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EFFECT OF LABORATORY METHOD OF TEACHING MATHEMATICS ON THE ACHIEVEMNET OF J.SS.II STUDENTS
The study focused on the effect of the laboratory method of teaching on the achievement of J.SS II students in mathematics in Lagos state. A total of 90 JSS 2 mathematics students were involved in the study. The research design used in the study was experimental/ control group research design. The research instrument used for the study were the mathematic Achievement Test (MAT) which was developed by the researcher and the instructional packages which are the lesson plans for both the experimental group and the control group. Two hypotheses were postulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance. The results were analyzed using mean, standard deviation, t-test and analysis of variance (ANOVA). From the findings, it was revealed that the use of mathematics laboratory enhanced achievement in mathematics. The findings also showed that on significant difference exist in the achievement of male and female mathematics students taught using mathematics laboratory. It was recommended that mathematics laboratory should be established in all schools and laboratory method of teaching be adopted for the mathematics in the secondary Schools.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The place of mathematics in man’s way of life and development cannot be over emphasized. Generally, mathematics is a very desirable tool in virtually all spheres of human endeavour, be it science, engineering, industry, technology and even the arts. No nation can develop scientifically and technologically if it neglects mathematics (Azuka, 2003).
Okereke, (2006) stated that mathematics is the foundation of science and technology and the functional role of mathematics to science and technology is so multifaceted and multivarions that no area of science technology without which a nation can never be prosperous and business enterprise escapes its application.
Umoinyam, (1997) referred to mathematics as the foundation of science and technology without which a nation can never be prosperous and economically independent.
According to Oyedeji, (2000) a major objective of many curricular is to ensure that the children are equipped with at least the basic mathematical skills which will enable them to think mathematically and be able to apply this thinking to the rapidly changing demands of the modern world. Hence mathematics skills are essential to every individual in order to cope with life’s activities.
Mathematics is a key subject in the school curriculum and is considered a knowledge that is indispensable to the educated person. According to Azuka, (2003) all major professions in life today require the knowledge of mathematics to practice. These professing include engineering, accountancy, medicine, economics, banking, technology etc. In offices, industries and other human establishments, mathematics is needed for analysis, organization and evaluation of the information needed in order to make new decisions.
Ukwu, (1995) states that “it is the qualities and make everything about it a matter of concern to every nation of the world. Mathematics is made compulsory in both primary and secondary schools. In Nigeria Universities today there is hardly any course one can study without a show of evidence of little knowledge of basic principles of mathematics by way of a least a credit pass in an ordinary level examination in the subject. In fact almost all the institutions of higher learning have one or two mathematics courses that the entire students take as general studies to equip them in their various disciplines.
In spite of the aforementioned importance of mathematics, it has been observed all over the world that the subject has peculiar features, nature and structure that make many people afraid of it and loose interest in it (Ukwu 1995), Nigeria is one of those countries that suffer most effects of the problems of poor performance and under achievement in Mathematics, (Azuka 2003).
Galadina (2002) reported that almost every year students manifest poor performance both in internal and external examinations in mathematics. Supporting this report are the researches of (Odili, 1986), Salau (1995), Amazigo (2006), Agwagah (2001) and Okereke (2006).
The West Africa Examinations Councils (WAEC) chief examiners in mathematics (2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006) consistently reported candidates’ lack of skills in answering almost all the questions asked in general mathematics. Abakporo (2005) also reported that the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) had in mathematics for 11 years a credit pass of not more than 36.91%. WAEC chief examiners (2003, 2005) further observed that candidates were weak in Geometry of circles and three dimensional problems.
According to their report, most candidates avoided questions on three dimensional problems, when they attempted Geometry questions, only a few of the candidate’s showed a clear understanding of the problem in their workings.
Ojo (1990) and Adetula (1987) have both attempted to find out some of the reasons why students perform poorly in mathematics. Among the factors identified for the poor performance and failure of students in mathematics in secondary schools was the teachers’ failure to use the appropriate method of teaching.
Studies like those of Habour Peters (2002) and Iji (2005) have pointed at teaching approaches and strategies used in the classroom by mathematics teachers as one of the root causes of the undesirable poor achievement of students in mathematics.
Also Okereke, (2006) attributed students’ poor performance to factors such as the society’s view that mathematics is difficult, shortage of qualified teachers, lack of mathematics laboratory and lacks of incentives.
Attractiveness attached to the teaching of mathematics by some teachers scares some students who are supposed to be best in the subject.
Ukwu, (2008) observed that the only way to make the teaching and learning of mathematics effective, meaningful and interesting is by the use of instructional materials or teaching aids and pleasurable activities the learners like to do.
The present status of teaching and learning of mathematics is far from being satisfactory. Mathematics is not a spectator sport learning mathematics requires active participation of the learners in the lesson and the best way to learn mathematics is to actively engage in mathematics. Teachers should not dominate mathematics lessons.
Teachers follow age old methods such as lecture method (Talk and chalk) in a classroom. As a result, the power of thinking understanding and retention are not developed amongst students, owing to which the student show less interest towards mathematics learning. Hence, the traditional methods being used all along by teachers have failed to develop the skills such as those needed in formulating, modelling and solving problems. Students are not always able to remember and retain what they have previously learnt. Simple geometrical shapes such as cubes, cuboids, pyramids, cylinders, cones to mention but a few are studied in the classroom without presenting the real objects to other students.
The abstract nature of mathematics should be reached through demonstration and practical methods. In order to develop the skills and provide practical experiences of mathematics concepts assumptions, assertions and rules, a strategy is needed.
Agwangah, (1997) observed that the problem of ineffective teaching can be tackled through planned and intelligent application of the mathematics laboratory. Hence, in search for the method of teaching that can cater for the cognitive affective and psychomotor aspects of learning, the concern of this researcher is to ascertain whether the students performance of mathematics in secondary schools could be improved upon by using the laboratory method of teaching. Since mathematics is a subject which has to be learnt by doing rather than by reading the doing of mathematics gives rise to the need for a suitable method and a suitable place. Laboratory method and mathematical laboratory are the proper answer to it. This activity method leads the students to discover mathematical facts. It is based on the principles of learning by observation and proceeding from concrete to abstract.
Mathematics laboratory is a place where students can learn and explore various mathematical concepts and verify different mathematics facts and theories using varieties of activities and materials (Igbokire, 2000). The use of mathematics laboratory helps to integrate theory and practical work in mathematics teaching and learning. Ogunkwe, (2000) enumerated the advantages of using mathematics laboratory which include:
i. Display mathematical information
ii. Avenue for experimentation through practical work
iii. Pool of storage of mathematical materials for easy access
iv. Removing abstractness and increasing effective teaching/learning.
Based on the advantages of mathematics laboratory, it is expected that teaching and learning of mathematics using the mathematics laboratory may help to reduce abstract nature of the subject and increase the students’ interest in the subject.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Mathematics is a subject feared and hated by students and it is made compulsory for every school child and even in many professions and careers. Evidence of poor performance in mathematics by secondary school students pointed to the fact that the most desired technological, scientific and business application of mathematics is not being sustained. This makes it paramount to seek for a strategy for teaching mathematics that aim at improving its understanding and performance by students. The lack of mathematics laboratory and non-use of laboratory techniques in teaching mathematics is one of the major factors that contribute to poor achievement in mathematics by secondary school students (Ogunkunle, 2000). Therefore, this study is designed to find out the effect of using mathematics laboratory in teaching on the achievement of Junior Secondary School (JSS) mathematics students.
1.3 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study involve only 90 Junior secondary school (JSS II) students from three schools in Surulere Government Area of Lagos State under Education District IV. The research work was limited to elements within the sample frame owing to constraints of time, finance, materials and personnel to assist in carrying out this study.
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of using mathematics laboratory in teaching Junior Secondary School (JSS) students mathematics. Specifically, the study seek the following
1. To investigate the extent to which the use of mathematics laboratory will enhance the student’s achievement in mathematics.
2. To compare the achievement of male and female mathematics students taught.
1.5 RESEARCHER QUESTIONS
This study will attempt to answer the following questions;
1. Is there any significant difference in the performance of students taught with laboratory method and those taught with the conventional method?
2. Is there any significant difference between the achievement of male and female students taught with mathematics laboratory?
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
The following will hypotheses were are formulated from the research questions:
Ho,: There is no significant difference in the performance of the students taught mathematics using laboratory method and those taught using the conventional method.
HO2: There is no significant difference between the performance of male and female students taught mathematics using the laboratory method and those taught using the conventional method.
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research is significant in the following ways:
1. Identify a better teaching method that could be adopted by mathematics teachers so as to improve the performance of students in mathematics.
2. The abstract nature of mathematics will be reduced and will increase the students’ interest in the subject.
3. It will lead to self discovery of mathematics concepts, rules and formulae by students themselves and mathematics will no longer be a question of cramming formulae but a practical oriented acting which will guide students to discover things by themselves.
4. When people see, study, analyze and synthesize what they are doing, there will be insight and any solution to obtained from this scientific method of reasoning will be a confidence builder.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
1. Teaching method is the system or orderliness that can be adopted to make learning effective.
2. Learning: Is a relatively permanent change in behavior or performance which comes as a result of practice, experience or exposure rather than as a result of physiological changes.
3. Performance: Level of achievement exhibited by the learner in a course of study.
4. Laboratory: a physical structure or room used for scientific research. It is also place for making and storing teaching aids and also a process of instructions.
5. Instruction: Is the process whereby one individual intentionally influences by structuring the environment of the learner in such a way that the latter learns the desired behavior/objective.
6. Secondary school: primary institution preparing student for useful living within the society and also for higher education.
7. Education District: An Education District encompasses all the primary and post primary school in the local Government areas of Lagos State.
8. MAN: Mathematical Association of Nigeria
9. STAN: Science Teachers Association of Nigeria
10. NERDC: Nigeria Educational Research and Development council.
11. NMC: National Mathematical Centre.
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