**Secondary School Student Attitude Toward the Study of Mathematics and Their Academic Achievement**

**Chapter One**

**Purpose of the study**

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of the student’s attitude towards learning and achievement in mathematics education.

**Objectives of the study**

- To determine the perceptions of students about mathematics in public secondary schools in Oyo state.
- To examine the factors influencing student attitudes towards Mathematics
- To investigate how the students’ attitudes affect their learning and achievement in mathematics
- To seek recommendations on how to improve students attitudes towards learning and achievement of

**CHAPTER TWO**

**REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE**

** Introduction**

The purpose of this section is to review related literature on the effects of attitudes of students learning and achievement. The review explored varied research findings and views relating to students attitudes in the subject. This revealed a complexity of interrelated factors that have been found to influence learners’ attitudes and achievements in mathematics. Several researchers have regarded attitudes as a key factor to be taken into account when attempting to understand and explain variability in student achievement (Dika, 2002).

This study focuses on the review of literature on the effect of student attitudes among other factors known to influence learning and achievement in mathematics. This section contains; attitudes & attitude formation, factors influencing attitude, effects of attitudes , attitude change and the chapter summery.

**Attitudes and their formation**

Attitudes are psychological orientations developed as a result of one’s experiences which influences a person’s view of situations, objects people and how to respond to them either positively or negatively or favourably or unfavourably (Mensah et al, 2013). Attitude is an organization of beliefs feelings and behavioural tendencies towards an object (Vaughan& Hogg, 2005).Attitudes are positive or negative views about a person, object, idea or situation which influences individual choice of action and responses to challenges (Marianne & Elaine, 2005). Attitudes have three interrelated qualities or components which vary in direction and degree or strength.

This include the; Emotional components – how we feel; A cognitive component – thoughts and beliefs; A behavioural components – action, experiences (Maio & Haddock, 2010).

The social learning theories by Bandura postulate that individuals acquire attitudes through observing imitating and modeling the behaviors of others. They therefore form through direct experience with models, object or issues or ideas we interact with. They are learnt attributes which affect our behavior. Research has it that people behave in accordance with their attitudes under the conditions that; the attitudes are as a result of personal experience; that one is expecting a favorable outcome or where the model is attractive, popular or successful (Zimmerman, 2007). A student can develop positive attitude towards Mathematics because he or she learns to associate positive experiences or events with it. Also, positive reinforcement creates room for the formation of positive attitude for Mathematics (Mensah et al, 2013).

**Students’ attitudes towards mathematics**

Attitude towards mathematics presents a disposition towards an aspect of mathematics that has been acquired by an individual through his or her beliefs and experiences but which could be changed (Eshun, 2004). Some authorities regard attitude towards Mathematics as just a like or dislike for Mathematics, while others extend the meaning to embrace beliefs, ability, and usefulness of Mathematics. For Zan and Martino (2007), attitude towards Mathematics is just a positive or negative emotional disposition towards Mathematics. Considering attitude towards Mathematics from multidimensional perspectives, it interprets students attitude towards Mathematics as a more complex scenario characterized by the emotions that one associates with Mathematics, ones beliefs about Mathematics and how one behaves towards Mathematics (Hart, 1989). This attitudes if negative is reflected by the fact that students may shy away and would always try to avoid mathematics tasks. A positive attitude towards the subject is an important educational outcome that should be nurtured regardless of the achievement level of the learners who should be helped in order to bring out their best abilities. They influence our social thought and help us to organize and evaluate stimuli into pleasant or unpleasant or negative or positive or useful or not useful. Attitudes have a strong effect on behaviour which helps in understanding and predicting peoples’ behaviour in a wide range of contexts. Attitudes though not directly observable are inferred from observable responses and behaviours. They are elicited by certain stimuli and gradually get established into a consistency or a tendency (Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia).

**CHAPTER THREE**

**RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY**

** Introduction**

This section highlights or discusses how the study was conducted. It outlines the procedure and strategies which were used to collect and analyze data. It consists of the description of the research design, variables considered, location of the study, target population, sample size and techniques, research instruments and their validity and reliability, data collection procedures and data analysis.

**Research design**

This is the arrangement of conditions for collection and analysis of data. This study adopted a descriptive survey design as it dealt with people’s views and hence was relevant to the study area. According to Grazino and Raulin (2000), descriptive survey method is often used to study people’s feelings, thinking and attitudes about specific aspects hence was relevant for this study as attitudes could not be directly measured or observed but were inferred from certain cues which depicted the implicit nature of students characteristics. The research aimed at capturing some of the student beliefs and perceptions which signified attitudes towards mathematics. The data was obtained through the use of student questionnaires representing various attitude variables or themes. The students response was organized and analyzed both in qualitative and quantitative approaches then summed up in a descriptive manner according to the themes.

**Target population**

This study targeted public secondary schools in Oyo State and particularly Ibadan sub state among other sub-counties which had 23 public secondary schools. Seven schools were selected in the LGA for the research study due to the fact that most schools shared a lot in common. In the seven sampled schools, there were about 700 SS2 students population where only 140 students were selected as participants. The SS2 students were particularly targeted due to the fact that at that level, they had been exposed to the greater extent of the mathematics curriculum which could have developed and stabilized their attitudes towards the subject with time. At such level also they could almost predict where they would range as far as performance in the subject was concerned.

**CHAPTER FOUR**

**PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS, INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION**

** Introduction**

This chapter presents the findings of the study based on the data collected from the students in relation to the objectives of the study. The data was checked and arranged with the use the statistical packages for social sciences (SPSS). The data was analysed using frequency tables and percentages in line with the themes and the objectives of the study. The objectives of the study were; to determine the attitudes of students towards mathematics as a subject; to investigate the factors influencing the attitudes; to examine the effects of attitudes on achievements and to suggest corrective measures that can help learners to improve in mathematics performance.

**CHAPTER FIVE**

**SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS**

** Introduction**

This chapter presents a summary of the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study. The chapter also has some research gaps identified and recommendations for further research.

**Summary of the findings**

**Perception of the students about mathematics**

The fndings of the study indicate that the students have a positive attitude towards mathematics. The findings show that the students like mathematics, enjoy and look forward for mathematics lessons. These positive attitudes are key to providing conducive environment for learning as the students learn better if they enjoy what they are learning however, this is not reflected in their performances in mathematics.

**Suggestions for improving students’ attitudes towards mathematics**

The attitude of the students towards mathematics has been found to influence significantly the student efforts, behaviour and learning of mathematics. These are very influential aspects and motivators of students’ performance in mathematics. The study suggests that more efforts be put to improve students’ attitudes through designing of instruction for attitude change including; providing persuasive massage, modelling and reinforcing appropriate behaviour, inducing dissonance between cognitive, affective and behavioural components of attitude. This should be fully supported by all the stakeholders in education to ensure success as each entity has a role to play towards this goal achievement.

On the basis of analysis of the findings, it is clear that students hold positive attitudes about the subject yet they continue to perform dismally. This could be attributed to other intervening variables which are not considered by this study e.g the school culture, teaching methodology or lack of teaching and learning resources among others.

By the same token, students may not have given sincere responses some of which are conflicting, but were just trying to impress the researcher by answering positively. For instance if majority of students liked and enjoyed learning mathematics, they would have consequently performed well in the subject which is not reflected in these findings. Some of the suggestions that can be considered to improve learners’ performance in mathematics include; Encouraging students to apply the taught knowledge and skills through feedback and assignments and extra work, the teacher to use variety of teaching methods, teaching aids and improvisation to promote discovery and elicit interest among the learners; and Sometimes the teachers should administer easy tests in order to arouse interests and counteract learners’ helplessness especially to low performers.

** Conclusions of the study**

The study concludes that:

Students generally have a favourable attitude towards mathematics. The student like, enjoy and look forward to the mathematics lessons. Thus, there is a positive and good attitude towards mathematics as a learning subject by the secondary school students in Oyo State. The students do not hate the subject as is widely thought but exhibit favourable attitudes towards mathematics. Though Positive attitudes alone may not significantly predict good performance as shown by the students’ grades, there are other mediating factors including student effort and commitment that connect attitude and achievement without which attitude alone may not reflect achievement.

The attitude towards mathematics is influenced by the perception and beliefs about mathematics, learning abilities and competence in mathematics and the previous performance and rankings in mathematics in schools where the later poses a negative influence. The effect of attitude of students on learning and achievement is reflected in terms of the effort and behaviour of students towards mathematics through motivation, completion of assignments, and attention in class and lesson attendance hence low level of engagement which makes it difficult to perform in mathematics.

The attitudes of the students also influence their confidence level in mathematics mostly in terms of their feeling about getting good grades, tackling mathematical tasks and their desire to pursue mathematics related courses in the future.

Though the students are aware of the importance of mathematics and what it takes to achieve in the subject, they lack commitment which limits them of their future career opportunities due to dismal performance in the subject. This may also imply that the educational goals are not being achieved.

Students attribute their achievements in mathematics mostly to the school environments, abilities, future interest and personal effort and less on social constructs (parents, teachers and peers).

**Recommendations of the study**

The study makes the following recommendations:

- The school administration should advantageously make use of the learners’ positive attitude to create a strong inclination and culture of mathematics as a subject in secondary schools where the students can score favourably like in any other
- The curriculum designers and the teachers should articulate well on the usefulness and applicability of mathematics in general so that students create positive minds towards the subject and subsequently strive to improve in the
- The Ministry of education, teachers and parents should ensure that performance of mathematics among students is improved so as to dislodge the negative attitude and create a positive one on performance of mathematics in secondary This will counteract the effect of previous failures and rankings in the subject which may degenerate into negative school culture and definitely low performance.

- The parents and the teachers should explore other avenues to change the behaviour of students towards mathematics and the interests of the students towards the The student generally should be motivated through persuasion, use of reinforcements, provision of learning resources and improving on teacher support which cuts across the home and the school environments.
- The learners should be able to understand the need for a commitment to be fully engaged and to be willing to embrace logic behind every success in mathematics so as to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for
- Teachers can best motivate their learners to excel in mathematics as they are important tools in changing and shaping the learners attitude towards the This can be done through;
- the use of well designed learning strategies and feedback to fully engage the learners on how these strategies translates to improved performance;
- mastering and adapting content to the learners understanding level by selecting the method of presentations that takes care of individual differences;
- Guiding learners to monitor daily progress, through feedback that is normally generated from the work done.

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