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Background to Study

Statement of Purpose

Purpose of study


Research Questions


Significance of Study


Limitation of Study


Definition of Terms








The Teacher Factor


Students Attitude and Commitment


Methods of Teaching Mathematics


The Use of Instructional materials


The School Environment Factor






Research Design


Population and Sample




Method of Data Analysis








Analysis of Data








Summary of Findings






Suggestions for Further Research






Mathematics is intimately connected to daily life and everybodys life-long planning.
Shut out mathematics from daily life and civilisation comes to a standstill. It is in the
light of this, that the research seeks to build and elicit among students and teachers
the proper appreciation and interest in the value of mathematics to the individual
and society. This is done with a particular focus on the senior secondary schools in
Idah local government area of Kogi state, Nigeria.
The relevant data and information was collected by a teacher questionnaire. It is
based on the 4-points Likert scale responses. Simple mean was used to analyse the
data. Numerical values 4, 3, 2, and 1 were assigned to the options respectively. The
mean value for acceptance is X2.5 otherwise reject. For each cluster the acceptance
point is 12.5.
The finding of this survey confirmed the fact that; the 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
influences the students poor performance in mathematics in the senior secondary
school certificate Examination.




Osokoya (2003) defines Education as a continuous process which the society

establishes to assist its members to understand the heritage of the past and to
participate productively in the future. It is the leading out of the in-born powers and
potentialities of the individuals in the society and the acquisition of skills, aptitudes,
and competencies necessary for self-realisation and for coping with lifes problem.
For Afe (2000), Education is considered as a tool to be used for the integration of the
individual into the society to achieve self-realisation, develop national consciousness,
promote unity, and strive for social, economic, political, scientific, cultural and
technological progress. Education in science and mathematics therefore becomes
bedrock and indispensable tools for scientific, technological and economic
advancement in any nation. It gives the nation the capacity to apply technology for
the exploitation of the resources of nature. Such exploitation will depend greatly on
mathematics for laying the foundation for political, governmental, military, civil,
scientific, technological advancement, economic development, socio-cultural and
environmental peace.
There are number of questions which need to be answered at this stage. What then is
Mathematics? Why should everybody learn Mathematics? What is the importance of
this subject in life and in school curriculum? What shall be the advantage of devoting
so much effort, time, and money to the teaching of Mathematics? The importance of
mathematics transcends all the definitions and the prosperity of any country
depends on the volume and quality of mathematics offered in its school system. Obe
(1996) conceptualises mathematics as the master and servant of most disciplines and

thus, a source of enlightenment and understanding of the universe. He further

opines that without it, the understanding of national problems would be superficial.
Greaber and Weisman (1995) agree that mathematics helps the individual to
understand the environment and to give accurate account of the physical phenomena
around every person. To this end, Setidisho (2001) submits that no other subject
forms a strong binding force among various branches of science as mathematics, and
without it, knowledge of the sciences often remains superficial.
Emphasising the importance of the subject to the society, Robert (1987) stated that in
the United States, mathematics has come to play important roles: in the engineering
of highways, the search for energy, the designing of television sets, the profitable
operation of most business, astronauts flying space-crafts, the study of epidemics,
the navigation of ships at sea all depends on the study of mathematics. Ogunbanjo
(1998) opines that all over the world, sciences has been accepted as a vehicle of
technology, social and economic development. Mathematics is not only basic to these
but is the language of science. In another related study, Igbokwe (2003) highlights
the intricate link of mathematics to science and technology, and contends that
without mathematics there will be no science and without science there will be no
technology, and without technology there will be no modern society. These and many
more reasons are why the Nigerian government believes that the subject should be
taken seriously in our school system; and Nigeria in her march towards technological
development, has not made mathematics a compulsory subject in the curriculum of
the primary and secondary school levels of her educational system (Federal Republic
of Nigeria, 2004) but also as a prerequisite to the study of science courses in her
colleges, polytechnics and universities (JAMB Brochure, 19992-2007).

Shapiro (2000) defines Mathematics as the study of qualitative relations; put simply,
it is the science of structure, order, numbers, space and relationships about counting,
measuring and describing of shapes and objects. It qualifies in its own right as a
science but it is often regarded as a language of and a link between all the sciences.
Soyemi (1999) Mathematics is a body of knowledge that opens up the mind to logical
reasoning, analytical thinking and the ability for creative thinking, deep focusing and
clarity of thought and precision. It is the hub on which all scientific and technological
studies find their bearings. In pure sciences it is the basis and language of study, in
applied sciences and technology it is an indispensable tool of analysis, with the social
sciences it is a scaffold and for the Arts the light that gives consistently and
completeness to its study. Osafehinti (1990) observes that the learning of
mathematics in schools represent first, a basic preparation for adult life and secondly
a gateway to a vast array of career choices. And from the societal perspective,
competence in mathematics is essential for the preparation of an informed citizenry
and for continuous production of highly skilled personnel required for industry,
technology and science. The progress of any nation depends upon her scientific and
technological advancement which can only be built on a sound mathematical
education capable of making the citizens effectively functional in the natural and
applied sciences. The study of Mathematics therefore will go a long way to equip
students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology (NPE 2004).
Fakuade (1977) sums up this assertion; for the purposes of economic survival, the
ordinary citizen needs to be able to compare and estimate values of articles,
determine prices of foodstuffs, reckon distances and time, weigh evidence and be
able to sift substances from chaffs. Thus in the complexity of the modern society

everyman requires a certain amount of competence in basic mathematics for









mathematical graphs and charts and thinking logically.

In concluding this section therefore, Mathematics Education must contribute
towards the acquirement of these values: knowledge and skills, intellectual habits
and power, desirable attitudes and ideals that are indispensable tools for a successful
and balanced human existence.
During the last fifty years there had been unprecedented efforts in curriculum
reforms in Mathematics education in Nigeria, from the indigenous innovation of the
Africa Mathematic Programme (AMP) (The Entebbe Mathematics (1961-1969),
through the formation of Nigeria Educational Research Council (NERC) in 1969. In
spite of the efforts made by these bodies, students failures rate in mathematics has
been on the increase.
Similarly workshops and conferences have also been held to salvage the situation and
gave a solid foundation to mathematic education, curricula developments and
implementation. To name but a few of such events are: The comparative Education
Study and Adaptation Centre (1976) that took care of the secondary level
mathematics syllabus, the Benin Conference (1977) and The National Critique
Workshop at Onitsha (1978).
Subsequently The National Mathematics Centre formulated and adopted the
following objectives for teaching mathematics in Nigeria secondary schools:

To generate interest in mathematics and provide a solid foundation for

everyday living.


To develop computational skills



To foster the desire and ability to be accurate to a degree relevant to the

problem at hand.


To develop and practice logical and abstract thinking


To develop capacity to recognise problems and to solve them with related

mathematics knowledge.


To provide necessary mathematical background for further education


To stimulate and encourage creativity.


Observations and reports from examining bodies like WAEC, NECO and JAMB
revealed that a high percentage of secondary school students continue to perform
poorly in mathematics examinations. Despite the laudable efforts at developing an
acceptable general mathematics curriculum students performance in the subject
appears to be declining over the years. To alleviate the situation in the 1989, the
National Mathematics Centre was established. Chief amongst its functions include:
1. To encourage and support activities leading to the improvement of the
teaching and learning of mathematical sciences at all levels.
2. To tackle national set goals in the development of mathematical sciences.
3. To inject mathematical education to the rarefied area of theoretical
mathematics with a view to increasing the number of mathematicians.
Yet in the face of all these efforts the rate and degree of students poor performance
in senior secondary school examination in mathematics must now be a problem of
national concern. This sad situation is aptly described by Adeniyi (1988) who rightly
observes, that ones involvement in the marking of mathematics for the West African

Examinations Council (WAEC) is enough to get anyone sorrowful at the state of

Mathematics in Nigeria secondary schools. Some candidates submit their answer
scripts without writing anything in them. Some candidates merely recopy the
questions, while a high percentage of those who try to write anything at all score
below 40%. This is aptly confirmed with the release of WAEC result for May/June
2011 as quoted in the Leadership newspaper, the West African Examination Council
(WAEC) released results of the May/June 2011 west African senior secondary
certificate examination, (WASSCE) with an abysmal 30% of the candidates making
credit in English and Mathematics. Details of the results showed that the results of
81, 573 candidates representing 5.29% were withheld.
The question that readily comes to mind is; what are the factors responsible for the
students poor performance in mathematics in secondary school examination? This
project will therefore take a survey of the factors responsible for these failures, the
effect on students and the future of our society, the attendant problems and proffer
means of the changing the trend of students poor performance in mathematics.
The decline in the numbers of candidates opting to pursue the studies in the sciences
has become a matter of considerable societal concern and debate among researchers
(Jenkins, 1996). Consequently, the promotion of favourable attitudes towards
science and learning of Mathematics is extremely critical and important. However,
the concept of poor performance in mathematics is rather ill-defined, often poorly
expressed and not well understood.
Fundamental to this quest are the questions that the researcher seeks to address:
1. Are the teachers of mathematics adequately qualified and properly trained in
the subject?

2. Is the excessive workload and lack of teacher training facilities at the root of
poor performances of student?
3. Is the WAEC syllabus inadequate, irrelevant and ambiguous?
4. Are parents as committed to the progress and success of their ward?
5. How is the Mathematics taught in schools?
6. Has the taste for learning being diluted by the answer-centeredness of most
school teaching?
7. Is WAEC, NECO, GCE and JAMB only servicing failures yearly with profit? Is
that ethical?
This study examines the factors responsible for the students poor performance in
mathematics in selected secondary schools in Idah Local government area of Kogi
Specifically, it will examine;
1. Teachers and students attitude to teaching and learning of mathematics.
2. The nature of school environment.
3. Teachers teaching methods, and
4. Teachers use of instructional materials.
Schools are established to accomplish specific goals and objectives and
incidentally one of the most common criteria of evaluating the effectiveness of
any school system is the extent to which the students perform in their



To achieve the objective of the study, five research questions were raised.
1. Does teachers attitude to the teaching of mathematics constitute a problem in
the students performance in the SSCE Mathematics?
2. What is the nature of school environment in which teaching is done?
3. Does the students attitude and commitment towards mathematics constitute
a significant problem in performance in SSCE mathematics?
4. Does teaching method constitute significant problem in students performance
in mathematics examination. How is mathematics taught in schools?
5. Does the lack of instructional materials, educational facilities and inadequate
supervision constitute a significant problem in students performance in SSCE
mathematics examination?
It is the sincere hope of the researcher that by carrying out this study of the factors
responsible for students poor performance in mathematics and proffering solutions,
the findings and recommendations would be of a great help to all stakeholders who
have anything to do with the success or failure of the child in school; school
administrators, classroom teachers, psychologists, teacher trainers, theorists,
examination bodies, curriculum designers and professional associations.
It will equally guide and guard government at all levels and ministries of education,
school guidance counsellors and parents. It is hoped that this study will help in
improving the whole system in such a way as to induce better performance in
mathematics examination at the secondary school level.



The present study used five secondary schools in Idah local government area of Kogi
state. These schools present students for the senior secondary school certificate
examinations conducted by both NECO and WAEC.
The research work covered only five sampled selected schools in only one local
government area. It also covered only public senior secondary schools.
To set stage for our survey of the factors responsible for the poor performance of
students in mathematics, we present working definitions of some of the terms.
Factor: In this study, a factor is taken to mean any element, force, condition or
circumstances that has a causal influence or can contribute to the students
performance in mathematics.
Performance: Accomplishing or achievement of specific goals, objectives or set
mark in any academic endeavour. It is one of the most common criteria of evaluating
effectiveness of schools.
Curriculum: A sequence of potential experiences, set up in the schools to discipline
children and youth in ways of thinking and acting whether it is carried out in groups
or individually, inside or outside the school.
Innovation: is a way of changing and adapting for the purpose of attaining certain
goals and aspirations.


Qualified Teacher: For this study a teacher who holds the following certificate is
assumed to be qualified: NCE, B.Ed., B.Sc. (Ed), B.Sc. and PGDE.


In this chapter the review focuses on the factors that are responsible for the students
poor performance in Mathematics in senior secondary school certificate
examination. Some of the reasons attributed to the poor achievement in mathematics
by scholars include; shortage of qualified mathematics teachers (Ohuche, 1989), poor
facilities, equipment and instructional materials for effective teaching (Odogwu,
1994), use of traditional chalk and talk methods (Edward & Knight, 1994), large
pupils to teacher ratio (Alele Williams, 1988) and mathematics phobia and fright
(Georgewill, 1990), limited background preparation in mathematics, lack of
mathematics teaching equipment and materials, fright and anxiety, low level of
interest and some government policy (Abimbade, 1995), lack of problem solving
abilities (Abimbade, 1997), self-concept and achievement motivation (Akinsola,
The present study therefore, offers a survey of factors responsible for the poor
performance of students in mathematics, what influences there are and to determine
some of the most important factors that influence the poor performance in
mathematics in some selected Nigerian secondary schools with the aim of
recommending a preferred solution.
This will be reviewed under the following:
1. The teacher/principal factors
2. Students attitude and commitment


3. Methods of teaching mathematics

4. The use of instructional materials in mathematics teaching.
5. The school environment factor.
The Teacher Factor
The school is regarded by many as an extension of the principals personality. The
failure of the school is the principals and the success of the school is the principals
success as well. A survey of factors responsible for the performance in mathematics
at the secondary school level puts the school administrators on the defensive. The
buck-passing exercise with regards to students performance most often stops at the
principals desk.
Teachers Qualification/Experience
A survey of this nature must focus some attention on the quality and experience of
the teacher. Our educational programmes started crashing from the days of crash
programmes (Dada, 1986). Teachers also were rushed through crash programmes to
obtain NCE certificates. But without a broad-based education, these teachers have
very little to offer. NCE teachers who are supposed to teach only junior secondary
school now teach even the seniors, in some cases have been appointed assistant
principals and become WASSCE examiners in many subjects including mathematics.
A poor teacher can only produce poor results. A competent mathematics teacher will
be a teacher with good academic and pedagogical backgrounds, who is not easily
worn out by the system (Sizer, 1984). Based on the terse definition Farrel (1984)
derived the indicators of teacher competency in mathematics teaching and learning.
Two types of competencies were identified. The first type is characterised as mastery
and the second is labelled development types. Moreover, it was suggested that the

first type of competency is a specific ability that secondary school mathematics

teachers should certainly possess. However, Farrell (1979) cautioned the over-use or
abuse of the mastery type of teacher competency. She argued this class of
competency should be merged with the developmental type. As an illustration,
following the indicators of mathematics teacher competency provided base-line
information for readers:
a) Teacher gives history, etymology of terms and symbols
b) Teachers explains why (e.g. graphing) techniques are being taught
c) Teacher correctly indicates the why of certain conventions in mathematics.
d) Teacher uses counting and measuring examples before a new formula is
developed and points out the usefulness of the formula.
From research evidence, econometric analyses have equivocally demonstrated that,
in fact, some teachers are dramatically more effective than others and that these
differences have lasting effects on student learning (Rivkin, Hanusahek & Kain,
2005; Sanders & Rivers, 1996).
But what makes a great teacher? Some people are of the opinion that teachers are
born. Ukeje (1991) is of the view that teachers may be born but a good teacher is born
and made. Maduabum (2009) explained that this is because teaching is both an art
and a science. Some aspects of the art of teaching may be innate but the science of
teaching has to be cultivated. The born teacher exists but he is a rare bird
(Maduabum, 2009). However ability to transmit learning can be acquired if one is
lucky enough to be born with it. Even though many traditional indicators of teacher
quality, such as educational level and certification, do not, in fact, predict student
outcomes (Rivkin et al., 2005), certain aspects of teacher education are relevant. For


example, mathematics teachers who have completed PHD course work in

mathematics and an advanced certificate course in education are more effective than
peer teachers without such advanced training in education. Whitty (1996) identifies
two sets of qualities that characterise a successful professional teacher: professional
characteristic and professional development, communication and relationship as
well as synthesis and application.
Professional competencies include knowledge and understanding of children and
their learning, subject knowledge, curriculum, the educational system and the
teachers role. A number of studies carried out have indicated the need for teachers
academic qualification in their various teaching subjects. Such studies includes those
of Swan and Jones(1971), Rubba(1981), Ivowi(1983), Akintola(1985), Soyibo(1985),
Abimbola (1986) and Otuka (1987).
Swan & Jones (1985) finding was that teachers should receive appropriate training
in the subject matter area so that their classroom instruction could be above board.
Rubbas (1981) study indicated that teachers have needs according to the science
discipline taught. Ivowi, Abimbola and Otuka found out misconceptions in the
students which they traced to misconceptions held by their teachers. All the above
studies prove that training of prospective teachers in the subject matter areas should
not be taken lightly by science educators.
The national Policy on Education (revised edition, 2004) spelt out the purpose of
teacher education to be:
a) To produce highly motivated, conscientious and efficient classroom teachers
for all levels of our education system


b) To provide teachers with the intellectual and professional background

adequate for their assignment and to make them adaptable to any changing
situation, not only in the life of their own country but in the wider world.
c) To enhance teachers commitment to the teaching profession.
The National Mathematical Centre (NMC) in 1989 sets among its objectives, to train
and develop high level personnel in the mathematics sciences including
mathematics, mathematics education, computer science, theoretical physics and
statistics for the Nigeria and African institutions through research, lecture series,
workshops, conferences, seminars and linkages.
The national teacher institute (NTI) equally charged with the responsibility of
providing courses of instruction leading to the development, upgrading and
certification of teachers using the distance education techniques. Others like
Mathematical association of Nigeria (MAN) and science teachers association of
Nigeria have as its cardinal objectives, to promote effective mathematical teaching
and research and to keep in touch with developments in science and its application to
industry and commerce and above all to popularise science.
Despite all these efforts, the mumbling discontent at the incompetence of teachers
has been getting louder and louder without any co-ordinated plan of attack. Ali
(1989) has the view that teachers incompetence results from the new curriculum
which made them operate almost at the same level as their students is another
contributing factor to the students poor performance in mathematics. Studies have
attempted to assess the mathematical competence of mathematics teachers (HarborPeter & Ogoamaka, 1991). The results have consistently shown that mathematics
teachers do not have knowledge of mathematics expected as a prerequisite for


effective teaching. Sidhu (2006) sees mastery of the subject as an absolute necessity
for effective teaching. The teacher must possess a basic qualification in the subject,
professional training, engagement in professional activities and personal enthusiasm
for mathematics. As the literature described here suggests, teachers are a vital prerequisite for student attainment of their mathematical educational goals and
objectives. This review serve as a springboard for the survey of the factors
responsible for the poor performance in mathematics.
1. Teaching Experience
Sidhu (2006) proposed for effective and efficient teaching for teachers, selective
academic training, supervised teaching practice, in0service training and professional
activities. The mathematics teacher should get an opportunity of observing a few
demonstration lessons by more experienced teachers, and then should be required to
teach classes on those lines. Studies have shown that teacher experience is a major
determinant in students academic performance. Hansen (1988) posited that
teachers who have spent more time studying and teaching are more effective overall
and they develop higher order thinking skills for meeting the needs of diverse
students and hence increasing their performance. Bilesanmi (1999) in her study
found that teacher experience has the second most effective causal effect on students
achievement. Okoruwa (1999) found that teachers teaching experience has
significant effect on students achievement in the sciences. Also Felter (1999)
investigated the relationship between the measure of teachers experience and
student achievement in science and mathematics. He found that teaching experience
as measured by years of service correlated positively with students test results. Other
studies on the effect of teacher experience on the student learning have found a
positive relationship between teachers effectiveness and their years of experience,

but the relationship observed is not always a significant or an entirely linear one
(Kligaard & Hall, 1974; Murnane & Philips, 1981). The evidence currently available
suggests that while inexperienced teachers are less effective than more senior
teachers, the benefits of experience level off after a few years (Rivkin, Hanushek &
Kain, 2000). Greenwald, Hedges & Laine (1996) found in their meta-analytical study
that teaching experience has a positive and significant effect on student achievement.
Hawkins, Stancavage & Dossey (1998) found evidence that although teaching
experience appears to be related to student achievement, the relationship may not be
linear; students whose teachers had fewer years of experience had lower levels of
mathematics achievement, but there were no difference in mathematics achievement
among students whose teachers had more than 5 years of experience. Other
researchers have disagreed with the findings; Hanushek (1997) wrote that 71% of the
studies he reviewed did not find any results to support a relationship between
teaching experience and student achievement. Regardless of the differences in these
findings and how effective novice teachers may eventually become, during the first
year of teaching they are clearly less effective than more experienced teachers and
whatever be the case, experience matters (Clotfelter, 2007).

Teachers/Students Ratio
Ogunbiyi (1983) there is a plethora of literatures to show that our primitive
secondary schools are hampered by scores of problem: shortage of well-trained
teachers, inadequacy of teaching facilities, lack of funds to purchase necessary
equipment, poor quality textbooks, large classes, poorly motivated teachers, lack of
laboratories and libraries, poorly coordinated supervisory activities, interference of


the school system by the civil service, incessant transfers of teachers and principals,
over-crowded classrooms or laboratories, automatic promotion of pupils, the
negative role of public examination on the teaching-learning process, inequality in
educational opportunities.
For education to be effective, especially at the secondary school level, teaching staff
strength has to be adequate. A student-teacher ratio of 40:1 may be considered
adequate but the situation is far from this in many secondary schools in Nigeria. An
actual ratio of 100:1 is known to exist in many secondary schools across the country.
Under this situation, the teacher cannot perform effectively and efficiently
(Akinwumiju & Orimoloye, 1985). Our secondary schools are experiencing
astronomical increase in population to the extent that some classes use 3-5 registers
for a class having up to 250 students. In such situations, teacher student ratio is
1:250. The recommended 1:50 ratio has gone into oblivion (Asikhai, 2010).
Ajayi (1985) asserts that owning to the bloated class-size, the work becomes unwieldy
and tedious; personal attention to individual pupils becomes impracticable, marking
of assignments becomes tedious and burdensome, while compilation of results
became a frustrating exercise. The resultant effect is the pathetic situation of poor
performances in Mathematics examination. Odili (2006) wonders how a single
teacher can take care of 50 students at a time. In most cases, the rooms are too small
and poorly ventilated. It becomes difficult for the teachers to establish any close
individual contact with the students.
Smith and Glass (1978) published a meta-analysis combining the results of 77
empirical studies pertaining to the relationship between class size and achievement,
and soon followed it with a second meta-analysis, analysing the relationship between


class size and other outcomes. Overall, they found that small class size were
associated with higher achievement at all grade levels, especially if students were in
the small classes for than 100hours, and if student assignment was carefully
controlled. The found that the major benefits of reducing class size occurred where
the number of students in the class was fewer than 20. In their second study, they
concluded that small classes were superior in terms of students reactions, teacher
morale and the quality of the instructional environment.
Slavin (1989) employed a best evidence synthesis strategy to analyse empirical
studies that met 3 criterion : a study was included only if class size had been reduced
for at least a year, class of less than 20 students were compared to substantially
larger classes and students in the larger and smaller classes were comparable. Slavin
found that reduced class had a small positive effect on students that did not persist
after their reduced class experience.
In 1986, Robinson and Wittebols published a review of more than 100 relevant
research studies using a related cluster analysis approach. Similar kinds of studies
were clustered or grouped together, such as studies of the same grade level, subject
area or student characteristics. They concluded that the clearest evidence of positive
effects is in the primary grades, particularly kindergarten through third grade, and
that reducing class size is especially promising for disadvantaged and minority
students. At the same time, they cautioned that positive effects were less likely if
teachers did not change their instructional methods and classroom procedures in the
smaller class. In a more recent survey, Hanushek (2002) confirms that the majority
of empirical studies do not find any significant relationship between resources
devoted to education and student performance. Card and Krueger (1998) finds,
instead, a positive relationship between school resources and student achievement,

showing that both low pupil-teacher ratios and high quality school systems lead to
higher future earnings for students. These contrasting results may be related to
serious econometric problems- such as omitted variable bias, reverse causality or
measurement errors- that plagues this type of analysis and make it difficult to
recover the causal effect of class size on the student performance. More recent
studies affirm the effects of class size and teacher/student ratio on performance of
students especially in mathematics. Finn (1998) concluded that this research leaves
no doubt that small classes have an advantage over larger classes in school
performance and Krueger (1998), in a similar study confirms the original findings
that students in small classes scored higher on standardized test than students in
regular class.
Students Attitude and Commitment
Ezewu (1985) confirmed that a child who has a positive attitude towards what he
learns will be highly motivated to engage in activities that promote learning thereby
developing a positive self-concept in relation to the total teaching environment. One
of the most important factors for improving performance is students involvement.
By involvement it means how much time, energy and efforts students devote to the
learning process. Several studies have found a small but positive correlation between
some school factor and attitudes(Evans, 1978 & Paul, 1986), although these studies
do not examine the influence of specific variables, Gordon(1975), Cooper(1988) and
Mammalian(1992) provide evidence that aspects of the classroom learning
environment is positively related to mathematics attitudes. Attitudes therefore relate
to the way we act or react and the way we perform our thinking (perceptions) is what
results in our attitudes. Our actions therefore depend on our attitudes. There is now a
good deal of research evidence to suggest that the more time and efforts students

invest in the learning process and the more intensely they engage in their own
education, the greater will be their growth and achievement, their satisfaction with
their educational experiences and their persistence in school, and the more likely
they are to continue their learning (Aremu & Sokan, 2003).
For Balogun (1986), the students bring to the instructional setting his abilities,
motivational propensities, personal background; home background, community
values and these can mar, make or supersede teachers intervention of whatever
quality. Johnson and Rising (1972) see attitude as a mental state of readiness
organized through experiences, exerting a direction or dynamic influence upon the
individuals response to all objects and situations with which it is related.
Attitude therefore is fundamental to the dynamics of behaviours and determines how
far a student learns. Osafehinti (1986) posits that if a student has a positive attitude
towards mathematics, he will not only enjoy studying it but will also derive
satisfaction from the knowledge of mathematical ideas he gains. Obodo (2002)
explains further, if a student has a positive attitude to mathematics, he will definitely
be interested in its teaching and learning. For Salman (2004), most mathematics
teachers do not make the teaching of mathematics practical and exciting and this
leads to negative attitude to mathematics by students.
Sidhu (2006), the elements of novelty, usefulness and sheer intellectual curiosity are
the primary stimuli for the awakening, maintaining the students interest in
Mathematics. With genuine attitudinal change, sustained interest and continual
challenge, mathematics would no longer seem to the students a boring, useless to
real life issues and increasingly incomprehensible but a subject that will be longed
for. The aim of understanding such an investigation, the researcher hoped, would be


useful for teachers of mathematics in Nigeria secondary schools. It has in fact been
confirmed that effective teaching strategies can create positive attitude on the
students towards school subjects (Akinsola, 1994; Akale, 1997 & Olowojaiye, 1999).

Method of Teaching Mathematics

This calls for the examination of the qualities that anyone called a teacher should
demonstrate to facilitate the successful discharge of the tasks expected of him. As
Sober et al (1988) puts it:

Teachers must know the stuff

Teachers must know the pupils whom they are stuffing

And above all, they must know how to stuff them artistically.

Knowledge of subject matter alone is not sufficient; the Mathematics teacher should
be effective and efficient in teaching methodology.
Cockcroft Report (1982) recommends among other means for effective and efficient
mathematic teaching at all levels:

Exposition by the teacher

Discussion between teacher and pupils and among pupils themselves

Appropriate practical works

Consolidation and practice of fundamental skills and routines

Problem solving, including the application of mathematics to everyday situation

Investigative work

For Sage (1977), this general teaching method is a set of teacher behaviours that are
recurrent; occur in united and systematic manner. This creates the template for a
sympathetic, well-informed, competent, mathematical language fluency and
inspiring teaching and learning. It is wrong to name a single method as the best


method. A good mathematics teacher will so digest or absorb all the available
methods that he/she evolves a method comprising the good point of all the methods.
He will not permit any of the methods to become his/her master but will remain a
true master of them all. One of the consequences of overdependence on foreign
approaches to teaching mathematics is the seeming lack of basic mathematical
principles which results to rote learning and low achievement in mathematics as
could be seen in Nigeria today. Attempts to address this problem have necessitated
the fact that teachers should evolve strategies that will ensure active participation of
learners, practice oriented, project oriented and applicable (Obodo, 1997;
DAmbosio, 2001; Kurumeh, 2004; Uloko, 2006). This seems to call for the option of
giving ethnomathematics a trial; being a teaching approach which focuses on
students background, their immediate environments integrated with the eurocentric mathematics in a practical way as demanded by the concept of locus.
Ethnomathematics is the study of mathematics which puts into consideration the
culture in which the mathematics arises (Kurumeh, 2004). Ethnomathematics is the
cultural utility of mathematics as a science (Harber-Peters, 2001). For DAmbrosio
(2001) it is an of teaching and learning mathematics which builds on the students
previous knowledge, background, the role his environment plays in terms of content
and method, and his past and present experience of his immediate environment.
Attempts to find solution to this incessant failure have made researchers in
mathematics education to consider a number of factors. One of such factors which is
closely re-examined in this study is the inappropriate method of teaching. According
to Harbor-Peters (2001), low achievement in mathematics is caused by teachers
non-utilization of appropriate teaching approaches. The researchers in this study
quite agrees with observation made in some quarters that, the method of teaching
mathematics in Nigeria is completely out of phase with background and the local

environment of the learners. Further, that this method is foreign in nature, has no
bearing with the Nigerian culture, and purely derived from euro-centric culture
(Uloko & Imoko, 2007). The secret behind the Japanese and Chinese successes in
mathematics, science and technology today is traceable to their use of
ethnomathematics (tereziaha, 1999; Kurumeh, 2004, Uloko & Imoko, 2007). This
study therefore, proposes the use of ethnomathematics methodology in teaching and
hopes this will help Nigerian students achieve high performance.
The Use of Instructional Materials in Mathematics Teaching
Instructional materials have been defined by various authors. For example, Obanya
(1989) viewed them as materials which are supposed to make learning and teaching
possible. According to Abdullahi (1982), instructional materials are materials or tools
locally made or imported that could make tremendous enhancement of lesson and
impact if intelligently used. Ikerionwu (2010) referred to them as objects or devices,
which help the teacher to make a lesson much clearer to the learner. Instructional
materials are also described as concrete or physical objects which provide sound,
visual or both to the sense organs during teaching (Agina-obu, 2005).
Instructional materials are in various classes, such as audio or aural, visual or audiovisuals. Thus, audio instructional materials refer to those devices that make use of
the sense of hearing only, like the radio, audio tape recording, and television. Visual
instructional materials on the other hand, are those devices that appeal to the sense
of sight only such as the chalkboard, chart, slide, and filmstrip. An audio-visual
instructional material however is a combination of devices which appeal to the sense
of both hearing and seeing such as television, motion picture and the computer.
Among the instructional materials the classroom teacher uses, the visuals outnumber
the combination of the audio and the audio-visuals.


The usefulness of instructional materials in the teaching-learning process is

highlighted below:

Facilitate the learning of abstract concepts ideas.

Keep the learners busy and active thus increasing their participation in the

Save teachers energy of talking too much

Illustrate the concepts clearer and better than teachers words only.

Help overcome the limitation of the classroom, by making the inaccessible


Help to broaden students knowledge, increase their level of understanding as

well as discourage rote learning if used judiciously.

Help to stimulate and motivates learners. (Esu, Enukoha & Umoren, 2004).

There have been several studies on instructional materials and academic

achievement. For instance, (Moronfola, 1982; Popoola, 1990 and Momoh, 2010)
conducted researches on the effects of instructional resources on students
performance in West African Certificate examinations (WASCE). Their findings
shows the schools with adequate instructional materials performed better than those
with inadequate instructional materials. Franzer, Okebukola & Jegede(1992) stressed
that a professionally qualified science teacher no matter how well trained, would be
unable to put his ideas into practice if the school setting lacks the equipment and
materials necessary for him or her to translate his competence into reality.
Sometimes imported sophisticated materials and equipment are found to be
expensive and irrelevant; hence the need to produce materials locally.
Researcher such as Obioha (2006) and Ogunyele (2002) reported that there were
inadequate resources for teaching science subjects in secondary schools in Nigeria.


They further stated that the available ones are not usually in good conditions. There
is need therefore, for improvisation. Adebimpe (1997) and Daramola (2008) however
noted that improvisation demands adventure, creativity, curiosity and perseverance
on the part of the teacher, such skills are only realizable through well-planned
training programme on improvisation. Consequently, researchers like Abimbade
(1997) and Lasisi (2004) agreed that no matter the method or strategies chosen to be
effective, there is need to make use of appropriate instructional materials in
facilitating learning.

The School Environment

The physical environment of the school affects academic performance of the
students. For example, Bloom (1978) affirmed that environmental influences help in
the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Agreeing with the above, Ezewu(1983) noted
that it is because of the effects of the environment on the child that educators are
interested in the childs environment, as this, rather than heredity is the
phenomenon they can easily control in order to enhance teaching, learning and
achievement. Onwuchekwa (1985) explained that the physical settings of the
classroom, teaching aids to mention a few, enhance teaching, learning and
achievement. It is a fact that surrounding environment of the students influences
their performance. For instance, the quality of the school building has direct impact
on students performance. Students perform better academically in better buildings.
Researchers (carols, 1993; Lackney, 1999; Maxwell, 1999; Black, 2001) have found
that students in old buildings scored 5-7% points lower than students in new
buildings and so established in independent findings that there is a relationship
between the school building condition and students achievement. Nthat high
performance school use various constructions and design methods to improve

acoustical environment. This reduces internal noise and external noise factor like
traffic. Another interesting factor to note is that daylight is a central component of
high performance design. Providing natural daylight provides biological stimulation
for that regulate body system and moods, provide opportunities for natural
ventilation, and reduce the need for artificial light, thereby reducing energy costs.
Adedipe(2007) concludes that the inadequacy of such physical resources like lecture
halls, halls of residence, laboratories, libraries and other academic resources
translate to poor results because it breeds over crowdedness. Good acoustics are
important in any learning situation, but noise in classrooms often makes children
struggle to hear and concentrate, defeating the learning process at the outset. In a
typical school, classrooms may bombard students with three sources of noise:
1. Noise from the outdoors
2. Mechanical noise generated between rooms or between corridors and rooms
3. Noise generated within the classroom, including the ventilation system.
Taken all together, the noise can stifle a childs chance to learn (Lyons, 2001). The
interaction between the environment factor and the personal characteristics of the
student do exhibit significant effects on the academic performance of the students.
This has supported Lewins notion of person-environment interaction (Lewin, 1943).
Clearly, there is consensus that newer and better school buildings contribute to
higher students score on standardized tests (Edwards, 1992; Cash, 1993 and Hines.
1996) but just how much varies depending on the study and the subject area. For
example, Philips (1997) found impressive gains in mathematics scores, but Edwards
(1992) found lower gains in social sciences. When buildings new schools, it is
essential to incorporate the best design practices available. This is particularly
relevant as numerous studies show that the central features of high performance
schools- including ventilation, day lighting, and acoustics- have a direct impact on

academic outcomes. School facilities affect learning. Spatial configurations, noise,

heat, cold, light and air quality obviously bear on students and teachers ability to
perform. Empirical studies will continue, focusing on fine-tuning the acceptable
ranges of these variables for optimal academic outcomes. But we already know what
is needed: clean air, good light and a quiet, comfortable, and safe learning
environment. This can be and generally has been achieved within the limits of
existing knowledge, technology, and materials. It simply requires adequate funding
and competent design, construction, and maintenance (Schneider, 2002).


This chapter gives an indication of what was done to achieve the goals of the present
study. Purpose was to survey the factors responsible for students poor performance
in mathematics in the senior secondary certificate examination in Idah local
government area, in Kogi state, Nigeria. In this regard, the chapter describes the
methods and techniques used in collection of data, the research design, population
and sampling, research instrument used and how data was analysed.

Research Design
The research design used for the study was the survey design. It was designed to
collect data on the factors responsible for students poor performance in
mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination in selected
secondary schools in Kogi state.
Population and Sample
The target population for this study consists of all mathematics teachers in selected
senior secondary schools in Idah LGA, Kogi 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 Idah.
These five schools are:
1. St. Kizito seminary, Iyegu-Idah

2. St. Peter Secondary school, Idah

3. Holy Rosary College, Idah
4. Idah Secondary commercial College, Idah
5. Idah Polytechnic Secondary school, Idah
The relevant data and information were collected by a teacher questionnaire. It is
based on the 4-point Likert scale responses.
1. Strongly Agree (SA)
2. Agree (A)
3. Disagree (D)
4. Strongly Disagree (SD)
The respondents were asked to tick () only one option.
The structured questionnaire is in two sections.
Section A: demanded demographic information on the personal details of the
teacher, qualification, teaching experience, sex, school type and class taught.
Section B: Contain (25) twenty five items, measuring; the teacher factor, students
attitude and commitments, the methods of teaching mathematics, the use of
instructional materials in teaching mathematics and the school environment factor.
The questionnaire was administered between June and August, 2011.


Method of Data Analysis

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 X2.5 otherwise
rejected. For each cluster the acceptance point is 12.5.


The data were analysed using frequency count and the mean score responses.
Table 1 The Teacher Factor
The teachers opinion on teachers factor as being responsible for students poor
performance in mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination in
Idah local government of Kogi State.



The poor foundation in mathematics is at 18

10 2


10 7


18 6


13 5


15 6


the root of poor performance


Students are no longer interested in hard 13


I always find it difficult to prepare for 6

mathematics lessons

There are inadequate mathematics teachers 12

in terms of numbers and quality

I teach mathematics today because there is 8

no alternative job and as a waiting job

The table 1 reveals that the factors listed in the items, are responsible for the
students poor performance in mathematics in SSCE in Idah local government area,


it shows teachers responses to items in the questionnaire were more on agreed

column (66) than strongly agreed (57). The mean response ranges from 3.53 to 3.00.
It is of importance to note that the teachers strongly agreed that poor foundation,
lack of interest and difficulty in preparation are the root of the poor performance of
students in SSCE mathematics.


Table 2 On Students Attitude and Commitment in the poor performance in SSCE




Students lack interest in mathematics 17


10 7


10 2




while learning

Lack of hard work on the part of students 13

results in poor performance

Students should be involved in more 18

practical work than the theoretical





of 20 5


Parents should buy necessary learning 13

materials for their children.

The results in table 2 above show that lack of interest, lack of hard work, lack of
practical and poor provision of study materials were core factors responsible for the
poor performance in SSCE mathematics. The mean response ranged between 3.53 t0
2.87 well above the acceptance point. Surprisingly, the buck being squarely passed to
parents as well.


Table 3: Teachers on the school environment factor responsible for students poor
performance in mathematics in the senior secondary school certificate examination
in Idah LGA.



Overcrowded classroom and libraries affects 19

8 2



8 5


negatively performance in mathematics.


Learning environment should be conducive 23

for effective teaching and learning to take

New school building arouses students 12

interest in learning mathematics

I go to school twice in a week because my 7

10 10



school is in the village


In my opinion the location of school has 10

nothing to do with students performance in


The mean response in table 3 shows that the teachers accepted the school
environment factor as enhancing both teaching and learning. The mean values
ranges from 3.77 to 2.23 which is in line with the criteria for accepting a factor. The
largest number of teachers strongly agreed to the fact that the learning environment
should be made conducive for effective teaching and learning to take place. This will
have a positive effect on the students performance in mathematics at the SSCE.


Table 4 Teachers opinion on teaching methods as factor responsible for students

poor performance in mathematics in the senior secondary school certificate
examination in Idah LGA of Kogi State.



I always use varieties of teaching 4

20 4








19 2


methods when teaching a lesson in


I always like using lecturing method 10

whenever I am teaching a topic in

I always find it difficult adopting a 12

particular teaching method



mathematical lesson

I love demonstration method and I 10







Whenever I am teaching mathematics, I 1

do not consider the method I am using
because I feel it is not important

Table 4 shows a mean range of 3.27 to 2.27. Out of 30 teachers 20 agrees that the
use of varieties of teaching method was an advantage while 19 out of 30 teachers
disagrees when the importance of teaching method was brought to question and
earned the lowest mean score below the acceptance level of 2.50. By implication

therefore, the use of varieties of teaching methods will enhance students

performance in SSCE mathematics.
Table 5. The teachers opinion on the use of instructional materials in teaching
mathematics as factor responsible for students poor performance in mathematics in
senior secondary certificate examination in Idah LGA.



There are no functional libraries and 2

19 7


19 2


mathematics laboratories in my school.






in 1

mathematics without using instructional


Teachers should use instructional materials 18

10 2


13 5


19 2


to make mathematics real.


My school principal will prefer buying 12

football and other athletics facilities rather
than mathematics teaching aids.

I feel teaching aids will not make any 1







The result of table 5 has a mean value ranging from 3.53 to 2.27. the highest number
of teachers (18) with mean response of 3.53 strongly agrees that instructional
materials should be used in making the teaching of mathematics more real, this will


go a long way in making a greater impact on the performance of students in SSCE

Mathematics. Teachers who believed that teaching aids will not make an impact or
do not see the necessity of using instructional materials in teaching mathematics fell
below the acceptance point with a mean response of 2.27. The conclusion here then is
that, the use of instructional materials will boost the performance of students in
SSCE mathematics in Idah local government area of Kogi State.
Table 6.The Mathematics Teachers and their Qualifications
















The table above shows that the work load for an average teacher is in the ration of
60:1 and this will implies an already overcrowded class for effective teaching and
learning to take place. Another observation from the data is that the bulk of the
teachers are mostly NCE holders whose experiences in teaching are limited. This is a
clear pointer to the fact that teacher qualification is a factor responsible for students
poor performance in SSCE Mathematics in Idah Local government of Kogi State.


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.
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
On teaching methods as a factor responsible for poor performance 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:
1. Choice of appropriate teaching and material
2. Choice of appropriate teaching method
3. Intensive research on the topic to be taught
4. Determination of the objectives of the lesson.


This present study was aimed at surveying the factors responsible for students poor
performance in mathematics in senior secondary school certificate examination in
Idah Local government area of Kogi 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
poor performance 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 poor performance issues in mathematics at the
In view of the findings of this survey, the following are the major recommendations;
1. 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.
2. There is need to develop a love for mathematics through the setting up of
Mathematics Club in every secondary school. Its aims should be as follows;
a. To initiate and develop love for mathematics
b. To help students develop positive attitude towards mathematics
c. To learn the History of Mathematics by sharing its slow and painful
development from ancient time to the present


d. To provide students opportunity of listening to experts, teachers from

outside and arrange mathematical shows and exhibitions.
e. The students get the opportunities of mathematics hobbies, recreational
mathematics, mathematical projects, mathematical games, mathematics
discussions, debates and mathematical innovations.
3. 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.
4. Student-teacher ratio in our secondary schools should be reduced.
5. Regular activities of professional bodies like STAN and MAN should be
encouraged in schools.
6. 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.
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 senior secondary school certificate examination.


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The purpose of this questionnaire is to survey the factors responsible for students
poor performance in mathematics in SSCE. The survey is purely for research purpose
and any information supplied will be treated as strictly confidential.
Your co-operation is hereby gratefully acknowledged. Please complete the following.
Highest Qualification: NCE ( ) HND ( ) B.Sc/B.Ed ( ) M.Sc/M.Ed ( )
Teaching Experience: Below 5yrs ( ) 6-10yrs ( ) 11yrs and above ( )
Sex: Male ( ) Female ( )
School Type: All Boys ( ) All Girls ( ) Co-Ed ( )
Class Taught: JSS ( ) SSS ( )
Please tick [] the appropriate option SA Strongly Agree, A- Agree, DDisagree, SD- Strongly Dis agree.


I will choose to teach mathematics in place of any other job

I always find it difficult preparing for mathematics class

Mathematics is dull and boring because it leaves no room for

personal opinion.

I hate teaching mathematics today because there is nothing

creative in it, it is just memorising formulas and answers

I teach mathematics today because there is no alternative job

and I do this as a waiting job


I am always late to school because the road is inaccessible

My students are not challenging because the school location

is not conducive for them

In my own opinion location of school has nothing to do with

students achievement in mathematics

My students hate mathematics because it make them feel

uneasy and confused


My students enjoy mathematics because it is stimulating to



My students enjoy going beyond the assignment to solving

new problems


My student are interested and willing to acquire further

knowledge in mathematics


My students show interest in mathematics and this will help

to develop their skills and study the subject more.


I always use varieties of teaching methods when teaching a

lesson in mathematics


I always like using lecturing method whenever I am teaching

a topic in mathematics


I always find it difficult adopting a particular teaching

method in any mathematical lesson


I love demonstration method and I always use it when

teaching mathematics.


Whenever I am teaching mathematics, I do not even consider

the method I am using because I feel it is not important.



There are no functional library and mathematics laboratories

in my school


I prefer teaching any concept in mathematics without using

instructional materials


In my opinion, teaching aid is very important in every

mathematics lesson


My school principal will prefer buying football and other

athletics facilities rather than mathematics teaching aids.


Instructional facilities affects mathematics learning


Overcrowded classrooms and libraries affect negatively

students performance in mathematics


I feel teaching aids will not make any impact on students

achievement in mathematics