An Investigation To The Causes Of Mass Failure In External Examination
This study was carried out on an investigation to the causes of mass failure in external examination. The study focused on external examination in Uyo LGA. The research design used for the study was the survey design. The target population for this study consists of all mathematics teachers in selected senior secondary schools in Uyo LGA, Akwa Ibom State. The sample was made up of 30 teachers who were randomly from five schools which were randomly selected from all the secondary schools in Uyo.Simple means used to analyse the data. Numerical values 4, 3, 2 and 1 were assigned to the options respectively. The mean value for acceptance is X≥2.5 otherwise rejected. For each cluster the acceptance point is 12.5.The findings of this survey confirmed the fact that; teacher factor, students attitude and commitment, methods of teaching mathematics, use of instructional materials and the school environment are to a great extent valid factors that influence students’ mass failure in mathematics in the SSCE. The study recommended that there is need for innovative teaching methods and instructional strategies combined with new technologies in mathematics to enhance effective and efficient teaching and learning.
1.1 Background to the Study
Educational system in Nigeria is the abysmal failure of students in public examinations, particularly at the secondary level of education. According to Uduh (2009), the high percentage of candidates who failed WASSCE yearly is reflected in the low percentage of the candidates that meets the university admission requirements. The situation is so pathetic that stakeholders keep on wondering why this level of education has persistently failed to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the society. Apart from the fact that the mass failure of students in public examinations constitutes wastage on investment in secondary education, it puts a big question mark on the quality of secondary education in the country. Each time the results of students in Senior school Certificate Examination (SSCE) are released, it has been a tale of woes and national embarrassment.
Various captions in the dailies point towards mass failure of students in the SSCE. Some of these captions include, ‘79% fail English Language as NECO releases SSCE’, ‘NECO records mass failure in June/July SSCE’, ‘Mass failure in both the WASSCE and SSCE’, ‘Mass failure in public examinations: a national disaster’, ‘Examination failure: endless shame of a nation’. In the past five years, most of the students who sat for the SSCE each year did not have credit passes in at least five subjects including English Language and Mathematics. The situation is getting worse every year.Examinations could be internally or externally conducted. Internal examinations are usually developed and administered by schools using teacher-made tests. These could be conducted on weekly, termly or end of the school-year. External examinations are developed and administered by public examinations bodies. The public examinations bodies in Nigeria include West African Examinations Council (WAEC), the National Examinations Council (NECO), the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB), the National Teachers’ Institute(NTI) and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) among others.
In recent years, student academic achievement in external examination mathematics. The word “Mathematics” is a Greek word, meaning things that are learned. Majasa (1995) further defined it as the science of counting, measuring and describing of the shape of objects. It deals with logical reasoning and quantitative calculations. Mathematics as a school subject is recognized as the foundation of science and technology without which a nation will never become prosperous and economically independent. This underscores the importance of mathematical competence of all the learners al all levesl of education and a reason for making mathematics compulsory and one of the leading core subject in the secondary schools curriculum. This importance accorded the recognition of the vital role it plays in contemporary society. Despite the effort put in by government, and various stakeholders of education, mathematics still remained one of the most difficult subject in schools.
There is a general impression that mathematics is difficult by its very nature, and because of this impression, there is poor performance among junior secondary school students who are the focus of this study. This poor performance in mathematics has been attributed to two broad factors which include: Hereditary and environmental factors which can be subdivided into students, home, teachers, and school factors. Ola (1998).
However, students reason that mathematics is highly structured and is so abstract and required special intellectual attitude. Thus; students see the subject as something esoteric. Emenalo (1986) in Nwogu (1990) articulated the fact thtae inherent notion held by many Africans that mathematics is a very difficult subject which is capable of making one “mad” is at the centre of the phobia which students exhibits for mathematics and which had claimed many causalities over the years, Nworgu (1990:123), therefore passes the question “how them would any person in fairness expect our poor and innocent children to be as courageous as to face something which is capable of making even an adult mad? The students would prefer to so something else no matter how difficult rather than to attend mathematics classes.
Most parents do not play a crucial role in preparing their children for school. The child is expected to see the world from the perspective of these archaic values and the goodness of otherwise of his behaviour is judged as such. Opposition from the child arises from what appears to him obsolete and defense of traditionalism by the parents. For example, Whaler (1997) argues that consistent and appropriate parental reactions to the full range of a child’s response repertoire will establish a family context conducive to positive reinforcement of child compliance. In contrast, inconsistent parental reactions appear to create a chaotic family context conducive to the negative reinforcement of child opposition. He argues that based on these two forms of contexts, the parent and children seen to generate distinctive personal rules which outline the functions arrangements of contexts, behaviour and reinforcement. Parents on their part hardly requires their children to explain the problem or joy found in their mathematics classes. And this count as one of the causes of poor performance of students in mathematics.
Teachers of junior mathematics are hard to come-by because of the site of some schools especially the schools in Uyo LGA, of Akwa Ibom State. The few available teachers have not been given opportunities to up-date the skill and knowledge available in-service training. Teachers have an important part to play in learning mathematics by students. According to Nicol (1997) “A teacher can only be seen to be effective, if the students can learn with greater ease and perform well his help than without his help.
Teacher’s attitude can hinder learning especially when one does not present oneself as a high intellectual and formidable person. “A quack doctor is capable to handle an individual as a time but a bad teacher can ruin not only the individual but also a nation. Nigeria is faced with the problem of competent teachers in mathematics which is the major causes of this mass failure of student in mathematics.
The school administrator also has a direct role to play as if relates to discipline of both the student and the teacher supervision of teaching and learning and preparation of students well enough for examination.
According to Ekemia (2006:38) “An effective mental health for principal includes emotional, stability, maturity of character and a large capacity of frustration tolerance with the strength to withstand the strain the strain and stress inherent in running today’s Nigeria secondary school without undue fiscal or psychological disequilibria”.
Many principals are faced with managerial difficulties especially those who lack human relationship cannot execute effective administrative duties in the schools. For example, a school that lacks discipline hardly achieves the aim and objective of the educational system. Through these factors enumerated above, it could be seen that, there are many causes attributed to mass failure in mathematics examination in junior secondary school certificate examination.
According to Adewale (1992), it is the only instrument that could evaluate the performance of both students and teachers at the end of junior secondary school career. He further stated that, the success or failure of the student in examination is a clear manifestation of the student academic activities during the course. Success or good performance determines a brighter future for the student wile failure is disastrous as it always indicate a dropout which is the common effect in the area of this study.
Finally, it is obvious that the findings of the study will definitely aspire the researcher to seek for possible suggestions and recommendations to students, teachers, parents, sponsor and government to bring an end to student mass failure of mathematics in a such external junior certificate examination and to improve student performance in the future examination in these schools and other part of the country having similar educational problems.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Perhaps not much attention has been given to the performance of students in senior secondary school subjects in recent years. This neglect, no doubt has relegated this junior subjects to the background in our external examination. A close look at the 2004/2008 SSCE result records, confirms that students’ performance has been very poor generally and the increase number of school dropout in the area of study is a clear pointer of the theme. The poor performance is caused by many factors such as; students ineffective study techniques, quality of teachers and method of teaching, the parent’s inability to provide useful materials like textbooks, exercise books and school fees and problem of inadequate instructional materials for teaching and learning of mathematics in schools.
In philosophical view of these causes, this study therefore is specifically designed to assess the causes and effects of mass failure of mathematics in external examination in Uyo LGA.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to find out the causes and effect of mass failure of mathematics in external examination. The interests of the researchers are to examine critically and identify the causes and effects of mass failure of mathematics in external examination specifically, the study sought to find out if:-
- There are sufficient numbers of qualified mathematics teachers and instructional materials for teaching of mathematics.
- The previous socio-economic background of the students affect them in studying mathematics.
- The attitude and interest of students towards the nature of mathematics contribute deeply to their mass failure in SSCE especially in mathematics.
1.4 Research Question
To carry out a detailed study of the research, the following research question will guide to study:-
- Are there sufficient numbers of qualified mathematics teachers and instructional materials for teaching mathematics?
- Does the previous socio-economic background of the students affect them in studying mathematics?
- Does poor attitude and low interest of students towards the nature of mathematics contribute deeply to their mass failure in SSCE especially in mathematics?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The student will be able to appreciate the importance of the effective domain like interest and motivation in improving their performance. With this awareness, the student might put up a positive attitude towards mathematics which will increase their performance and enhance higher grades in external examination. Teachers will also be able to adjust their teaching methods and offer remedial helps where they find out that students are putting up a low attitude. State government will also see the need of guidance and counseling in each schools, the ministry of education and curriculum planners for better organization of subjects in education.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study was focused on the causes and effect of mass failure of mathematics in external examination in Uyo LGA. Due to military factors such as time and other resources and the inconvenience of handling a large scope, the researchers focused only on senior mathematics.
Conclusion and Recommendation
This is the portion of the study which ties up the research objectives, significance of the study and the research questions together. This provides the summary of the study, the conclusions with respect to the findings and makes recommendations based on the findings in the study. The conclusions are about the connections between the finding of the present study and the reviewed literature. In the recommendations, an overview of ideas and suggestions for further research is provided. Also, included in this chapter are suggestions that could be used to build on the present study in the Nigerian secondary schools.
5.1 Summary of Findings
While the results of this study are limited to the population from which conclusions were made, several important conclusions can be made as well. The results from this study suggest the need for teachers to develop positive relations with the students, to stress classroom activities which involve active learning-teaching process and students’ participation, and to engage students meaningfully in the subject, so that a fruitful and satisfying result is assured. This is consistent with findings in this study.
Other studies (Akale, 1997 & Asikhia, 2010) reported that the attitudes towards mathematics were influenced by other variables; parents occupation and education, gender and socio-economic status. Further, the study showed the importance and significant role played by instructional materials on students’ performance in SSCE mathematics. They have positive influence on achievement in mathematics. This explains why a subject like mathematics will require real objects that can convert topic that seem abstract to something concrete for students’ understanding. This establishes the conclusion made by Talmadge and Eash (1976) about four decades ago that instructional materials influence student achievement, use of process skills and other learning outcomes. This finding consolidates previous research that revealed positive influence of instructional media on students’ performance (Adedokun, 2002). Finally, research findings in table 2 shows where teachers perceive that environment influence poor academic performance; this may be because students themselves are the victims of this poor performance. Some researchers like Isangdighi (1988) also agree that students’ environment promote poor academic performance. Aremu and Oluwole (2001) submitted that some of the factors of poor academic achievement are motivational orientations, self-esteem, emotional problems, study habits, teacher consultation and poor interpersonal relationship.
On teaching methods as a factor responsible for mass failure of students in SSCE mathematics, Asikhia (2010), agrees with the findings of this research that most untrained teachers point accusing fingers at students rather than on themselves when the students are unable to carry out the expected exercise at the end of the lesson or in examination. Therefore, teachers planning should include:
- Choice of appropriate teaching and material
- Choice of appropriate teaching method
- Intensive research on the topic to be taught
- Determination of the objectives of the lesson.
This present study was aimed at surveying the factors responsible for students’ mass failure in mathematics in external examination in Uyo Local government area of Akwa Ibom state.
The findings of this survey confirmed the fact that; teacher factor, students attitude and commitment, methods of teaching mathematics, use of instructional materials and the school environment are to a great extent valid factors that influence students’ mass failure in mathematics in the SSCE. These findings therefore would be of great help to governments, teachers, students, professional policy makers and parents in providing a solid springboard to launch anew a template to finding a lasting solution to the perennial mass failure issues in mathematics at the SSCE.
In view of the findings of this survey, the following are the major recommendations;
- Since the present study was limited to senior secondary schools, similar studies could be carried out to cove the junior secondary schools as well as other sectors of education.
- There is need to develop a love for mathematics through the setting up of “Mathematics Club” in every secondary school. It’s aims should be as follows;
- To initiate and develop love for mathematics
- To help students develop positive attitude towards mathematics
- To learn the “History of Mathematics” by sharing its slow and painful development from ancient time to the present
To provide students opportunity of listening to experts, teachers from outside and arrange mathematical shows and exhibitions.
- The students get the opportunities of mathematics hobbies, recreational mathematics, mathematical projects, mathematical games, mathematics discussions, debates and mathematical innovations.
- Mathematic teachers’ pre-service and in-service training must be encouraged and funded. Some innovative teaching methods and instructional strategies combined with new technologies in mathematics to enhance effective and efficient teaching and learning.
- Student-teacher ratio in our secondary schools should be reduced.
- Regular activities of professional bodies like STAN and MAN should be encouraged in schools.
- Government and educational policy makers at the national and state levels must equip all schools moderately equal to enhance teaching, learning, efficiency and positive achievement. Adequate funding to enable the provision of infrastructural facilities, recruitment of qualified teachers, conducive school/learning environment, improved conditions of service for teachers and machinery for periodic supervision and system checks.
5.4 Suggestions for Further Research
In the light of the above findings, future researchers could explore how family background, size, socio-economic status and peer group influence affect students’ performance in mathematics in external examination.
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