Perception of students on causes and effects of mathematics anxiety in tertiary institution

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Mathematics has been described by Along (1988) and Bloom (1971) as a dynamic and elegant field of human creation and a strong binding force among various branches of sciences, without which knowledge of science often remain superficial. It is a subject which deals with numbers and figures. Mathematics, which is a core subject in many tertiary institution s curriculum, is facing some challenges in Nigeria.  Mathematics is a subject that determines individuals’ functionality in any given society. Mathematics can be defined as the science of numbers and space and the language of science and technology. It is an essential requirement in every field of intellectual endeavor and human development to cope with the challenges of life. It can also be seen as the queen and servant of the school subjects since it cuts across the school curriculum (Martins, 2013). Fajemidagba, Salman and Ayinla (2012) see mathematics as a core subject and tool for the development of any science-based discipline which includes; technology, astronomy, graphics, industry and analytical reasoning in daily living. Mathematics anxiety is a problem to many people. It can occur in all levels of education from primary school to higher education, and once established, can persist in life, interfering with everyday activities involving numeracy and further learning in mathematics ( Oxford & Vordick, 2006). Mathematics anxiety can have detrimental effects for college students including feeling of nervous tension, fear of rejection, and stress (Truttschel, 2002). According to Perry ( 2004 ), much like a novice golfer on the first tee, the mathematics students can seriously hamper her or his performance by being nervous and insecure towards mathematics. Many students who suffer from math anxiety have little confidence in their ability to do mathematics and tend to take minimum number of required mathematics courses, greatly limiting their career choice options. This is unfortunate especially as society becomes more reliant on mathematical literacy (Scarpello,2005). Mathematics educators need to recognize the causes of mathematics anxiety by reading related literature and attending workshops and conferences on the topic. Student should be made to realize that myths such as mathematics aptitude are genetic and mathematics being a male domain is simply not true ( Woodward, 2004 )

Statement of Problem

The problem of this study emanated from the poor performances of students in mathematics despite the efforts of parents and lecturer s and the fact that other researchers have carried out studies on ameliorating this situation. When students fail mathematics, they become frustrated. Students that would have been admitted into the university and become gainfully employed and useful to themselves and their parents and the nation at large may become drop outs or end up in petty trading or small scale business. Their options regarding careers are reduced, thus eroding the country’s resource base in science and technology and a colossal loss in terms of financial investments.

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Updated: 24th April 2019 — 3:38 pm

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