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ABACUS, Pages 24 33, Vol. 32, No.

1, 2007

AN INVESTIGATION INTO MATHEMATICS PERFORMANCE OF SENIOR


SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN SOKOTO STATE
GALADIMA, I. & YUSHAU, M.A.
Department of Education, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Nigeria
ABSTRACT
This paper investigated the Mathematics performance of Senior Secondary School
students in Mathematical concepts, principles, terms and symbols as contained in
Algebra. Trigonometry and Statistics. The study covered all the Senior Secondary two
students in Sokoto State who were found to have covered adequate content of algebra,
trigonometry and statistics of SS II mathematics curriculum. A sample of 368 students
were involved in the study, comprising of 187 boys and 181 girls. The instrument adapted
for the study was a standardized text constructed and validated in Malaysia by a research
group called Diagnostic Technologic Malaysia (1987).Percentage, means, standard
deviations and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were employed to determine and
compare performance of students at = 0.05. All the 2 hypotheses tested were not
rejected showing no significant differences between the group means. The paper proffers
some recommendations among which included investigations of students learning
difficulties should be taken seriously by teachers and be seen as a special tool for
checking the level of difficulties among the students.
INTRODUCTION
One of the aims of mathematics education is surely successful learning for all
students, yet it seems to be a fact of reality that, while few students prosper in the
learning of mathematics, much greater number of them find mathematics difficult. Over
the years, mathematics educators have identified various causes of difficulties in learning
mathematics. Among these factors include; physiological, social, emotional, intellectual
and pedagogical in nature (Howell, 2000; Geary, 1999; Inekwe, 1977; Wright, 1996;
Galadima, 1988 and Bruckner, and Bond, 1955).
Poor students performance in Mathematics has posed major concern to
mathematics educators. This is because, the teaching and learning of mathematics in
secondary schools in Nigeria have a significant role towards understanding the subject as
well as science and technology related courses.
According to Adegboye (1991) Mathematics is one of the core subjects in both
Junior and Senior Secondary School curricula in Nigeria, which justifies the recognition
of Mathematics as being essential in the development of technological advancement in
Nigeria.

GALADIMA, I. & YUSHAU, M. A.

Yet, despite the perceived importance of Mathematics in scientific and


technological development of a nation, students performance in the Nigerian institutions
has not been encouraging (Adeyebe, 1993).
Contributing on under achievement, Fajemidagbe (1997) says attempts have been
made by researchers in Mathematics education to deal with the problem of achievement
in school mathematics, but up till now there is more to be done.
While Korau (2006) opines several variables ranging from the learners
themselves, the teachers, the textbooks, the curricula, school environment to have been
responsible for students poor achievement in school Mathematics.
Therefore, a successful teacher should always be prepared to assess the students
abilities, values and levels of difficulties so as to make the necessary adjustment in
remedial teaching. The level of students performance in Mathematics determines the
level of her/his difficulties in learning. For instance, if a students score in Mathematics is
very low, it indicates the level of his/her learning difficulty in the subject.
Thus, this study investigated Mathematics performance of Senior Secondary
School Students to determine their level of learning difficulties in Sokoto State.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In spite of the universal recognition of the importance of mathematics and the
tremendous efforts being made by educationists, mathematicians, mathematics teachers
and researchers towards improving both the quantity and quality of teaching and learning
of mathematics in secondary schools, yet the students achieved very poorly. For instance
in the research on areas of difficulties among JSS three students on Algebraic content,
Galadima (1988) found, the performance of boys and girls to be generally low as a result
of lack of proper understanding of the basic concepts and processes. Similarly, Inekwe
(1997) while investigating algebraic and geometric reasoning difficulties affecting
remediation at the secondary levels, found that, the general performance was below 30 %
mean score and more than 50 % of the students have:
i.
Answer consciousness
ii.
Poor inductive reasoning ability, and
iii.
Poor intuitive problem solving ability due to deliberate avoidance of nonnumerical variables.
But on gender performance, Onabanjo (2000) and Ojo (2004) found that boys
performed significantly better than girls in SSS Mathematics.
Buxton (1980) feels that, algebraic symbols can themselves be great inhibitor to
Mathematics learning, due to their nature and notations. Examples of these symbols
include < (less than), > (greater than), < (less than or equal to), > (greater than, or equal
to), = (equivalent to), = (equal to), # (not equal to) others include parentheses ([]),
brackets ( ) {}, curly brackets, and horizontal bar (-) (vincula), a2 + b2 = c2, x + y = z =
10, xy = y2 etc. Hart (1981) discovered a common pitfall in manipulating and interpreting
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AN INVESTIGATION INTO MATHEMATICS PERFORMANCE OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL

algebraic expression; a tendency to mix numbers and letters. These imply that secondary
school students are encountering difficulties in learning of Mathematics.
Howel (2000), discovered difficulties with Mathematical concepts, term and
symbols arise from the realm of Mathematical thinking.
The problem of this study is therefore concerned with investigating Senior
secondary School Students performance in Mathematical concepts, principles, terms and
symbols as contained in Algebra, trigonometry and Statistics in Sokoto State.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The main objectives of this study in specific terms are:
1.
To identify the Mathematics performance of senior secondary school
students in mathematical concepts, principles, terms and symbols as
contained in secondary mathematics curriculum in Sokoto State.
2.
To identify who performs better in Mathematical concepts, principles,
terms and symbols among boys and girls in senior secondary schools of
Sokoto State.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions were used in the conduct of this study:
i.
Is there any difference in performance in Mathematical concepts,
principles, terms and symbols among senior secondary schools students of
Sokoto State?
ii.
Is there any sex - difference in learning mathematical concepts, principles,
terms and symbols among senior secondary school students of Sokoto
State?
HYPOTHESES
The following hypotheses were tested and used to answer the research questions
raised earlier.
Ho1: There is no significant difference in performance in Mathematical concepts,
principles, terms and symbols among senior secondary school students of Sokoto
State.
Ho2: There is no significant sex difference in Mathematical concepts, principles,
terms and symbols among senior secondary school students of Sokoto State.
RESEARCH DESIGN
This study employed a quasi-experimental design using pre-test and post-test
control group design. Questions administered were from the areas of concepts, principles,
terms and symbols as contained in Algebra, Trigonometry and Statistics only. The
researchers had conducted a survey to find out the schools and the students that had
covered topics in Algebra, Trigonometry and Statistics. From the result of the survey,
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GALADIMA, I. & YUSHAU, M. A.

only six schools with students population of about one thousand three hundred and forty
eight (1348) satisfied the condition.
POPULATION AND SAMPLE
There are forty eight (48) senior Secondary Schools in Sokoto State with an
estimated population of Nine Thousand Four Hundred and eighty six (9,486) students in
SS 2. Out of the 48 senior secondary schools in the state, 23 schools are situated within
Sokoto metropolis with an estimated population of Six Thousand five hundred and sixty
seven (6,567) students in SS 2. However, only six schools satisfied the criteria mentioned
above. Therefore, a sample of all the six schools were taken, been the only option left
which is in accordance with the advice of Fox (1969) on purposeful sampling technique.
A sample of 368 students were randomly selected from an estimated population of
1,348 students, which is in accordance with Morgan and Krejcie (1971) table for
determining sample size from a given population.
In order to have a fair representation of the characteristics of the parent
population, both boys and girls were given equal opportunities. Thus, using proportionate
allocation. Table 1 below provides the information.
Table 1:

Sample and Sample size of the selected Senior Secondary Schools in


Sokoto metropolis
S/No.
Name of Schools
Type Total Number Sample
of Students in size in
SS 2
1.
Nana Girls Secondary School Sokoto
Girls
398
84
2.
Government Girls College Sokoto
Girls
340
72
3.
Sultan Attahiru Ahmadu Secondary Boys
375
79
School Sokoto
4.
Sani Dingyadi Secondary School Sokoto
Boys
399
84
5.
Government Day Secondary School Mixed
190
40
Arkilla, Sokoto
6.
Usmanu Danfodiyo Model Secondary Mixed
45
9
School, Sokoto
1384
368

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AN INVESTIGATION INTO MATHEMATICS PERFORMANCE OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL

INSTRUMENT
The study adapted forty (40) test items designed by the Diagnostic and Remedial
Mathematics Group of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. The reliability and validity of the
instrument before adaptation indicated that 7 questions out of 40 had D<0.25, of these
two had a low P index and were too good discriminators. Questions were selected and
modified from three (3) topics as follows:
TOPIC 1:
Algebra (Questions 1 14, Q. 35, 36)
TOPIC 2:
Trigonometry (Questions 15 21, Q. 33, 39)
TOPIC 3:
Statistics (Questions 22 32, Q. 37, 38, 40)
This instrument consists of 90 minutes 40 item multiple choice examination
that test students skills in Mathematical concepts, principles, terms and symbols as
contained in algebra, trigonometry and statistics.
However, when testing the validity and reliability of the adapted instrument
preliminary investigation provides the following: Eleven (11) questions out of 40 had
D<0.25, of these five (5) questions had a low P index and were too difficult, the other six
(6) questions had a high P index and were too easy. Twenty nine (29) questions out of
forty (40) were good discriminators.
The test was administered to all the sampled students on the same day with the
assistance of three research assistants and mathematics teachers of the sampled schools.
After marking the scripts for all the sample students, the raw scores were
converted into percentage scores. The means and standard deviation for boys and girls
were calculated in each topic of the test as well as the total scores for the overall
performance. For further analysis of the data, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and t-test
as statistical tool for comparing among and within the group-means at 0.05 level of
significance were used.
RESULTS AND INTERPRETATION
The data collected were presented and analysed as follows, taking each hypothesis
one at a time.
HYPOTHESIS ONE (HO1):
There is no significant difference in performance in mathematical concepts,
principles, terms and symbols among senior secondary school two (SS II) students of
Sokoto State.
The table below shows the general performance of boys and girls in Mathematical
concepts, principles, terms and symbols.

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GALADIMA, I. & YUSHAU, M. A.

Table 2:
Mean Scores and Standard Deviations of Boys and Girls
Gender
Number of
Mean Scores
Standard
Students
Deviation
Boys
187
24.67
11.81
Girls
181
21.13
9.54
Mixed
368
23.02
10.98
The table above shows that, both boys and girls performed equally poor in the
mathematical concepts, principles, terms and symbols. The data in Table 2 was further
subjected to analysis to find significant difference using One-way Analysis of Variance.
The result is presented in table 3 below.
One-way Analysis of Variance of Students Performance on Algebra,
Trigonometry and Statistics
Source of variance
SS
Df
MS
F
Between Group
7893
2
3946.5
0.83
Within Group
1730275.6
365
4740.48
Total
1738168.6
367
NB: Group means for AT & S = 26.93.15.96.24.07 respectively. Level of Significance
= 0.05
Table 3:

Table 3 above presents the result of analysis of variance employed to test the
difference in performance among Ss II students in mathematical concepts, principle,
terms and symbols. It also shows that, an F value of 0.83 was obtained which was less
than a critical value of 3.02 at p < 0.05. This implies that, there was no significant
difference in Mathematics performance among Senior Secondary School students in
Sokoto State. The hypothesis tested was therefore retained.
HYPOTHESIS TWO (HO2)
There is no significant sex-difference in Mathematics performance among senior
secondary students of Sokoto State.
To test this hypothesis, a descriptive statistical technique was employed and the
summary is given in table 4 below.

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AN INVESTIGATION INTO MATHEMATICS PERFORMANCE OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL

Table 4:
Sex

Summary of Descriptive Statistics by Sex


Mean
N
Std. Deviation

Boys
Girls

74.4933
70.5567

3
3

97.6456
95.8221

Std. Error
Mean
56.3757
55.3229

Table 4 above shows the means, the standard deviations, and the standard error of
mean for both boys and girls. This was used to find whether there was any significant
difference between boys and girls in their mean scores. T-Test was employed at 0.05
level of significant. A summary of the analysis of the t-test is presented in the table 5
below.
Table 5:
Summary of T-test Analysis
Variables
N
X
S2
Boys
187
24.67
11.81
Girls
181
Not significant at 0.05

21.13

Df

Cal t

Critical t

0.05

3.596

4.30

09.54

From the table above it was found that, there was no significant difference
between boys and girls performance at 0.05 level of significance, the calculated t-value
(3.596) was found to be less than the table value of 4.30. Thus, the hypothesis tested was
retained, implying that there was no significant sex difference in mathematics
performance among Senior Secondary School students of Sokoto State.
DISCUSSION
The findings of this study indicated that, boys and girls performed very poorly in
the test administered.
The findings also confirmed no significant sex difference in learning
mathematical concepts, principles, terms and symbols among senior secondary school
two (SS II) students of Sokoto State. Thus, confirming and supporting the findings of
Galadima (188) who worked on the overall performance of boys and girls in the
Algebraic content of JSS three school Mathematics.
The findings of the study further confirmed the findings of Inekwe (1997) that,
both boys and girls were equally poor in geometric reasoning ability, and the diagnostic
group of University Taknologi Malaysia (1989) who reported that, students have
difficulties in learning concepts, principles, terms and symbols based on the overall
analysis they have made.

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GALADIMA, I. & YUSHAU, M. A.

The above findings revealed the existence of learning difficulties among senior
secondary schools of Sokoto State in Mathematics. This is a pointer to the fact that,
investigation of students learning difficulties may not have been carried out by
Mathematics teachers in secondary schools of Sokoto State.
SUMMARY OF THE MAJOR FINDINGS
From the analyses and findings of this study, it is possible to make a summary of
the major findings.
1.
There was no significant difference in performance of Mathematical concepts,
principles, terms and symbols among Senior Secondary School students of
Sokoto State.
2.
There was no significant sex-difference in Mathematics performance among
senior secondary school students of Sokoto State.
IMPLICATION OF THE STUDY
The results of this study reveals that more than 75 % of the students had scored
low marks in Mathematical areas of Algebra, Trigonometry and Statistics as a results of
lack of proper understanding of the basic concepts, principles, terms and symbols
involved. This has a lot of implication for the educational requirements of higher
institutions where credit passes are the basic considerations for further learning in the
areas of science and technology. Hence, majority of the students may not be eligible to
read science, technology and related course. This implies that Sokoto State would
continue to be left behind in the areas of science and technology where knowledge of
mathematics happened to be the foundation of learning.
The poor performance of students revealed in the study may be as a result of the
neglect of teachers for not carrying our performance test in difficult topics of
mathematics.
RECOMMENDATION
Considering the poor performance manifested by the students in Mathematics and
the great demand of the Mathematical knowledge in the educational system and its
practical application in the fields of science and technology etc, the following
recommendations are made for the improvement of teaching and learning of Mathematics
in the State;

Investigation of students learning difficulties should be taken seriously by


teachers and be seen as a special tool for checking the level of difficulties among
students.

Investigation of students learning difficulties should be carried out on topic or


subtopic wise and remediation should be given immediately after the difficulties
have been identified.

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AN INVESTIGATION INTO MATHEMATICS PERFORMANCE OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL

Teachers should always provide remedial class of the difficult exercises and
assignments as well as mark them. Teachers should always create friendly
atmosphere during lesson presentations, this will promote interest in the subject
among students.
Teachers should always remember and use during every classroom presentation
the four phases of learning as postulated by Gane (1970);
i.
The apprehending phase.
ii.
The acquisition phase.
iii.
The storage phase and
iv.
The retrieval phase.
REFERENCES

Adegboye, A. O. (1991). Towards an Assessment of the Standards of


Mathematics Education in Nigeria: Kwara State as a Case Studies. ABACUS: The
Journal of Mathematical Association of Nigeria, 21 (1): 69 92.
Adeyegbe, S. O. (1993). The SSS Science Curriculum and Candidates
Performance. An Appraisal of the First Cycle of Operation. Journal of Science Teachers
Association of Nigeria, STAN, 28 (2).
Brueckner, L. J. & Bond, G. L. (1955). The Diagnosis and Treatment of Learning
Difficulties; Appleton Century crafts, New York.
Ekenstan, A. & Careger, K. (1983). Some aspects of Childrens ability to solve
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Fajemidagbe, (1997). Secondary School Mathematics Relative Difficulty
Importance of Mathematics Learning Items, ABACUS: The Journal of Mathematical
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Franic, H. & Athoen, S. C. (1994). Statistic concepts and application. Cambridge
University Press.
Gagn, R. M. (`1970). The condition of Learning, Holt Rinehart and Winston Inc,
New York, (2nd ed.).
Galadima, I. (1988). Comparative performance by gender in subtopics of Junior
Secondary School Algebra in Sokoto State (M.Ed.) Dissertation, Ahmadu Bello
University, Zaria.

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GALADIMA, I. & YUSHAU, M. A.

Haward, A. E.; Farmer, W. & Blackman, R. A. (1979). Teaching Mathematics,


University Press, London.
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Information
on
Diagnosis.
http://www.DepaulSchool.org.Learning/Mathematics/html.
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92.
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