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A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF MASS FAILURE IN MATHEMATICS IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In recent years, student academic achievement in senior secondary school certificate examination mathematics.
The word “Mathematics” is a Greek word, meaning things that are learned. Majasa (1995) further defined it as the science of counting, measuring and describing of the shape of objects. It deals with logical reasoning and quantitative calculations. Mathematics as a school subject is recognized as the foundation of science and technology without which a nation will never become prosperous and economically independent. This underscores the importance of mathematical competence of all the learners al all levesl of education and a reason for making mathematics compulsory and one of the leading core subject in the secondary schools curriculum. This importance accorded the recognition of the vital role it plays in contemporary society. Despite the effort put in by government, and various stakeholders of education, mathematics still remained one of the most difficult subject in schools.
There is a general impression that mathematics is difficult by its very nature, and because of this impression, there is poor performance among junior secondary school students who are the focus of this study. This poor performance in mathematics has been attributed to two broad factors which include: Hereditary and environmental factors which can be subdivided into students, home, teachers, and school factors. Ola (1998).
However, students reason that mathematics is highly structured and is so abstract and required special intellectual attitude. Thus; students see the subject as something esoteric. Emenalo (1986) in Nwogu (1990) articulated the fact thtae inherent notion held by many Africans that mathematics is a very difficult subject which is capable of making one “mad” is at the centre of the phobia which students exhibits for mathematics and which had claimed many causalities over the years, Nworgu (1990:123), therefore passes the question “how them would any person in fairness expect our poor and innocent children to be as courageous as to face something which is capable of making even an adult mad? The students would prefer to so something else no matter how difficult rather than to attend mathematics classes.
Most parents do not play a crucial role in preparing their children for school. The child is expected to see the world from the perspective of these archaic values and the goodness of otherwise of his behaviour is judged as such. Opposition from the child arises from what appears to him obsolete and defense of traditionalism by the parents. For example, Whaler (1997) argues that consistent and appropriate parental reactions to the full range of a child’s response repertoire will establish a family context conducive to positive reinforcement of child compliance. In contrast, inconsistent parental reactions appear to create a chaotic family context conducive to the negative reinforcement of child opposition. He argues that based on these two forms of contexts, the parent and children seen to generate distinctive personal rules which outline the functions arrangements of contexts, behaviour and reinforcement. Parents on their part hardly requires their children to explain the problem or joy found in their mathematics classes. And this count as one of the causes of poor performance of students in mathematics.
Teachers of junior mathematics are hard to come-by because of the site of some schools especially the schools in Uyo LGA, of Akwa Ibom State. The few available teachers have not been given opportunities to up-date the skill and knowledge available in-service training. Teachers have an important part to play in learning mathematics by students. According to Nicol (1997) “A teacher can only be seen to be effective, if the students can learn with greater ease and perform well his help than without his help.
Teacher’s attitude can hinder learning especially when one does not present oneself as a high intellectual and formidable person. “A quack doctor is capable to handle an individual as a time but a bad teacher can ruin not only the individual but also a nation. Nigeria is faced with the problem of competent teachers in mathematics which is the major causes of this mass failure of student in mathematics.
The school administrator also has a direct role to play as if relates to discipline of both the student and the teacher supervision of teaching and learning and preparation of students well enough for examination.
According to Ekemia (2006:38) “An effective mental health for principal includes emotional, stability, maturity of character and a large capacity of frustration tolerance with the strength to withstand the strain the strain and stress inherent in running today’s Nigeria secondary school without undue fiscal or psychological disequilibria”.
Many principals are faced with managerial difficulties especially those who lack human relationship cannot execute effective administrative duties in the schools. For example, a school that lacks discipline hardly achieves the aim and objective of the educational system. Through these factors enumerated above, it could be seen that, there are many causes attributed to mass failure in mathematics examination in junior secondary school certificate examination.
According to Adewale (1992), it is the only instrument that could evaluate the performance of both students and teachers at the end of junior secondary school career. He further stated that, the success or failure of the student in examination is a clear manifestation of the student academic activities during the course. Success or good performance determines a brighter future for the student wile failure is disastrous as it always indicate a dropout which is the common effect in the area of this study.
Finally, it is obvious that the findings of the study will definitely aspire the researcher to seek for possible suggestions and recommendations to students, teachers, parents, sponsor and government to bring an end to student mass failure of mathematics in a such external junior certificate examination and to improve student performance in the future examination in these schools and other part of the country having similar educational problems.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Perhaps not much attention has been given to the performance of students in senior secondary school subjects in recent years. This neglect, no doubt has relegated this junior subjects to the background in our senior secondary certificate examination. A close look at the 2004/2008 SSCE result records, confirms that students’ performance has been very poor generally and the increase number of school dropout in the area of study is a clear pointer of the theme. The poor performance is caused by many factors such as; students ineffective study techniques, quality of teachers and method of teaching, the parent’s inability to provide useful materials like textbooks, exercise books and school fees and problem of inadequate instructional materials for teaching and learning of mathematics in schools.
In philosophical view of these causes, this study therefore is specifically designed to assess the causes and effects of mass failure of mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination in Uyo LGA.
1.2 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The main purpose of this study is to find out the causes and effect of mass failure of mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination. The interests of the researchers are to examine critically and identify the causes and effects of mass failure of mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination specifically, the study sought to find out if:-
There are sufficient numbers of qualified mathematics teachers and instructional materials for teaching of mathematics.
The previous socio-economic background of the students affect them in studying mathematics.
The attitude and interest of students towards the nature of mathematics contribute deeply to their mass failure in SSCE especially in mathematics.
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The student will be able to appreciate the importance of the effective domain like interest and motivation in improving their performance. With this awareness, the student might put up a positive attitude towards mathematics which will increase their performance and enhance higher grades in senior secondary school certificate examination. Teachers will also be able to adjust their teaching methods and offer remedial helps where they find out that students are putting up a low attitude. State government will also see the need of guidance and counseling in each schools, the ministry of education and curriculum planners for better organization of subjects in education.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study was focused on the causes and effect of mass failure of mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination in Uyo LGA. Due to military factors such as time and other resources and the inconvenience of handling a large scope, the researchers focused only on senior mathematics.
1.5 RESEARCH OF THE STUDY
To carry out a detailed study of the research, the following research question will guide to study:-
Are there sufficient numbers of qualified mathematics teachers and instructional materials for teaching mathematics?
Does the previous socio-economic background of the students affect them in studying mathematics?
Does poor attitude and low interest of students towards the nature of mathematics contribute deeply to their mass failure in SSCE especially in mathematics.
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