affect teaching and learning in  Mathematics at the secondary school level. The design of the study was a descriptive survey. Data was collected using teachers’ and students’ questionnaires, class observation guides, HODs’ interview schedules’ and students’ achievement tests. These included achievement test scores, students’ gender, entry behavior, learners’ attitude towards  Mathematics, availability, and use of teaching/ learning resources, teacher characteristics, and teaching methodology. The data obtained were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics. Tables and graphs were used to display data. The study found out that availability and proper use of teaching/learning resources improved achievement in  Mathematics. There was a significantly higher enrolment in schools with enough resources compared with those with inadequate resources. This could probably explain the reason why there was a higher enrolment in  Mathematics among provincial schools compared to district schools. The study recommended that teachers should effectively use teaching/learning resources to improve visualization of concepts. Modern teaching methods should also be employed to arouse students’ interest and improve their attitude towards  Mathematics.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1   BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

The attitude towards  Mathematics in secondary schools in Nigeria is an unsatisfactory sequel to the wrong perception that the subject is difficult to assimilate, in spite of the benefits student stand to gain by learning  Mathematics most students nonchalantly chose to study other subjects in place of physic (Okoh, 2002).

Students' attitudes towards  Mathematics to a large extent have an impact on their interest in learning  Mathematics. As such Cupdag(1989) opined that the attitude of students reveals their level of learning toward a particular subject, thus, makes them enthusiastic to learn than those who have unfavorable

attitude towards its.

In this regard, Cheng (2004), in a study conducted regarding students learning in  Mathematics, found out that in the students' evaluation, consistent with their notion that  Mathematics is complex to learn have an unfavorable attitude towards learning it. This also has a negative consequence on teaching the subject, because the negative perception of students becomes a barrier to teaching and learning.

Furthermore, Edward (2006) asserts that research in a similar area which was targeted at assessing students’ beliefs and perception about the nature of  Mathematics learning and evaluation of teaching practices that would help students develop more expert-like beliefs and positive attitude; observed that in spite of the benefit the student would derive from learning  Mathematics their perception about  Mathematics being a difficult subject cannot be easily changed thus affecting the teaching and learning of the subject in secondary schools in Nigeria.

However, Torres (1997) opined that in the present time, the emphasis on science teaching has shifted from teaching science as a body of established knowledge towards science as a human activity. Instead of teaching students to think critically and independently; science teaching to a large extent has taught students to accept scientific knowledge without questions, learn existing theories, and present alternative explanations.

As such,  Mathematics as a dynamic branch of science is difficult to describe, thus, in learning  Mathematics, this should not be taught as a series of formulas to be memorized and applied just for “cultural” purposes but be taught as a dynamic branch of science which should provide questions and explanations on how the world works (Jense, 1995).

It is against this background that the researchers see the subject matter of this research “problem and prospect of teaching and learning  Mathematics in secondary school level” as an issue worthy of investigation.

1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

A lot of studies show the poor performance of students in  Mathematics this is attributed to the notion that  Mathematics is complex to learn thus making students develop an unfavorable altitude towards learning the subject. On the part of teachers,  Mathematics is taught as a series of formulas to be memorized and applied just for the sake of learning as against teaching students to think critically and independently instead of accepting such knowledge without questions. This issue has become a serious concern to education planners and policymakers in Nigeria. As such the subject matter of this research is considered an empirical problem worthy of investigation.

1.3   PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The present study is to determine the problem and prospect of teaching and learning  Mathematics in secondary school level, with a searchlight at federal government college Malali Enugu, Enugu state.

  1. To establish whether students’ attitudes towards Mathematics affects teaching and learning.
  2. To examine how teachers’ characteristics and teaching methodology affect teaching and learning
  • To establish the relationship between learners’ mathematical/spatial ability and its effect on teaching and learning.

1.4 Research Questions

The study sought to answer the following research questions

  1. Does students’ attitude towards Mathematics affect teaching and learning?
  2. Do the teacher characteristics and teaching methodology influence the choice of science subject by Form Three students and performance in Mathematics?
  • To what extent does the students’ mathematical/spatial ability affect students’ performance and enrollment in Mathematics?

1.5  SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The study will be beneficial to  Mathematics teachers in secondary schools who may wish to utilize the findings of this study to improve their teaching method. The study will also be beneficial to policymakers in the education sector especially as they utilize the findings of this study as a basis for policy formulation concerning teaching and learning of  Mathematics. It should be noted that the study will enhance existing knowledge about the problem and prospect of teaching and learning  Mathematics at the secondary school level. The study can also be used as a springboard to carry out similar research as incoming students can use it as reference material.

1.8   ASSUMPTION AND PROBLEMS

The assumptions of the study are that students perceive  Mathematics as a complex subject to learn and thus show a negative attitude towards learning it, which in turn affects their performance.

Secondly, poor teaching method and the traditional method of teaching  Mathematics as a subject to be memorized against proper assimilation and teaching students to think critically and independently rather than accepting knowledge without questioning.

1.9   SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The study will cover an empirical examination of the problem and prospect of teaching and learning  Mathematics in the secondary school level, as well as the examination of the attitude of students and their performance in  Mathematics. The study will equally cover the examination of the theories of learning that are applicable in teaching  Mathematics in secondary schools, as well as the problems militating against teaching and learning of  Mathematics in secondary schools. Empirical data is collected only from federal government college Enugu, the time frame for this study covers a period of five years (2006-2011).

The study is a constraint from problems arising from the inability of the research to employ numerous research designs as well as instruments to obtain research data as such it is not certain if the finding obtained will be the same if other instruments, as well as research designs, were used. The nonchalant attitude of some respondents also affected the validity of the findings. Other limitations include the inability of the research to combined academic work with the research work as well as inadequate literature on the subject matter. The inadequate funds need to undertake this study also constitutes a great limitation to this study.

1.10     OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS

Teaching  Mathematics: The ability to impact knowledge in  Mathematics to students

Learning  Mathematics: The ability to assimilate  Mathematics lessons by students

Attitude: The way students feel and behave towards the learning of  Mathematics

Perception: The way student think about  Mathematics

Performance: How well or badly students learn  Mathematics in secondary school

Prospects: The success recorded in teaching and learning of  Mathematics in secondary schools

 

 

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