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**ASSESSMENT OF ATTITUDE OF STUDENT TOWARDS LEARNING OF MATHEMATICS IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS**

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the study

Mathematics is a compulsory subject for all students at the secondary school level in. This is necessitated by the fact that knowledge of mathematics is essential for all members of society Stanic et al in (Secanda, 1995), (Mutunga and Breakell, 1992) and (Cockcroft, 1982). When students in secondary schools complete their secondary school education, they will not be limited in career choice and advancement. This view is held by curriculum developers, teachers, parents and students alike. While this may be true, selection of students to join universities in Kenya by Joint Admissions Board (JAB) has been so prohibitive. Cases are many of students who did so well in mathematics in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations but are not necessarily selected to pursue competitive courses in the public universities in Kenya. This is because of extremely few vacancies available for those competitive courses.

Mathematics need not be learned by students in secondary for the sake of career choice or advancement but students should be able to learn mathematics with understanding and therefore be able to apply mathematical ideas later in life (Cockcroft, 1982) and (Stanic, 1995).

The intention of curriculum developers at the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE) is to develop secondary schools mathematics syllabus that will help students become numerate, accurate and precise in thought KIE (2002). This is in line with National Goals of Education of Kenya KIE (2002). As much as this could be a noble desire of curriculum developers, a student may complete his/her secondary school education without necessarily being numerate, accurate and precise in thought, in the strict sense of the words. But that does not mean such a student has not learnt mathematics at all in his/her secondary education Mac nab and Cummine (1986). Learning of mathematics is a continuous process and is not limited to the classroom experience only.

In secondary schools, more lessons of mathematics are taught than those of sciences. Despite concerted efforts of teachers, school administrators, parents and all other education stakeholders to enhance learning of mathematics among secondary students, performance and success in learning mathematics is still not satisfactory. According to SMASSE Project Report (1998), the reasons for poor performance in mathematics examination resulting from poor learning of the subject are likely to be due to formed attitudes towards the subject by the students; teaching methods which are not appropriate and lack of resources among others. However, the SMASSE Project Report (1998) failed to address how the formation of unfavourable attitudes among students can be curtailed and how favourable attitudes towards learning of the subject can be encouraged. In Bureti district of Rift Valley province, students‟ performance in KCSE has not been good. Table 1.1 indicates fluctuating district mean scores from 2004 – 2007.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Attitudes formed by students when learning mathematics tend to remain for a long time and these attitudes may help him/her to learn mathematics better (Evans, 1965). This is so if the attitudes were favourable. But this may not always be the case. Students also form unfavourable attitudes as they learn mathematics in secondary schools. Findings of Orora (1986) indicate that pupils in primary schools who have very positive attitudes towards learning mathematics have interest to do more mathematics later. Most students join Form One with positive attitudes, only to change their attitudes towards learning mathematics later in secondary school. KNEC Report (2007) indicated that the most glaring weakness in students‟ mathematics attainment in KCSE is the students‟ lack of knowledge of elementary techniques and their ignorance of simple algorithms and processes. This could have resulted from students‟ failure to learn these techniques, algorithms and processes while being taught in class. The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with JICA, KIE and KESI has initiated in-service training courses for mathematics teachers in secondary schools. This was in an effort to improve teacher‟s teaching techniques. Despite these efforts, students still did not learn mathematics adequately to enable them perform better in KCSE, mathematics examinations. Failure to learn is an indication that there could be other factors such as inappropriate teaching methods, lack of resources and students‟ negative attitudes among others hinder effective learning of mathematics Costello (1991). There could be other factors such as students‟ attitudes which may hinder them to adequately learn mathematics that had not been fully studied in Kenya generally and Bureti district in particular. This study attempted to unravel the attitudes towards learning and performance of mathematics among students in secondary schools in Bureti district and the factors which reinforce such attitudes.

1.3 Purpose of the study

The purpose of this study was to investigate attitudes formed by students in secondary schools in Bureti District, towards learning and their influence in the performance of mathematics and find out whether such attitudes contributed to poor learning of mathematics and consequently poor performance in mathematics among students in secondary schools in the district. Specifically the study will be concerned with: the types of attitudes; whether negative, neutral or positive and factors enforcing such attitudes towards learning and performance of mathematics.

1.4 Objectives of the study

The objectives of this study were to:

i) Establish attitudes that secondary school students form towards learning and performance of mathematics.

ii) Find out whether attitudes form by students contributed to inappropriate learning of mathematics and consequently poor performance in the subject.

iii) Establish factors which influence formation of attitudes towards learning and performance of mathematics among secondary school students.

1.5 Research questions

The study was guided by the following research questions:

i) What attitudes do students in secondary schools form towards learning and performance in mathematics?

ii) Do attitudes formed by students contributed to inappropriate learning of mathematics and consequently poor performance in the subject?

iii) What factors influence attitudes towards learning and performance in mathematics among secondary school students?

1.6 Significance of the study

This study will assist in determining attitudes formed by secondary school students towards learning and performance in mathematics. The findings will enlighten teachers, parents and students on the effect of attitudes formed towards learning and performance in mathematics by students. Teachers particularly will be informed on the effect of attitudes formed by students on their achievement in mathematics examinations. On conclusion of the study and findings and recommendation made, teachers in secondary schools should be enlightened on the need to foster favorable attitudes towards learning and performance of mathematics amongst students. Parents and all other education stakeholders such as Board of Governors (BOG), Parent Teacher Association (PTA) among others will be enlightened on the need to provide an enabling environment for learning of mathematics.

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