This study examined the role of gender on students in mathematics in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. Also, some relevant and related literatures were reviewed in this study under sub-headings, in order to address the important issues under investigation.
The research survey design was employed in this study for the assessment of respondents’ opinions with the use of the questionnaire and the sampling technique.
A total of 160 (one hundred and sixty) respondents were selected and used in this study to represent the bulk of the population. The sample comprised (80 males and 80 females).
Also, two null hypotheses were formulated and tested using the independent t-test statistical tool at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the analysis, the following results emerged:
1. There is no significant difference in the pattern of students’ preference for topics in the senior secondary school mathematics.
2. Finally, it was found at the end of testing hypothesis two that there is a significant difference on the impact of gender and students’ preference for mathematics topics in school.
1.1Background to the Study
The importance of mathematics to everyday life justifies the inclusion in the curricula at all the levels of education. There is hardly any human being whether literate or non-literate who does not apply mathematical concepts in everyday life, even though he may not be aware of it.
Mathematics can simply be defined as those aspects of human experience and knowledge that involve the concept of number, quantity and space. Over the years mathematicians in formal educational setting have been able to construct abstract concepts into logical, systematic and symbolic terms that involve pattern and precision. Physical observations are often better expressed in mathematical expressions thereby enhancing understanding. There is no doubt that mathematics has come to stay in the educational plan of nations in the world.
Nigeria aspires to be a modern industrial society and a developing society desiring this attribute should according to Animalu (2000), possess the ability to acquire knowledge, in service-oriented and innovative. It is obvious that this can only be achieved with a proper and solid foundation in mathematical knowledge. Many of the scientist like Archimedes and Galileo who came up with striking innovations in science were exposed to the best mathematics education in their days. Investment in the training of scientific and technological manpower will enhance the economic and political development of the nation and proper mathematical education at all levels will go a long way in realizing the objective of promotion of science and technology.
It is greatly disturbing, especially to the implementers of mathematics education that despite the prominence and importance of mathematics in all areas of human endeavours, students’ cognitive, affective and psychomotor outcomes in mathematics at all levels of the educational system fall below expectation. The poor performances of students in mathematics at external examinations like Cambridge, senior school certificate (organized by WAEC and NECO), Universities Matriculation Examination (UME), and Polytechnic and Colleges of Education Examination has been on the increase. Many factors have been identified by mathematics educators for the poor students’ achievement in mathematics.
Research on students’ learning has revealed that orientations to learning affect learning outcomes (Vermunt, 1992). The perceptions of the learning environments especially that of assessment has also been shown to have a strong influence on the orientations to learning (Entwistle and Entwistle 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995). Examinations and tests sometimes hamper students’ attempt to achieve personal understanding because they only show the final outcome but fail to reveal the individual change that has taken place (Tynjaka, 1997).
All over the world, science has been accepted as a vehicle of technology, social and economic development (Ogunbanjo, 1988). Mathematics is not any basic to these but is the language of science. Mathematics is a subject that students in secondary schools have to be taught at least four times a week. This is to ensure that students have adequate mastery of the subject. Despite the importance attached to mathematics, students tend to perform poorly. Therefore, there is need to find out which topics in mathematics that student like and those they dislike.
The West African Examination Council Chief Examiners’ Reports (1997, 1999 and 2000) revealed candidates’ areas of weaknesses and strengths in mathematics. According to these reports, candidates showed likeness for numerical statistics, algebra and algebraic processes, the four arithmetic rules, logarithms and its applications candidates’ likeness for these topics could be attributed to their understanding of the topics among other factors. Hence, candidates performed better in these topics than Geometry, Trigonometry and Probability. Areas of candidates’ weaknesses and strengths are not unconnected with the preference students have for some topics in mathematics at the expense of other ones. If truly, students prefer some topics in mathematics to other ones, are these preferences gender biased?
1.2Statement of the Problem
Over the past decades, the topics of gender equity and gender differences have been raising issues in education (Sprinthall and Oja 1994). Boys and girls are known to learn differently though they sit in the same classroom, read the same textbooks and listen to the same teacher (Sadker and Sadker, 1994). This indicates that gender affects the educational experiences of many students in today’s educational world. Honey, Moeller, Brunner, Bennelt, Clements and Hawkins (1991) found that females and males perceive mathematics related topics in distinct manners. They concluded that girls view mathematics oriented field as embedded in human interaction whereas boys view them as an extension of their power.
These views seem to be related to the preference students have for some topics in mathematics while in the secondary school. Therefore, based on this the study sought to posses the role of gender on students’ preference for senior mathematics topics.
1.3Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study is to:
(i) Investigate the like or dislike topics in mathematics among senior secondary school students.
(ii) Find out empirically how significant the impact of gender is on students preference for mathematics topics.
This study shall attempt to answer the following questions:
(i) What is the pattern of students’ preferences for topics in the senior secondary school mathematics?
(ii) Does gender have significant impact on student’s preference for mathematics topics?
(i) There will be no significant difference in the pattern of students’ preferences for topics in the senior secondary school mathematics.
(ii) There will be no significant difference on the impact of gender on students’ preference for mathematics topics.
1.6Significance of the Study
This study will be of benefit students, teachers, parents and the society at large.
1) It will assist school counsellors in exposing their students to the relevance of these so called “difficult subjects” to their future careers and the need to master them by organizing career talks for them.
2) It will also be found useful to authors of mathematics in using pictures that are ‘gender friendly’ and using objects found in the home and school everyday.
3) It will also bring to the notice of the government in assisting or supporting mathematics experts by providing necessary instructional materials for teaching those identified “difficult topics”.
4) It will also bring to the awareness of parents or enlighten parents and the community not to look down their female children but she them as able as their male children.