Research Key

factors that contribute to students poor performance in mathematics

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International: $20
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Osokoya (2003) defines Education as a continuous process which the society establishes to assist its members to understand the heritage of the past and to participate productively in the future.

It is the leading out of the in-born powers and potentialities of the individuals in the society and the acquisition of skills, aptitudes, and competencies necessary for self-realisation and for coping with life’s problem.

For Afe (2000), Education is considered as a tool to be used for the integration of the individual into the society to achieve self-realisation, develop national consciousness, promote unity, and strive for social, economical, political, scientific, cultural and technological progress.

Education in Science and Mathematics therefore becomes bedrock and indispensable tools for scientific, technological and economic advancement in any nation.

It gives the nation the capacity to apply technology for the exploitation of the resources of nature.

Such exploitation will depend greatly on Mathematics for laying the foundation for political, government, military, civil, scientific, technological advancement, economic development, socio-cultural and environmental peace.

There are number of questions which need to be answered at this stage. What then is Mathematics? Why should everbody learn Mathematics? What is the importance of this subject in life and in social curriculum? What shall be the advantage of devoting so much effort, time, and money to the teaching of Mathematics?

Obe (1996) conceptualises Mathematics as the master and servant of most disciplines and thus, a source of enlightment and understanding of the universe. He further opines that without it the understanding of national problems would be superficial.

Greaber and Weisman (1995) agree that Mathematics help the individual to understand the environment and to give accurate account of the physical phenomena around every person.

To this end Setidisho (2001) submits that no other subject forms a strong binding force among various branches of Science as Mathematics and without it, knowledge of the Sciences often remains superficial.

Emphasizing the importance of the subject to the society, Robert (1987) stated that in US, Mathematics has come to play important roles: in the engineering of highways, the search for energy, the designing of TV sets, the profitable operation of most business, astronauts flying space-crafts, the study of epidemics, the navigation of ships at sea all depends on the study of Mathematics.

Shapiro (2000) defines Mathematics as the studyof qualitative relations; put simply, it is the Science of structure, order, numbers, space and objects. It qualifies in its own right as a Science but it is often regarded as a language of and a link between all the Sciences.

Soyemi (1999) Mathematics is a body of knowledge that opens up the mind to logical reasoning, analytical thinking and the ability for creative thinking, deep focusing and clarity of thought and precision. It is the hub on which all scientific and technological studies find their bearings.

In pure sciences it is the basis and language of study, in applied sciences and technology, it is an indispensable tool of analysis, with the social sciences it is a scaffold and for the Arts the light that gives consistently and completeness to its study.

Osafehinti (1990) observes that the learning of Mathematics in schools represent first,  a basic preparation for adult life and secondly a gateway to a visit array of career choices.

And from societal perspective, competence in Mathematics is essential for the preparation of an informed citizenry and for continuous production of highly skilled personnel required for industry, technology and science.

The progress of any nation depends upon her scientific and technological development which can only be built on a sound Mathematical education capable of making the citizens effectively functional in the natural and applied sciences. The study of Mathematics therefore will go a long way to equip students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology.

Mathematical skills for daily life are developed in school Mathematics curriculum. Cockcroft (1982) states that there can be no doubt that every child should study Mathematics at school. He also highlights that most people regard the study of Matematics, together with that of English as being essential.

For this reason, Mathematics is one of the core subjects in all schools worldwide as explained by the amount of time devoted to it in schools. In many countries, it is compulsory in primary and secondary levels of education. In Cameroon as in other parts of the world, Mathematics enjoys a very prestigious position in school curriculum.

Efforts to enhance the effectiveness of Mathematics education have included making Mathematics a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools in Cameroon. Despite the fact that Mathematics is essential for daily life and plays a crucial role in school curriculum, students’ performance remains very low.

This caused an outcry from Mathematics teachers, Mathematics educators, parents, and students. One of the main issues for the outcry was the students’ performance in the subject. “By the 1980s, however the public at large and the Mathematics community in particular began to voice a mounting concern regarding the Mathematical competency and arithmetical skills of the high school graduates being produced.

The resounding question of the 1980s, extending over the 1990s “why are the literates from the school so Mathematically illiterate?” This question which confronts the serious thinkers of Mathematics education today, is not confined to any one culture or, for that matter, any one system of education; it is being raised almost univesally” Morris & Arora, (1992:1)


            The importance of Mathematics in daily life is recognised worldwide and and as a result of this, the subject has been given a special place in the school curriculum. However, students’ poor performance in Mathematics is globally known, Cameroon not being different.

Morris and Arora (1992) contend that the problem of students’ poor performance in Mathematics is not confined to any one country but universal. In response to this global problem, researchers in various countries investigated its root causes.

Miheso (2002) carried out a research on the factors affecting Mathematics performance among secondary school students in Nairobi Province, Kenya, while Wasiche (2006) conducted a research on the teaching techniques that enhance students’ performance in Mathematics in Mathematics selected public secondary schools in Butere-Mumias District in Kenya.

The decline in the numbers of candidates opting to pursue the studies in the sciences has become a matter of considerable societal concern and debate among researchers (Jenkins,1996). Consequently, the promotion of favourable attitudes towards science and learning of Mathematics is extremely critical and important.

The question that may come to mind is; does the Mathematical method of teaching has a significant effect on students’ performance? This project will therefore take Mathematical methods and see whether they have effects on students performances.


The objectives of this study are:

  1. To find out the teacher characteristics contributing to students’ performance in Mathematics.
  2. To identify common methods used in teaching Mathematics that influence students’ performance in Mathematics.
  3. To establish types of teaching resources used by Mathematics teachers that contribute to students’ performance in Mathematics.
  4. To establish students’ attitudes towards Mathematics that influence their performance in the subject.
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