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**STUDENTS’ PERCEPTION ON FACTORS INFLUENCING ACHIEVEMENT AND INTEREST OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL LEARNING MATHEMATICS**

**CHAPTER ONE**

**INTRODUCTION**

**1.1 Background of the study**

Mathematics is a science of magnitude and number that is very useful virtually in all subject

areas. This is because all fields of studies are dependent on it for problem solving and prediction of outcomes. Competency in mathematics learning is vital to any individual and nation in domestic and business deals, scientific discoveries, technological breakthrough, problem-solving and decision making in different situations in life. Akinoso (2011) viewed mathematics as the basis for science and technology and the tool for achieving scientific and technological development. It may be in consideration of these and other vital usefulness of mathematics that Federal Government of Nigeria made it a core and compulsory subject at all the levels of 6-3-3 system of education in Nigeria as contained in the National Policy on Education (F.M.E., 2004) which still remains the rallying point for all educational objectives in Nigeria.

Despite its great importance, it is the only subject that is most dreaded to learners among all subjects offered in schools (Ashcraft and Faust, 1994; and Akinoso, 2011). Students therefore tend to respond to it with less self confidence, negative feeling and anxiety. This situation is worsened by the compulsory nature of the subject at primary and post primary schools levels, leading to students’ poor performance in the subject.

The incessant poor achievement in mathematics in Nigeria Primary and Post Primary Schools levels may be attributed to students’ lack of interest in learning mathematics. Interest has to do with preparedness or mastery of a subject –matter background knowledge that can enable the learner to cope with further or next higher level of learning of the subject- matter or related

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learning task (Idigo, 2010). This suggests that mathematics interest test for senior secondary level has to do with mastering the prerequisite skills in junior secondary school (JSS) level mathematics that can enable the JSS three students cope with further learning of mathematics at the next higher level of mathematics teaching in senior secondary school one (SSI) level. And mathematics interest test can be developed and used as an indicator of success in any mathematics course (Idigo, E.C. 2010, Goolsby, 2013). Many factors have been identified in literature as reasons associated with students’ lack of interest in learning mathematics. These include Students’ factor, teachers’ factor, mathematics anxiety, class size, government factor, infrastructural problem, instructional strategy, among others (Okonkwo, 1998; Akinoso, 2011; and Goolsby, 2013).

Students’ factor include lack of interest to learn mathematics caused partly by mathematics phobia and distractions from handsets they carry about even in the mathematics ms as perceived by the researcher while teaching them mathematics. These have ly to students’ lack of reading culture especially mathematics textbooks.

Unodiaku (2012) attributed factors of academic achievement among secondary school students in mathematics to lack of interest. More so, the failure of students in mathematics achievement was also supported by some authors to be associated with lack of interest in studying the subject, (Obienyem, 1998; Okonkwo, 1998; Zuriel, 2004; Idigo; 2010 and Goolsby, 2013). Specifically, Goolsby (2013) attributed factors influencing students’ mathematics interest to attitude towards success in mathematics, confidence in learning mathematics, perception of teacher attitude, mathematics anxiety, and Locus of control. According to Idigo (2012), factors associated with mathematics interest include, students’ factor, teachers factor, mathematics anxiety, government, lack of infrastructural facilities, lack of instructional materials and problem of large class size. Moreover, qualification of a teacher is the assurance of the teacher’s impulse as well as the determinant of his knowledge, attitude and instructional strategy. A qualified mathematics teacher can easily use different approaches/ methods, styles, illustrations, examples, and improvise materials in teaching students mathematics concepts, principles or ideas which his counterpart (unqualified mathematics teacher) cannot do. This suggests that student mathematics interest is dependent on qualification of the mathematics teacher. A qualified mathematics teacher can arouse students’ interest in mathematics learning and ensure success in the learning of the subject through the use of appropriate instructional strategies in teaching the student. Teachers’ effectiveness in any particular subject is an important determinant in that subject (Akinoso, 2011). Therefore, engaging qualified mathematics teachers who is equipped with various instructional strategies in teaching mathematics enhances students’ interest to learn mathematics. This can be done through the teacher’s application of his teaching styles, good trained mind and competencies which invariably eliminates anxiety in the students’ learning of the subject. And qualified mathematics teacher uses varieties of mathematics games and improvise teaching materials to drive home mathematics concepts, ideas and principles competently.

Government factor as associated with students’ mathematics interest is concerned with government provision of educational facilities and qualified teaching personnel for effective teaching of mathematics. Government can enhance students learning of school subjects (such as mathematics) by reducing the number of unqualified school teachers (mathematics) by 80 percent (NEEDS, 2007). Government is expected to provide schools with instructional materials such as Geo-boards and Heliographs in teaching plane geometry in secondary schools (Ozigbo, 1994) and computer aided instruction in teaching statistics and probability to students (Ozofor, 2001). Government intervention by providing educational facilities, instructional materials and conducive mathematics learning environment may correlate positively with students’ mathematics interest. Therefore, government factor contributed greatly to students’ mathematics interest.

The number of students in a mathematics class otherwise referred to as class size is a factor of interest to learn mathematics. According to Ifamuyiwa (2005), uncooperative attitude of the students and large class size contributes to students’ poor performance in mathematics. More so, probably because of the negative effect of large class size that Caliber Associates (2005), reported that class size of not more than 18 students per teacher is required to produce the greatest benefits. Large class size therefore affects preparatory training such as students’ interest to further learning of mathematics.

According to Burns (1998), many students have fears and loathsome experiences about mathematics. Such negative experiences are caused by mathematics anxiety which knows no boundaries irrespective of age or gender. Mathematics anxiety is the feeling of tension, helplessness, mental disorganization and dread one when required to manipulate numbers and shapes and the solving of mathematics problems (Ashcraft and Faust, 1994). One of the most notable consequences of mathematics anxiety is poor mathematics achievement and competence (Ashcraft, 2002). Students who are infested with mathematics anxiety will lack interest to learn mathematics, and consequently may tend to achieve poverty in the subject.

Educational resources in the form of infrastructural resource materials are essential ingredients in any teaching/ learning situation. According to Fuller (1987) and Dembe, Moorad, and Afemikhe (2008) who all reported that school resources account for more of the variations in students achievement in school subjects such as mathematics. Furthermore, Dambe, et al (2008) reported that few effective studies undertaken in developing countries, those educational resources are very important input in achievement. The use of teaching resources particularly in mathematics will shift the psychological phobia, anxiety and abstraction associated with mathematics to real life situation and practically oriented.

Many studies have considered each of these factors either singly or in combination of two, but this study examines the seven identified factors (teacher, student, mathematics anxiety, class size, government, instructional strategy and infrastructural problem) as correlates of students’ interest to mathematics learning in senior secondary school mathematics programme. It is therefore necessary to correlate some of the factors affecting students’ interest to mathematics learning so as to know the extent of their relationships.

**1.2 Statement of the Problem**

Poor achievement in mathematics may be traceable to students’ lack of interest in studying the

subject. Seven factors (teacher, student, mathematics anxiety, class size, government, instructional strategy and infrastructural problem) have been identified as potentially affecting students’ mathematics interest. To what extent do the independent variables either singly or when combined, relate to students’ interest in mathematics? Therefore, the problem of this study is to correlate some factors affecting students’ interest to mathematics learning among senior secondary school students.

**1.3 Research Questions**

The following research questions were posed to guide the study. Thus:-

1. To what extent do the scores in the variables individually predict students’ interest in mathematics?

2. To what extent do the independent variables when combined, explain students’ interest in mathematics?

**1.4 Research Hypotheses**

The following hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. They were tested at .05 level of

significant.

H01: Scores in the variables, individually, will not significantly predict students’ interest in mathematics

H02: Scores in the variables combined will not significantly predict students interest in learning mathematics.

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