PROBLEMS OF TEACHING AND LEARNING CONSTRUCTION IN SECONDARY SCHOOL - UNIPROJECTS

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PROBLEMS OF TEACHING AND LEARNING CONSTRUCTION IN SECONDARY SCHOOL



PROBLEMS OF TEACHING AND LEARNING CONSTRUCTION IN SECONDARY SCHOOL
CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION

Background of the study
       The place of Mathematics in the life of any nation cannot be overemphasized because it is linked with the place of development in that nation. According to Betiku [2001] science, Technology and Mathematics Education (STME) has been widely acclaimed to be the index of measuring any nation’s socio-economic and geo-political development. Among science and Technology courses, according to the National Policy on Education 2004, Mathematics is one of the core subjects to be offered by all students till the tertiary levels of education. This compulsory nature of mathematics carries with it the assumption that the knowledge of the subject is essential for all members of our society. Mathematics competence is a critical determinant of the Post-Secondary educational and career options available to young people [Ojo, 1986]. Also, Barrow and Woods [2007] emphasized the need to make mathematics a compulsory subject at the primary and secondary levels if scientists, technologists and engineers are to be produced. In our Universities, the teaching and learning of Mathematics should be taken very serious. The quality of mathematics that will pave way for the much needed pursuit in science and technology at the higher level is a matter of concern. Quality has to do with the attainment of standards and standards ensure accountability. Obodo [2000], lamented the poor state of mathematics instruction in Nigeria and averred that the problem of quality of mathematics instruction and learning are from diverse sources. The teacher has been accused to be responsible for the low quality of student performance in our secondary schools [Cooney, 1994].
Despite the relative importance of mathematics, it is very disappointing to note that the student’s performance in the subject in both internal and external examinations has remained consistently poor. [Salau, 1995]
Mathematics educators have put up noble and spirited efforts aimed at identifying the major problems associated with the teaching and learning of mathematics in the nation’s schools. Despite all these noble efforts, the problem of poor achievement in mathematics has continued to rear its head in the nation’s public examinations.
This research examines the core topics in geometry where the problems of teaching and learning occurs most in mathematics. Topics such as plane and solid shapes, measurement of plans and solid shapes, polygons, Geometrical ratio, geometrical transformation, latitude and longitude etc are topics that are generally identified to be difficult by both students and teachers.
Geometry is an aspect of mathematics which deals with the study of different shapes. These shapes may be plane or solid. A plane shape is a geometrical form such that the straight line that joins any two points on it wholly lies on the surface. A solid shape on the other hand is bounded by surfaces which may not wholly be represented on a plane surface.
Statistics have shown difficulty in teaching and learning of mathematics, geometry in particular, has resulted in mass failure in examinations. The mass failure in mathematics examinations is real and the trend of student’s performance has been on the decline [Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, 1995]
A cluster of variables has been implicated as responsible for the dismal performance of students. These include, government related variables, curriculum-rebated variables, examination body related, teacher, student, home and text-book related variables. A part from these variables, Amazigbo [2000] has identified poor primary school background in mathematics, lack of incentives for teachers, unqualified teachers in the system, lack of learner’s interest, perception that mathematics is difficult, large classes and psychological fear of the subject as factors responsible for the dismal performance of students in the subject.
Osafemnti [2001] contends that curriculum changes in mathematics have occurred in several countries for one reason or the other, but more importantly because of the desire to improve school mathematics teaching to meet the ever changing needs of society, science and technology. In Nigeria, curriculum changes have occurred and for a long time, the tendency has been to transfer unquestionably, syllabus from the advanced countries based on the universality of the Subject. Such undertakings, looses sight of some problems usually raised by curriculum change. Osafemnti [2001] outlined the following problems with curriculum changes in Nigeria.
1.    Failure of the mathematics to relate to the child’s environment and thus the child cannot see the importance and immediate application of mathematics, in particular geometry in his day to day living.
2.    Each new curriculum has always taken the teachers unawares because they had never been involved in the development of the curriculum.
3.    The Nigerian Educational system has been constituted in such a way that teachers training, curriculum development and classroom practice are three separate activities. Therefore, curriculum changes have taken place without due consideration for the training of teachers who will use them both at the pre-service and in-service operational and training levels.
4.    Non-availability of instructional materials such as text books, workbooks, slides, film stripes, etc. to meet the pedagogical demands of the new  curriculum imposed on teachers.
For a topic like geometry which is the bedrock of engineering and technological development, the issue of adequate physical facilities cannot be over emphasized. The physical facilities such models will help grasp the idea of geometry which seems to be abstract. It is the facilities in terms of infrastructure, equipment and materials that afford the students the opportunity to acquire the necessary knowledge. As Solarin [2004] observed on a general note, that secondary schools lack facilities and equipment for teaching. According to him, such a situation where teachers are forced to discuss theoretically, practical aspects of the subject is not good enough.
Statement of the Problem
        The poor performance of students in mathematics and geometry in particular has been a thing of concern to mathematics educators, parents and government. The chief examiner’s annual reports in mathematics in the Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and National Examinations Council (NECO) are good testimonies of those facts. Mathematics educators have put in effort aimed at identifying the major problems associated with secondary school mathematics. Despite all these noble efforts, the problem of poor achievement in mathematics has continued to rear its head. It is based on this fact that this research identified geometry as a core difficult area where student’s performance has always been low.
Purpose of Study
This study is aimed at:
1. Identifying the factors that contribute to the difficulty in teaching and learning of geometry
2.    Examining the strategies that could remedy the difficulty in the teaching and learning of geometry.
3.    Identifying student’s attitude towards the teaching and learning of geometry.
Research Questions
1.    What factors are responsible for the difficulty in the teaching and learning of geometry in secondary schools?
2.    What strategies could be adapted to enhance better teaching and learning of geometry in secondary schools?
3.    What are the students attitude toward the learning and teaching  of geometry?
Significance of the Study
Piaget (1971) and van Hiele (1986) made significant research work relating to the thought processes and the sequence a person goes through in learning. Many more studies have also been done by various researchers in the field of spatial cognition, but very little impact on classroom has resulted (Ada, 2010).
          Nigeria students have over the years experienced varieties of difficulties in the learning of geometry and transformation geometry. If learning difficulties experienced by students could be investigated and explained by using the van Hiele’s levels for transformation geometry learning in this study, then the result of the study and its recommendation will provide useful information for teachers, society, school administrator and curriculum developers on how to ease students’ difficulties in the teaching and learning of transformation geometry in the classroom. This study will make contributions to mathematics education by way of providing information with regards to the students’ difficulties in transformation geometry that involved rotation. It will also contribute to the improvement of policies that addresses the difficulties that students face in learning transformation geometry. A valuable contribution will be made from this study as the outcome may suggest better and more improved teaching strategies that could help the teacher towards a more effective teaching of transformation geometry in schools.
Definition of Terms
          The following terms are used throughout the research report and they are defined here to establish a clearer and concise meaning.
Mathematics: This simply implies the study of measurement, number and quantities.
Concepts: General idea about something, this involves understanding the components of a phenomenon.
Creativity: In an attempt to define creativity we look at personality trait of creative individuals. Such individual are always thinking, are always prepared to listen to others opinion, are critical of their work, are analytic and original; have adaptive flexibility, spontaneous flexibility, word fluency, the capacity to puzzled, they are motivated, confident, intellectually persistent and moral communication to work.
Curriculum: Planned experiences offered to the learner under the guidance of the school.
Syllabus: A document containing content which learners are expected to know before being examined.
Manipulative: Concrete material, e.g. Tangrams, Geoboards and Pattern blocks.
Geometry education: Mathematics is an activity of solving problems concerning shapes, vision and location. Geometry education concern itself with theories, principles and methodologies in the teaching of geometry
Shapes: Geometry shapes embedded in spatial objects and create an opportunity to move from two-dimensional perception and vice versa.
Problem solving: May include working and making a drawing, create your own problem, think of a similar problem that was solved successfully in attempting to solve a problem. Problem solving is teacher centered in the sense that the teacher can direct students at the said strategies. 
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