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EFFECT OF ETHNOMATHEMATICS TEACHING APPROACH AND GENDER ON SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN MATHEMATICS

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EFFECT OF ETHNOMATHEMATICS TEACHING APPROACH AND GENDER ON SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN MATHEMATICS

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

 

1.1 Background of the study

One Subject that has generated interest consistently over the years is Mathematics. This is as a result of its importance to humanity. It affects every area of human activity such as politics, economy, science and technology. Salman (2005) described it as a precursor of scientific discoveries and inventions. Since 20th century, mathematics has become the backbone of all scientific investigations and activities. This is to say that the only route to effectively understand the modern world is through mathematics knowledge (D’Ambrosio,

2002; Obodo, 2008). It is at the core of scientific and technological advancement of any nation (Kurumeh, 2004).

Mathematics can be viewed as an unending activity without limitations (Harbor-Peters, 2000). i.e. all the interrelationship and combination of ideas for decisions involved in adult life, his practical use of numbers for domestic and business deals are aspects of his mathematical knowledge. As regards to its importance to man, it has been inculcated to school curricula as a compulsory subject for every school child to acquire the appropriate mathematical skills which will enable him cope with every challenge of life. Indeed mathematics is the best way to teach youngsters how to think, reason, subdue nature and understand his environment (Uzo, 2002).

Mathematics serves as a culture and language to all studies and development of human.

Coming to terms with its numerous and great importance in the nation building and daily living, Nigeria made mathematics one of the core subjects in primary and secondary curriculum. Inspite of these numerous importance not forgetting its exalted position, students still end up performing below expectation in both external and internal examinations. There achievement has been relatively low over the years (Agwagah, 2004; Obodo, 2004; Osemwinyen, 2008; WAEC, 2011; and Gimba, 2013). This situation has caused anxiety, restlessness and perplexity to parents, government, students and the general public. Attempts to check this tide gave rise to this study.

Some recent research reports have identified several reasons for students’ poor performance and lack of interest in mathematics. There reasons include lack of qualified mathematics teachers (Ali, 2003; Obodo, 2004 and Ale, 2003) teachers find it difficult to teach many topics (Amazigo, 2000), poor teaching methods (Harbor-Peters, 2001), poor interest in mathematics (Badmus, 2004 and Obodo, 2008), gender difference (Agwagah, 2004), lack of appropriate instructional mathematical materials for teaching at all levels in Nigeria (Gambari, 2010) and students negative attitude (Ale, 200; Badmus, 2002).

Obodo (2004) is of the opinion that the method of teaching mathematics in Nigeria is foreign because it does not have Nigeria-cultural-bearing. He further said that this method is rooted in the British culture and students learn by rote memorization. It does not move from cultural known problems to the unknown problems of the learners, thereby giving little or no room to the practical aspects of students’ life. The method of teaching and learning of mathematics in Africa particularly Nigeria is foreign and Euro-centric in origin and taught in foreign language was a fact opined by both Eshewari (1993) and Fasheh (2002). Students neither understand the basic mathematics principles, computation, or logic nor the underlying process that gave rise to the mathematics facts. Eshewari (1993) opined further that the teaching and learning of mathematics in Nigeria is aggregated by hasty curriculum transportation from highly industrialized capitalist nation to Nigeria.

In order to put an end to the poor performance and interest in mathematics, Chief examiner of West African Examination Council (WAEC, 2007) have recommended that mathematics teaching method should be practical, applicable and project oriented (Obodo, 2008). To heed this call, a variety of methods of teaching mathematics have been employed by recent research studies. Such methods includes discovery, expository, laboratory, inquiry (Kurumeh, 2004), target-task, delayed formalization, computer aided instruction and problem solving method (Harbor-Peter, 2000).  However, the teachers were not able to implement these innovations in their classrooms because of lack of knowledge on how to use them, logistics or lack of fund for materials’ provision. The situation is most pathetic in the junior secondary school level (Ozofor, 2015). There is therefore a need to bring in a method which does not require foreign or alien instructional material to arouse and sustain the learner’s interest and help them achieve a better result. Hence the effort to use Ethnomathematics approach which focus on the use of materials within a given cultural setting. Ethnomathematics is an approach to curriculum adaptation in mathematics which builds on the student’s previous knowledge, background of the learner, the role of his environment in terms of content and methods and his past and present experiences of his immediate environment (D’Ambrosio, 2010).

Abonyi (2015) sees ethnomathematics as the science of numbers and its manipulations that are embedded in the people’s culture. He further said that these manifest in cultural artifact’s such as mats, clay pots, clay bed, houses (round and rectangular), decorations, baskets, local drums and fish traps. Hence, for this study, ethnomathematics has been defined as the culturally influenced mathematical approach, which makes the learning of mathematics very meaningful. It is the mathematics used by a defined, peculiar or specified cultural group in the course of dealing with environmental problems and activities (Kurumeh, 2004). For mathematical instruction to improve the achievement of the learner there is need for mathematics teaching that has the learner’s cultural background, that which will bridge the gap between the indigenous mathematics and eurocentric mathematics (present classroom mathematics) says Enukona (2002).

In Nigeria, it is believed that mathematics is masculine and therefore should be male dominated. There is a general belief that boys are superior to girls in terms of physique, cognition and logical reasoning and even superior in terms of academic performance (Anigbogu, 2002). The WAEC Chief examiners’ report from WAEC (2011) confirmed that the percentage of boys who passed with credit in mathematics were greater than girls. But others have counter opinion like Ozofor (2001) found that girls performed better than the boys. Vale (2004), Abiam and Odok (2006) reported that gender difference in mathematics achievement exists but that is reducing over the years. Analyzing the WAEC results of 2008, Uwaidiae (2008) reported that 7.2% and 6.42% of male and female student respectively obtained credit pass. But generally speaking, students do not show interest in mathematics. Nna (2002) discovered that students’ poor achievement was as a result of lack of interest in mathematics. Hence the opinion that low interest of male and female students in mathematics led to a poor achievement.

Teachers have the potential of exerting strong influence on students learning. Uloko (2008) and Usman (2008) reported that there is a positive correlation between good teaching approach and student’ achievement in mathematics. Iji (2010) states that good teaching approach produces high achievement among learners, while poor teaching approach will lead to poor learning in mathematics. The research wonders whether the use of ethnomathematics, which is student and activity-centered, will improve student’s achievement.

 

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

To achieve success in national development and wealth creation demands a greater achievement in science and technology and to achieve success in science and technology demands proper enhanced learning of mathematics by Nigerian children. Enhancement of mathematics learning experiences demands that mathematics be taught through practical activities using concrete materials (Douglas, 2013; NCTM, 2013; and Annenberg Foundation, 2013), such as ethno-mathematics (Ozofor, 2001; Unodiaku, 2011; and NCTM, 2013).

 

1.3.   RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

The specific objectives include:

      To find out the effect of ethnomathematics on students’ achievement in mathematics?

      To find out the effect of ethnomathematics on students’ achievement in mathematics based on gender?

      To find out the extent to which ethnomathematics affect students’ interest in mathematics?

      To find out the extent to which ethnomathematics affect students’ interest in mathematics based on gender?

 

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

  1. What is the effect of ethnomathematics on students’ achievement in mathematics?
  2. What is the effect of ethnomathematics on students’ achievement in mathematics based on gender?
  3. What is the extent to which ethnomathematics affect students’ interest in mathematics?
  4. What is the extent to which ethnomathematics affect students’ interest in mathematics based on gender?

 

1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS

H01: There is a significant difference between the male and female students with ethno-mathematics teaching materials and academic achievement.

H02: There is no significant difference between the male and female students with ethno-mathematics teaching materials and academic achievement.

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