An Investigative Study On The Causes Of Mass Failure In Mathematics In External Examinations
The purpose of this study was to find out the causes of mass failure in Senior School Certificate Examination in Mathematics in Ijebu-North Local Government Area of Ogun State.
Data were collected through the use of relevant library materials, questionnaires, interviews and observation. The Chi square (X2) statistical test was used to analyze the data collected.
It was found that causes of mass failure in Mathematics include the following: inadequate number of qualified teachers of Mathematics; inadequate instructional materials for the teaching of the subject; poor attitudes of students towards learning the subject; inadequate period allocated to the teaching of the subject; and government’s inadequate contribution towards the teaching and learning of the subject.
It was therefore recommended that more qualified teachers and adequate instructional materials be supplied in the schools and more periods be allocated for the teaching and learning of Mathematics.
1.0 Background of the Study
For Nigeria to realize her dream in the development of Senior Secondary School, the citizens of the country must show outstanding performance in all secondary school subjects.
In recent years, student academic achievement in Senior secondary school certificate 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 Senior 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 Senior mathematics are hard to come-by because of the site of some schools especially the schools in Ijebu-North local Government Area of Ogun 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 Senior secondary school certificate examination. The Senior secondary school certificate examination is an external examination organized and conducted by the ministry of education. The establishment of this Senior secondary school education by the state government in Ijebu-North Local Government Area of Ogun State like any other states has the same aims and objectives as the national policy on education specified that secondary education is the education received after primary education and before the tertiary institution.
According to Adewale (1992), it is the only instrument that could evaluate the performance of both students and teachers at the end of Senior 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 Senior 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 Senior subjects to the background in our Senior secondary certificate 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 Senior secondary school certificate examination in Ijebu-North Local Government Area of Ogun State.
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 Senior secondary school certificate examination. The interests of the researchers are to examine critically and identify the causes and effects of mass failure of mathematics in Senior secondary school certificate 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 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 Senior secondary school certificate 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 Senior subjects in education.
1.5 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study was focused on the causes and effect of mass failure of mathematics in Senior secondary school certificate examination in Ijebu-North Local Government Area of Ogun State. 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.
1.6 Research Questions
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?
Discussion, Implications, Recommendation, Limitation, Suggestion, Summary and Conclusion of the Study
Presented in this chapter are: Discussion, Implications, Recommendation, Limitation, Suggestion, Summary and Conclusion of the Study.
5.1 Discussion of Findings
The findings revealed that government non provision of enough instructional material for teaching mathematics contributes to students’ mass failure in Senior Secondary School mathematics Examination. It is assumed that students understand the subjects well whenever the teachers uses charts, models, and specimen during teaching and learning. Anike (1980) remarked that instructional materials serve as a double purpose of building up student interest on subjects, since there is shortage of instructional materials, the purpose of helping to catch students attention and generating excitement about the lesson going on will no longer be there. Instructional materials plays a central role in the instructional process. Teachers should always encourage students to be serious in doing constant study in learning mathematics for effective improvement and the findings that proper use of textbooks will improve the students’ performance. The finding also revealed that the students perceive mathematics as difficult subject, which contributed to their failure. The respondents agreed that co-operation, joint effort and group assisting help them to perform better. This is in line with the opinion of Akubue (1991) that, “Classroom which is organized and arranged to appeal to students had to provide opportunities for student-teacher interaction”.
Furthermore, from the findings insufficient number of qualified teachers contributed to a great extent to studentsfailure in Senior Secondary School Certificate Mathematics Examination. This is in line with Adeboyi (1089), Okoche (1999) and others mentioned that lack of qualified teachers in mathematics hinders the performance of students especially in Senior Secondary School. The teachers has a part to play in the teaching and learning of mathematics, by this agrees with M.C. Nicol (1997) when posted that a teachers can only be effective if the students can learn with greater ease and perform well with his help than without his help.
5.2 Education Implications
The implication of the above findings is that classroom environment affects the students’ academic performance in Senior Mathematics Examination. When there are adequate instructional materials, the students are encouraged to learn but when there is inadequate instructional materials the academic performance of the student become very poor if the students will be improved, the teacher in-post can affect the students’ performance negatively for not being competent enough. Constant reading will help the students to improve their performance in mathematics, absent of practices leads to failure.
Teachers motivation to students promotes teaching and learning of mathematics in Senior Secondary Schools. Government should provide scholarship and award for students who perform excellently in mathematics.
This study have a great implications for the ministry of Education, parents, government, the school administrators and the society at large, these bodies could use the information and facts provided for improvement in our educational system.
Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made:
- State governments should make available to schools all needed basic educational facilities, learning materials, libraries, standard classroom blocks and laboratories to enhance teaching and learning.
- School principals should see that they carry out effective supervision in their schools regularly.
- Since a free education is a capital intensive project, the state government should prepare to map out adequate financial outlet for the implementation of the programme, if we want the programme to succeed.
- Parents should be able to access their children’s progressive in mathematics and other subjects regularly.
- Mathematics teachers should be given regular training and retraining programmes inform of conference.
- Mathematics teachers should encourage how to learn mathematics by reinforcing them when necessary and teachers should stay till the end of the term.
- A conducive and relax classroom for mathematics teaching should be created.
- Enough qualified and professional teachers should be employed to teach these discipline right from primary to high level and they should be motivated that is to pay their salaries when due and provide them incentive periodically.
As a result of short time available, bad roads and other variables, the researchers limited the study to all the government Senior secondary schools in Ijebu-North Local Government Area of Ogun State only.
The researchers suggested the further research work should be carried out to find the causes and effects of mass failure in Senior secondary school certificate mathematics examinations. The researchers suggest also that since only questionnaire were used as the instrument for data collection in this study, other researchers who want to engage in this type of study should in addition, oral interviews as the instrument for data collection.
As earlier stated, this research work was designed to find out the causes and effects of mass failure in Senior secondary school certificate mathematics examination (SSCE) in Ijebu-North Local Government Area of Ogun State. From the analysis of the data obtained, the researchers found out that shortage of instructional materials, poor students motivation in the classroom by the teachers, poor mathematics background from primary school, insufficient number of qualified teachers are the factors that causes the mass failure in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination.
Also provision of adequate instructional material by the government to schools, teachers should motivate the students, proper use of mathematical textbooks and conducive classroom environment were some strategies that are deducted from the study that can be used to improve student academic performance. It is believed that if the points mentioned above are given urgent attention, then an improved performance of students in mathematics may be insight, teaching and learning mathematics starting from lower level of learning that is from nursery schools to the higher level of learning so that the role of the mathematics as foundation in science and technology development in Nigeria will also be recognized.
5.7 Summary of the Study
In summary, we have noted some causes and effects of mass failure in SeniorSecondary School Certificates Examination focuses in mathematics.
Some of the causes are:
- Insufficient number of qualified teachers.
- Negative attitude of students towards mathematics.
- Shortage of instructional materials.
- Difficult nature of mathematics as perceived by the students.
- Poor student motivation in the classroom by subject teacher.
- Poor mathematics background from primary school.
- School administrators
Furthermore, all these causes have effect towards the study:-
- In this modern world, many are still dropping out from school with unjustified reasons, and lack of self confidence.
- Academic performance and quality of students are declining due to their inferiority compliance.
- Students being lazy and unserious with their studies.
- The ineffective teaching of mathematics places an obstacle to the technological development of Nigeria.
- Failure in mathematics can causes unnecessary diversion in choice of carrier or course selection in higher institutions.
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