Background of the study

The quality of an educational output in any system of education is the national examination. In Nigeria, it is the responsibility of the Nigeria National Examination Council (NNEC) to set, mark, grade and release the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Examination results to the general public. The release of these national examinations results tends to generate a lot of excitement among Kenyans. Normally, schools that have done well in National Certificate in Education (NCE) Examination are exalted while those that perform poorly are vilified. In the case of the latter, the general public makes demands. This includes the headteachers giving reasons on the causes of poor performance to the parents, the boards of governors or the Ministry of Education. Occasionally, this poor performance may lead to transfers, demotion or even resignation of head-teachers of such institutions.

Teacher Characteristics

Literature on teacher characteristics reveals that emphasis has been placed on such factors as age, sex, attitudes to teaching and teachers’ quality. The latter focused on teachers’ academic qualifications, professional experience and competence. The education system in Kenya is evaluated through the administration of national examinations taken by the students. On the release of the results of these examinations, teachers from the schools that have performed poorly are normally accused of having not worked hard and blamed by the general public for having failed the nation. In other words, many people tend to equate students’ performance with the teachers’ qualitative in-put in the learning process. Kiragu (2006) notes that the success of a teacher in classroom teaching ought to be evidenced, not only by professional records but also by student acquisition of skills as set out in the subject syllabus.  The study conducted by Mwangi (2003) focused on identifying some of the factors, which influence learning and achievement in secondary school mathematics in Kenya. The teacher and student characteristics were studied. Among the teacher characteristics investigated by this study only three were found to be related to achievement in NCE Mathematics where two were positively related and one was negatively related. The variables that showed positive relationship were sex of the teacher and the availability of teachers’ guides and student text-books. In the case of the sex of the teachers, students taught by male teachers tended to score higher in NCE than those taught by female teachers. It would appear that the sex of the teachers of economics has some bearing in the performance of students in economics. Negative teachers’ attitude towards mathematics teaching was correlated with low achievement in NCE Mathematics. The remaining teacher characteristics such as time spent on lesson preparation, team teaching, group work, professional qualification, in-service training, teaching experience, frequency of supervision and the use of teaching aids showed no relationship to achievement in Mathematics. It would appear that all these factors do not have any impact on students’ achievement in Mathematics and by extension in economics.  A Similar study was carried out by Kiragu (2006) who studied factors affecting achievement in mathematics at the secondary school level in Kenya. This study established that the teacher’s qualifications, quality of text-books, frequency of marking and interest among students are significant factors. Other factors such as time spent on lesson preparation, team teaching and group work had no significant relationship with achievement in mathematics. The studies carried out by Kiragu (2006) and Mwangi(2000) focused on mathematics only. However, the present study sought the same factors in relation to teaching and learning of economics in secondary schools. Cuttance (2000), observed that both the teacher’s teaching experience (that is the number of years of teaching) and the professional qualifications are positively correlated to student achievement. However, he observed that such factors as age, attitude towards teaching, sex, socio-economic status and job satisfaction have been of some importance in some studies, but not consistently cross-validated. Cuttance (2000) concluded that teaching qualifications and teacher behavior on the whole appear to be marginally related to academic success. Some behaviour such as teacher enthusiasm, the degree of orientation of teacher task to achievement and the opportunity the student has to learn using media are significantly or consistently related to academic achievement. However, teacher’s praise of students, which is a psychological reward, has not been shown to be associated with academic achievement. Husen’s (2000) review of the contribution of teacher quality of student achievement, as reported by Heyneman et al. (2001), indicates that the relationship between training and academic achievement in developing countries is inconsistent. In about half (54 %) of the twenty-four developing countries reviewed, a positive relationship between training and achievement was reported, while over one third (37%) reported null relationships and the rest (9%) negative associations (Heyneman et al., 1981 p. 227). A review by Avalos (1980) of research undertaken in Asia, South America and Africa also noted equivocal results regarding the correlation of the level of teacher qualifications and student achievement. Teacher qualifications were measured in terms of years of schooling and the possession of professional credentials. Studies carried out by Beebout and Jurian in Malaysia and by Chand in India, and ValIente in the Philippines, revealed positive correlation between teachers’ qualifications and examination score. Negative correlations were reported from Kenya, Egypt, and Paraguay. From these studies on the influence of teacher characteristics on academic achievement, the revelation is inconsistent across the different countries. The present study sought to establish which of these factors applies to the Kenyan Secondary School system and in particular, the economics subject. Nevertheless, Saha, (2002, p.79) concluded … the better trained teacher produces better results.

While there may be evidence to suggest untrained teachers can effectively teach children literacy and numeral, the commutative findings of these studies strongly support the notion that trained teachers do make a difference for more advanced grades, especially for more difficult subject. From the above assertion it appears that training is very necessary for quality of education but it becomes unfortunate when students taught by trained teachers obtain poor results. Studies by Fuller (2005) and Thompson and Cooley (2004) revealed that in-service training positively correlated with achievement. Thompson and Cooley (2004) emphasized that if student achievement is to be improved, teachers must have in-service training. On the contrary, Husen (2000) reported 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. Another variable reviewed is the teacher transfer.

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.

It is very important to look into the circumstances surrounding the influence of some identified variable in student’s performance in Mathematics.  Mathematics as a compulsory subject in the secondary school record poor performance of students.

Mathematics is regarded as the key to all science and technology, subject with 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.

Any course of instruction should aim at helping student acquire certain knowledge, skill and attitude in solving the day to day problem of interacting with the environment.  Butter 2001) sees mathematics as a commutative and continuously unfolding subject.

He ascertained that some topics are confronted with fundamental problem of learning such as;

  1. Acquiring intial understanding of the new concept relation or skill.
  2. Preventing new concept or relation or skill from being forgotten

Each of these fundamental aspect of learning implies an equally fundamental instructional problems for the teacher.  These can be classified as teaching for assimilation, teaching for transfer and teaching for performance.

Obi (2000) noted 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) he Stated that creative teaching requires new materials and thoughtful activities such as learning single 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.  He 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.

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Updated: 22nd June 2017 — 1:01 pm