Factors influencing students’ performance in mathematics in Kenya certificate of secondary education (KCSE); a case of Kathonzweni District In Makueni County, Kenya
The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors influencing students’ performance in mathematics in the (KCSE); A Case of Kathonzweni district. The study focused on form two, form three and form four students, their mathematics teachers and principals who were randomly selected from the five secondary schools under study. Two hundred students’ and ten mathematics teachers were randomly selected in order to participate in the study whereby the researcher was using 40 students from each school. On professional qualification none of the mathematics teachers had doctorate in philosophy (Ph.D). One mathematics teacher was a holder of master of education (M.Ed) degree. This was 10% of the ten mathematics teachers. Four mathematics teachers were holders of bachelor of education (B.Ed) degree which is 40% percent of the total number of teachers under study. Two teachers were holders of post graduate diploma in education (P.G.D.E) and this was 20%. Two teachers were holders of Diploma in (Dip.) Education which was 20% of the teachers interviewed. Lastly there was one teacher who was a holder of S1 certificate which was 10% of the ten teachers’ respondents. About 50% percentage of mathematics teachers indicated that they had teaching experience ranging from two to six years in teaching profession. Rarely 80% percent of the respondents indicated that they had worked for over six years in the teaching area. v On the gender of mathematics teachers the ratio of female to male mathematics teachers, was revealed that only one female teacher to six male teachers (1: 6) were in the field of study. Out of hundred and sixty one students who responded to the questionnaire, hundred were male and sixty one were female. On age in years 30% of respondents were of age between sixteen to eighteen years while one hundred and twenty two respondents which was 70% were of the age between nineteen and forty five years. On the major problem that the students encountered on learning mathematics, it was revealed that some of the objectives in mathematics were unrealistic and not easily achievable within the given time and resources. It was also shown that there were many (seven subjects) taught and as a result the students did not master the expected basic views. Further on the major problem encountered by the students, it was shown that the students found it difficult to relate different concepts in the topic of mathematics. The respondents noted areas such as trigonometry, vectors, commercial arithmetic etc of which they found them difficult to work on. They find it hard to use logarithm tables and calculators in solving problems related to the topic such a cosines, sines and tangent. It was desired that where there were overloads, overlaps or complicated topics, it was necessary to address and remove some contents. It was concluded that the schools under study performed poorly in mathematics in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) due to students’ attitude towards mathematics as students believe that mathematics is the hardest subject. It was also concluded that there were inadequate number of teachers particularly in mathematics, resulting into a situation where vi students are not adequately prepared for national examinations. It was also concluded that the male teachers dominate i.e. they were the majority hence leading female students to perform poorly as female teachers were less than male teachers. It was recommended that there has to be a balance of male and female mathematics teachers. This would enable consistency of performance of female students as they would be motivated by their female teachers. It was recommended that some difficult topics in mathematics be restructured into simple and manageable topics especially in vectors, commercial arithmetic and trigonometry, algebra etc. 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 teacher should be innovative and creative in teaching mathematics. It was suggested that this study should be carried out in a wider coverage to include other schools outside Kathonzweni district. 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 effectiveness of the provision of remedial classes. It was suggested that a study be carried out on the effect of emerging issues such as industrial transformations, health education issues like drug abuse and HIV/AIDS perdemics, children rights, moral values and social responsibility in relation to academic performance.