Factors influencing students’ attitudes towards mathematics and its affects on performance of mathematics among secondary school level students in Kenya a case study in Mukaa sub-county in Makueni county-Kenya
In the current 21st century, individuals have to deal with overwhelming information generated from computers and calculators to that of mental estimations of daily purchases and it is imperative that students become proficient in mathematics. Not only must learners deal with a wide range of operational skills, such as computing decimals, they must also understand underlying numerical concepts in order to succeed in a variety of day-to-day commercial and work place situations. However, attitudes towards mathematics and associated anxiety have been known to affect students with diverse socio-economic backgrounds; it continues to be an issue of concern to secondary school teachers and administration particularly in Kenya. The purpose of this study was to investigate secondary school student's attitudes towards mathematics and to explore the differences in attitudes towards mathematics among students in Mukaa District-Makueni County, Kenya. A cross-sectional data containing demographic information and attitudes towards mathematics were collected from 200 students made up of 100 boys and 100 girls; 20 teachers and 10 head teachers. They were randomly sampled from ten secondary schools in Mukaa sub- County (district). Self-administered questionnaires were used with the Head teachers, teachers and the students in the selected schools. The data was analyzed using the SPSS version 20 for calculating mean and standard deviations and the results revealed that there was a significant difference in attitudes shown towards mathematics by the students. The background environment, teachers‟ qualification and attitude, teaching styles and parental attitudes and assistance were identified as explanation factors that account for student's attitudes towards mathematics. After data analysis, the finding of the study shows that students‟ attitude has a direct influence on the performance of mathematics. Teaching methods influences attitude and hence the performance. Teachers qualification and experience significantly affect the students‟ confidence. Parental involvement and encouragement influences the child positively to like the subject. The present study asserts that teachers and other stakeholders in the education sector should organize forums such as seminars and workshops for students, parents, teachers and school administrators to enhance and promote positive attitudes towards mathematics. There is a gap in the research since other factors also influence attitude and performance of mathematics. For example, gender bias and therefore further research into the problem should be done. Key words: attitudes, mathematics, secondary students.