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Continental J.

Education Research 2:1 - 5, 2009

©Wilolud Online Journals, 2009



James, T.O
Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Sciences, University of Science and Technology, Aleiro, Kebbi State,
Nigeria. Corresponding Author: e-mail: tolujam

This study was conducted to investigate the attitude of Post- Primary school students towards
mathematics. One hundred students were randomly selected from five Secondary schools
within Sokoto metropolis. Result showed that 40.79% of the students attribute lack of text
books as a major cause of poor attitude towards learning of Mathematics. Gender also affects
the attitudes of students towards studying of Mathematics as 57.89% of the students agreed
that only male students are supposed to offer Mathematics. Inadequate supply of well qualified
mathematics teachers, lack of commitment, general poor school funding, non availability of
teaching aids and insufficient text books in the schools may have profound effect in the
attitude of Sokoto State post-primary School students towards learning of Mathematics.

KEYWORDS: Mathematics, Attitudes, Teaching, Learning, Students

Over the years, Nigerian governments have been placing great emphasis on the study of sciences and mathematics
with the principal aim of achieving solid foundation in mathematics and other related science subjects. Mathematics
is the science of number, quantities and measurement and it is the backbone of most subjects in all levels of
educational systems. Researchers have also described mathematics as the ‘soul’ of science and technology. Bande
(2004) and Elegbede (2004) stated that mathematics is at the centre of the modern world that is, no sciences without

The poor performance and lack of interest in mathematics has been documented in some studies in some parts of
Nigeria (Akinlua & Popoola, 1999; Awodeji & Harbour, 2000; Betiku, 2002; Kajuru, 2006; Mallam, 1993;
Olowogbemi, 1984; Oyedeji, 1992; Pabor, 1986; Popoola, 2007).

The strongest factors affecting students’ enrollment and performance in Mathematics are individual differences such
as general ability, personality and environmental factors (government and society), (Olarewaju, 1976; Olowogbemi,
1984). Adeyemi (1998) and Mallam (1993), attributed lack of interest in the subject as a major reason while gender
issue may profoundly affect effective learning of mathematics (Gallacher, 1992, Mallam,1993). Teachers’
qualifications, shortage of specialists and lack of regular training to update knowledge equally contributes to
incomprehensibility of mathematics by students (Straker, 1988). Lack of manipulative and authentic learning
situations couple with ineffective teaching methods and approaches to mathematics on the part of the teachers may
also affect understanding of mathematics by students (Awodeji, 2003; Popoola, 2007). Use of appropriate and
concrete instructional materials in the classroom is another necessary factor that can also enhance students’
understanding of mathematical concepts (Awuwoloye, 1986).

There is dearth of information on the attitude of students towards learning of mathematics in Sokoto thus this study
intends to investigate some of the factors that may be responsible for this development.

This study adopted a survey research method.
Population and sampling procedure
Samples were drawn from five selected secondary schools within Sokoto using stratified random sampling
technique. A total of twenty students from each school drawn from Junior Secondary School (JSS) III and Senior
Secondary School (SSS) III classes, respectively were involved in this study.
James, T.O: Continental J. Education Research 2:1 - 5, 2009

The stratification technique considered both gender and socio-economic status of the students.

The instrument used for the study was structured questionnaire to collect relevant information from the students.

The questionnaire was validated through test-retest method. It was given to two experienced mathematics teachers
for comments. It was later administered on four students from Government Girls College Sokoto, two each from
JSSIII and SSSIII classes to assess the comprehensibility of the content.

The one hundred students completed and returned the questionnaires. The questionnaire was a five scale Lickert
type of Strongly Agree (SA), Agree (A), Disagree (D), Averagely Disagree (AD) and Strongly Disagree (SD)
written in positive and negative statement. By assigning 1-5 to the five responses, the positive statements were
scored 5,4,3,2 and 1for SA, A, AD, D, and SD, respectively. The reverse was adopted for scoring the negative
responses. The means of each of the causes were computed and the attitude of students towards mathematics was
determined by the value of the mean as follows: mean less than 2.55(1≤X≤2.54); Disagree means between 2.55 and
3.55(2.54≤X≤3.54); Averagely disagree means greater or equal to 3.55(3.55≤X≤5.55); Agree or Strongly Agree

All the questionnaires administered to the test students were returned duly completed.
From all the responses, 40% students agreed that the supply of text books on mathematics are grossly inadequate in
their schools 59.23% students attributed poor performance and nonchalant attitude of students to inadequate usage
of mathematics teaching aids by their teachers. Non mathematics graduate teachers constituted the highest number
of teachers teaching mathematics in the schools surveyed. Majority of the respondents believe that mathematics is
exclusively for male.

Table1: Percentage responses to attitude towards mathematics in some schools in Sokoto

Factors No of Response Percentage (%)

Lack of Textbooks 53 40.77
Lack of use of teaching aids 77 59.23

NCE 23 24.47
HND 19 20.21 12 12.77
Others 40 42.55

Male Only 55 57.89
Female Only 30 31.58
Both 10 10.53

NCE- National Certificate of Education
HND- Higher National Diploma of Science degree in Education
Other – Non- mathematics graduates

James, T.O: Continental J. Education Research 2:1 - 5, 2009

Table 2: Frequency, mean and standard deviation of responses to factors responsible for some attitude of students
towards mathematics in some schools in Sokoto
Factor Responses
SD(1) D(2) AD(3) A(4) SA(5) Freq Total Mean Std. Inference
Score Score Dev.
Availability 22 16(32) 7(21) 19(76) 34(170) 98 321 3.27 2.76 AD
Insufficient 21 32(64) 9(27) 21(84) 26(130) 109 326 3.0 3.31 D
Lack of 5 8(16) 7(21) 23(92) 54(270) 97 404 4.16 5.82 SA
Students 10 4(8) 9(27) 31(124) 44(220) 98 389 3.97 5.39 SA
fear & hate
Lack of 23 18(36) 10(30) 23(92) 44(220) 118 401 3.40 4.92 A
Inadequate 6 3(6) 5(15) 42(168) 42(210) 98 405 4.13 5.88 SA
& library
Maths is 33 20(40) 10(30) 19(96) 14(70) 101 269 2.66 2.34 AD
not suitable
for females

Note: In parentheses are figures representing lickert scoring multiply by average responses.
SD= Strongly disagreed, D= Disagreed, AD= Averagely disagreed, A= Agreed, SA= Strongly agreed
According to the findings in this study, it could be deduced that the attitudes of students towards mathematics as a
result of lack of textbooks, inadequate teaching aids and unqualified teachers may negatively affect them at both
junior and senior secondary schools surveyed. Though the mean response was averagely disagreed (Table 2), books
are fundamental to learning, understanding and easy comprehension of any subject matter. Books always explain in
detail what the instructors cannot pass effectively across to the students. Likewise, teaching of a subject without
adequate teaching aids makes the subject to be abstract and boring. Instructional materials make the subject to be
explicit and also transmit information, ideas and notes to the students (Awuwoloye, 1986). Instructional materials
also compliment oral explanation or description to make the lesson real. The mean students’ response on the lack of
use of instructional materials by mathematics teachers is ‘strongly agreed’ (Table 2) and this corroborated the other
findings as stated above. The teachers’ attitude and methods of approach to the teaching of mathematics may have
profound influence on the students’ learning ability. Jonison and Rising (1972) stated that the mathematics teacher
must motivate their students and should be able to communicate with them effectively in other to stimulate
generation of ideas in the students. Motivation of students at all level to develop their interest is equally required
from the teachers (Gimba, 2005) Another aspect of the problem is that of qualified teachers, the respondents agreed
that most of their mathematics teachers are not qualified to teach the subject. A qualified teacher is the one that is
trained in all the areas of his field and is expected to impact knowledge of such effectively. A non-mathematics
trained teacher will not know the rudiments of the subject thus teaching haphazardly. Knowledge about the non
competency of the untrained teacher may psychologically affect the students in understanding of the subject (Obi,
1991). Inadequate welfare packages, lack of further training through postgraduate studies, seminar, workshops and

James, T.O: Continental J. Education Research 2:1 - 5, 2009

conference attendance may also contribute to non-competence of mathematics teachers. Adewumi (1982) pointed
out that one of the problems which teachers face is that of long stay on job without adequate in-service training,
hence even the good teachers tends to fade away in terms of knowledge which is not refreshed and not abreast with
new developments in his field. They will not know the right way to impact the knowledge. Periodic updating of
knowledge is important and training should focus on capacity building in the different areas of mathematics
(Popoola, (2007). Gimba (2005) stated that those who know the subject does not know the best method of teaching
it and make it interesting to the students and those who know the best method do not have devotion and commitment
to their work. He further stated that only very few teachers use teaching aids apart from the usual blackboard
instruments. Teachers of mathematics should be able to use concrete materials to establish concepts in mathematics
due to its abstract nature (Gimba, 2005).

Another discouraging factor is the use of vulgar words on students that was unable to answer mathematics questions
well by some teachers, this tends to demoralize and confuse the student concerned, creating phobia for mathematics.
Mathematics is considered as a tough subject and only those that are naturally endowed with toughness can weather
its storm. Female are seen as a weaker sex and more fragile both physically and socially (Anyanwu, 1995) when
compared with their male counterparts thus the concession that mathematics is meant only for male gender.

Based on the findings of this investigation the conclusion could be drawn in respect of the attitudes of students
towards mathematics as negative in Sokoto state. Students should remove the impression that mathematics is a
difficult subject and they should develop positive attitude and interest to its learning. This will in no small measure
contribute to the development of science and technology in Nigeria.

There should also be improved welfare package for mathematics and other science subject teachers to motivate
them. Establishment of science and mathematics club in schools, provision of adequate and up to date teaching aids
and conducive atmosphere for learning shall equally go a long way in ameliorating the situation.

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