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FACTORS LEADING TO POOR PERFORMANCE IN MATHEMATICS SUBJECT
1.1 Background to the Study
Mathematics is one of the most important school subjects in the curriculum worldwide. It is a subject that has direct relationship with other subjects, particularly technical and sciences. Mathematics is also a subject that cuts across primary and secondary school as a compulsory subject. Umameh, (2011) in Tshabalala and Ncube, (2013) was of the view that mathematics is bedrock and an indispensable tool for scientific, technological and economic advancement of any nation. In addition to that Davies and Hersh, (2012) see mathematics as the important subject not only from point of view of getting an academic qualification at school or college, but also is a subject that prepares the students for the future as well irrespective of which work of life they choose to be a part of. Mefor, (2014) summarized it all by saying that mathematics relates to everything in the universe from the smallest to the largest. Umameh, (2011) added that mathematics is intimately connected to daily life and everybody’s life-long planning. Therefore, mathematics is a subject that education and human life cannot function effectively without it. Equally, in Nigeria, mathematics is given all the necessary importance in the curriculum and all policies related to education, right from primary to higher levels. In relation to that Federal Republic of Nigeria (FGN) (2004) categorically stated that mathematics is one of the core or basic subject for all primary and secondary school children. In addition to that mathematics is one of the compulsory subjects that must be passed at credit level by students before getting admission into any tertiary institution in Nigeria.
The Daily Trust of Wednesday, August 25, 2010 as cited by Sa’ad and Usman (2014) reported that “seventy-five per cent of candidates who sat for May/June WAEC 2010 examinations failed to meet the minimum entry requirement into tertiary institutions. Again, the Daily Trust of 21st August, 2014 in Sa’ad and Rabiu (2014) reveals that the recently released WAEC results indicated that over seventy percent fail in November/December results. 86,612 candidates, representing 29.17 percent of the total number of candidates who sat for the NOV/DEC examinations of West African Examination Council (WAEC), obtained credits in five subjects and above, including Mathematics and English language. Again, the WAEC has released its May/June 2014 WASSCE results, recording mass failure in mathematics and English language. Head of National Office, WAEC Charles Eguridu, while announcing the results said “A total of 529,425 candidates; representing 31.28 percent obtained credits”. According to him when compared to the 2012 and 2013 May/June WASSCE, there was marginal decline in the performance of candidates as 38.81 percent was recorded in 2012 and 36.57 in 2013.
Specifically, many studies and authorities presented many causes of poor performance in mathematics among students. For instance, Vudla, (2012) in Tshabalala and Ncube, (2013) was of the view that shortage of well trained teachers, inadequate of teaching facilities, lack of fund to purchase necessary equipment, poor quality of textbooks, large classes, poorly motivated teachers, lack of laboratories and libraries, poorly coordinated supervisory activities, interference of the school system by the civil service, incessant transfers of teachers and principals, automatic promotions of pupils, the negative role of public examinations on the teaching learning process and inequality in education opportunities all hamper the smooth acquisition of mathematics knowledge. In addition to the above causes of poor performance in mathematics, STAN, (2002) as cited by Ojimba, (2012) was of the view that prominent causes of poor performance in mathematics are:
Ø Acute shortage of qualified professional mathematics teachers.
Ø Exhibition of poor knowledge of mathematics content by many mathematics teachers.
Ø Overcrowded mathematics classrooms.
Ø Students negative attitude toward mathematics.
Ø Undue emphasis on the coverage of mathematics syllabus at the expense of meaningful learning of mathematics concepts.
Ø Inadequate facilities and mathematics laboratories
It is however against this background that the researcher decides a research on the factors leading to poor performance in mathematics subject.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The high rate of poor performance of students in Nigeria has been a source of concern to researchers, educators, government and parents over the past years. Obviously, the great importance that education has on the national development of the country made it so. Research report indicated a consensus of opinion about the fallen standard of education in Nigeria (Adebule, 2004). Parents and government are in total agreement that their investment in education is not yielding the desired dividend. The reports from the West African Examination Council chief examiners indicates that the general performance of the candidates in mathematics for the May/June 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015 examinations did not differ significantly from those of the previous years (WAEC, 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2015). However, the Chief Examiners also reported that candidates’ performance in mathematics is declining and getting worse every year, even the rate of failure in all subjects appeared to have decline when compared to previous years (WAEC, 2013 & 2014), but there is still low percentage of students passing mathematics excellently it is however the aim of the researcher to make research on the student’s performance in mathematics in Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to find out the factors leading to poor performance in mathematics subject, specifically the study intends to:
1. Find out whether there is any relationship between teacher attitudes towards mathematics and students achievement.
2. Find out the relationship between available mathematics teaching resources and students performance in mathematics.
3. Examine the school based factors that affect student performance in Mathematics in secondary schools
4. Find out the socio-cultural factors that affect student performance in Mathematics in secondary schools
5. Investigate student personal factors that affect student performance in Mathematics in secondary schools
6. Establish strategies that can be adopted to improve performance in Mathematics by students in secondary schools
1.4 Research Questions
1. Is there is any relationship between teacher attitudes towards mathematics and students achievement?
2. What is the relationship between available mathematics teaching resources and students performance in mathematics?
3. What are the school based factors that affect student performance in Mathematics in secondary schools?
4. Is there any socio-cultural factors that affect student performance in Mathematics in secondary schools?
5. Is there any student personal factors that affect student performance in Mathematics in secondary schools?
6. What are the strategies that can be adopted to improve performance in Mathematics by students in secondary schools?