THE IMPACT OF GENDER ON THE MATHEMATICS TOPIC PREFERENCES IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The relevance of mathematics to daily life necessitates its inclusion in the curricula of all educational levels. Almost every person, whether literate or illiterate, utilizes mathematical principles in their daily lives, even if they are unaware of it.
Mathematics may be described simply as the human experiences and knowledge including the concepts of number, amount, and space. In a formal educational context, mathematicians have developed the ability to translate abstract notions into logical, systematic, and symbolic words that incorporate pattern and accuracy. Frequently, mathematical formulas better express physical findings, hence boosting comprehension. There is no question that mathematics has become a permanent part of the global school curriculum.
According to Animalu (2022), a growing society seeking this characteristic should possess the ability to absorb information, be service-oriented, and inventive. Nigeria strives to be a modern industrial society. Obviously, this can only be accomplished with a firm basis in mathematical understanding. Numerous scientists, such as Archimedes and Galileo, who made significant scientific advancements were exposed to the greatest mathematical education of their day. Investing in the training of scientific and technical personnel will increase the nation's economic and political growth, and appropriate mathematics education at all levels will go a long way toward achieving the purpose of science and technology promotion.
Despite the significance and relevance of mathematics in all fields of human endeavor, students' cognitive, emotional, and psychomotor achievements in mathematics at all levels of the educational system fall short of expectations. This is especially troubling for mathematics educators. The performance of pupils in mathematics in external tests such as Cambridge, senior school certificate (administered by WAEC and NECO), Universities Matriculation Examination (UME), and Polytechnic and Colleges of Education Examination has declined. Numerous variables have been highlighted by mathematics instructors as contributing to the low mathematical achievement of kids.
Research on student learning has demonstrated that learning orientations impact learning outcomes (Vermunt, 2022). The views of learning environments, particularly assessment perceptions, have also been demonstrated to have a significant impact on learning orientations (Entwistle & Entwistle 2022). Examinations and tests might hinder students' efforts to gain personal comprehension since they simply reflect the end outcome and do not indicate the individual transformation that has occurred (Tynjaka, 2022).
Science is acknowledged globally as a driver of technological, social, and economic advancement (Ogunbanjo, 2022). Mathematics is the language of science but is not fundamental to these disciplines. Students in secondary schools must be instructed in mathematics at least four times every week. This is to guarantee that pupils have sufficient topic mastery. Despite the significance of mathematics, pupils typically do badly. Therefore, it is necessary to determine which mathematical topics students enjoy and which they despise.
The 1997, 1999, and 2000 Chief Examiners' Reports of the West African Examination Council highlighted the mathematical deficiencies and skills of applicants. According to these assessments, applicants demonstrated aptitude for numerical statistics, algebra and algebraic processes, the four arithmetic rules, and logarithms and their applications. The applicants' preference for these themes may be attributed, among other things, to their comprehension of the issues. Consequently, applicants fared better in these subjects compared to Geometry, Trigonometry, and Probability. Weaknesses and strengths of candidates are not unrelated to pupils' choice for certain arithmetic areas over others. If students favor certain mathematical topics over others, are their preferences influenced by gender?
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In education, gender equality and gender inequalities have been a source of contention in recent decades (Sprinthall & Oja 2022). Although boys and girls sit in the same classroom, read the same textbooks, and listen to the same teacher, it is recognized that they learn differently (Sadker & Sadker, 2022). This suggests that gender influences the educational experiences of many pupils in the current educational environment. Honey, Moeller, Brunner, Bennelt, Clements, & Hawkes (2022) discovered that women and men understand mathematics-related topics differently. They concluded that girls regard mathematics-oriented fields as integral to human connection, whereas boys see them as an extension of their authority.
These opinions appear to be connected to students' preferences for certain mathematical courses in secondary school. In light of this, the study intended to determine the effect of gender on students' preferences for advanced mathematical topics.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to examine the impact of gender on the mathematics topic preferences in senior secondary schools. Specifically, this study seeks to:
i. Determine the extent different genders make mathematics topic preferences in senior secondary schools.
ii. Determine whether gender preferences on mathematics topics affect academic performance.
iii. Examine the reasons for gender preferences on mathematics topics in senior secondary schools.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions will be answered in this study:
i. To what extent do different genders make mathematics topic preferences in senior secondary schools?
ii. Does gender preferences on mathematics topics affect academic performance?
iii. What are the reasons for gender preferences on mathematics topics in senior secondary schools?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research will help children, teachers, parents, and society as a whole.
1) It will help school counselors expose their students to the importance of these so-called "difficult subjects" to their future jobs and the necessity to master them by holding career seminars.
2) Authors of mathematics will also find it advantageous to include 'gender-neutral' images and commonplace items in their work.
3) It will also draw to the attention of the government the need to provide the appropriate instructional resources for teaching the specified "difficult topics" in mathematics.
4) It will also bring to the attention of parents and the society the importance of seeing their female children as equally capable as their male children.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is generally focused on the impact of gender on the mathematics topic preferences in senior secondary schools. Specifically, this study is focused on determining the extent different genders make mathematics topic preferences in senior secondary schools, determining whether gender preferences on mathematics topics affect academic performance and examining the reasons for gender preferences on mathematics topics in senior secondary schools.
Students of selected secondary schools in Ukanafun LGA of Akwa Ibom State will be the respondents for the study.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. However, the researcher were able to manage these just to ensure the success of this study.
Moreover, the case study method utilized in the study posed some challenges to the investigator including the possibility of biases and poor judgment of issues. However, the investigator relied on respect for the general principles of procedures, justice, fairness, objectivity in observation and recording, and weighing of evidence to overcome the challenges.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Impact: A marked effect or influence.
Mathematics: Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes such topics as numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes.
Gender: Either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones.
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