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1.1  Background to the study

Education is the totality of life experiences that people acquire and which enable them to cope with and derive satisfaction from living in the world. It is on this premise that it is believed that the quality of a nation‟s education is proportional to the level of its prosperity. Today, it is a reality to say that the standard of living of a nation is dependent on the level of science and technology of that nation. While science is the bedrock of technology, mathematics is the gate and key to sciences. According to Aguele (2005), the level of mathematics that determines the level of science and technology component of any nation. Mathematics has made inroads into every human pursuit. Mathematics is already the most important subject of learning for all. A conceptual understanding of mathematics has come to be a universal necessity for enlightened living. In Nigeria, emphasis is being placed on a minimum „credit‟ in mathematics at WASSCE/NECO examination as prerequisite for admission to most of the Faculties and Departments in post secondary institutions in Nigeria.

Nwabueze(2010) says that for Nigerian secondary school students, mathematics is a nemesis. Yet it is a compulsory subject pursuant to any course of study in Agwagah (2007) had observed that students lack interest in the subject and perform poorly. Esu (2006), attributed the students‟ poor performance in mathematics to factors such as the notion among students that mathematics is an abstract and difficult subject, inadequate qualified teachers to teach the subject as specialist, improper method of teaching mathematics, lack of mathematics laboratory, insufficient instructional aids and poor use of instructional materials. It is disheartening that research and data from National Examination Bodies like West African Examination Council (WAEC) have shown a consistent poor performance in this subject. Majority of secondary school students often dread and show negative attitude towards mathematics Awofala(2006) and the trends of their performance in the senior secondary school certificate examination is also a source of worry to the stakeholders.

Though, there is a steady increase in the percentage of students with credit pass, the conclusion drawn from students‟ achievement in mathematics between 2008 and 2013 is that, more than 50% of students enrolled had below credit pass that is A1–C6. This is a source of worry to stakeholders. Poor academic achievement could be attributed to many factors among which teacher‟s strategy itself was considered as an important factor. The inadequacy of conventional teaching Models to improve students‟ retention , achievement and attitude has become a source of concern to many educators in Nigeria.

The WAEC Chief Examiner‟s Report (2005) suggested that student‟s performance in mathematics could be improved through meaningful and proper teaching. According to the report, teachers should help students develop interest in mathematics by reducing the abstractness of mathematics, and hence remove their apathy and fear of the subject. Several studies have shown other indices that could 4 affect students‟ mathematics achievement. Factors such as motivation and attitude have impacted students‟ achievement. Granville &Dika (2006), TYMMS (2005) investigated 21,000 students‟ attitude towards mathematics andsuggested that most important factors were the teacher and students‟ academic while age, gender and language were weakly associated with attitude. Schnabel (2005) studied gender differences in mathematics achievement, which favoured males. Attitudes are psychological constructs theorized to be composed of emotional cognitive, and behavioural components. Attitudes serve as functions including social expression, value expressive, utilitarian and defensive functions, for people who hold them Newbill(2005). It is generally believed that students attitude towards a subject determine their success in that subject.In other words, favourable attitude result to good achievement in a subject. Therefore, it is highly desirable that students do not only learn mathematics but develop favourable attitude toward the subject which in turn affect their performance.Another focus of this study is the performanceand retentionof the learnt mathematics concept. The laboratoryinstructional strategy is an effective strategy that could facilitate learning and enhance the retention of the learnt conceptYadar( 2007).

According to Andrew (2006) the mathematics laboratory means different thing to different teachers. To some it is a place where students use calculators or computer terminals to solve problems. To others it is a room that is a resource centre – a room for special activities such as tutoring students, working on project, playing games or writing make up tests. Some schools have a special room called a mathematics laboratory to which classes are brought for social enrichment lessons, but for some it is the normal classroom in which they teach their classes every day.

Mathematics laboratory is all about verifying and visualizing mathematical concepts in a fun way through educational aids Okigbo&Osuafor, (2008). When 6 related literature is being examined, it is seen that in developed countries like USA and East Algia Norwich even in India, laboratory instructional strategy has gone a long way enriching school mathematics at primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. India today is rated as the country with the highest collection of highly numerate skilled labour. This is a consequence of that country curriculum in which mathematics laboratory is the integral part of her regular curriculum. The mathematics students can construct a cylindrical shape for instance and handle it to study its shape and the components to convince themselves that the closed cylinder is nothing but the combination of a rectangle and two equal circles. Such student will readily recognize how the formula for the volume and surface areas of cylinder are derived, rather than cramming the formula. The use oflaboratory instructional strategy therefore helps create an enabling environment for effective learning of the subject.

In Nigeria, students are taught many mathematics facts, but rarely taught what the “mathematics process” is and how to employ it. The mathematics process is both a creative and explorative process and the most important face of mathematics. It is the fountain head from which mathematics knowledge flows and a central component of the infrastructure that makes today‟s technological and informational world possible. Teaching mathematics should deal with the process and not just confine to transferring the knowledge from the mind of the teachers to notebooks of students through the tip of a pen and for such a phenomena change in teaching of mathematics, a right ambience is required and it is definitely the mathematics laboratory Manjunath (2008). The present study is focusedon finding out whether or not the laboratory instructional strategy used as treatment has any efficacy on the learners.

1.2  Statement of Problem

Many students in post-primary schools today show negative attitude towards the learning of mathematics. Nwabueze (2010)most students think that mathematics means „getting the solution of a problem right or wrong‟. When they get it wrong they think that they are not good enough in mathematics and loose interest in learning. The Society‟s believe about mathematics itself seem to drive away many students from liking the subject. The conventionalinstruction used all along had been found to be inadequate for effective teaching. According to Wolfe (2006); there are not enough instances when a teacher has tried to teach mathematics in an interesting way, say through activities and games.

Researchers Esu(2006),Manjunath (2008) had observed that lack of mathematics laboratory and mathematics teachers‟ non-use of laboratory technique in teaching mathematics is one of the major factors that contribute to poor achievement in mathematics by secondary school students. The West African Examination Council (WAEC) chief examiner (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011& 2012) reported candidates lack of skill in answering almost all the questions asked in general mathematics. Evidence of poor performance in mathematics by secondary school students point to the fact that the most desired technological, scientific and business application of mathematics cannot be sustained.

To this effect the study assessed the efficacy of laboratory instructional strategy in selected topics in mathematics. It also assessed the efficacy of this strategy on students understanding of these topics as were compared with those taught using the traditional strategy. In addition the efficacy of laboratory instructional strategy on students‟ retention and attitude was also determined. Any gender-related difference was also sought for.

1.3  Objectives of the Study

 The objectives of the study are as follows:

 (1) assess the efficacy of laboratory instructional strategy on performance of students‟ in mathematics at junior secondary schools.

 (2) determine the performance of male and female students taught mathematics with laboratory instructional strategy.

(3) examine the efficacy of laboratory instructional strategy on students‟retention ability in mathematics among JSS II students‟.

 (4) determine the efficacy of laboratory instructional strategy on attitude change of male and female students‟ at the end of teaching the concept using laboratory instructional strategy.

(5) determine the efficacy of laboratory instructional strategy on attitude change of students‟exposed to laboratory instructional strategy.

1.4 Research Questions

 This study sought to answer the following questions:

 1) Is there any difference in the performance of students taught using laboratory instructional strategy and those taught using the conventional Method?

 2) Is there any difference in the performance of males and that of females at the end of instruction using laboratory instructional strategy?

 3) Is there any difference in the retention level of JSS II students exposed to laboratory instructional strategy and those exposed to conventional method?

4) Is there any difference in attitude change between male and female students at the end of teaching the concept using laboratory instructional strategy?

5) Is there any difference in attitude change between the students taught mathematics with laboratory instructional strategy and those taught with conventional method?

1.6 Significance of the Study

 The study is useful in bringing the teaching of mathematics in line with modern technological devices and learning will take place effectively. Laboratory instructional strategy can act like a concomitant between teachers and students and provide an opportunity to understand and discover the beauty, importance and relevance of mathematics as a discipline.

 This is helpful in showing the effectiveness and the usefulness of laboratory teaching strategy for teaching mathematics to the teachers and all other classroom teaching and learning activities. The integrity of learning would be rekindled as meaningful learning will be achieved as students would have a strong background as how to manipulate manipulative materials for geometrical understanding. Through the study, students‟ attitude in mathematics and performance can be improved. Policy makers and curriculum developers can see the them to emphasize the used of laboratory instructional strategy in mathematics teaching in secondary schools.

 The study is also beneficial to mathematical organization such as Mathematical Association of Nigeria (MAN). The study is important to make secondary school students‟ remove some of the social apathy towards mathematics and learn that their achievement depends on their own active participation not only on their teachers. Thus, the students will appreciate the need for their involvement in mathematics activities in their classroom and help them to acquire both mathematics skills and mathematics knowledge which will enhance capacity building and sustainable development.

 In other words, the students will be enabled towards achievement of national goals for mathematics education. It is hoped that the study will unravel the hidden mysteries of one of the oldest subject in human history by changing the society and students‟ believe enabling them to know that mathematics is fun and learners friendly. The society will benefit from the study because if the study helps to improve student‟s performance and positive attitude in mathematics, then the subject and its allied courses (engineering, pharmacy, industrial physics, etc.) will be studied by many students in institution of higher learning.

 If students study mathematics and its allied courses, our dream in the use of science and technology for capacity building and sustainable development will be fully realized. It is also hope that students taught using laboratory instructional strategy will be more involved in the learning and as such will help them develop more confidence in themselves and what they learn, as the strategy encourages the interplay thought and actions. The student may become more alert and develop the ability to creative and reflective thinking so that on their own, they would try to correct their mistakes.

 The findings of the study will provide on insight into the effects of variable like gender, attitude and retention improving learning among junior students in mathematics for mathematics educators and curriculum planners. Finally, it is believed that the findings of this work will make a modest contribution to the existing body of knowledge and also be useful for further research.

1.7 Scope/Delimitation of the Study

 The study examined the impact of mathematics laboratory on the effective teaching and learning of mathematics with case study of the concept of Geometry in mathematics. The research was limited to JSS2 students of some selected secondary schools in Gboko local government area, Benue state, because Jss2 is a stable class, JSS1 are just coming for primary six (6) and Jss3 are preparing for Basic Education Certificate Examination The study investigated one major unit in junior secondary school mathematics syllabus: Geometry This unit is broken down in to topics as follows.

 i. Area of parallelogram

 ii. Angles

 iii. Bearing and distance

 iv. dimensional figures

These topics were chosen because they form part of the basic foundations for learning any other geometrical concepts in secondary school mathematics. Also, WAEC Chief Examiners 2003-2012 identified these areas as difficult and students‟ lack of understanding of the concepts in their workings.

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