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This study was geared towards investigating the effects of cognitive restructuring, in enhancing mathematics achievement of adolescents in secondary schools in Oshimili South Local Government Area. Two research questions and two null hypotheses, guided the study. Quasi experimental research design was adopted. The population used was four thousand and twenty two students of the SSII class from Oshimili South Local Government Area. Random sampling was used to compare two boys schools and two girls schools for the study. Through purposive sampling, 40 pupils with poor mathematics performance from each of the four schools made up the final sample. A 50 item researcher developed mathematics achievement test, validated by three experts from Delta State University (D.E.L.S.U) and Nnamdi Azikiwe University (N.A.U) was used to collect data. Data analysis was done using mean, standard deviation, t-test and ANCOVA at 0.05 levels of significance. The findings of the investigation were that:-Cognitive restructuring technique is effective in enhancing students’ mathematics achievement and also females gained higher mean achievement scores than their male counterparts when cognitive restructuring technique is adopted. Based on the findings of this study, necessary conclusions and recommendations were also made. One of which is that learning of specific restructuring technique should be incorporated as an aspect of school curriculum.
Background of the Study
Mathematics is a branch of knowledge dealing with measurements numbers and quantities. It’s such an important subject that currently, it’s been made compulsory for admitting candidates into all discipline in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Therefore, for students to achieve success in their desired academic career, they are expected to pass the subject properly with at least a credit pass.
According to Cohen, O’Donoghue & Fitzsimons (2000), mathematics is the language of science, as a discipline. It is the pivot around which the whole essence of living revolves. Again mathematics is viewed as the basis for scientific and technological analysis. According to Gillings (1982), for analysis of weather to be accurate, mathematical calculations are necessary. Also Mckee (2002) opined that, every new body of discovery is mathematical in form. This is because, variables such as time and age, must be calculated mathematically, since it is concerned with symbols and is necessary for any meaningful involvement in modern civilization. This is why adolescents, who must fit positively into society, are expected to understand the basic concepts and principles of the subject mathematics by constantly practicing the rudimentary
concepts involving figures, particularly in the basic areas of factorization, like and unlike terms, simultaneous equation, quadratic equation and word problems in mathematics, as their usefulness is relevant in everyday dealings.
For this reason, the subject must be embraced by restructuring the cognitive pattern of thinking in the adolescents, which society, peer group, and adults have irrationally and erroneously misconstrued in the adolescents’ mind, through what they say and how they react even when the subject is merely mentioned.
Accordingly to Benson (2000), for transactions in relation to buying and selling to succeed, ones cognitive abilities must be tuned to a point that he understands some level of mathematical symbols and calculations. This he believes will eliminate cheating amongst the parties involved, to a large extent, which is why cognitive skills of students should be sharpened through cognitive restructuring techniques to reduce or eliminate the phobia associated with learning the fundamental mathematical concepts, particularly in the adolescent age.
It’s as a result of the importance of mathematics that it has been made one of the compulsory and pre-requisite subjects that science and arts students must pass at the school certificate level in order to be admitted into the University. This is one of the moves by the Federal Government of Nigeria to make mathematics popular. Also with the inclusion of
scientific and technological development in the National Development Plan, it becomes obvious that if mathematics achievement is not enhanced among the adolescents in secondary schools using appropriate cognitive restructuring techniques, national progress and development would be adversely affected (Okoye, 2006).
As regards school subjects, the irrational belief that some school subjects are difficult to comprehend begins to register in the adolescents’ subconscious, based on environmental and societal irrational beliefs.
Probably, this could be the reason why most students do not achieve the desired pass in some dreaded school subjects like mathematics. Gal in 2000, emphasized that some contributory factors to students’ lack of mathematics achievement are the students’ attitude towards the subject, which is based on fear and the general impression created by the society, who believe that mathematics is difficult to comprehend. Also, the teacher’s method of teaching the subject content which seems to be complex particularly if the subject is not taught with the right models. This invariable affects the students level of achievement.
Even amongst the students’ gender, there still exists some level of discrepancy in mathematics achievement. According to Davis (2001), female students still have not attained mathematics equity as their male counterparts in school because, the female students see the subject as emotionally draining and cognitively difficult, coupled with the routinely
negative self- statements the female students make about mathematics being a difficult subject to pass. He also attributes these lapses to some parents’ negative attitude towards science inclined courses for their daughters, a shortage of female mathematics teachers to serve as role models, early marriage age for females and most especially the societal discriminatory attitude in terms of job opportunities. These factors seem to create a negative attitude amongst the female students thereby inhibiting their enhancement, in mathematics performance.
Even amongst secondary school students however, the skills in enhancing learning has been a major concern of many scholars, particularly Guidance Counsellors, who seek diverse ways of enhancing students’ level of achievement particularly in a core subject like mathematics (Dossey & Usiskin, 2000). Students, according to Dahir and Stone(2003), do not learn automatically, particularly in mathematics and that they need guidance and direction before real interest is developed in the subject, eventually leading to effective learning. Some of the diverse ways sought by Guidance Counselors includes trying to adopt the technique of cognitive restructuring to encourage the students particularly the females, who have unconsciously developed a phobia for the subject and to re-address their mind with positive statement such as, “I will understand mathematics, if I practice the concepts regularly”.
Again, Mckee (2002), opines that there is growing evidence in the importance of students’ negative attitude and belief about mathematics and that, through various teaching and learning styles, adopted by Guidance Counsellors to aid students understanding, by making the students talking to themselves positively, the students’ positive attitude and self esteem becomes actualized.
Cognitive restructuring is a type of therapeutic technique, which refutes ones irrational ideas and replaces them with rational ones. Dibatolo, Frost, Dixon and Almodorar (2001), defined Cognitive restructuring as “employing self-statements, arguments and disputations to make the client see irrationality in his or her behaviour and to be able to devise positive alternative ways to such irrationality in case the urge arises in the future”.
Mcmulin (2005) affirms that, human beings are generally rational, but that they can develop irrational beliefs and neurotic behaviour as a result of biological and social forces, through imitation of what people around them regard as acceptable societal norms, which sometimes are irrational thoughts. He further states that, as children develop into adolescence, they tend to accept unconsciously, these irrational beliefs. This invariably affects the psyche of the growing child, particularly students who are prone to all sorts of forces, based on peer pressure and societal beliefs passed on to the children. This is the basic reason
why students’ school performance particularly in mathematics has been adversely affected in some regions in Nigeria, such as the Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State.
According to Gargus (2002), when adolescents encourage themselves with positive self-talk, on issues or areas that have been a burden to them, they tend to increase their level of determination to succeed, in that particular area of interest. This helps the adolescent to attain the aspired level to achieve success.
Achievement according to Dahir & Stone (2003) is a common life experience, which is obtained by the acquisition of skills and using these acquired skills to the best of the individual’s abilities and capabilities, so as to enhance his/her performance in life. In the words of Bandura (1997), people’s personal expectations for achievement play an important role in enhancing their desire to succeed. For instance, if you believe that your effort at studying will lead to a good grade in your examination, you will be motivated to study. This belief helps to mobilize the individuals’ energy in performing a lot better. This is why students, who constantly solve mathematics problems, with a mind-set to achieve success in the subject, always excel.
According to Mangal (1998), when ones’ achievement in a desired field is attained, life is fulfilling. The desire to achieve success he believes is as basic and natural as other biological needs, such as Oxygen, which is
essential for survival as well as psychosocial needs, which an individual requires for self-actualization. In the same vein, (Darling-Hammond, 2000) is of the opinion that, the desire to achieve success helps people to succeed, particularly in their area of interest. This desire to achieve becomes realistic when rational thinking is adopted by the individual, through the cognitively restructuring of their thought pattern.
Meichenbaum (1977) adopted rational thinking to teach poor achievers, to see if they could become more effective achievers, through cognitive restructuring techniques. In his findings, he concluded that cognitive restructuring is an appropriate technique that could be used to encourage poor achievers.
This is also why cognitive restructuring technique, is adopted amongst students whose mathematics achievement level has been declining consistently over the years, to see if their level of understanding the subject could be upgraded to a standard that will give them the confidence they desire to be successful and the positive self belief to write examinations into the tertiary institutions. However Davis (2001) believes that, the imbibed phobia for mathematics sometimes affects students’ level of performance, to higher achievement levels, even when it is obvious that a good grasp of the subject would enable them gain admission into higher educational bodies.
Inspite of its importance, students still perceived the subject with phobic tendencies which is why the researcher decided to research on it since there has been no known study by the researcher, which directly dealt with enhancing mathematics achievement in adolescents, using cognitive restructuring in the Oshimili South L.G.A of the Delta State of Nigeria. Being a Guidance Counsellor, such information is considered necessary to enable Guidance Counsellors give needed help to students in their subsequent mathematics achievement. Based on this background, the present research was committed to finding the effects of cognitive restructuring technique in enhancing mathematics achievement, amongst adolescents in the Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State.
Statement of the Problem
A lot of families in Delta State have been known to have excelled academically in the past such as the Ofilis, Azinges and the Obanyas. Presently however, poor academic performance amongst students particularly in mathematics, in the Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State, over the years has made many students drop-out of school, particularly the female students. This is because, the students perceive the subject as very difficult to understand, compared to other subjects. Therefore, the required credit needed in the subject which is a compulsory prerequisite to gaining admission into any Nigerian tertiary institution is not achieved by the student.
Even when students are aware that mathematics is a core subject and that it has become part of our everyday life, which cannot be avoided, the students still generate a high level of anxiety for the subject to the extent that they run away from mathematics lessons. According to Brigman & Goodman (2001), students’ negative attitude to mathematics leads them to develop a lack of self-confidence in themselves and lack of enthusiasm.
In the process, career interest becomes jeopardized and the end result is lack of enthusiasm and low self esteem.
Obanya (2002) believes that, poor performance trend in mathematics in a student, could lead to the student developing an unconscious fear for the subject, which could invariably hamper anticipated optimal achievement level in the pursuit of academic excellence of the student.
As a result of the obvious effect of this mathematics phobia in students and adolescents in general, it becomes necessary to find out why this trend consistently exists amongst students. Also, since the primary source of problem associated with poor performance in mathematics has been identified to be fear and irrational thought of the subject, it becomes necessary that a technique that tends to restructure the students cognition be used.
It is against this background that the study asks, what is the effect of Cognitive Restructuring in enhancing mathematics achievement of students in Delta State?
The Purpose of the Study:
The purpose of the study is to determine the effects of Cognitive Restructuring technique in enhancing mathematics achievement of students in Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State. In specific terms, the study seeks to:-
1. Determine the effects of cognitive restructuring in improving students’ mathematics achievement.
2. Determine the effects of cognitive restructuring in pre and post-test scores performance of students, in respect to their gender.
Significance of the Study:
The findings of this study will be of immense importance to the end users when eventually published. Such end users includes: Teachers, students, Guidance Counsellors, the school and future researchers. These findings it’s expected, will yield data that would confirm, support or reject the theories of achievement as they relate to cognitive restructuring which holds that, peoples’ achievement goals affect their achievement related attitude and behaviours .
The outcome of the study will offer useful framework for teachers who are both planners and decision makers in the classroom, so that while teaching the students, the technique of cognitive restructuring would be inculcated in the scheme of work to help the students understand the topic.
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