Background of the Study
Mathematics is an important subject in the secondary school, despite its importance; students’ achievement and interest is reportedly low. It is indeed worrisome if such is the situation in our secondary schools noting how hard it is to live a meaningful life in the present modern world without the good knowledge of mathematics. The knowledge, teaching and learning of this subject, mathematics is imperative in every society if the citizens are to cope with the fast changing development in science and technology. Further more; Mathematics is an intellectually stimulating subject that affects every facet of human activity such as politics, economy, science and technology (Abakpa and Iji, 2011). The importance of mathematics to man has accounted for its inclusion in school curriculum as a compulsory subject for every child of school age to acquire the appropriate mathematical skills that will enable him cope with life challenges. With regards to this, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Policy on Education (FGN, 2004) stated that mathematics should be taught as a core subject to all students at primary and secondary school level in order to give a sound basis for scientific and reflective thinking, and prepare them for the next level of education. Furthermore, it has also been reported that mathematics at the secondary level has since become a puzzle, where some phobia is created for it, especially when it comes to the teaching and learning of geometry where it is perceived difficult and other concepts in mathematics. It should be noted that, among Science and Technology courses, according to the National Policy on Education (2004), Mathematics is one of the core subjects to be offered by all students in primary and secondary schools making mathematics compulsory, it is based on this assumption that the knowledge of the subject is essential for all members of our society (Adolphus, 2011). It is therefore being emphasized in every facet for the need to make mathematics compulsory not only at the primary and secondary levels but also to first year at tertiary level, if scientists, technologists and engineers are to be produced. So with the report of this low achievement and interest in secondary school mathematics, there is the need for an intervention from all concern to change the situation. The importance of mathematics does not only lie in its contributions to scientific and technological development but also in its utility in day-to-day interactions at the market places, transportations, business of all sorts by both literate and illiterate members of the society. Unfortunately, researchers for instance, Betiku, (2001) and others have shown that students’ achievement in this important subject, mathematics over the years has not been encouraging at the primary, secondary and even at tertiary levels of education in Nigeria. Parents and other stakeholders are worried about the present situation of mathematics education in Nigeria. This is because a credit level pass at the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) is required for most courses at the tertiary level of education in the country. As Obodo (2004) lamented, that many students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria today are not studying the courses they wanted to study because of not making the required SSCE grades in mathematics to gain admission to courses of their first choice.
Statement of the Problem
The performance of students in mathematics has been quite unsatisfactory over the years in Nigeria particularly in Plateau state (see appendix J). The external examination bodies such as the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO) have repeatedly reported the poor performance of students in mathematics. The picture emerging from research reports, Chief Examiners’ reports and WAEC and NECO SSCE results (2000- 2011) as in appendix J, show that the students have difficulty in solving mathematical problems that require mathematical geometry concepts. Students’ low success levels in mathematics have been a worry for a long time in many countries, Nigeria inclusive. There are a lot of factors said to be affecting success in mathematics (Baloglu, 2001).
One of these according to Agwagah, (1993) is the conventional pattern of teaching mathematics which has been identified as being ineffective and as one of the major factors responsible for poor performances of students in mathematics. In addition, among various reasons pointed out by different scholars, Amoo, (2002) has it that poor learning interest and assimilation of mathematics ideas, concepts, principles, processes and teachers’ failure to use appropriate and stimulating teaching methods are responsible for students’ low achievement in mathematics in Nigeria (though, much attention has been directed towards the study of mathematics at the primary and secondary levels of education as to improve students’ achievement and interest) regrettably, this has not given the required result of achievement in our schools. Therefore, the search towards more strategies for improving the teaching and learning of mathematics continues. Obodo (1997) noted that there is generally low interest in the study of mathematics and mathematics – related disciplines at all levels of education in Nigeria. Obodo added that in most secondary schools in Nigeria, students absent themselves in mathematics lessons and that those who stay in the lessons pay little or no attention to their teachers. Ewen (2002) concluded that the question of how to motivate students in the classroom has become a leading concern for teachers of all disciplines. Several strategies were employed to improve students’ performance in school subjects in Nigeria. Based on this the researcher argues that the teaching of circle theorems could be improved with the use of experiment and improvisation based model as ASEI/PDSI model rather than the conventional teaching strategy.
Thus interest in circle theorems could be achieved when an appropriate instructional strategy as the experiment and improvisation based model is used in teaching and learning where the learners are made to see the importance of what they are about to learn. Interest is developed when learning is based on students centered principles. Some researchers noted that interest has a strong influence on individual’s cognitive and affective functioning, but the way interest interacts and through what processes they influence learning has not been clearly established. The researchers remarked that in addition to more standard quantitative and qualitative methodologies, the complexity of academic development in specific domains require the creation of alternative techniques that document and describe the influence of interest on students’ learning. Hence, the need to investigate the effect of experiment and improvisation based model on the students’ interest in circle theorems became very important. Similarly, gender issues are yet inconclusive, gender implication especially as it affects students’ achievement and interest in circle theorems need more verification. However, the use of experiment and improvisation based model found in ASEI/PDSI in the teaching and learning of mathematics in Plateau State is dearth particularly in circle theorems. This was what prompted the research on effect of experiment and improvisation based model through Activity, Students’ Experiment and Improvisation/Plan, Do, See and improve on achievement and interest in circle theorems among senior secondary school students in Plateau State. Therefore, the problem of the study put in question form is would experiment and improvisation based model as ASEI/PDSI be an effective way of improving students’ achievement and interest in circle theorems in Ekiti State?