TEACHERS’ VIEWS IN THE ASPECT OF NEW MATHEMATICS CURRICULUM

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Teachers’ Views In The Aspect Of New Mathematics Curriculum  in Post Basic Education levels in Study of  Enugu state, Nigeria.

ABSTRACT

This study sought to identify Teachers’ Views In The Aspect Of New Mathematics Curriculum  in Post Basic Education levels in Enugu state of Nigeria. Based on a review of literature, five research questions guided the study while three hypotheses were equally tested. A survey design was used for the study. A multistage sampling procedure involving simple random sampling techniques by balloting and cluster sampling techniques were adopted to compose the sample of 120 mathematics teachers in four Education Zones of Enugu State. A Structured Questionnaire Titled Mathematics Topic Assessment Questionnaire (MTAQ) was used to collect data from the respondents. The data collected were analyzed using mean, standard deviation and one-way ANOVA to t4est the hypotheses at 0.05 levels of significant. The analysis of the data yielded the following results: the teachers find the teaching of matrices, sphere, trigonometry functions, collection and presentation of data, differentiation and integration of algebraic function difficult. Gender, academic qualification and location of services of the teacher have no significant influence in the difficulty levels of topics in the new mathematics curriculum. It was recommended that in-service training, constant workshops, higher degree programmes, provision of modern instructional materials, use of computer and its softwares, re-equipping of school library, using teachers past performance for promotions, frequent supervisions by ministries, employing more qualified teachers, supplying relevant textbooks, holiday tutorials and mathematics laboratory are necessary for improvement on the difficult topics. Suggestions for further research and limitations were also given

INTRODUCTION/CHAPTER ONE

 Background of the Study

Education is an instrument for transformation, which over the years has transformed many cities, cultures, races and nations. There is a global acceptance of the role of education as an important instrument for the realization of the goals and aspirations of any Nation (Joseph, 2010). Consequently, education has been viewed as the instrument “par excellence” for national development (FRN, 2004). Ashipu (2001) sees education as an instrument, which enables an individual to improve and develop the right attitudes, abilities and competences necessary for effective adult life.

In view of the importance of education to both individual and National life, Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) in her National policy on education categorized the education system into five levels namely; lower basic, middle basic, upper basic, post basic, and tertiary. Lower basic is primary 1-3, Middle basic is primary 4-6 Upper basic is Js1-3 and Post basic Education is SS1-3 (Segun, 2012). The subjects offered in school comprise the following: English Language, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Government etc. Mathematics is one of the fundamental subjects every child must in his/her attempt to acquire education.

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Mathematics is the science of number and space (Kurumeh and Imoko, 2008). It is the language of the new millennium (Harbor-Peters, 2000). It is the queen of science and technology. It is a tool for scientific and technological development. No nation can develop scientifically and technologically without proper foundation in school mathematics (Okafor, 2005). Its usefulness in everyday living cannot be over emphasized. It is due to its indispensability in nation building that, it is made one of the core and compulsory subjects in primary, junior and senior secondary levels of Nigerian education system (Kurumeh and Imoko, 2008).

Therefore, mathematics as a subject influences all aspects of human life at different degrees such as the social, economic, political, geographical, scientific and technological facts of life (Agnes, Anthony and Julie, 2009). They believe that the inter-relationships among mathematics, development and advancement of human technology show the importance of mathematics to human development and existence.

Mathematics education in Nigeria has witnessed constant changes from one form to another since 1960 till date. Firstly, in 1958, mathematics education experienced a world wild curriculum reform at all levels of education (Odili, 2006). This mathematics curriculum reform which was held in Edinburgh an international congress of mathematicians which actually gave birth to a new curriculum popularly known as Entebbe mathematics or modern mathematics. This curriculum was meant to meet the technical needs of mathematics, physics and engineering (Godwin, 1997).

Three is no new Curriculum with a shortcoming, so also the modern mathematics curriculum had its own lapses.

  1. The content was purely irrelevant to Nigeria culture and experience.
  2. The hasty nature of the implementation of the modern mathematics curriculum with pilot testing and evaluation before reader implementation.
  3. Lack of adequate training of modern mathematics teachers
  4. The curriculum did not include problem solving experience
  5. Derived from the local environment and the method of teaching was by role memory, devoid of understanding basis of mathematical thoughts and operations (Odili, 2006).

In March 1978, a National Critique workshop held in Onitsha gave birth to another new mathematics curriculum known as New General Mathematics (Godwin, 1997). The contents of this new mathematics curriculum represent a compromise between modern and traditional mathematics. This curriculum also had its own shortcomings. The curriculum failed to provide a link or bridge the gap between secondary school mathematics and tertiary mathematics course (Godwin 1997).

This shortcoming led to another new curriculum in 1984 from a workshop held in Jos which gave birth to further mathematics, meant for potential mathematics, engineers and scientists (Odili, 2006). For a long time was new general mathematics and further mathematics here been on us till 2007 when these curriculum were reviewed and decision was taken by NERDC to integrate some part of further mathematics into General Mathematics to bride the existing gap between secondary school mathematics and tertiary mathematics (Obioma, 2007).

Many new topics were added into the new general mathematics in other to meet up the targets of MDGs and NEEDS on value orientation, poverty eradication, job creation, wealth generation and using education to empower the people (Obioma, 2007). The new mathematics curriculum added some introductory topics in matrices, modular arithmetic, simple calculus (differentiation and integration), simple co-ordinate geometry, logical reasoning and financial mathematics like annuity and amortization. Therefore, the new curriculum might not be left without some challenges also.

The most challenging part of curriculum planning is attaining the intended curriculum (Cuban, 1993). The intended curriculum is the one prescribed by policy makers, the implemented curriculum is the one that is actually carried out by teachers in their classrooms and the attained curriculum is the one learnt by the students (Offorma, 2006). Part of the mismatch between the intended and attained curriculum is due to the fact that teachers work on more limited goals than those proposed by curriculum developers (Handal, 2001).

The teacher factor is very prominent in determining the quality and the output of any educational system (Azuka, Jekayinta, David and Okwuoza, 2013). Hence teachers are regarded as the hub around which every other factor affecting the quality of education revolves. In other words irrespective of the quality and quantity of buildings, curriculum, books and other infrastructures are provided in any education and other infrastructures are provided in any education system, in the final analyses the success and performance of the educational system will depend on the teacher.

Burke (1996) has argued that curriculum policy-makers may do well to look in depth at mathematics teacher’s perception about the curriculum under implementation. If the mathematics teacher’s perceptions are not congruent with the perceptions underpinning an educational reform, then the success of the innovation as well as the teacher’s moral and willingness to implement the new curriculum will be greatly reduced. The difference between curriculum goals and teacher’s perceptual systems is a factor that affects curriculum change in mathematics education (Handed and Herruigton, 2003).

Brew, Rowley and Leder (1996) interviewed 40 teachers on their perceptions of the implementation of the Victorian certificate of Education (VCE) in Sydney, a curriculum that relied heavily on investigative work. The investigators found that a number of teachers held contradictory beliefs to the reform and some teachers were finding difficulties while other teachers were just paying lip services to the curriculum goals not implementing them. Likewise, if not at all checked, the newly introduced topics might lead to rote learning like that of modern mathematics in 1970’s.

Moreover, what is perception? Perception is the organization, identification and interpretation of sensory information in order to fabricate a mental representation signals through the process of transduction, which sensors in the body transform signals from the environment into encoded neural signals (Kendra, 2012).

Perception is a product of biological and environmental factors. Also, perception is our sensory experience of the world around us and involves both on recognition of stimuli and actions in response to these stimuli (Kendra 2012). Therefore, poor perception reduces proper actions. Through the perceptual process, we gain information about the properties and elements of the environment. Perception not only creates experience but also allows us to act within the experience (Andrew, 2013).

Teacher’s perceptions are shaped tremendously by social forces. Social changes can result in teachers having showed or biased perceptions of some of the things they deal with on a daily basis (Andrew, 2013). However, teachers also can act as agents of change, shaping the world in ways that they may not even realize. It follows therefore that better understanding of any topic lies on the personal interpretations or construction that the person makes of it (Adegun and Adegun, 2013), that is perception in action. Teachers’ perception has much to do with curriculum implementation especially mathematics curriculum.

In recent curriculum reform teachers’ development is one of the central focuses of the curriculum planners in Nigeria (Olorantegbe et al, 2010). If the teacher’s development is one of the central focuses, therefore, the teacher’s attributes such as gender, teaching experience and educational qualification have to be seriously considered as important factors in curriculum implementation (Anderson, 1999). Therefore, the influence of teacher’s perception on new mathematics curriculum implementation needed to be re-considered again.

The perception of male teachers might likely differ from that of female teacher. Amoo and Onasanya (2010) discovered significant difference in male and female disposition towards teaching of mathematics. The gender of the teacher is another factor that influences mathematics curriculum implementation (Gbenga, 2011). Gender is referred to as the social roles that are believed to belong to male and female within a particular social grouping (Amoo and Onasanya, 2010). Gender is the out come of a social, historic and cultural process that develops through practices, symbols, representations, social standards and values, which determine the appropriate roles for male and female (Dora, 2006).

Presently, the teaching profession appears to have taken over by females while males continually decline from teaching (Agharuwhe and Nkechi, 2008). Dee (2005) stated that gender interaction that exists between teachers and students influences the students` performance. Gbenga, (2011) believes that female students thought by female teachers in Mathematics have a positive perception about Mathematics.

Perception is a product of biological and environmental influences (Kendra, 2012). School location has been found as one of the potential factors influencing teacher’s perception (Owoeye, 2011). Throwing more light on locational influence, Ezike (1997) conceptualized urban environment as those environment which have high population density containing a high variety, beautiful and common place views. He further identified the rural environment as being characterized by low population density containing a low variety and isolated place views. Earlier in his comment, Owoeye (2011) corroborated that rural community is characterized by low population, subsistence mode of life, monotonous and burdensome, Citing hotels, recreational centers, markets, banks and good road network as being present in their urban environment.

Owolabi (1990) accentuated that our highly qualified teachers prefer to serve in urban rather than the rural areas. As a corollary of the above, Owoeye (2011) observed that teachers do not accept postings to rural areas-because their conditions are not up to the expected standard as their social life in the areas is virtually restricted as a result of inadequate amenities, facilities are deficient, play ground are without equipment, libraries are without books while laboratories are glorified ones.

The location of some schools has been an impediment to the implementation of new innovations even when qualified teachers are being deployed to the school. Amponsah, (2008) declared that the number of facilities available to a people often defines the quality of life in that environment or society. Making a critical analysis, Hallak (1990) surmised that provision of education in rural areas is normally fraught with the following difficulties and problems, qualified teachers refuse to relocate to rural areas, villagers refuse to send their children to schools especially the female children, lack of accessible roads, lack of electricity, insufficient teaching materials, poor provision of science teaching equipment and library. Teachers in such environment are usually influenced by the poor and deprived conditions of the environment. They perceived every new innovation as not possible or difficult to achieve even when it is not tried.

To teach new curriculum at all levels of education, the teachers or instructors currently employed by the Government have to receive further training in teaching the new contents of the curriculum (Ajibola, 2008). Also teachers’ perception about the new mathematics curriculum needed to re-examine and how teachers gender differences and qualification help in influencing their perceptual processes over the new curriculum. How location create bias mind in mathematics teachers over new innovation needed to be discovered or disproved.

 

Statement of the Problem

Planning a comprehensive curriculum is not just enough but the means of translating and achieving the stipulated goals in the new curriculum is more crucial. There is always a gap between planned curriculum and attained curriculum. In between them is the implementation and the teachers occupy key position in curriculum implementation.

Therefore, it becomes necessary to examine the perception or ideas of the teachers who are the implementers on the contents of the new curriculum that is about to be implemented. It is apparent that any successful reform in Mathematics curriculum will need to take into account mathematics teacher’s perception about the intended, the implemented and the attained curriculum content. If the implemented curriculum is a product of teacher’s beliefs put into action, then, it will be crucial to examine deeply the Mathematics teacher’s perception about the new mathematics curriculum content, in order to achieve desired results.

In mathematics curriculum implementation, many factors play different roles such as teacher’s gender, teacher’s qualification, location of services, innovative curriculum materials, classroom and infrastructural conduciveness to mention but a few. The influence of some of these factors have to be re-examined such as the influence of teacher’s gender, qualification and location of service on teacher’s perception of difficult areas in the new mathematics curriculum. Therefore, the problem of this study what are the areas in the new mathematics curriculum that teachers perceive to be difficult and how do teachers’ gender, qualifications and location of services influence the level off perception of the difficult areas?

 

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to determine the teachers’ perception of difficult areas in the new mathematics curriculum at post basic Education level.

Specifically, this study sought to determine:

  1. the topics in the new mathematics curriculum which senior secondary mathematics teachers find difficult to teach
  2. whether gender of the teacher, is a factor which influences the area of difficulty in the new mathematics curriculum.
  3. whether academic qualification of the teacher, is a factor which influences the area of difficulty in the new mathematics curriculum.
  4. whether location of service of the teacher, is a factor which influences the area of difficulty in the new mathematics curriculum.
  5. strategies to be employed in solving the problem of difficult topics found in the new mathematics curriculum.

 

Significance of the Study

          It is hoped that the result of this study will contribute immensely to the solution of some basic educational problems in mathematics instruction. The study will provide both theoretical and practical significance. Practically at the completion of the study, the identified level of difficulty of mathematics topics would serve as very useful and strong tools to the curriculum planners and developers, curriculum implementers which are the teachers, the society, federal and state ministry of education, as well as the government and other researchers will benefit from it.

This study will add to more understanding of social learning theory. We know that every member of a given society has the right of recognition and acceptance. Functional social theorists believe that individuals within a society evaluate their peers and place them in the social order according to how well that person performs in terms of value. Therefore, it is necessary to find out how social environment affect the teachers performance and their value system in every new innovation in school system.

Also the theory of perception provides that all perception is biological. Therefore people react to the same thing differently. In view of this, caution needed to be taken when new innovations are being introduced. Good strategies have to be developed before the implementation starts. It should be notified that perception can be changed and the dependent factor in perception is the individual persons therefore, the teachers ought to develop positive attitudes toward new curriculum especially in mathematics teaching. These theories are provided for positive development not creating negative impressions on the users.

This study will also add to the theory of classical conditioning. Both teachers and students can be conditioned to respond positively to new innovations in our education system. In teaching mathematics, it is much easier to teach and learn mathematics when the appropriate materials are being manipulated by both the teachers and students. We know that through the theory of conditioning one can re-direct the interest and perception of ones’ difficult areas using proper ICT materials and new teaching strategies.

It is obvious that education has gone electronical. It is necessary that government should employ more of the modern materials like computer, games, film projector and other teaching aids in classroom teaching especially those technical topics in the curriculum. This will ease the teachers work in trying to import the knowledge to the students.

The study will provide grassroots information about teachers’ reaction towards the new mathematics curriculum to the curriculum planners and developers. This information will help the curriculum planners to come up with new ideas on how to make implementation more successful, like the in-service training, seminars and workshops on those newly introduce contents which may seem difficult in teaching. Alternatively, the national subject bodies like STAN and MAN may try to develop more appropriate and easy approach to handle those difficult areas of the new curriculum.

This study will also enlighten the teachers on ways to conquer their local challenges in implementing the new curriculum. Human beings always face challenges in life, but while we are human is our ability to improve, develop strategies to conquer difficulties. Mathematics is like every other subject, therefore should not be feared by any person either male or female teachers or students in general. Also teachers should try to upgrade their academic qualifications by getting higher degrees not depending only on NCE qualification.

The society comprises the towns where schools are located, school environment and the country in general. This study is geared towards creating the spirit of oneness. Gender equality and sensitivity should be encouraged by all. The way somebody is appreciated has a lot to do in his or her performance to duty. The principals, parents, students, school management board etc should believe positively that both male and female teachers can do well in the system.

This study will also provide areas of curriculum which the government needed to provide in service training, workshop and seminars. Also where appropriate supervision should be carried out by the federal/state ministry of education to see how these new curriculums are being implemented. The ministries need to know those materials that are important for the implementation of difficult topics in the new curriculum and demand the government to provide it for schools.

This study will help the government to know the problems inherent in teaching and learning of mathematics in secondary school. When the government realizes the imbalance in the system, it will propel the government to provide adequate instructional materials and reduces the gap that exists between urban and rural environment by providing other resourceful amenities.

The study will also act as stepping stone to other researchers who may wish to carry out similar studies in other states, locations and subjects.

Therefore, the re-orientation on issues of perception, gender, school local and academic qualifications in mathematics teaching will help to avert cases of some difficulties found in mathematics which will enhance and improve the national development.

 

Scope of the Study

The scope of this study was delimited to one hundred and twenty senior secondary mathematics teachers in Enugu State. This work was also limited to gender, location and academic qualifications as factors that influence teachers’ perceptions of difficult areas on new mathematics curriculum. Also, the researcher limited this work on those topics contained in the new senior secondary mathematics curriculum which are sub-divided under the following sub-headings; numbers and numeration, algebraic process, geometry, statistics, trigonometry and introductory calculus. This work also intended to provide possible remedial strategies that may be employed as means of alleviating the perception problems and the difficult contents of the new curriculum.

 

Research Questions

The following research questions were posed to guide the study:

  1. What are the topics in the new senior secondary mathematics curriculum teachers perceived difficult to teach?
  2. To what extent does gender of the teachers influence perceived area of difficulty in new mathematics curriculum.
  3. To what extent does academic qualification of the teacher influence perceived area of difficulty in the new mathematics curriculum?
  4. To what extent does location of service/work place influence perceived area of difficulty in the new mathematics curriculum?
  5. What strategies are required to improve the implementation of the new mathematics curriculum?

 

Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were formulated to guide the study

Ho1: Teachers` gender has no significant influence on the perception mean scores of the teachers in the new senior secondary mathematics curriculum.

Ho2 :            Teachers’ academic qualification has no significant influence on the  perception mean scores of the teachers in the new senior secondary  mathematics curriculum.

Ho3:   Teachers’ location of service has no significant influence on the perception mean scores of the teachers in the new senior secondary mathematics curriculum.

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