FACTORS INFLUENCING THE ATTITUDE OF STUDENTS TOWARDS THE STUDY OF MATHEMATICS IN NIGERIA

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6 Reasons to Study Mathematics
6 Reasons to Study Mathematics

Abstract

This study was set to examine factors influencing the attitude of students towards the study of mathematics in Nigeria. Students’ attitude towards mathematics has been a factor that is known to influence students’ achievement in mathematics. This study examined the attitude of student’s towards Mathematics and factors influencing students’ attitude towards mathematics in Nigeria. The total population for the study is 200 staff of selected secondary schools in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State was selected randomly. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made up principals, mathematics teachers, senior staff and junior staff was used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies.

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  1. Background of the study

There is no disagreement on the vital importance of mathematics to both the scientist, the technologist and even to every layman in his everyday life (Omenka, 2013). Mathematics is the key element and activity in the day to day living that every human being practices in one form or the other (kurumeh, Akure, and Oguche, 2007). The knowledge of mathematics is an essential tool in our society (Baroody, 1987). It is a tool that can be used in our daily life to overcome the difficulties faced (Bishop, 1996). Due to this, mathematics has been considered as one of the most important core subject in a school curriculum. More mathematics lessons are likely to be taught in schools and colleges throughout the world than any other subject (Orton and Frobisher, 2004). The Nigerian education accorded mathematics a special position in the school curriculum. In fact, it made a core subject for both arts and Science students. All the junior secondary schools students have to pass it at the junior secondary school certificate examination before they are allowed to register for senior secondary school examination. In other words mathematics is one of the core subjects both at the junior and senior secondary school levels. It is also required that a student gets a credit pass in it to get admission for science related courses in the universities. The student under achievement in mathematics is not just a concern for particular countries, but has become a global concern over the years (Pisa, 2003). Despite the relevance of mathematics and the efforts made by the government to improve the student’s achievement in mathematics, the result is not yet satisfactory. The West African Examination council, WAEC (2004) chief examiner’s report shows that 1,090,503 candidates sat for external out of which only 10.5% passed. In 2005 out of 1464,301 candidates that sat for external only 15.2% passed mathematics. In 2007, out of 1,484,611 candidates, only 18.5% passed mathematics. National examination council, NECO (2006) report that many of the candidates exhibited lack of knowledge of basic principles needed to tackle some of the mathematics problem. Educational researchers have expended time and energy trying to unravel the possible causes of students’ poor attitudes and performance in Mathematics. An area that has not been explored extensively is the influence of teacher attitude on student attitude towards the study of the subject. Research findings indicate that effective teachers facilitate learning by truly caring about their students’ engagement and creating the right atmosphere that enhances student learning (Noddings, 1995). They have high yet realistic expectations about enhancing students’ capacity to think, reason, communicate, reflect upon and critique their own practice, and they provide students with opportunities to ask why the class is doing certain things and with what effect (Watson, 2002). The relationships that develop in the classroom become a resource for developing students’ attitudes and Mathematical competencies and identities. These resources are very essential to the learning of Mathematics. Attitude as a concept is concerned with an individual’s way of thinking, acting and behaving. It has very serious implications for the learner, the teacher, the immediate social group with which the individual learner relates, and the entire school system. Attitudes are formed as a result of some kind of learning experiences students go through. This is mimicry, which also has a part to play in the teaching and learning situation. In this respect, the learner draws from his teachers’ disposition to form his own attitude, which may likely affect his learning outcomes (Yara 2009). Yara (2009) avers that teachers with positive attitude towards Mathematics were inclined to stimulate favorable attitudes in their pupils. This immediately puts the teacher in the spotlight as one whose attitude, expressed in their behavior, has a telling effect on students. Teachers’ attitude and beliefs play a very significant role in shaping classroom practices (Bolhuis & Voeten, 2004). Does teacher attitude towards teaching significantly predict student attitude towards the learning of Mathematics and enhance students’ achievement? Evidence of the relationship between teacher attitude and student attitude towards Mathematics have been anecdotal hence the need to undertake this study for practical evidence.

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  1. 2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The rate of failure in both internal and external examinations in mathematics these days is quite alarming. The failure rate deteriorates from year to year (WAEC, 2005). The student’s attitude towards an academics subject is a crucial factor in learning and achievement in that subject. Whether a student views himself or herself as a strong or weak person in a specific subject may be an important factor in his or her academic achievement. Papanastasiou, 2002) showed that there is a positive relation between mathematics and mathematics achievement. According to Schreiber 2002), those who have positive attitudes towards mathematics have a better performance in the subject. However, the study focuses on the factors influencing the attitude of students towards the study of mathematics in Nigeria.

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  1. 3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

The main objective of this study is factors influencing the attitude of students towards the study of mathematics in Nigeria.  But for the successful completion of the study; the researcher intends to achieve the following sub-objectives;

  1. To determine student’s performance in mathematics across gender
  2. To determine the factors that influence student’s attitude towards study of mathematics
  3. To ascertain the relationship between teacher attitude and student attitude towards mathematics
  4. To ascertain the solution to student attitude towards study of mathematics
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  1. 1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;

H0: there are no factors that influence student’s attitude towards study of mathematics

H1: there are factors that influence student’s attitude towards study of mathematics

H02: there is no significant relationship between teacher attitude and student attitude towards mathematics

H2: there is a significant relationship between teacher attitude and student attitude towards mathematics

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  1. 5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of benefit ministry of Education. The study will help determine the teacher’s attitude towards teaching of mathematics that can affect student’s performance and the solution. The study will also be of great benefit to the researchers who intends to embark on research on similar topics as it will serve as a guide. Finally, the study will be of great importance to academia’s, lecturers, teachers, students and the general public.

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1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY 

The scope of the study covers factors influencing the attitude of students towards the study of mathematics in Nigeria. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

 a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study     

b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.

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1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS

FACTOR: A number or quantity that when multiplied with another produces a given number or expression.

INFLUENCE: The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself

ATTITUDE: A settled way of thinking or feeling about something.

STUDY: The devotion of time and attention to gaining knowledge of an academic subject, especially by means of books.

MATHEMATICS: Mathematics is the science that deals with the logic of shape, quantity and arrangement. Math is all around us, in everything we do. It is the building block for everything in our daily lives, including mobile devices, architecture (ancient and modern), art, money, engineering, and even sports.

1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

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