An investigation of factors contributing to low academic performance Of mathematics among form four students in Konoin and Kimulot Divisions, Of Buret District.
Maritim, Nehemiah K
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The purpose of this research study was to investigate into the factors that contribute to low academic performance in mathematics among form four students in Konoin and Kimulot divisions of Buret district. The study focused on students in the forth form and their mathematics teachers who were randomly selected from five secondary schools under study. Fifty (50) students and ten (10) mathematics teachers were randomly chosen in order to participate in the study. On professional qualification, 28.5% of mathematics teachers were holders of Bachelor of Education degrees, 28.5% were holders of Diploma in Education (Dip. ed), 28.5% Approved Teachers Status (A.T.S) and 14.5% were Bachelor of Science (B.sc) holders. About 71.5% of mathematics teachers indicated that they had teaching experience ranging from 2 - 8 years in the teaching profession. Nearly 28.4% of respondents indicated that they had worked for over eight (8) years in the teaching area. On average class size, 43% of the respondents indicated that their class size was forty one (41) and below while 57% had a big class size of 43 - 65. On the ratio of female to male mathematics teachers it was revealed that only one female teacher to six male teachers were in the field of study. Out of 49 students who responded to the questionnaire, twenty one( 21) were male and twenty eight (28) were female. On age in years 30% of the respondents were of age between 12 - 17 years while 34 (70%) were of the age between 18 - 23 years. On the availability of textbooks used to do assignments nearly 98% of the respondents had mathematics textbooks while 2% of the respondents did not have the textbooks. It was revealed that 51% of the respondents indicated that two of them shared one textbook while 49% indicated that the number of students sharing one mathematics textbook ranged between 3 - 6. The respondents also indicated that the common class textbooks used were Mathematics Book 4 by N.M. Patel, Mathematics Book 4 by Malkiat Singh and Secondary Mathematics authored by K.I.E. On students' grades acquired in K.C.S.E. examination in mathematics 59% obtained D+ and above while 41% scored D and below. The highest frequency grade was D. On the major problem that the student encountered when learning mathematics it was revealed that some of the objectives in mathematics are unrealistic and not easily achievable within the given time and resources. It was also shown that there were many (ten) number of subjects taught and as a result the students did not master the expected basic skills. The respondents revealed that most of the schools were not adequately equipped for the teaching - learning process of mathematics. There were lack of learning resources such as geometrical sets, log-tables, models (cuboids), chalkboard compasses, grid-boards, manila papers and other relevant resources. All these resource materials were generally inadequate. These inadequacy of learning - teaching resources were not fully preparing its students for further education, training and work. Most of the schools were not adequately equipped therefore it implied that the cost of education was high due to high number of teaching/learning materials required and qualified teaching staff. Further, on the major problems encountered by students, it was shown that students find it difficult to relate different concepts in the topics of mathematics. The respondents noted areas such as trigonometry, vectors and moving averages of which they find them difficult to work on. They find it hard to use log-tables in solving problems related to the topics such as cosine, sine, and tangents. It was desired that where there were overloads, overlaps and complicated topics, it was necessary to address and remove some contents. It was concluded that the schools under study performed poorly due to lack of necessary learning resources. It was also concluded that mathematics textbooks were available, however, many (3 - 6) students shared one textbook of mathematics. It was concluded that students have negative attitude towards mathematics. The students had a believe that mathematics was the hardest subject. It was also concluded that there were inadequate number of teachers particularly in mathematics, resulting into a situation where students are not adequately prepared for national examinations. It was also concluded there were frequent transfer of teachers in the mid of the term thus do confuse slow learners. The class size of some schools under study were high. The teachers could not pay attention to all the students within the given period of time. It was recommended that transfer of mathematics teachers should not be allowed for at least a period of five years. It would enable consistency of teachers' attention to all students in time required. It was also recommended that some difficult topics in mathematics be re-structured into simple and manageable topics especially in vectors and trigonometry. It was therefore recommended that those topics which are difficult should be repeated in other levels in a simpler way. It was also recommended that teachers should be innovative and creative in methods of teaching mathematics. It was suggested that this study should be carried out in a wider coverage to include other schools outside the two divisions and the district at large. Further research was suggested on the topics which were overlapping or overloaded and are difficult to manage by students. Further research should be carried on the effect of frequent transfers of teachers. Also it was suggested that a wider research should be carried out on the effectiveness of the provision of remedial classes. It was also suggested that a study be carried out on the effect of emerging issues such as Industrial transformation, Health education issues like drug abuse and HIV/AIDS pandemic, children's rights, moral values and social responsibility in relations to academic performance.