EFFECTS OF USING MATHEMATICS LABORATORY IN TEACHING JSS III STUDENTS IN MATHEMATICS
Background of Study
Mathematics is the foundation of science and technology and the functional role of mathematics to science and technology is multifaceted and multifarious that no area of science, technology and business enterprise escapes its application (Okereke, 2013). Ukeje (2010) described mathematics as the mirror of civilization in all the centuries of painstaking calculation, and the most basic discipline for any person who would be truly educated in any science and in many other endeavours.
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change.
Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity.
Mathematics Laboratory is a place where students can learn and explore mathematical concepts and verify mathematical facts and theorems through a variety of activities using different materials. These activities may be carried out by the teacher or the students to explore, to learn, to stimulate interest and develop favourable attitude towards mathematics. (Igbokwe 2014).
Despite the importance placed on mathematics, researchers (Odili, 2014; Salau, 2015; Amazigo, 2010; Agwagah, 2011; Betiku, 2012; Obioma, 2015; Maduabum and Odili, 2013; Okereke, 2012) had observed that students lack interest in the subject and perform poorly in it. Ukeje (2012) observed that mathematics is one of the most poorly taught, widely hated and tough understood subject in secondary school, students particularly girls run away from the subject.
The West African Examination Council (WAEC) chief examiners [2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016] consistently reported candidates’ lack of skill in answering almost all the questions asked in general mathematics. WAEC Chief Examiners [2013, 2015] further observed that candidates were weak in Geometry of circles and 3- dimensional problems. According to their reports, most candidates avoid questions on 3-dimensional problem, when they attempt geometry questions; only few of the candidates showed a clear understanding of the problem in their working.
WAEC  also reported candidates’ weakness in Algebraic expression and word problems among others. Obioma (2015), Obodo (2014) and Okereke (2013) reported gender as a significant factor in mathematics achievement and Onwioduokit and Akinbobola (2015) reported it as a significant factor in physics achievement when physics students are taught with advance organizers. However Okonkwo (2011) reported gender as non-significant when students are taught with tangram puzzle game. Okereke (2013) attributed students’ poor performance to factors such as the society view that mathematics is difficult, shortage of qualified teachers, lack of mathematics laboratory and lack of incentive.
The abstract nature of mathematics should be reduced through demonstration and practical methods. Agwagah (2012) observed that the problem of ineffective teaching can be tackled through planned and intelligent application of the mathematics laboratory. Thus Agwagah recommended the use of laboratory approach to the study of mathematics. The method of drill and verbal recitation makes learning boring and lacks motivation for further learning.
Srinivasa (2014) had earlier recommended the use of mathematics laboratory in teaching mathematics. According to Srinivasa, this will lead the students to formation of concepts out of experiences with discrete objects. In this case the vague theories and imaginary objects take real shape and the students understand better and perform better. It is important therefore to consider strategies that may help to improve the performance, with the view of considering their effect on teaching and learning of mathematics. Such strategies include the use of mathematics laboratory (Ogunkunle, 2010).
Mathematics laboratory is a place where students can learn and explore various mathematical concepts and verify different mathematical facts and theories using varieties of activities and material (Igbokwe, 2014). The use of mathematics laboratory helps to integrate theory and practical work in mathematics teaching and learning. Ohuche (2012) advocated the need for moderately equipped mathematics laboratories. Ogunkunle (2010) itemized the advantages of using mathematics laboratory which include;
1. Display mathematical information of Avenue for experimentation through practical work
2. Pool of storage of mathematical materials for easy access
3. Removing abstractness and increasing effective teaching and learning.
Based on the advantages of mathematics laboratory, it is expected that teaching and learning of mathematics with mathematics laboratory may help to reduce the abstract nature of the subject and draw the students to follow. Hence, this study intends to investigate the impact of mathematics laboratory for effective teaching and learning of mathematics in Junior Secondary School in Ikere-Ekiti Local Government Area of Ekiti state.
Statement of Problem
Evidence of poor performance in mathematics by secondary school students point to the fact that the most desired technological, scientific and business application of mathematics cannot be sustained. This makes it paramount to seek for a strategy for teaching mathematics that aims at improving its understanding and performance by students.
Evidence abound (Srinivasa, 2012; Ogunkunle, 2010), that lack of mathematics laboratory and Mathematics teachers non-use of laboratory technique in teaching mathematics is one of the major factors that contribute to poor achievement in mathematics by secondary school students. Therefore the study is designed to find out the impact of mathematics laboratory for effective teaching and learning of mathematics in Junior Secondary School in Ikere-Ekiti Local Government Area of Ekiti state.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of using mathematics laboratory in teaching JSS III students in mathematics. Specifically, the study sought the following;
1. The difference in achievement of mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory and those taught with lecture method.
2. The difference in the achievement of male and female mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory.
3. The difference in the achievement of private and public mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory.
4. The difference in the achievement of single school and mixed school mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory.
Significance of the study
The findings of the study will be useful to lecturers and tutors when training mathematics teachers who are to teach mathematics topics when teaching using mathematics laboratory as it will enable both teachers and students understand the practical aspect of mathematics. It will also be beneficial to the policy formulators in the Ministry of Education and Nigeria Institute of Curriculum Development as it will help in constructing appropriate and standard mathematics laboratory for Junior Secondary School (JSS) students.
The finding draws the attention of mathematics laboratories that are available for use in teaching mathematics and provoke the Nigeria Institute of Curriculum Development and other commercial publishers to come up with good and standard infrastructures of mathematics laboratory to be used in mathematics teaching and learning. The practical value of mathematics will enable the students understand its concept while the theory of behind teaching and learning of mathematics will enable the learners to logically understand some abstract aspects of mathematics.
Scope of the Study
This study is limited to some randomly selected Junior Secondary school Students in Ikere-Ekiti Local Government Area of Ekiti State. This study will be conducted with Junior Secondary Class Three (JSS III) Mathematics students in the Local Government Area.
The following research questions were raised to guide the study:
1. What is the difference in achievement of mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory and those taught with lecture method?
2. What is the difference in the achievement of male and female mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory?
3. What is the difference in the achievement of private and public mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory?
4. What is the difference in the achievement of single school and mixed school mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory?
The following hypotheses were formulated from the stated research questions above and tested at 0.05 level of significance.
1. There is no significant difference in achievement of mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory and those taught with lecture method
2. There is no significant difference in the achievement of male and female mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory.
3. There is no significant difference in the achievement of private and public mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory.
4. There is no significant difference in the achievement of single school and mixed school mathematics students taught with mathematics laboratory.