INTEREST AS CORRELATES OF STUDENTS ACADEMICS PERFORMANCE IN MATHEMATICS
1.1 Background of the study
Mathematics is largely regarded as critical to any nation's economic, scientific, and political progress. Because of this widespread phenomena, every nation in the world has made mathematics a mandatory subject in all aspects of the school system. Mathematics ideas are commonly known at a young age. When a test is missed, it causes anxiety, which includes feelings of tension, worry, or dread that interfere with math performance. Mathematics anxiety is a problem that affects certain secondary school pupils because they fail to understand its fundamentals (Ayob & Yasin 2017).
Mathematics, according to Sakirudeen and Sanni (2017), is the foundation for science, without which a nation will never be affluent and economically independent. He went on to say that proficiency in mathematics opens up numerous doors for employees needed in industry, research, technology, and education. According to Odiri (2015), pupils' mathematical expectations rise as they advance through school and begin their adult lives at home and at work. Students must have a strong mathematical foundation in order to function mathematically literately in the future. A solid foundation entails far more than rote application of procedural knowledge. According to a 2004 Ontario Ministry of Education study, all students should be able to understand, make sense of, and apply mathematics, as well as create connections between topics and detect patterns throughout mathematics. According to the research, pupils must be able to express their reasoning, have the mental flexibility to handle new areas of mathematics, and be eager to continue practising mathematics.
Given mathematics' contributions to the modern world, one would expect rising interest in it as a study that is genuinely the language of science and technology, but the opposite appears to be the case. Karjanto (2017) conducted research in Nigeria and discovered that students' negative attitudes about mathematics, fear of mathematics, insufficiently prepared teachers, and insufficient instructional materials were some of the causes of low mathematics performance. According to Mabula (2012), low quality scientific classroom instruction and a fall in student interest in science topics reduced students' performance in science courses. The Interest Driven Creator (IDC) theory is founded on three fundamental concepts: interest, creation, and habit, each of which will lead to a continuous learning activity that will eventually create a loop (Chan et al., 2018). To begin, the interest loop is made up of three consistent components: generating interest, immersing interest, and extending interest (Wong, Chan, Chen, King, & Wong, 2015).
According to the IDC theory, one of the stages in sparking situational interest is raising curiosity; nevertheless, offering appealing learning topic matters is insufficient for this aim. Teachers or instructional designers could bridge knowledge deficits to elicit situational interest, which may then assist students be immersed or completely engaged in the learning process by delivering optimal degrees of demanding learning activities. The third component of the interest loop argues that the utility implications of the learning content are critical for maintaining students' attention (Wong et al., 2015). In terms of mathematics learning, students' interest can be piqued by first presenting a mathematical problem that can provoke and challenge students' prior knowledge, then scaffolding students to tackle challenges that help students gain successful experiences, and finally presenting the practical value of the learning content.
Despite the fact that research studies reveal that math success is a consequence of several connected elements that may be classified as student factors, school factors, and family factors, Many scholars believe student interest as an important aspect to consider when attempting to understand and explain student progress in mathematics (Kogce et al, 2009). There is consequently a need to examine more how aspects such as student interest impact their own learning and accomplishment in the topic, since this would give a level ground for understanding some of the learner's actions as a result of attitudes. Thus, this study was concerned with the influence of interest that learners build or bring into a classroom setting, which may interfere with their learning processes and, ultimately, their learning outcomes. There is a need to understand the learners themselves, their interests and views of the topic, in order to recommend techniques for improving the subject's teaching and learning.
1.2 Statement of the problem
In recent times interest as a major factor affecting learning processes, may be implicit hence has not attracted enough attention from all stakeholders in education and therefore, it is important to consider the fact that learners can mainly contribute to their learning outcomes as a result of their belief and perceptions about the subject matter e.g. whether they like it or not and whether they see any value in it. As opined by Atanasova-Pacemska, Lazarova, Arsov, Pacemska, Trifunov, & Kovacheva (2015) interest are seen as more or less positive and encompass emotions, beliefs, values and behavior and hence affect individual way of thinking, acting and behaving which has a lot of implications to teaching and learning (Mensah et al, 2013). They have a strong effect on behavior which helps in understanding and predicting peoples’ behavior in a wide range of contexts.
Several research studies support the fact that students’ success in Mathematics depends upon the learners’ interest in the subject as this determines their ability, willingness to learn, choice of action and response to challenges. It determines the level of engagement, interest, personal effort without which one can hardly perform (Garden & Smith, 2001). Also, Gilbert (2016) showed that students with a higher level of interest in mathematics had lower performance-avoidance goals for both types of mathematical tasks which required high and low cognitive processes. Negative dispositions induces tendencies of fear, anxiety and stress where one resorts to other non productive practices which finally prevents them from experiencing the richness of Mathematics and many approaches that could be used to develop competencies in the subject. Consequently, the student exhibit low motivation, decreased level of participation, boredom and behaviour problems including class or lesson avoidance .This is infact evident when the teacher is doing his best presentation in class, but the student may seem to be alienated and aloof (Sakirudeen & Sanni 2017). It should also be noted that failure to learn or achieve in mathematics is not confined to less able but also many capable students who fail to bring out their best abilities. On the other hand, when students build positive attitudes towards the subject, they become engaged in the material fact and are motivated to excel in the subject because they value it, enjoy it and are interested in the subject.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The primary objective of the study is to examine interest as correlates of students academics performance in mathematics. The specific objectives is as follows:
To determine the perceptions of students about mathematics in public secondary schools.
To determine the interest level of students toward mathematics in public secondary schools.
To examine the factors influencing student interest and perception towards Mathematics
To establish whether student interest level influences their academics performance in mathematics
To seek recommendations on how to improve students interest towards learning and achievement of mathematics.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
Ho1: The interest level of students toward mathematics in public secondary schools is low.
Ho2: Student interest level does not influence their academics performance in mathematics
1.5 Significance of the study
The need for this research is to elicit useful information that could be the problems associated with teaching and learning of mathematics in secondary schools. Not until useful ideas to the problems militating against mathematics education is unraveled, through a research of this kind, we will not be able to suggest useful and workable solutions to the problems. This study would help in understanding the importance and influence of the affective construct regarding teaching and learning which is hopped would appeal to stakeholders to take the necessary measures. This focused on the main students 'beliefs and perceptions about mathematics which are considered significant factors underlying school experiences with the hope that this would add student voice to the factors known to influence learning. The importance of the study was for exposition and also for reference purposes as would give impetus to the development of further research that seeks to understand the effect of student attitudes on learning. Interest change therefore, requires determining factors driving the attitude and using that information to bring out the necessary change i.e. helping students to learn and bring out their best potentials. These efforts may define the obscure role of the teacher in molding the learners’ attitudes and motivating them towards learning the subject. Continued attention should then be directed towards creating, developing and reinforcing positive attitudes towards the subject. Therefore student interaction and instructional styles should be carefully determined and supported by the teachers concerned who should not only be concerned about performance or cognitive abilities but also emotional and behavioural aspects of learning.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study borders on interest as correlates of students academics performance in mathematics. This study is a quantitative survey that will cover five secondary schools selected in Ovia north East Local Government Area of Edo State. Both sexes of teachers and students shall be used as subjects to get information on the teaching and learning of mathematics through a self-report instrument (questionnaire).
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. However, the researcher were able to manage these just to ensure the success of this study. Moreover, the case study method utilized in the study posed some challenges to the investigator including the possibility of biases and poor judgement of issues. However, the investigator relied on respect for the general principles of procedures, justice, fairness, objectivity in observation and recording, and weighing of evidence to overcome the challenges.
1.8 Definition of terms
Mathematics: This is the science and study of quality, structure, space, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns, formulate new conjectures, and establish truth by rigorous deduction from appropriately chosen axioms and definitions.
Interest: This is a powerful motivational process that energizes learning, guides academic and career trajectories, and is essential to academic success.