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GENDER FACTOR IN MATHEMATICS PERFORMANCE AMONG SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS

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GENDER FACTOR IN MATHEMATICS PERFORMANCE AMONG SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS

 

ABSTRACT

 

This study examined the effect of gender on academic performance of Senior Secondary students. The sample consisted of two hundred and twenty three (223) students; one hundred and thirty-six (136) males {60.99 %}, and eighty seven (87) females {39.01%}. This study adopted the ex – post facto design using the students’ performance in Mathematics MOCK SSCE result of some schools randomly selected in Gbagada / Bariga Area of Lagos. The t – test analysis was used to analyse the data collected and to test the hypothesis. The result showed that there was a significant difference in mathematics performance of male and female students in favour of male students. It was recommended that similar studies be carried out to cover both Secondary Schools as well as other sectors of education since the present study was limited to the Senior Secondary School level. Also that there is need to develop a love for Mathematics through the setting up of “Mathematics Club” in every secondary school that would help influence the students’ academic performance.

 

Keywords: Gender difference, mathematics performance, gender

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1.1 Background to the Study

 

The profusion of knowledge and information has led to an increase in the number of issues that students need to resolve inside and outside the school. Knowledge explosion also demands prudence and careful discernment from students who are to choose more relevant and sound data. This would require the acquisition of reasoning skills that would enable them to filter relevant information from irrelevant ones. Reasoning involves providing arguments, premises, justification, and evidence to claims or positions. However, acquisition of reasoning skills requires much from students. It requires good study habits and positive attitudes, as well as good contextual reinforcers and influences. Many educators have noted that learning is dynamic and that it does not occur in a vacuum. Learning happens due to various factors and influences.

 

It is, therefore, important to direct research efforts in education towards the study and analysis of how these variables facilitate student learning. For this reason, this study focuses on students’ study habits and attitude towards learning and how these influence their acquisition of reasoning skills. It is hoped that student learning can be effectively enhanced by tapping on what students already have in them: the capacity to regulate their study habits and to positively direct their attitudes towards learning.

 

Most people have heard the age-old saying, “attitude is the key to success”. Various quotes can be retrieved that subscribe to this philosophy. In education, research suggests that student attitudes toward a subject lead to academic success. Generally speaking, mathematics is a subject that is often disliked, begging researchers to investigate how student’s attitude affects mathematics learning

 

Attitude towards mathematics plays a crucial role in the learning processes of mathematics. It effects students’ achievement in mathematics. The teaching method, the support of the structure of the school, the family and students’ attitude towards school affect the attitudes towards mathematics. Usually, the way that mathematics is represented in the classroom and perceived by students, even when teachers believe they are presenting it in authentic and context dependent way stands to alienate many students from mathematics (Barton, 2000).

 

Having a positive attitude towards mathematics means generally enjoying working with mathematics and having confidence in one’s own ability to do it but it does not mean that a student will display this positive attitude towards the whole area of mathematics all the time (Robson, 1996). Students love mathematics, but those who dropout due to mathematics have a different viewpoint about it. It leads towards the fact that mathematics is a rough and tough subject. It is the attitude of the student which contributes a lot towards his perception about mathematics. It develops the adaptability and applicability in the learners.

 

The general conceptions determine the way students approach mathematics tasks, in many cases leading them into nonproductive paths. Students have been found to hold a strong procedural and rule-oriented view of mathematics and to assume that mathematical questions should be quickly solvable in just a few steps, the goal just being to get “right answers”. For them, the role of the student is to receive mathematical knowledge and to be able to demonstrate so; the role of the teacher is to transmit this knowledge and to ascertain that students acquired it (Frank, 1988).

 

Such conceptions may prevent the students of understanding that there are alternative strategies and approaches to many mathematical problems, different ways of defining concepts, and even different constructions due to different starting points. In consequence, they may miss significant aspects of mathematical experience, including formulating their own questions, conjecturing relationships, and testing them. They may approach the tasks in the mathematical class with a very narrow frame of mind that keeps them from developing personal methods and build confidence in dealing with mathematical ideas.

 

Associated with these conceptions are students’ expectations of what is a mathematics classroom. If the teacher tries some innovative activities an overt or covert reaction of the students may quickly develop further inhibiting the learning process.

 

How resilient are such conceptions and expectations, once formed in students’ minds? Are they a simple consequence of the climate of the mathematics classroom or do they acquire some sort of independent existence?

 

Despite the interest that this topic has recently attracted, not much is known about the possibilities of influencing these general views of the students, and especially, what can be the effects of curriculum approaches purposely designed to improve their views and attitudes regarding mathematics.

 

Burstein (1992) in a comparative study of factors influencing mathematics achievement found out that there is a direct link between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and student outcomes. He also found that 25% in England and 26% in Norway accounted for the variation in students’ attitude towards mathematics that were due to student gender, and success attribution (belief about success in mathematics). Student’s beliefs and attitudes have the potential to either facilitate or inhibit learning. Gibbons, Kimmel and O’Shea (1997) opined that students’ attitudes about the value of learning science may be considered as both an input and outcome variable because their attitudes towards the subject can be related to educational achievement in ways that reinforce higher or lower performance. This means that those students who do well in a subject generally have more positive attitudes towards that subject and those who have more positive attitudes towards a subject tend to perform better in that subject.

 

A critical look into the above cited studies indicated that there are conflicting reports concerning the relationship between students’ attitudes and academic achievement. It is against this background that the present study will, in part establish the relationship, if any, between students’ attitude and academic achievement in mathematics.

 

1.2       Statement of Problem

 

What views hold secondary school students regarding the learning of mathematics? In what ways are academics performances and study habits affected by the students’ attitudes toward learning of the subject of mathematics? And how does that influence their entire academic and learning experiences?

 

These are some of the questions that we regarded as potentially interesting and we decided to make a case study of secondary schools participating in an experience of mathematics curricula. Our work concerned a range of issues, including the nature of the learning process and the perceptions of the participating students. In this research, we focus particularly on the study habits and academic performance held by the senior secondary school students about learning of mathematics and its effects on their attitude towards mathematics.

 

1.3       Research Questions

 

The following research questions have been considered to guide the study:

 

  1. Is there any significant relationship between study habits, performance of students’ and their attitude towards mathematics?

 

  1. Is study habit and performance in mathematics significant predictors of students’ attitude towards mathematics?

 

  1. What is the relative effect of each of the factors on the prediction?

 

1.4       Research Hypotheses

 

The following research hypotheses will be tested in this study:

 

Hypothesis 1:           There will be no significant relationship between study habits, performance in mathematics and students’ attitude in mathematics.

 

Hypothesis 2:           Study habit and performance in mathematics are not predictors of students’ attitude towards mathematics.

 

Hypothesis 3:           There will be no relative effect of study habit and performance in

 

mathematics on students’ attitude towards mathematics.

 

1.5       Purpose of the Study

 

The purpose of this study was to investigate study habit and performance in mathematics as predictors of students’ attitude towards mathematics in Shomolu local government area specifically the study identified:

 

1)        Students’ attitudes towards mathematics that brings about effective teaching of the subjectmathematics.

 

2)         Appropriate study habits for effective teaching of mathematics.

 

3)         Appropriate instructional method that will be employed in teaching the subject mathematics.

 

4)         Appropriate teaching aids that will foster effective teaching and learning of mathematics.

 

1.6       Significance of the Study

 

It is the view of the researcher that at the successful completion of this study, it will be useful to both teachers and students, educational planners, educational institutions and those who are concerned with the formulation and implementation of educational policy as regards the new policy on education at all level.

 

Also it will help parent and government to identify those variables under the teaching of mathematics like poor students study habits, limited time allocation for mathematics teaching, poor teaching aids etc that are responsible for students poor performance in mathematics through a critical examination of these variables.

 

This research is also expected to help the teachers identify the needs, to manage the classroomeffectively and even apply appropriate method of mathematics teaching that will enhance students performance in mathematics through understanding the usefulness of effective classroom management and the use of appropriate teaching method. Also via understanding the needs ofstudents and society at large, this study will help the curriculum planners to plan and evaluate the secondary school curriculum effectively.

 

Finally, it is expected that the outcome of this study and its recommendations will generate issues that will be of research interest to others future researcher- interested in a topic like this and related ones.

 

1.6       Scope of Study

 

The first phase of the study will include the formulation of research questions, the planning of field work (with the elaboration of observation guides and of criteria for selection of informants), the outline of the final report, and a first contact with the field. The second phase includes the conduction of field work and the third will be devoted to analyzing and writing the research report.

 

Data would be collected for this study through primary data gathering using a research instrument called questionnaire and documental analysis. A number of students would be sampled in 5 different secondary schools within Shomolu Local Government area of Lagos State, using stratified random sampling techniques. Each school will have at least ten boys and ten girls of high and low achieving students. The selection, based in these criteria, would be made jointly by the teachers and the researchers.

 

The field work would be conducted in groups of three researchers and amounted to two months. The research team will have the cooperation of two assistants from each school, who will guide the researchers through the proper collation of research data.

 

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

 

Study habit:  The manner with which you consistently use to study.

 

Attitude: They are the views of a person whether positive or negative.

 

Academic Performance: It is the ability to study and remember facts and being able to communicate your knowledge verbally or written.

 

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