# Identification And Remediation Of Difficult Concepts In Mathematics And Students Academic Achievement In Secondary School

## Abstract

This study examines the identification and remediation of difficult concepts in mathematics and students academic achievement in secondary school. Specifically, the study determines whether there is any significant difference between male and female studentsâ€™ perception of difficult concepts in Mathematics, determines whether there is there any significant difference in the achievement of students in Mathematics when it is taught by male or female teachers as perceived by students, finds out the mathematical concepts senior secondary schools studentsâ€™ perceive as difficult and find out the causes of the difficulties experienced by the senior secondary school students in math. The study employs the survey descriptive research design. A total of 200 responses were validated from the survey. The study adopts the Banduraâ€™s social learning theory. From the responses obtained and analysed, the findings reveals that there is a significant difference between male and female studentsâ€™ perception of difficult concepts in Mathematics. Furthermore, the findings reveals that there is a significant difference in the achievement of students in Mathematics when it is taught by male or female teachers as perceived by students. The study recommends that workshops should be organized for mathematics teachers on the identified difficult mathematics concepts. The study further recommends that highly qualified and competent mathematics teachers should be employed and current euphemism of â€śman knows manâ€ť should be discouraged as regard recruitment and appointment.

## Table of Content

### Chapter One:

#### Introduction

- 1.1 Background of the Study
- 1.2 Statement of the Problem
- 1.3 Objective of the Study
- 1.4 Research Questions
- 1.5 Research Hypothesis
- 1.6 Significance of the Study
- 1.7 Scope of the Study
- 1.8 Limitation of the Study
- 1.9 Definition of Terms

### Chapter Two:

#### Review of Literature

- 2.1 Conceptual Framework
- 2.2 Theoretical Framework
- 2.3 Empirical Review

### Chapter Three:

#### Research Methodology

- 3.1 Research Design
- 3.2 Population of the Study
- 3.3 Sample Size Determination
- 3.4 Sample Size Selection Technique and Procedure
- 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
- 3.6 Method of Data Collection
- 3.7 Method of Data Analysis
- 3.8 Validity of the Study
- 3.9 Reliability of the Study
- 3.10 Ethical Consideration

### Chapter Four:

#### Data Presentation and Analysis

- 4.1 Data Presentation
- 4.2 Analysis of Data
- 4.3 Answering Research Questions
- 4.4 Test of Hypotheses

### Chapter Five:

#### Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

- 5.1 Summary
- 5.2 Conclusion
- 5.3 Recommendation
**REFERENCES****APPENDIX**

## Chapter One

### Introduction

#### 1.1 Background of the Study

Education in Nigeria is an instrument â€śpar excellenceâ€ť for effecting national development (FRN, 2004). Therefore, there is need for a functional education for the building of: a free and democratic society; a just and egalitarian society; a united, strong and self-reliant nation; a great and dynamic economy; and a land full of bright opportunities for all citizens. These national developmental goals of our country Nigeria can be achieved with education as a tool. Nigeria economy can become great and dynamic if educational research findings and recommendations are being implemented accordingly. However, different educational disciplines need to play their role in promoting national development and mathematics education also has its role.

Chado and Bala (2004) stated that the role of mathematics education in the march towards the development and modernization of any society or nation cannot be over-emphasized because of its role for social and economic development. Therefore the quest for national economic, scientific and technological development should be matched with corresponding learning progress in mathematics. The speed of progress in mathematics learning could be slow if students experience learning difficulties. Thus, it is necessary to diagnose and remediate studentsâ€™ common learning difficulties in mathematics.

In Nigeria, Mathematics is a perceived as a subject which is reserved for the brilliant students. Many who have managed to pass in the subject often refer to it as the subject that was scary and difficult to pass. Many careers such as Engineering and other science dominated careers often requires one to pass in several mathematical modules. This is perhaps the reason underpinning the only few people in mathematics inclined fields. Most people after high school education often do not want to be involved in any other mathematical experience.

People who pursue mathematics dominated careers are often regarded to be unusual beings and are regarded as special people. Mathematics is a subject which most students often dislike or fear at all levels of life. Therefore, the main aim of this study is to investigate perceived difficult concepts in senior secondary school core mathematics curriculum by remedial students in Nigeria.

It is widely claimed that, negative perceptions and myths of mathematics are widespread among the students, especially in the developed countries. Sam (2002) claimed that many students are scared of mathematics and feel powerless in the presence of mathematical ideas. They regarded Mathematics as “difficult, cold, abstract, and in many cultures, largely masculine”. Buxton, cited by Sam (2002) viewed mathematics as “fixed, immutable, external, intractable and uncreative” or “a timed test”. Even scientists and engineers whose jobs are related to mathematics “often harbour an image of mathematics as a well-stocked warehouse from which to select ready-to-use formulae, theorems, and results to advance their own theories”.

Educators attempt to explain this phenomenon through the widespread beliefs or mathematical myths that “learning mathematics is a question more of ability than effort” or “there is an inherent natural ability for mathematics”. Many people hold the view that mathematics is only for the clever ones, or only for those who have ‘inherited mathematical ability’. Another widely held belief is that mathematics is a male dominant subject. One other stereotyped image is that boys are better in mathematics than girls.

Thus, many adults accept this lack of accomplishment in mathematics as a permanent state over which they have little control. Parents and significance others have a strong influence on studentsâ€™ beliefs and attitudes towards mathematics. Studentsâ€™ mathematics learning outcomes are strongly related to their beliefs and attitudes towards mathematics. According Sam (2002) parentsâ€™ views about mathematics have strong effect on the way they teach their children. This often creates tension between the parents and teachers if they share contrasting images of mathematics.

One origin of different student perceptions is the individual life histories that each student brings to mathematics learning. These life histories influence the way the students position themselves in the classroom, the way they engage with mathematics, teacher and peers and the way they interpret mathematical experiences. On the other hand, there are contextual factors that students of the same class share with each other. These are, for example, the personality of the teacher, quality of teaching and learning support material, interests in mathematics, self â€“confidence and general proficiency in the subject. These influence all students in a class and are the origin of shared experiences. Moreover, also studentsâ€™ individual experiences are partly shaped by the shared events in the classroom. This is illustrated with an arrow from classroom context to individual experiences.

The knowledge of mathematics is an essential tool in our society. It is a tool that can be used in our daily life to overcome the difficulties faced. Due to this, mathematics has been considered as one of the most important core subjects in a school curriculum. More mathematics lessons are likely to be taught in schools and colleges throughout the world than any other subject. However, the standard tests and evaluations reveal that students do not perform to the expected level. The student under achievement in mathematics is not just a concern for particular countries, but has become a global concern over the years.

#### 1.2 Statement of the Problem

According to Anamuah-Mensah (2007), the utilisation of science, mathematics and technology has been interlinked with the improvement in productivity and wealth creation of a nation. This explains why it is important to have skilled human resources in science, mathematics and technology as a nation. The key to the economic development of Nigeria, therefore, depends on the development of a strong science, mathematics and technology base.

Mathematics enjoys a lot of recognition and respect from policy makers, educational institutions and the world of work. The study of mathematics is important because it is associated with more of academic and career opportunities and at the same time acts as one of the critical filters for entry into higher educational programmes and even in the world of work. Thus, without sufficient knowledge in mathematics, one may not climb the academic ladder. In addition, people who resort to learning a trade because of their inability to make the required grade for further studies end up using mathematics as an important tool for performing their duties in their work places.

The development of any nation depends on their scientific and technological advancement which can be built on a sound mathematical education capable of making effective function in nature (Edward, 2008).

Mathematics is the principal means of human communication; it is a tool for the transmission or exchange of knowledge, ideas and feelings. It is used for interpersonal, intergroup and international relationships. Without the knowledge of Mathematics, effective communication would be impossible once one leaves a region for another (Lehamann 2007).

The importance of mathematics and Mathematics cannot be over emphasized. It is due to the high esteem placed on mathematics and Mathematics that made them to be compulsory subjects for both Primary and Secondary Schools. A credit pass is one of the prerequisites for entering higher or tertiary institutions. So many students who fail the subject Mathematics are very hopeless today because they cannot go any further educationally and so cannot contribute to the development of our beloved state, Enugu Nigeria. Regardless of the importance of mathematics and Mathematics, Students in the secondary school still perform very poorly especially in West African senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). This ugly situation has given the researchers much concern. The problem of this study therefore is to identify the root causes of this massive poor performance in these two subjects, mathematics and Mathematics and to suggest solutions on how to remedy the situation.

#### 1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to identify and remediate difficult concepts in mathematics and students academic achievement in secondary school. Specific objectives of this study are:

- To determine whether there is any significant difference between male and female studentsâ€™ perception of difficult concepts in Mathematics.
- To determine whether there is there any significant difference in the achievement of students in Mathematics when it is taught by male or female teachers as perceived by students.
- To find out the mathematical concepts senior secondary schools studentsâ€™ perceive as difficult.
- To find out the causes of the difficulties experienced by the senior secondary school students in math.

#### 1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions will be answered in this study:

- Is there any significant difference between male and female studentsâ€™ perception of difficult concepts in Mathematics?
- Is there any significant difference in the achievement of students in Mathematics when it is taught by male or female teachers as perceived by students?
- What are the mathematical concepts senior secondary schools studentsâ€™ perceive as difficult?
- What are the causes of the difficulties experienced by the senior secondary school students in math?

#### 1.5 Research Hypothesis

The following hypothesis will validate this study:

**H01: **There is no significant difference between male and female studentsâ€™ perception of difficult concepts in Mathematics.

**H02: **There is no significant difference in the achievement of students in Mathematics when it is taught by male or female teachers as perceived by students.

#### 1.6 Significance of the Study

The research on the identification and remediationâ€™s of the causes of students poor performance in mathematics in West African senior School Certificate Examination will be highly valuable and beneficial to everybody especially the present students in secondary school in Enugu Education Zone and also to other secondary schools in some other area who might have been facing similar problems.

The teachers on the other hand would through this research know the best way of programming their students as to ensure that students grow up to the art and science of mathematics right from their tender years and also help the children to build a passion for these subjects. Thus, this would result to excellent performance in the field of mathematics. Also the government would through this research know the importance of providing teaching facilities like computers, adequate textbooks, projectors in the classrooms etc. to schools for adequate teaching and learning.

Finally, the curriculum planners would through this research, identify some aspects of the curriculum to be revised or enhanced.

#### 1.7 Scope of the Study

This study focuses on the identification and remediation of difficult concepts in mathematics and students academic achievement in secondary school. Specifically, this study focuses on determining whether there is any significant difference between male and female studentsâ€™ perception of difficult concepts in Mathematics, determining whether there is there any significant difference in the achievement of students in Mathematics when it is taught by male or female teachers as perceived by students, finding out the mathematical concepts senior secondary schools studentsâ€™ perceive as difficult and finding out the causes of the difficulties experienced by the senior secondary school students in math.

Students of selected secondary schools in Enugu State will serve as enrolled participants for the survey of this study.

#### 1.8 Limitations of the Study

##### Financial Constraint

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

##### Time Constraint

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

#### 1.9 Definition of Terms

##### Mathematics:

Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes such topics as numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. Most mathematical activity involves discovering and proving properties of abstract objects by pure reasoning.

#### 1.10 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.

- Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
- Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
- Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
- Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
- Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

## Chapter Five

### Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

#### 5.1 Summary

The broad objective of the study was to examine the identification and remediation of difficult concepts in mathematics and students academic achievement in secondary school. The study determined whether there is any significant difference between male and female studentsâ€™ perception of difficult concepts in Mathematics, determined whether there is there any significant difference in the achievement of students in Mathematics when it is taught by male or female teachers as perceived by students, found out the mathematical concepts senior secondary schools studentsâ€™ perceive as difficult, and found out the causes of the difficulties experienced by the senior secondary school students in Math.

The study adopted a survey research design and with the aid of convenient sampling method, the researcher enrolled 200 participants for the study who are all students from Enugu educational Zone, Enugu State. Well structured questionnaire was issued to the respondent of which a total of 200 responses were received and validated for the study.

#### 5.2 Conclusion

Findings from the study revealed that

- There is a significant difference between male and female studentsâ€™ perception of difficult concepts in Mathematics
- There is a significant difference in the achievement of students in Mathematics when it is taught by male or female teachers as perceived by students.
- The mathematical concepts senior secondary schools studentsâ€™ perceive as difficult include:
- Algebra
- Circle Theorem
- Trigonometry and Bearings and
- Logarithms

- The causes of the difficulties experienced by the senior secondary school students in math include:
- Teachers use of discouraging words
- Class size
- The syllabus was not complete and
- Teachers difficulty with some topics

#### 5.3 Recommendation

The following suggestions were made base on the findings from the study:

- Workshops should be organized for mathematics teachers on the identified difficult mathematics concepts.
- Highly qualified and competent mathematics teachers should be employed and current euphemism of â€śman knows manâ€ť should be discouraged as regard recruitment and appointment.
- Teacher training institutions should put up programmes and incentives to encourage many students to read and study mathematics.
- Regular capacity-building workshops and professional development programmes for mathematics teachers should be organized

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