Mathematics Education Project Topics

Factors Influencing Students Attitudes Toward Mathematics and It’s Effects on Performance of Mathematics Among Secondary School Level Students in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area

Factors Influencing Students Attitudes Toward Mathematics and It's Effects on Performance of Mathematics Among Secondary School Level Students in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area

Factors Influencing Students Attitudes Toward Mathematics and It’s Effects on Performance of Mathematics Among Secondary School Level Students in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area

Chapter One

Research Objectives

  1. To analyse performance in mathematics test and examinations.
  2. To determine teacher and students perceptions on students attitude towards the study of mathematics.
  3. To collect and identify factors leading to poor performance of mathematics students in ordinary level secondary school.



Theoretical Review

There are numerous theories and perspectives concerning the teaching and learning of science subjects. Some of the more prominent ones are:

 Active Learning: Learn by Doing

Active learning is a set of strategies that places the responsibility of learning to the student. Discovery learning, problem-based learning, experiential learning, and inquiry-based instruction are examples of active learning (Herr, 2010). In Nigeria, this is hardly practiced due to lack of facilities and qualified teachers and Laboratory Technicians.

Teaching in Multiple Learning Modalities

We can learn through any of our five senses, but the three most valuable are vision, hearing, and touch. Theorists and practitioners claim that learners have a preference for one learning style over another. Visual learners learn best by watching, while auditory learners learn best by verbal instruction, and kinesthetic learners learn best by manipulation. Because of the demands of the profession, teachers often resort to the instructional style that requires the least time and preparation, namely lecture and discussion. Although these may be valuable approaches to teaching and learning, they fail to take advantage of other learning modalities, and marginalize students whose primary modality is visual (Herr, 2010).

Teaching to Multiple Intelligences

Intelligence is a property of the mind that includes many related abilities such as the capacities to reason, plan, solve problems, comprehend language and ideas, learn new concepts, and think abstractly. Historically, psychometricians have measured intelligence with a single score (Intelligence Quotient, IQ) on a standardized test, finding that such scores are predictive of later intellectual achievement. Furthermore, there are multiple intelligences, and that no single score can accurately reflect a person’s intelligence. More importantly, the theory of multiple intelligences implies that people learn better through certain modalities than others, and that the science teacher should design the curriculum to address as many modalities as possible (Herr, 2010).

Metacognition: Teaching Students to Think about their Thinking

John Flavel argues that learning is maximized when students learn to think about their thinking and consciously employ strategies to maximize their reasoning and problem solving capabilities. A metacognitive thinker knows when and how he learns best, and employs strategies to overcome barriers to learning. As students learn to regulate and monitor their thought processes and understanding, they learn to adapt to new learning challenges. Expert problem solvers first seek to develop an understanding of problems by thinking in terms of core concepts and major principles. By contrast, novice problem solvers have not learned this metacognitive strategy, and are more likely to approach problems simply by trying to find the right formulas into which they can insert the right numbers. A major goal of education is to prepare students to be flexible for new problems and settings. The ability to transfer concepts from school to the work or home environment is a hallmark of a metacognitive thinker (Herr, 2010).





Research Design

According to Kothari (2007) a research design is the arrangement of conditions for collection and analysis of data in a way that aims to combine relevance to the research purpose with economy in procedure. The study used cross-sectional research design due to time limitation and economy. This kind of research design includes collection of data on a sample of numerous groups of subjects at one point in time (Kothari, 2007).

Sampling Procedure

Population Sample and Size

Population is the group of persons which is of interest to the researcher. It is the group where the researcher aims to collect the results of the study. Population generally includes all the individuals who possess a certain characteristic (Frankel and Wallen 1993). Population sample of respondents is a small fraction of a population selected, observed and analysed (Best and Khan 1993). Form three students taking mathematics subject in selected schools, listed in Table 3.1, formed the group of respondents. Form three mathematics students have studied the subject for more than two years and have selected it as one of their possible carriers.

Furthermore, they still have one year before WAEC examinations. The study consisted of a sample size of 100 students. Alreck and Settle (1985) points out that for a large population the minimum practical sample size is 100 respondents.



 Sex of the Respondents

The percentage distribution of the sex of the respondents were as follows; among the form three students interviewed 50 (50%) were boys and 50 (50%) pupils were girls.




The major objective of the research was to find out factors influencing attitude of students towards the study of mathematics in ordinary level secondary schools in Nigeria with reference to Obio/Akpor Local Government Area. The study showed that the pattern of attitude of students towards the study of mathematics in the WAEC exams in the last four years from 2009 to 2012 was declining. It also investigated how curriculum, individual students, inadequate resources i.e. teachers and learning facilities have contributed to the continuing poor attitude towards the study of mathematics examinations. The specific objectives were:

To analyse performance in the SS3 WAEC examinations results from 2009 to 2012. This gave a foundational background in analysis of the problem.

  • To describe teacher and students perceptions on poor mathematics WAEC examinations
  • To identify factors leading to poor performance of mathematics in ordinary secondary school students.

Moreover, performance was treated as dependent variable while factors influencing attitude towards the study of mathematics examinations were treated as independent variables. These included individual/students related factors, curriculum related factors, human resources related factors, home based related factors, facility related factors, schools’ motivations and students’ perceptions on the attitude of students towards the study of mathematics.

The results show that there is a declining tendency in the general WAEC examination performance rates under the years of investigation. Performance on mathematics subject in WAEC exams had been below the general WAEC examinations result. Moreover, for the last three consecutive years from 2010 to 2012 mathematics pass rates were below 50%.

Furthermore, the factors influencing attitude of students towards the study of mathematics in secondary school are not only, insufficient facilities in schools such as libraries, laboratories and lack of qualified mathematics teachers, but also, the poor learning environment for many secondary schools do not support well the implementation of the competency based curriculum. In addition, home based factors such as economy as well as student interests affect the performance.

The following are conclusions provided in the light of the specific objectives of the study and findings:

  • The competence based curriculum, which is very important in the development of natural science subjects like mathematics, is not supported well by the learning environment for most schools in Rivers state.
  • Facility distribution and accessibility in secondary schools together with the problems of enough qualified mathematics teachers in schools remains to be among the major challenges which lead to poor performance in the WAEC examination
  • Not only facility and human personnel oriented problems affect poor performance in secondary schools but also students’ home support influence the morale of students studying natural science subjects


On the basis of the results obtained the following are the key recommendations of the study:

  • There is a need for urgent action on dealing with the issues of poor performances in WAEC Government and secondary school owners ought to increase the number of science subject teachers, provide adequate teaching and learning materials like laboratories, libraries and textbooks as well as laboratory technicians.
  • Government and school owners should provide special incentives to natural science teachers and students especially those who are teaching in rural areas.
  • Teachers should try their best to fulfil their teaching role regardless of the challenges of the teaching environments instead of just complaining.
  • Government, NGOs, school owners, and all community should increase students and public awareness on the importance of natural science subjects for the development of our
  • The issues of poor performing students ought to be given more emphasis on school inspections starting from the inspectors’ annual

The study recommends that similar research to be done in other regions so as to reveal the situations to a broader spectrum. Also there is a need for more research on how out-of-the school related factors such as students’ home support can affect Attitude of students towards the study of mathematics in secondary schools.


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