Mathematics is one of the important subjects and this is why it is made compulsory at the primary and secondary levels. Mathematics is one of the most powerful and adaptable mental tools which the intelligence of a man has made for its own use collectively over the centuries. The subject has continued to play a significant role in national development of any country (USMAN 2002). Hence, it is necessary that the teaching and learning process of mathematics be as clear as possible to avoid confusion and lack of understanding since mathematics deal with quantitative functions and relations as well as problems relating to scope and forms. Therefore, it said to be a language of orderliness and creative thinking (USMAN 2002).
Mathematics can be described as the backbone of other branches of science like Engineering, Applied and social science, Agricultural science, Medicine and other branches. Mathematics is a basic tool in the development of any science-based knowledge such as graphic, industry, technology, astronomy and sound analytical reasoning in daily living in a modern society.
One of the objectives of science education is to develop students’ interest towards science and technology. The development of any nation today depends on its technological and scientific advancement. Teachers are expected to device ways of motivating their students to develop positive attitudes towards mathematics and science related disciplines (Sola &Ojo, 2007).
There are many areas of study in secondary school mathematics such as Algebra, trigonometry, menstruation, numbers and numeration, statistic, set theory etc. Algebra is a branch of mathematics that deals with the properties of operation and the structures this operation are define on. According to Rusell (2003), algebra is the aspect of mathematics which involves the use of letters and numbers. These letters combined with the numbers bring a lot of confusion to the students and with the letters changing values or one letter replacing another at interval. Thus this makes some students to wonder whether they are learning mathematics or English language.
Inquiry teaching Method is a style or method of teaching where the learner is seeking to discover and create answers to recognized problems through procedure of making a diligent search, some time with minimum guidance from the teacher (Callahan, Clark &Kelloough, 1995). Inquiry teaching method is also a term used in science teaching that refers to a way of questioning, seeking knowledge or information or finding out about phenomena, it involves investigating data and arriving at a conclusion (Sola &Ojo 2007). In inquiry situation students learn not only concept but also self-direction, responsibility and social communication. It also permits students to assimilate and accommodate information. According to Sola and Ojo (2007), inquiry is a way people learn when they are left alone.
Cheval and Hart (2005) classify inquiry teaching method in to three classes, namely: structured inquiry, guided inquiry and open inquiry, as illustrated in Table 1.
There is a debate as to which type of inquiry is best. The general consensus is that, any form of inquiry (structured, guided, or open) can be useful to students when taught appropriately well. Structured inquiry is the most teacher-centered of the three types of inquiry. This type of inquiry is commonly seen in science classrooms in the form of laboratory exercises.
The teacher provides fairly structured procedures for the inquiry activity, and students carry out the investigations. Structured inquiry could be described as the most traditional approach to inquiry (Cheval & Hart, 2007).
On the far side of the spectrum is an open inquiry. This type of inquiry requires the least amount of teacher intervention and is student centered. Students often work in groups and plan all phases of their investigations. This is the purest form of inquiry conducted in science classrooms (Cheval & Hart, 2005).
Guided inquiry falls in the middle of the inquiry instructional spectrum. This approach is commonly used when students are asked to make tools or develop a process that results in a desired outcome. For example, a science teacher gives his seventh grade middle school students materials to create a rocket but no instructions for designing the rocket. The students must use their own knowledge and creativity to design the rocket so that it will launch properly, fly a certain distance, and land without becoming disassembled. The teacher provides the problem and materials and the students develop the rocket using their own scientific process or Procedure
Cheval and Hart, (2005) summarized these inquiry types as shown in Table 1
Table 1: Summary of Inquiry Types*
Types of inquiry
Teacher gives students problems
to investigate during hands on
activities as well as the
Procedures and materials.
Students must determine the out
Laboratory activities with
procedures materials and
Teachers give students the
problem or question and
Materials. Students have to
determine the process and out
Students are given problems or
questions what are the properties
of an acid what are the
properties of a base etc.
The students determine the
problems procedures and out
Students took a field trip to
investigate garden working
with a partner must identify
research problems and conduct
an investigate investigation based
on the observation
In this study every type of inquiry was used and students were given topics and materials.
Students were to develop a method to find answers to the problem given to them. Lecture method is used primarily to introduce students to a new subject but it is also a valuable method for summarizing ideas, showing relationship between theory and practice and re-emphasizing main points (Sola &Ojo, 2007). Lecture-demonstration method is a teaching technique that combines oral presentation with doing to communicate process, concepts ideas and facts, observation. It is particularly effective in teaching a skill that can be observed (Sola &Ojo, 2007).
According to Garba (1996), lecture method is a traditional/conventional method of transmission of knowledge; it is characterized by a one-way flow of information from the teacher who is always active to the learners who are always passive. According to him, conventional method has the following characteristics:
(i) Students are absolutely passive listeners and passively assimilating information/fact being given to them.
(ii) Students are responsible for making their own notes.
(iii) Teachers or lecturers does the major activities i.e. talking, illustration or presentation of the film or other aid.
Conventional method is noted for the following merits:
(i) Knowledge, facts or information are transmitted to students who gain some understanding of a subject.
(ii) It is less expensive compared to the inquiry methods. However, conventional method has its own short comings, which include the following:
(i) Passive learning on the part of the students and this makes them weak and disinterested.
(ii) No immediate evaluation is made of what has been learned.
(iii) Soft-spoken teacher/ instructor could create a breakdown in the communication this is because some students may lose interest in his lecture.
Inquiry teaching method was chosen in this study due to its scientific nature and it is student- centered and it involved all scientific process (Sola &Ojo 2007).
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Since there are numerous factors that aided the poor academic performance of the students’ in mathematics both at the junior and secondary school levels in internal and external examinations year by year. Table 2 below gives the performance of the student below 50% as given by the WAEC chief examiner reports of 2007-2014. Apart from the fact that secondary school students exhibit non-challant attitude toward mathematics, this problem of mass failure could be due to abstract symbolism of the subjects. The researcher also observes that students have problem with using numbers for alphabets. A mathematics teacher should therefore learn to put in place strategies and activities that would arose and sustain the interest of students in mathematics.
Table 2: Students Performance in Mathematics from 2007-2014 in May/June SSCE
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study are to:
Determine the effects of inquiry teaching method and traditional/conventional teaching method on the performance of students taught algebra in senior secondary schools in Ogun State
• Determine the effects of inquiry teaching method on the performance of students in algebra in Ogun State;
• Determine the effects of inquiry teaching method on the performance of male and female students taught algebra in Ogun State.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of this study will help in the following ways:
· It will help the mathematics teachers to utilize the findings of this study in their mathematics classrooms;