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PROBLEMS OF TEACHING AND LEARNING MATHEMATICAL CONSTRUCTION IN SECONDARY SCHOOL IN IKERE LOCAL GOVERNMENT

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Ajayi (2006) define mathematics as the science that draws necessary conclusions and also the manipulation of the meaningless symbols of a first order language according to explicit, syntactical rules.

Advanced mathematics is widely used, but often in an unseen and unadvertised way. Also, teacher can be blame as a result of their attitude to work which will affect the academic performance of students. Adeogun (2011).

Adesina (2000), also reveals that teachers are the primary indicator and determinant of the quality of education. Thus, the ability to teach effectively depends on the knowledge of teachers and knowledge that exists in many forms. He also assert That teacher must thoroughly understand the content of what they teach. Teachers who master the material will pass a language more clearly and provide better explanations than those with weaker backgrounds. Perspective of students to teachers in this mastery of the material have a significant influence on students academic performance.

Ehindero and Ajibade (2000) asserts that students are stakeholders in education, and has been suspected and speculated about some of their teachers do not have the necessary professionals qualifications. In a sense, skills, techniques, strategies are needed to convey concepts, ideas, principles are a means to facilitate effective learning.

Obanyan (2000) says that teacher are considered instrumental to translate content standards into the subject matter in the classroom. The teacher remain a constant factor in the successful implementation of educational programs.

Ajayi(2006) finds that the classroom teacher is one of the major determinants of students achievement, training is most important as a determinant of students academic performance.

On the contrary, Husen (2000) reports that increased in-service is accompanied by low achievement levels by students especially where the training is assumed to be for only teachers of low scoring students.

Thomas (2005) said mathematics is the fundamentals root on which science is based.  Unfortunately, students in our secondary schools and the teacher teaching them have negative attitude towards Mathematics regardless of its importance in making it as far as science and technology.

Also he said it is very important to look into teachers characteristics in student’s performance in Mathematics.  Mathematics as a compulsory subject in the secondary school record poor performance of students.

Teo (2000) said mathematics is regarded as the key to all science and technology subject. Without a good foundation in Mathematics student would not be able to do well in science and technology.  It is very important to note that boys and girls in secondary school usually run away from Mathematics classes without any regard for its being a compulsory subject.

Obi (2000) notes that for the effective teaching of mathematics, the teacher must be well equipped with the idea of what he or she is going to teach in the classroom.  Appropriate method of teaching is also required while supporting the fact that it is necessary to be knowledgeable about a particular concept, it is also necessary to know how to impact the knowledge adequately.  The teacher must know the best techniques and method of presenting his/her ideas to his or her pupils, bearing in mind their interest, needs and individual differences.

Kolawole (2005) States that creative teaching requires new materials and thoughtful activities such as learning skill, procedures analysis of problem and application of generalization. Therefore, a good teacher must have a sound knowledge of the contents, method and above all good attitudes to work.  Based on the general belief that mathematics is regarded as the foundation of all science subjects there is need to handle its teaching effectively.  Kolawole (2005) further observed that falling standing in performance of pupils in mathematics in the secondary school could attribute to the teacher’s characteristics toward its effectively teaching.

A number of factors have been identified to be responsible for these poor performances in science from the various studies conducted in Nigeria. These include the lack of motivation for most teachers, poor infrastructural facilities, inadequate textual materials, attitude of students to learning, lack of teaching skills and competence by science teachers, and lack of opportunities for professional development for science teachers (Braimoh & Okedeyi, 2001; Folaranmi, 2002; Okebukola, 1997; Olaleye, 2002; Olanrewaju, 1994). Other studies mentioned that poor classroom organisation, lack of management techniques and poorly co-ordinated student activities also reduced the quality of science teaching and learning (Akale & Nwankwonta, 1996).

Education can be described as a process by which people are prepared and trained to live and function effectively, efficiently and productively in and around their environments (Ukeje, 2002). The growing stage of youngsters is that particular period of time that provides them with the opportunity to develop the principles of life, make career decisions and begin the pursuit of one’s goals, thus education is an important aspect for the youths. Education should include that kind of training that should be the extension to the fields of interest of these youths. The main motto of education is to provide knowledge, make every one aware about proper conduct and gain technical competency. Education helps in the development of an individual, physically, mentally and socially. The importance of education particularly secondary school education to youths is that it helps prepare them for greater responsibility.

Thus secondary school education should help the youngsters to define their career objectives, make them capable of deciding as to what they want from life, and enable them make progress in their fields of interest. Education is a means through which young and old members the society are taught about the expected behaviour of the society and the rules of polity, the values, skills attitudes and knowledge that equip the individual to achieve personal and society development and progress. According to Danladi (2006), education is a process of teaching and learning in which students acquire practical knowledge, value and skills for effective participation in the society. He further asserted that, the process of acquiring the relevant knowledge, attitude, values and skills must be made as concrete as possible for easy learning.

A teaching method comprises the principles and methods used for instruction to be implemented by teachers to achieve the desired learning in students. These strategies are determined partly on subject matter to be taught and partly by the nature of the learner. For a particular teaching method to be appropriate and efficient it has to be in relation with the characteristic of the learner and the type of learning it is supposed to bring about. Davis (1997) suggests that the design and selection of teaching methods must take into account not only the nature of the subject matter but also how students learn. In today’s school the trend is that it encourages a lot of creativity. It is a known fact that human advancement comes through reasoning. This reasoning and original thought enhances creativity. The approaches for teaching can be broadly classified into teacher centered and student centered. In Teacher-Centered Approach to Learning, Teachers are the main authority figure in this model. Students are viewed as “empty vessels” whose primary role is to passively receive information (via lectures and direct instruction) with an end goal of testing and assessment. It is the primary role of teachers to pass knowledge and information onto their students.

The need to understand the process of student learning in order to improve the quality of that learning has been identified in the education literature. In addition, the outcomes of this learning have been identified in quantitative, qualitative or attitudinal terms. To this end there have been a number of models of student approaches to learning (Diseth and Martinsen 2003; Leung and Kembla 2003,). Each model has considered the antecedents, and by way of application, the effectiveness of various learning approaches. Marton and Ramsden (2008) suggest that the problem with most higher education research on teaching and learning is that it focuses on learning as gathering information to use later, and on teaching as transmitting information and techniques that support this conception of learning. Instead, most studies have focused on either the teaching context or the outcomes of learning. This omission has meant that educators often experience difficulty in understanding what students conceive learning to be, how they perceive the learning task, or how they approach learning.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) stated that the broad goal of the secondary school education is to prepare individuals for: “useful living within the society and higher education”. To achieve this objective, secondary school education in Nigeria has six years duration given in two stages – three years of junior secondary school followed by three years of senior secondary school. The curriculum designed for senior secondary school is comprehensive and broad based, aimed at broadening students’ knowledge and outlook. Subjects offered in senior school are in three groups – core subjects, science  and non-science  subjects. One of the science  subjects Generally, the education of a nation is evaluated in part by the quality of its teachers. The quality of teachers itself depends largely on the kind of training they received both at the academic and professional levels. For these reasons, teachers of science need good training to enable them meet a better requirement and enough academic information in a variety of the basic science subject as said by Bajah (1982). Akpan (1992) observes that Nigeria problems have been that of implementation. He said that a visit to primary and secondary school science classrooms by a well informed and concerned science teacher will show that the nursed hope in curriculum reform are expensive venture in the past decade. So therefore, turning out, in the nearest future, qualified and dedicated scientist, engineers, medical doctors etc from these schools are in serious danger.

Furthermore, Akueshi (1997) warns that the world is developing scientifically and technologically in every sphere of human endeavours; we should thrive to join this technologically train or else we shall be left behind and it will be disastrous and unpleasant. As a result of poor teaching method, poorly equipped science laboratories over dependence on print materials, students performed poorly in science subjects in Nigeria. Despite all the efforts made by government to promote science education in Nigeria coupled with several research works that has been carried out, the problems of teaching and learning science are still persisting. The problems are according to Bajah (1982) between 1959 and 1982: are Lack of laboratory, lack of qualified science teachers, and institutional objectives in science teaching. According to Adebayo (1999) on educational policy 1977, he stated that Lack of finance to execute the project, shortage of manpower, lack of facilities and lack of policy itself (i.e. the planning and implementations) are factors responsible for poor performance in science subjects in our secondary schools.  Adeyemi (1993) and Adeyegbe (1990) stated that even though a number of science curriculum reforms were inquiry based and problem – solving in style research finding have continued to show that teaching and learning in science remain problematic.  Ayodele (1999) stated the problems as in adequacy of textbooks, lack of learner’s interest, unqualified science and psychological fears of science subjects as factors responsible for poor performance in science subjects.

Textbooks are not adequately available. The ones that are available are written by foreigners with their language and cultural background, making it difficult for indigenous teachers try to complement by writing textbooks, most of their work lack in standard, probably because they are horridly written just to bridge gabs, without adequate research. Most laboratories are not well equipped, schools rely more on imported laboratory apparatus and equipment and grants are never enough. Although government took a giant step by establishing science laboratory manufacturing industries like ‘PRODA’ Enugu, such industries have been long neglected by the same government that established them.

Large class size in science subjects teaching and lack of incentives for teachers. One teacher to students are the recommended still remains a dream in schools classes are over populated to the tune of 50 and above.

Inadequate science teachers, approach to science teaching, science is an abstract course and will only be understood through practice. Some teachers do not put effort in improvisation of teaching aids and most importantly students’ attitude and aspirations: Some students’ attitude has made up their mind that they are not going to study science, therefore will not waste time on science subjects.

Poor primary school background in science subjects as factor responsible for the poor performance of students in the science subjects.

With these problems in mind the researcher decided to investigate the extent to which these demands are being met and possibly suggest ways in which they could be successfully met.

Reforms in recent years in science teaching and learning have recognised constructivism as an influential approach for developing scientific literacy (Tytler, 2002). Constructivism is an epistemology, a theory of knowledge that views learning as a personal construction (Jonassen & Reeves, 1996). Constructivists claim that teachers cannot transfer intact knowledge from their heads to the learner and that knowledge is constructed by the learner (Jonassen, 1991). Von Glaserfeld (1984) notes, learners do not simply reflect on what they are told (i.e., objectivist perspective which assumes that knowledge resides outside the bodies of the learner and that learning is a process of mapping entities or concepts onto learners) but learners construct knowledge and understandings and find regularity about the world events and information, and this is an ongoing process which may not be completed.

Duffy and Cunningham (1996) argue that learning is not synonymous with instruction and that it involves an active process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring knowledge while instruction is the process by which knowledge construction is supported rather than a process of knowledge transmission. The Queensland School Curriculum Council (1999) indicates that effective learning occurs only when the learner develops, constructs and accommodates meaning in a context that builds on their prior knowledge.

Tytler (2002) argues that to develop a new understanding there is a need for learners to be encouraged to extend their prior knowledge to a new situation and he asserts: If we believe that knowledge is highly contextual, and that the fundamental difficulty in developing new understandings is extending them to new situations, then we need to plan for students to be exposed to a range of situations in which a particular science insight can be used. This would imply, for instance, that one off activities followed by discussion are ineffective. Students need to be explicitly helped in extending new ideas to different situations as part of the conceptual change process.

Essentially, constructivism is a theory that helps teachers to understand how their students learn and this guide their teaching practice. Constructivism as an approach for improving teaching and learning has been modeled in many science classroom activities (Leach & Osborne, 2000; ).

The three most influential constructivist models in science education are the generative learning model (Cosgrove & Osborne, 1985; Osborne & Wittrock, 1983), the interactive learning approaches (Biddulph & Osborne, 1984), and the 5Es instructional model (Bybee, 1997). The generative model of learning (Cosgrove & Osborne, 1985; Osborne & Wittrock, 1983) describes how children learn and how to teach children. The model consists of four phases; 30 the preliminary, focus, challenge and application. The preliminary phase is characterized by the teacher determining the prior knowledge that students might bring into the learning environment that is relevant to the new topic. Researchers (Gardner, 1993; Goodrum et al. 2001; Osborne & Wittrock, 1983) claim that students’ prior knowledge and experiences have a powerful influence on their new knowledge and understanding. The focus phase deals with the activity that students engage in that makes explicit the range of students existing beliefs related to the new concept. The challenge phase is characterized by students comparing the scientific explanation with their own ideas and those of other students through debate, challenge and testing each others’ ideas and so on. The final phase is the application phase during which students determine whether the concept could be useful and applicable to a variety of situations.

The second model, interactive learning approach (Biddulph & Osborne, 1984) consists of five phases namely: preparation, exploratory activities, students’ questions, students’ investigation and reflection. The preparation phase is the first stage in which the teacher gains the previous knowledge and ideas that students have about the topic and then organises resources together with the students. The next phase, exploratory activities involves the teacher asking students questions and encourages discussion among the students in order to arouse their curiosity of the topic with a view to gain insight into what ideas or prior knowledge the students have about the topic. Students’ questions phase is primarily concerned with asking and clarifying of questions by the students. The students’ investigations phase deals with the teacher helping the students in planning and conducting investigations based on the questions chosen through experimentation, reading of articles or books, writing of letters asking for information or consulting with experts.

The final phase is reflection during which students are helped by the teacher to record, evaluate and reflect on the results of the investigations and the strategies they employed. Also students are encouraged to ask more questions, share, discuss and evaluate their findings with other students.

Statement of the Problem

This study was carried out in an attempt to identify the problems hindering the effective teaching and learning construction in secondary schools in Ikere Local Government. The teaching and learning have standards to be followed by science teachers if effective learning by students is to be acquired. Despite the fact that Government has invested a lot on science education, there are some persistent problems in our secondary schools.

Agun & Imogie (1988) prompted out the shortage of qualified teachers in many of our secondary schools particularly in the rural community. This will invariably affect the use of instructional materials in the teaching – learning activities because (a) The students’ population may be much (b) The incompetent teacher who lacks the pedagogical skills may not be able to utilize the materials effectively even when they are available. Moa Dowell (1969) conducted a survey of science teaching in secondary schools in Nigeria. His study was confined to the nine states outside the war zones. The survey was designed to examine certain critical aspects of science teaching in secondary schools, teachers, support facilities and equipment text book, chemicals prepared slides, community resources and inventive to teachers. He arrived at the following conclusions: That a large number of science teachers are untrained and that there is alarming turn-out of teachers at individual schools for a “better job”.

Adesenuga (1981) also commented that if any science is to be taught well, it should be taught practically, hence the need for sufficient materials for effective teaching of science within and outside the laboratory.

In view of the above, it is, therefore, important to evaluate once again if there has been any significant improvement in the availability of these materials and qualified teachers.

Updated: August 10, 2017 — 8:08 pm

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