Effects of MATHEMATICS on the Performance and Attitudes of Students in Economics in BUEA Sub-Division, South-West Region, Cameroon
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The purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of Mathematics on the performance and attitude of students in Economics in some schools in Buea Sub Division. A questionnaire was used to obtain information from 160 students. Four research questions were used to guide the study. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the data. The mean scores and standard deviation were used to answer the research questions. The following specific objectives were used for the study.
Knowledge in Algebra affects students’ achievement in Economics
Knowledge in Calculus affects students’ achievement in Economics
Knowledge in Geometry affects students’ achievement in Economics
Knowledge in Statistics affects students’ achievement in Economics
The findings of the study showed that knowledge in Algebra, Calculus, Geometry and Statistics affects students’ achievement in Economics positively. It was recommended that Mathematics in the teaching and learning of Economics. Teachers should pay particular attention to the Mathematics skills needed to master the economic concepts they are teaching and also that they should review the Mathematics concepts prior to introducing the economic concepts they are teaching.
This research is to estimate the effects of Mathematics on students’ attitude and their performance in Economics in some schools in Buea Sub-Division. We study results prior and subsequent to the implementation of Mathematics that was compulsory for subset of students.
1.1 Background of the Study
Mathematics is defined as the study of numbers, shapes and space using reason. (Advance Learner’s Dictionary 3th Edition). This was a period in which classical concerns with growth, production and the distribution of the fruits of growth among social classes were being replaced with market exchange. The focus thus shifted from the level of the economy and social classes to the level of the individual. LeonWalras (1954) set out to establish the conditions for successful coordination of market exchange and he did so mathematically .Mathematical Economics is defined as “application of mathematical concepts and techniques to Economics,particularly Economics Theories”,Arrow and Intriligator(1981).There is common agreement among Economists that Augustine Cournot is to be considered as the Father of Mathematical Economics.In his Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth (1838), Cournot puts forward as his explicit objective to apply the form and symbols of Mathematical Analysis.Educators have long held the belief that successful learning relies on a series of building blocks.
The study of Economics is said to have officially started in the 17th Century by Adam Smith (1776) who is known as the father of Economics when he published his book “An inquiry into the Nature and the Causes of the Wealth of Nations” in. It is also known that the early development of Mathematics was given direction by Economics. As stable governments evolved and trade flourished, it became necessary to keep accurate numerical records(Fergyson,1978)
In Cameroon, according to the program from the Ministry of Secondary Education, Economics is usually introduced to students in Form Three (3). Economics in Form Three usually start with the general introduction of the discipline and the definition of basic terms such as scarcity, choice, opportunity cost and scale of preference, utility, which is the reason why we study Economics and this helps us in decision making. Later, basic Mathematical calculations of mean, median, bar charts, pie charts are introduced. Although introductory Economics topics, such as Demand and Supply require that most college students must complete in the course of their studies, and which involves little Mathematics. An in depth study of Economics requires a rigorous understanding of Mathematics including Calculus. Not all topics in Economics involve mathematicalcalculations. Most of the topics which involve calculations are: Theory of the Firm, National Income, Demand and Supply, Population and Taxation, just to name a few. According to the Chief examiners report for Advanced Level Economics at the General Certificate of Education(GCE), the impact of calculation has reduced performance of students in the Advance Level. This is because the Paper three in the GCE Advance Level usually and most of the times involves calculations and since most students start running away from Mathematics classes in Form Three and to this effect, they find it difficult to catch up with the Mathematics in Economics. Hence, students who are not versed with this paper are scared away from answering it. The incidence of Mathematics in Economics has increased. Nowadays, remedial Mathematics is necessary for success in Secondary School Economics (Ely, 1990).
There is a general acceptance of the importance of Mathematics in Economics. It is perceived as a core area of learning in probably most educational systems throughout the world. Indeed, many international studies have sought to compare achievement in Mathematics between various countries. Its inclusion as a curricular area in schools reflects its value in providing pupils with knowledge, skills and procedures which are necessary tools in understanding the physical environment and in exploring patterns and relationships. Mathematics, though enjoyable and valid in its own right is also relevant to learning in many other curricular areas. The competence gained in the study of Mathematics is widely used in all spheres of human life. Mathematics plays a key role in shaping how individuals deal with the various spheres of private, social, and civil life. This justifies the need for the study of thesubject (Mathematics) by all students who go through Basic and Secondary Education. In most countries Mathematics is a science of space and quantity that helps in solving the problems of life needing numeration and calculation.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
During my Teaching Practice, I found out that most of the students find it difficult to apply the knowledge of Mathematics in some areas of Economics. There seems to be a correlation between knowledge from remedial Mathematics and performance in Economics. The researcher observed from Teaching Practice that students’ attitude in some areas of Economics that required basic mathematical skills was poor. It is therefore important to find out whether mathematical skills make a difference in the ability of students to succeed in Economics at the secondary school level.
1.3 The Purpose of the Study
The study is aimed at finding out the effects of Mathematics on the attitude and performance in Economics in some schools in Buea Sub-division.
1.4 The Objective of the Study
Specifically, the purpose of this study aims at finding out the following:
How knowledge in calculus affects students’ academic performance in Economics.
How knowledge in algebra affects students’ academic performance in Economics.
How knowledge of geometry affects students’ academic performance in Economics
How knowledge of statistics affects students’ academic performance in Economics.