CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
Mathematics is the foundation of science and technology and the functional role of mathematics to science and technology is multifaceted and multifarious that no area of science, technology and business enterprise escapes its application (Okereke, 2006). Ukeje (1986) described mathematics as the mirror of civilization in all the centuries of painstaking calculation, and the most basic discipline for any person who would be truly educated in any science and in many other endeavours. Despite the importance placed on mathematics, researchers (Odili, 1986; Salau, 1995; Amazigo, 2000; Agwagah, 2001; Betiku, 2001; bioma, 2005; Maduabum and Odili, 2006; Okereke, 2006) had observed that students lack interest in the subject and perform poorly in it. Ukeje (1986) observed that mathematics is one of the most poorly taught, widely hated and abysmally under-stood subject in secondary school, students particularly girls run away from the subject. The West African Examination Council (WAEC) Chief Examiners [2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006] consistently reported candidates’ lack of skill in answering almost all the questions asked in general mathematics. WAEC Chief Examiners [2003, 2005] further observed that candidates were weak in Geometry of circles and 3- dimensional problems. According to their reports, most candidates avoided questions on 3-dimensional problem, when they attempt geometry questions; only few of the candidates showed a clear understanding of the problem in their working. WAEC  also reported candidates’ weakness in Algebraic expression and word problems among others. Obioma (1985), Obodo (1993) and Okereke (2006) reported gender as a significant factor in mathematics achievement and Onwioduokit and Akinbobola (2005) reported it as a significant factor in physics achievement when physics students are taught with advance organizers. However Okonkwo (1997) reported gender as non significant when students are taught with tangram puzzle game. Okereke (2006) attributed students’ poor performance to factors such as the society view that mathematics is difficult, shortage of qualified teachers, lack of mathematical teaching aids and lack of incentive. The abstract nature of mathematics should be reduced through demonstration and practical methods. Agwagah (1997) observed that the problem of ineffective teaching can be tackled through planned and intelligent application of the mathematical teaching aids. Thus Agwagah recommended the use of teaching aids approach to the study of mathematics. The method of drill and verbal recitation makes learning boring and lacks motivation for further learning. Srinivasa (1978) had earlier recommended the use of mathematical teaching aids in teaching mathematics. According to Srinivasa, this will lead the students to formation of concepts out of experiences with discrete objects. In this case the vague theories and imaginary objects take real shape and the students understand better and perform better. It is important therefore to consider strategies that may help to improve the performance, with the view of considering their effect on teaching and learning of mathematics. Such strategies include the use of mathematical teaching aids (Ogunkunle, 2000). However, Teaching aids are the materials used for effective teaching and enhancing the learning of students. It can be anything ready-made or made by the teacher or made by students. Different teaching aids should be used in teaching mathematics like Charts, Manipulatives, Programmed Learning Material (PLM), computers and television.
- Charts – It can be used to display formulae, symbols, mathematical and geometrical figures. Charts can be used for making students familiar to the symbols and for memorization of basic formulae. Even it can be used to bring to the students two-dimension geometry and the graphical representation in a better way.
- Manipulative – They are objects or materials that involve mathematics concepts, appealing to several senses that can be touched and moved around by the students (not demonstrations of materials by the teacher). Each student needs material to manipulate independently. With students actively involved in manipulating materials, interest in mathematics will be aroused. Canny (1984) has shown that mathematics instruction and students’ mathematics understanding will be more effective if manipulative materials are used. Models can be used to make things concrete like three dimension figures in geometry.
- Programmed Learning Material (PLM) – It is a self-learning material in which learner can proceed at his own pace. It has the characteristics of all sequential steps, learner’s response, self-pacing, immediate feedback, reinforcement and self-evaluation. It is helpful in acquisition of concepts like fractions, number systems, etc. and can be used as a remedy for slow learners for a specific content.
- Computers and Television – Computer can be used for multimedia presentation for the concepts that requires visualization and imagination. Computer can also be used for providing Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI), it is similar to PLM i.e. it is a computerized PLM. Television can be used to show some good mathematics education show.