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This chapter includes an overview of the background to the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, objective of the study and research questions. The chapter also discusses significance, Aim and Objectives and limitation of the study.
1.1 Background of the Study
Mathematics in general is linked with the development of any nation in the world. Mathematics as a discipline, opens and shuts more doors for men and women than any other content area we have got Bolaji, (2005). Whether it is in science, engineering or technology, it is tremendously important that a person be well-armed with mathematics if he/she is going to have options in life Bramlett and Herron, (2009). Mathematics is one of the core subjects to be offered to all students till the tertiary levels of education, Ernest, (2004).
Mathematics as observed by Fishbein and Ajzen (2005) is a fundamental science that is necessary for understanding most other fields in education. Fishbein (2005) stressed further that no other subject forms such a strong force among the various branches of science. In support of Fishbein, (2005), Ford (2001) affirmed that the knowledge of science remains superficial without Mathematics. It therefore means that, the position of mathematics in school curriculum in Nigeria is important for scientist. In Nigeria, both primary and secondary teacher training colleges have ordinary level mathematics as requirement for enrolment to prospective teachers.
Though, we are living in a world that is rapidly progressing scientifically and technologically, the economic wellbeing of any developing nation depends to a significant extent on her scientific and technological process. Nigeria being a developing country now encourages the study of science and technology in schools so as to be able to meet up with the man-power needs of the nation.
All these approaches made by the government are good in themselves. A question stands to be answered “How do students and their attitude to the subjects relevant in achieving this purpose?” No matter the amount of investment, the government puts into education to make sure we are developed scientifically and technologically, it would be a wasted venture if students’ attitude to mathematics is negative. This is because mathematics is the language of sciences. Mathematics serves as the vehicle of thinking. A real study of science is not possible without the facilities of the fact that mathematics stands to be the vehicle of thinking. From the above going facts, it is evident that lack of initiatives to solve a problem contributes to the massive failure in mathematics among students. Ability to solve a problem becomes difficult. Idah (2007) sees reasons behind these facts and he stated that “as a subject, mathematics is at the base of all the science and environmental professions”. In industry, mathematics is needed for the production of guided missiles and is useful in aerospace technology. In communication, mathematics is also very useful. If one is mathematically literate, one can communicate precisely and present his argument in a logical manner because mathematics helps one in logical thinking. Indeed, there is hardly any field where mathematics is not useful. The farmer, the hunter, the housewife etc make use of mathematics in carrying out some simple arithmetic. This actually helps them tremendously.
Hence, we notice that if Nigerians are to realize their national objective in science and technology, hands must be on deck regarding the study of mathematics in both the primary, secondary and tertiary level of our education. Efforts would be made to improve students’ attitude towards the subject.
Our main focus here is how does the secondary schools student react to the studies of mathematics in their various schools? Mathematics is said to be one of the core-subjects in the secondary schools.
The right way to introduce young pupils to mathematics is not to teach Arithmetic, Algebra, Statistics and Geometry as separate branches, each with its own technical apparatus and methods. The ideal thing is to treat mathematics as a science in which the topics are chosen so as to develop a grasp of mathematical idea. Therefore, the early stage of mathematics teaching is very important since the pupils’ future performance in the subject depends on how well they perform at this stage. Mathematics is a way of thinking about pattern and relationship of numbers and shapes. It includes arithmetic, algebra, geometry, statistics and trigonometry.
The attitude of students to mathematics education whether positive or negative can be affected by many factors. Most students are biased towards mathematics education before they start studying it.
1.2 Statement of Problems
Despite the relative importance of Mathematics, it is very disappointing to note that the student’s performance in the subject in both internal and external examinations has remained consistently poor Bolaji, (2005). Mathematics educators have put up noble and spirited efforts aimed at identifying the major problems associated with learning of mathematics in the nation’s schools. Despite all these noble efforts, the problem of poor achievement in Mathematics has continued to affect the nation’s public examinations and mathematics is part of it.
Adesokan (2002) asserted that in spite of the recognition given to mathematics, it is evident that students still show negative attitude towards Mathematics thereby leading to poor performance. Many students look at mathematics as the most difficult subject and as a result, the level of sluggishness exhibited among students has become a serious concern as it causes them to withdraw their attention from studying mathematics as their co-subject therefore causing them to develop negative attitude towards it. Bolaji (2005) in a study of the influence of students’ attitude towards mathematics, found out that the teachers’ method of teaching mathematics and their personality greatly accounted for the students’ positive attitude towards Mathematics.
The attitudes of a student towards mathematics influences his life in many aspects. It cannot only affect his performance in mathematics but also in other related subject. This can affect his reasoning faculty and his logical approach to day to day issues in life. The problem associated with mathematics disturbs parents, teachers and educationist. The slow rate of development of this country is attributed to the low science manpower, tradesmen, the technicians and other skilled labour to facilitate development. Since it is only mathematics that will solve this problem, it become necessary to identify those factors that affect students’ attitude.
1.3 Research Questions
The study provides answers to the following questions:
1. What are the various attitudes students display in the learning of mathematics?
2. What are the factors responsible for students’ negative attitude?
3. What influences student’s positive attitude towards the study of mathematics?
4. How can positive attitude towards mathematics be encouraged?
1.4 Aims And Objectives Of The Study
This research work seeks to study factors influencing students’ attitudes toward studying of mathematics in the Secondary Schools and the objectives of this study include to:
1. To examine the various attitudes students display in the learning of mathematics in their various schools.
2. To examine the factors responsible for students’ negative attitude.
3. To examine what influences student’s positive attitude towards the study of mathematics.
4. To determine how positive attitude towards mathematics be encouraged among students.
1.5 Significance Of The Study
The following are the significance of the study:
The outcome of this study will educate the students on the causes and effects of mathematics among them.
This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the effect of personality trait on student’s academic performance, thereby consulting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.
The school administrators may use findings from the study to understand the prime factors affecting students’ attitudes toward learning of mathematics in secondary schools. Also aid teachers to identify deficiencies and limitations as regards the teaching and learning of Mathematics and make necessary adjustment where necessary.
The study enables secondary school principals to be able to plan systematically for staff retention that enhance students’ attitude towards the learning of mathematics. Other stakeholders of education (parents, students, teachers, staff, donors) use the findings of the study as a checkpoint to happenings of the same nature.
Finally, the study alerts the students on both positive and negative effects of attitude and perception towards Mathematics at the present level and future career.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The work examines factors influencing students’ attitudes toward learning of mathematics in the Senior Secondary Schools. The study is limited to the three selected schools in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, namely: Nassarawa: Government Secondary School, Macdave Secondary Schools, Kaduna and 2nd ECWA Secondary Schools, Kakuri, Kaduna.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Attitude: A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation.
Classroom: A room or place especially in a school in which classes are conducted.
Environment: Environment (systems), the surroundings of a physical system that may interact with the system by exchanging mass, energy, or other properties.
Influence: Influence is the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others.
Mathematics: The study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols.
Student: A person formally engaged in learning, especially one enrolled in a school or college.
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