Therole of mathematics in society is enormous. The subject affects mostspheres of life even general activities. The application ofmathematics can be seen even in basic businesses and transactions.The most common applications are addition, division and subtraction.The role of mathematics can thus not be ignored. However, theperformance of mathematics continues to remain low with most studentsperforming poorly as compared to other subjects. The subject ofmathematics does not reach the average scores of other subjects andthis shows that there is a problem. The problem also extends to othersubjects that are related to mathematics in application.
Accordingto researchers, attitude towards the subject is the basic explanationto the performance. This is especially in application areas, wherestudents cannot connect and relate concepts. The application areassuch as engineering thus, do not attract many students. Theperception towards math is said to begin at year seven onwards. Thereis also a general belief that mathematics is for men or is betterperformed by people of Asian origin that other people. This attitudeintroduces a form of inferiority complex for students who notbelonging to any of the groups and they resign to their supposedpositions. There is also a general belief that mathematics is hardand thus, if one fails to perform well, there is no problem as it isa hard subject.
Theperformance of students in mathematics is wanting with teachers andstakeholders looking for ways of improving the performance. Criticsargue that the performance in mathematics is determined by theattitude of students towards the subject. ally, culturalpractices also play a major role in how students perform inmathematics. This is because, in some cultures, mathematics isconsidered a boys’ subject and thus, girls do not show interest orenthusiasm in learning the subject. However, there are efforts toimprove the performance and the efforts are focusing on using viewsby the students. This paper is a research paper that is aimed atconducting research on the attitudes of students towards the subject.The research targets year ten students.
What is your average performance in mathematics?
Has your performance declined over the years?
Are you satisfied with your results
State the main issue that affects your performance?
How do you view mathematics? (Choose from the following choices)
Do you practice mathematical equations on a regular basis?
Do you like mathematics? Please explain your answer
If you are female, do you consider that mathematics is a boys’ subject? Please explain your answer.
Do you think your teacher plays an important role in your performance?
Do you revise mathematics on a regular basis?
Thesecond part involves observation research, where the researcher sitsin an on- going mathematics class and observes the general behaviorof the students. The researcher also observes how the teacherconducts to determine whether the teacher plays a major role in howthe students learn and perform. The following queries will be aguideline to the research activity.
Does the teacher allow class participation during the lessons? If yes, please expound on the participation.
Do the students seem enthusiastic about the lesson?
Are there exercises given to the students to practice what they learn?
Are the students attentive? What is the average percentage of students paying attention?
Do the students have the necessary learning facilities for the subject?
Are the facilities provided by the school or are the students required to buy them?
What kinds of facilities are required for the lesson?
Does the teacher pay close attention to students who are said to be weak in the subject?
Do the students help each other to understand what is taught?
Is the teacher friendly?
Do the students ask questions and seek clarification as the lesson goes on?
Are there reward schemes for students who perform well and those who show improvement?
Do the students help each other with assignment as a way of improving performance through peer assistance?
What is the average performance of the class?
Are there special lessons for students who are weak in mathematics?
Is the teacher approachable?
What time of the day are mathematics lessons taught?
Do the students do follow up with teachers after class to seek clarification for what they do not understand?
Do the students seem to enjoy mathematical lessons?
Which topics seem most enjoyable?
My general performance in mathematics is
My performance is
Please provide a suitable explanation for question two above
I revise mathematics
I prefer seeking mathematical help from
The brightest mathematics student in class
I seek help from the named person in five because…..
My biggest challenge in mathematics is
I find my teacher
Please explain your answer for number eight
What ought to improve so as to improve the general performance in mathematics.
Thethree most important factors in the performance of mathematics arestudent attitude, teacher’s approachability and class participationand they are related as shown in the flow chart below.
Theattitude of students appeared to the most convincing factor as to theperformance of mathematics. Students who reported to have improvedattributed this to more practice and they sought help from theirpeers and teachers. The students also reported to have become activeparticipants in the class, which contributed to their interest in thesubject (Ransom, 2012). Weak students who reported improvedperformance also said that they had allocated more revision time tomathematics, which focused on their weak areas and led to improvedperformance (Mullis et al., 2004). A change in attitude thus played asignificant role in the performance of students (Goodkoontz, 2008).Those who were identified as weak, it was observed, showed nointerest in the subject and they rarely participated in class.
Therole of the teacher in the performance cannot be ignored. Thestudents reported that teachers who were friendly and approachablewere good mathematics teachers and the average performances indicatedthat such teachers had high mean scores (Kislenko, 2006). The mode ofteaching also affected the performance (Ransom, 2012). For instance,teachers who encouraged active participation in class kept thestudents engaged and their classes had good performances. Theteachers also identified areas of difficulty such as division andpaid close attention to how the areas were covered, which helped thestudents in understanding the areas.
Moatstudents identified division as the most difficult area ofmathematics. This reflected the attitudes of the students towardssuch areas and a close look at the performance indicated that moststudents did not perform well in division equations (Goodkoontz,2008). For example, the equation 100+67/ 100 seemed to give studentsa hard time resolving and most students immediately termed theequation difficult at a glance. This was an indication of theattitude towards division. The students said the division is whatcomplicated the equation and made it difficult to solve (Zan & DiMartino, 2007).
Thisis an image of a typical mathematical situation
Inconclusion, the performance in mathematics is attributed to theattitude of students towards the subject. Research indicates thatmost students consider math a hard subject and this attitude blocksthe ability to learn the subject objectively. The role of teachershas also been noted as an important factor with approachable teachersrecording high marks for the subject. The teachers who encouragedclass participation and paid close attention to problematic areasrecorded good results from their students. The role of attitudescould thus be improved by the role of the teacher. Teachers who didnot encourage a friendly learning environment discouraged evenstudents with a positive attitude. It is thus important to combineteacher’s role and the student’s attitude for good performance.
Goodykoontz,E, N. (2008). Factorsthat affect college students’ attitudes towards mathematics. NewYork: ProQuest.
Kislenko,K. (2006). Students’attitudes towards mathematics: An introduction of the study thatincludes two countries- Estonia and Norway. Norway:Agder University College press.
Mullis,I. V. S., Martin, M. O., Gonzalez, E. J., & Chrostowski, S. J.(2004). TIMSS2003 international mathematics report. Findings from IEA’s trendsin international mathematics and science study at the fourth andeighth grades.Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center,Boston College.
Ransom,P. (22/11/2012). “How can schools help change negative attitudestowards maths?” SecEd.UK:SecEd.
Zan,R and Di Martrino, P. (2007). “Attitudes towards mathematics:Overcoming the Positive/ negative dichotomy.”TMMEMonograph 3. Italy:Dipartimento di Matematica.