BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Mathematics is a powerful tool and gate keeper for success in life. It is as old as man himself. There is a common saying that mathematics is the mother of all subjects, but the poor performance of students in Nigerian senior secondary school mathematics examinations is nowadays becoming alarming and therefore becomes imperative for whosoever have passion for education to be gingered towards improving the pathetic condition.
Efforts in this direction gave the required initial motivation to the study of science, which deals with the influence of conceptual knowledge shared by an intellectual community on the activities of the community (Unoroh, 2004). The Federal Government of Nigeria in order to equip students to live effectively in the modern age science and technology lays emphasis on science education which is taught at all levels of education and made compulsory at both primary and secondary schools. At tertiary level, it is part of General Studies for students (Ivowi, 2000). For admission purposes into tertiary institutions, the ratio of science to liberal arts is 60 to 40 percent with functionality and integration of theory and practical as paramount aims.
It follows therefore that a better understanding of any topic lies on the personal interpretations or construction that people make of it. It had been investigated and shown that low performance of students in the subjects at the senior school certificate examinations was due to lack of qualified teachers, low level interest and commitment on the part of students, the abstract nature of some of the topics, teachers poor knowledge of the subject matter, non-availability of resource materials and over loaded curriculum (Adeyegbe, 1994). Ivowi (1993) in his paper asserted that the three traditional science subjects of mathematics, chemistry and physics are abstract in nature and therefore difficult to easily grasp by students. 1993 report of The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) identified difficulty areas in the senior school mathematics. Ogunsola (2004) researched into gender sensitivity in classroom teaching and learning; stated that gender stereotyping of disciplines influence male and female enrolment in schools. Abel (1994) looked into teachers’ perception of general nature of science.
Yap and Lim-Teo (1999) conducted a study on mathematics teachers’ perceptions of their preparedness for teaching and likewise is the work of Leitzel(1991). Variables such as years of teaching experience and qualification of teachers have been considered important. This is because there are authors who believe that qualification and teaching experience of teachers influence students’ performance (David 2004), while there are authors who
Ibrahim (1995) looked into the influence of gender and teacher effectiveness on student’s perception of mathematics class taught by male and female teachers in secondary schools in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, Nigeria. He discovered that there was no significant difference in the students’ perception of diversity in mathematics classes taught by male and female teachers. The studies of Fox and Soller (2001) have shown that the learning styles of boys are generally different from the learning styles of girls. They stated that boys and girls prefer competitive and cooperative learning respectively. In addition, perceptions of boys toward mathematics are different from those of girls, which seem to be likened to perceptions of gender roles and career aspirations.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The present study was undertaken to identify the investigation of difficult topics and method of teaching mathematics in senior secondary schools in Ikere Local Government Area.
Ahiakwo (2006) found that the performance of various levels of students had decelerated over the years especially in mathematics achievement with that of Ikere Local Government Area secondary school quite remarkable. There is a perceived risk that the percentage of failures in Ikere Local Government Area secondary schools and in universities is greater in scientific matters than in others. STAN (1992) has earlier outlined a number of factors responsible for students’ poor performances in science disciplines and mathematics in particular. These included the nature of science curricula, teachers’ methods of teaching, the parents, the government and lack of science facilities in schools amongst others. Ojo (2004) in his paper “improving mathematics teaching in our schools” identified the teacher problems as one of the problems of teaching mathematics. Does that suggest a likely relationship between the teacher variables of method of teaching and attitude towards mathematics and students’ achievement in mathematics? To what extent do these teacher variables relate to students’ achievement in mathematics at the senior secondary II level in Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria? Hence, this study is poised to investigate these phenomena.