The aim of this research was to x-ray some causes of poor performance of pupils in primary school mathematics. Specifically, the study examined the use of instructional materials and pupils’ academic performance in mathematics; parents’ socio-economic background and pupils’ academic performance in mathematics; compared the performance of private and public primary school pupils in mathematics; examined ways in which teachers contribute to pupils’ poor performance in mathematics. The study employed a correlational and quasi-experimental research designs. A simple random sampling technique was used to select a sample of 270 pupils and 45 teachers drawn from nine primary schools in Akamkpa local government area of Cross River State. A questionnaire and a mathematics achievement test (MAT) were instruments used for data collection. The collected data was analysed using a simple percentage (%) and arithmetic mean (X). The findings of the study revealed that the use of instructional materials adequately led to pupils’ poor performance in mathematics; parents’ socio-economic status contributed to the pupils’ performance in mathematics; pupils in private primary school perform better than their colleagues in public schools in mathematics; and teachers contribute to the poor performance of pupils in mathematics. Based on this results, conclusions and recommendations were made.
1.1 Background to the study
Mathematics is a subject that affects most aspect of human life to a greater extent. The social, socio-economic, scientific and technological aspect of man is centred on numbers- disciplines where numbers are predominant and form an integral part of mathematics include: statistics, accounts, engineering etc. because all the above mentioned disciplined used numbers to analyse, and synthesize data in order to bring out a clear understanding of what they are doing and making sure that these data are treated properly. For example, the earlier civilization of mankind came through mathematical manipulations. The inter-relationship between mathematics, development and advancement of human shows the importance of mathematics in life due to its numerical and symbolic nature, it is more related to the scientific and technological facets of man’s world than to any other aspect as it occur and re-occurs in the physical and natural sciences.
Accordingly, (Encyclopaedia of Education, 2003). Mathematics plays a vital role in the modernization of this civilization. It is everywhere and affects the everyday lives of people. Although it is abstract and theoretical knowledge, it emerges from the real world. Mathematics is one of the essential and basic areas of the college curriculum which has a wide field of subject matter. In education, mathematics plays an important role. It is the study of numbers, the relationship between these numbers and various operations performed on them that makes mathematics a very unique subject. Richard (2000), “Nature talks to us in the language of mathematics, that is numbers, mathematical rules and equation helps us to know the world around us.
The continued pupils’ poor performance in the subject in the subject is now a problem of national interest, concerning parents, teachers and educational planners in finding solutions to this downward trend in mathematics performance. Hence the rationale to carry out this study is in perspective and interesting. Pupil’s poor performance in the first school leaving certificate examination showed that much still need to be done to reverse this situation. And also, the rate at which pupils are afraid of the subject is a situation that if not properly handled can cause more damage and problems to pupils. Poor performance in mathematics over the years has been attributed to the fact that the subject is difficult. It has been discovered that pupils show approach towards the study or learning of mathematics show the anxiety and fear in them.
This study therefore sought to provide some factors responsible for poor performance of pupils in primary school mathematics in Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State. Due to the poor pupils’ performance in mathematics, it is pertinent to look at some of this factors responsible for this performance. Since mathematics is a very important subject in human life, it would be better to test and see how the society can help improve the standard of teaching and learning mathematics in our primary schools.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In an ideal situation, schools were supposed to achieve their primary goals of teaching and learning through improved academic performance of students. Pupils were supposed to possess basic literacy and numeracy skills before venturing into secondary schools.
Unfortunately, this is not the case in Akamkpa Local Government Area where many pupils cannot read nor write. Many of them cannot carry out their assignments without their parents’ intervention. There is also persistent poor performance of pupils in Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State. Many pupils cannot write their common entrance examinations on their own and pass. Most teachers and parents assist their children in writing such examination.
There have been numerous research work to establish the reasons for poor performance in mathematics, up till date the problem remain unchanged. Many findings assert that unfortunate methods of teaching and inherent fears attached to mathematics on the part of pupils further emphasize the problems of mathematics. However, certain factors have been identified as the cause of pupil’s poor performance in mathematics. These factors include: teachers qualification, fears on the part of the pupil’s, teaching methods adopted by mathematics teachers etc. these factors are opinion-based, even than research efforts are headed to confirm such opinions. It is on this note the researcher considered it pertinent to investigate the causes off pupils’ poor performance in mathematics in Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State.
1.3 Purpose of the study
The main purpose of this study was to x-ray some of the problems causing pupils’ poor performance in primary school mathematics. This study was aimed and designed specifically to:
i. Examine the use of instructional materials and pupils’ academic performance in mathematics.
ii. Examine parents’ socio-economic background and pupils’ academic performance in mathematics.
iii. Compare the performance of private and public primary school pupils in mathematics.
iv. Examine ways in which teachers contribute to pupils’ poor performance in mathematics.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were posed to guide the study.
i. To what extent do the use of instructional materials affect pupils’ mathematics performance?
ii. To what extent does parent socio-economic status affects academic performance of pupils in mathematics?
iii. What is the difference in the performance of private and public primary schools pupils in mathematics?
iv. In what ways do teachers contribute to pupils’ poor performance in mathematics?
1.5 Significance of the Study
It was expected that the finding of this study may be significant in the following ways:
i. The findings of this study may be useful to teachers in order to adopt teaching techniques which are likely to yield better results in mathematics
ii. It may be useful for pupils to identify the causes of their poor performance in mathematics and to create an avenue for subsequent improvement.
iii. The findings may enable parents to understand and play their roles properly towards their children’s performance in mathematics.
iv. The findings may constitute the basis for further researches in this area or related areas. It may also serve as a good source of literature to researchers and scholars.
1.6 Scope of the study
The study was conducted in 2012, and was bounded or delimited geographically, to Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State. The investigation was delimited to nine public and private primary schools in Akamkpa Local Government Area.
However, it is assumed or hoped that most (if not all) the causes of poor academic performance of pupils in primary school mathematics are also applicable to other levels of the school systems which includes both the secondary and tertiary levels. The variables to be used in the study are performance and causes in which the dependent variable is performance and the independent variable is causes. The sub-variables of the independent variable include use of instructional materials, parents’ socio-economic status, and teachers’ contribution.
1.7 Definition of terms
The terms defined here were based on their usage in the study, and include: teaching, performance, academic performance, and socio-economic background.
1. Teaching: this may be defined as the act of imparting knowledge to other people.
2. Performance: this refers to the results, outcome or output one gets from doing a particular thing whether good or bad.
3. Academic Performance: in this study, academic performance is the outcome of education or the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals.
4. Socio-economic background: this may be defined as an economical and sociological combined total measure of a person’s work experience of an individual or family economic and social position in relation to others based on income, education and occupation.