The problems militate against the effective teaching and learning of mathematics in junior secondary schools.
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This study explores the factors affecting teaching and learning of students in Mathematics in Bamenda region. The choice of this topic was influenced by the fact that teaching and learning in Mathematics in Cameroon and particularly in Bamenda region has remained low over the years. There are some schools in Bamenda region that do not offer Mathematics at Forms Three and Four levels. This study set out to investigate some of the reasons for this state of affairs. The study was carried out in 12 (twelve) schools sampled from the district, two of which were provincial schools, four district boarding schools and six district day schools. A total of 144 students participated in the study. There were four Form Two students and eight Form Three students from each school. Stratified random sampling was used to come up with the study sample. One Mathematics teacher in Form Three was selected from each school making a total of 12 teachers. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that affect teaching and learning in Mathematics at secondary school level. The design of the study was descriptive survey. Data was collected using teachers’ and students’ questionnaires, class observation guide, HODs’ interview schedule’ and students’ achievement tests. These included achievement test scores, students’ gender, entry behavior, learners’ attitude towards Mathematics, availability and use of teaching/ learning resources, teacher characteristics and teaching methodology. The data obtained was analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics. Tables and graphs were used to display data. The study found out that availability and proper use of teaching/learning resources improved achievement in Mathematics. There was a significant higher enrolment in schools with enough resources compared with those with inadequate resources. This could probably explain the reason why there was a higher enrolment in Mathematics among provincial schools compared to district schools. The study recommended that teachers should effectively use teaching/learning resources to improve visualization of concepts. Modern teaching methods should also be employed to arouse students’ interest and improve their attitude towards Mathematics.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The attitude towards Mathematics in secondary schools in Cameroon is unsatisfactory sequel to the wrong perception that the subject is difficult to assimilate, inspite of the benefit student stand to gain by learning Mathematics most student nonchalantly chose to study other subjects in place of physic (Okoh, 2002).
Students attitude towards Mathematics to a large extent have an impact on their interest in leaning Mathematics. As such Cupdag(1989) opined that the attitude of students reveals their level of learning toward a particular subject, thus, makes them enthusiastic to learn than those who have unfavorable attitude towards its.
In this regard, Cheng (2004), in a study conducted regarding students learning in Mathematics, found out that in the students evaluation, consistent with their notion that Mathematics is complex to learn have unfavorable attitude towards learning it. This also have a negative consequence on teaching the subject, because the negative perception of students becomes a barrier to teaching and learning.
Furthermore, Edward (2006) asserts that research in a similar area which was targeted at assessing students’ beliefs and perception about the nature of Mathematics learning and evaluation of teaching practices that would help students develop more expert-like beliefs and positive attitude; observed that in spite of the benefit the student would derive from learning Mathematics their perception about Mathematics being a difficult subject cannot be easily changed thus affecting the teaching and learning of the subject in secondary schools in Cameroon.
However, Torres (1997) opined that in present time, the emphasis on science teaching has shifted from teaching of science as a body of established knowledge towards science as a human activity. Instead of teaching students to think critically and independently; science teaching to a large extent, has taught students to accept scientific knowledge without questions, learn existing theories and present alternative explanations.
As such, Mathematics as a dynamic branch of science is difficult to describe, thus, in learning Mathematics, this should not be taught as a series of formulas to be memorized and applied just for “cultural” purposes but be taught as a dynamic branch of science which should provide questions and explanations on how the world works (Jense, 1995).
It is against this background that the researchers sees the subject matter of this research “problem and prospect of teaching and learning Mathematics in secondary school level” as an issue worthy of investigation.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
A lot of studies shows the poor performance of students in Mathematics this is attributed to the notion that Mathematics is complex to learn thus making students to develop an unfavorable altitude towards learning the subject. On the part of teachers, Mathematics is taught as a series of formulas to be memorized and applied just for the sake of learning as against teaching students to think critically and independently instead of accepting such knowledge without questions. This issue has become a serious concern to education planners and policy makers in Cameroon. As such the subject matter of this research is considered an empirical problem worthy of investigation.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The present study is to determine the problem and prospect of teaching and learning Mathematics in secondary school level, with a searchlight at federal government college Bamenda
To establish whether students’ attitude towards Mathematics affect teaching and learning.
To examine how teachers’ characteristics and teaching methodology affect teaching and learning
To establish the relationship between learners’ mathematical/spatial ability and its effect on teaching and learning.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The study sought to answer the following research questions
Does students’ attitude towards Mathematics affect teaching and learning?
Do the teacher characteristics and teaching methodology influence the choice of science subject by Form Three students and performance in Mathematics?
To what extent does the students’ mathematical/spatial ability affect students’ performance and enrollment in Mathematics?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study will be beneficial to Mathematics teachers in secondary schools who may wish to utilize the findings of this study to improve their teaching method. The study will also be beneficial to policy makers in education sector especially as they utilize the findings of this study as a basis for policy formulation concerning teaching and learning of Mathematics. It should be noted that the study will enhance existing knowledge about the problem and prospect of teaching and learning Mathematics in secondary school level. The study can also be used as a springboard to carryout similar research as incoming students can use it as a reference material.