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Factors Influencing Students Attitude toward Learning of Mathematics in five selected schools in Yaba Local Government Area in Lagos State


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 1.1    Background to the Study

Mathematics in general is linked with the development of any nation in the world. Mathematics as a discipline, opens and shuts more doors for men and women than any other content area we have got (Bolaji, 2005). Whether it’s in science, engineering or technology, it is tremendously important that a person be well-armed with mathematics if they are going to have options in life (Bramlett and Herron, 2009). Mathematics is one of the core subjects to be offered to all students till the tertiary levels of education (Ernest, 2004).

Mathematics as observed by Fishbein and Ajzen (2005) is a fundamental science that is necessary for understanding of most other fields in education.  Fishbein stressed further that no other subject forms such a strong force among the various branches of science.  In support of Fishbein, Ford (2001) affirmed that the knowledge of science remains superficial without Mathematics.  It is therefore means that, the position of Mathematics in school curriculum in Nigeria is important for scientist. In Nigeria, both primary and secondary teacher training colleges have ordinary level mathematics as requirement for enrolment to prospective teachers.

Furthermore Hyde, Fennema, Ryan, Frost, and Hopp (1990) stated that most employers in Nigeria expect a job “ seeking school leaver to have passed Mathematics, Science and English language, among other subjects at ordinary level. This compulsory nature of Mathematics carries with it the assumption that the knowledge of the subject is essential for all members of our society. In Nigeria, Mathematics competence is a critical determinant of the Post-Secondary educational and career options available to young people (Barrow and Woods, 2006).

Affective factors such as attitudes also have profound impact on students’ Mathematics achievement. Karp (2001) in a comparative study of factors influencing Mathematics achievement found out that there is a direct link between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and student outcomes.

Jaji (2002) supports this by propounding that resource shortage, teacher quality, poor teaching, repeated subject failure, peer influence, inadequacy of textbooks, cultural background and language also contribute to poor performance in mathematics.

Attitudes towards mathematics include liking, enjoying and interest in mathematics, or the opposite, and at worst mathematics phobia (Ernest, 1989). This means that the students have to like Mathematics, enjoy the activities performed in Mathematics and have interest at heart for Mathematics. On the other hand, attitudes play an important role on students’ Mathematics achievement. Those who lack confidence in Mathematics academic skills envision a low grade before the beginning of an examination (Adesokan, (2002).

1.2    Statement of the Problems

Despite the relative importance of Mathematics, it is very disappointing to note that the student’s performance in the subject in both internal and external examinations has remained consistently poor (Bolaji, 2005). Mathematics educators have put up noble and spirited efforts aimed at identifying the major problems associated with learning of mathematics in the nation’s schools. Despite all these noble efforts, the problem of poor achievement in Mathematics has continued to rear its head in the nation’s public examinations and Mathematics is part of it.

Adesokan (2002) asserted that in spite of the recognition given Mathematics, it is evident that students still show negative attitude towards Mathematics thereby leading to poor performance. Bolaji (2005) in a study of the influence of students’ attitude towards Mathematics found out that the teachers’ method of mathematics teaching and his personality greatly accounted for the students’ positive attitude towards Mathematics.

1.3 Aims and Objectives of the study

This research work seeks to study factors influencing students’ attitudes toward learning of mathematics in the junior secondary school and the objectives of this study include to:

  1. Examine the influence of classroom environment on students’ attitudes towards mathematics.
  2. Examine the effect of teachers’ personality and behavior on students’ attitudes towards mathematics.
  3. Ascertain the effect of gender differences on students’ attitudes towards mathematics.
  4. Examine the effect of social background on students’ attitudes towards the learning of mathematics

1.4   Relevant Research Questions

The study provides answers to the following questions:

  1. How does classroom environment and students learning style influence on students’ attitudes towards mathematics?
  2. What are the effect of teachers’ personality and behavior on students attitude towards Mathematics?
  3. How does gender differences affect students’ attitudes towards mathematics?
  4. How does social background influence students’ attitudes towards the learning of mathematics?

1.5   Relevant Research Hypothesis

The following hypothesis were developed for the study:

  1. Ho: There is no significant relationship between the attitude of students and the learning of mathematics.

H1: There is significant relationship between the attitude of students and the learning of mathematics.

 1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The work examines factors influencing students’ attitudes toward learning of mathematics in the junior secondary school. The study is limited to the five selected schools in Yaba Local Government Area in Lagos State, namely: Regan; Memorial Baptist Girls Secondary School, Sabo-Yaba; Methodist Girls High School, Yaba, Lagos; Morroco Junior High School, Igbobi, Yaba; St. Finbarrs High School, Akoka, Yaba and Western College, Yaba Lagos.

 1.7  Significance of the Study

The significance of the study are stated below:

The school administrators may use findings from the study to understand the prime factors affecting students’ attitudes toward learning of mathematics in secondary school. Also aid teachers to identify deficiencies and limitations as regards the teaching and learning of Mathematics and make necessary adjustment where necessary. Again, the study enables secondary school principals to be able to plan systematically for staff retention that enhance students’ attitude towards the learning of mathematics. Other stakeholders of education (parents, students, teachers, support staff, donors) use the findings of the study as a checkpoint to happenings of the same nature. Finally, the study alerts the students on both positive and negative effects of attitude and perception towards Mathematics at the present level and future career.

1.8  Operational Definition of Terms

Attitude:    A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation.

Classroom: A room or place especially in a school in which classes are conducted.

Environment: Environment (system), the surroundings of a physical system that may interact with the system by exchanging mass, energy, or other properties.

Influence:  Influence is the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others.

Mathematics:      The study of the measurement, properties, and relationships of quantities and sets, using numbers and symbols.

Student:    A person formally engaged in learning, especially one enrolled in a school or college; pupil

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