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1.1   Background to the Study

Mathematics is a core subject in schools all over the world. The study of mathematics was designed to produce competent people with knowledge of mathematics in their everyday life; thus, enhancing effective problem-solving and decision making among individuals (Oni, 2016). In several education systems all over the world, mathematical basic knowledge acquired in elementary school is vital for a student to progress to upper classes in secondary schools.Mathematics has often be referred to as the king of all subjects by educators. This is in attestation to the overarching relationship that the subject has with other subjects. Indeed, mathematics serves as the background for many important subjects such as Physics and Chemistry; mathematics is also employed in other subjects such as Geology and Biology (Jones, 2012). Yet, many researches (Adediwura & Tayo, 2007; Krejcie & Morgan, 2010; Yahaya, Ramli & Boon, 2000 etc) revealed that many students face challenges in mathematics teaching and learning.

Perception which implies an internal matter and difficult to understand plays an important role in achieving one’s target in many things. In the opinion of Yahaya, Ramli & Boon (2010) students’ performance in certain subjects depends on their perceptions about the subject. Positive perceptions about a subject will encourage a student to learn the subject much better. According to Zulkarnian, Saim  and Talib (2011), students’ perceptions need to be fostered throughout the process of teaching and learning in order to encourage good achievement. The ability of students to use the knowledge is a measure of the effectiveness of teaching and learning processes. A positive perception can motivate students’critical thinking, being active in the classroom, working together in groups, improve interaction and communication skills. However, there are several factors that can influence a student’s perception about a subject, some of which are: the teacher (teaching style and teacher’s characteristics), the student (cognition and affection towards the subject) learning environment (class size, classroom temperature, Indoor Air Quality etc.) and learning materials (textbooks, instructional materials etc.) (Fraser, 2012).

The teacher characteristics that influence students’ perceptions on the teaching and learning of mathematics among secondary school students according toGibbons, Jacobs & Duff(2007) include: teacher training; teacher experience ;and teacher’s professional development, while the student characteristics that influence their perceptions on the teaching and learning of mathematics in secondary school according to Mashaka (2011) are: student’s self-efficacy skills, natural aptitude, good mathematics foundation at primary school.Again, teaching style used in the process of teaching and learning has a significant impact on students’ interest and understanding of a subject. Teachers’ style ofteaching is also one of the factors that determine students‘ achievement in a subject (Madar, Kamaruddin & Putch, 2008). Yusof and Zakaria (2009) supported that the appearance and presentation styles of teaching and learning play an important role in efforts to enhance students’ understanding. When students’ perception of their teachers’ is low, students’ attitude towards mathematics tends to be negative (Etuk, Maria & Asukwo, 2008). Teachers and students should cooperate with each other in the teaching and learning process. Teachers should do their best to educate the students. In order to encourage students to practice their preferred learning approach, a conducive environment needs to be implemented by the teacher. Teachers also should put in effort to increase the use of materials and teaching aids to make the process of learning easier (Salleh, Yusof & Dawang, 2013).

1.2   Statement of Problem

Mathematics is a subject that is commonly feared among students (Okebukola, 2007). There is a common perception among many students that mathematics is too technical and rather difficult to understand. In fact, a lot of students cannot study this subject alone without the assistance of a guide such as a teacher or a fellow student (Ozcan, 2011; Luboja, 2011).This kind of perception usually develops over time – as a result of students’ unsavoury experiences with the subject, putting into consideration the factors that go into teaching and learning such as the teacher, the learning environment, learning materials and the learners themselves.

This study therefore sets out to examine the perceptions on the teaching and learning of Mathematics among secondary students in Lagos State.

1.3    Purpose of Study

The main purpose of this study was to examinestudents’ and teachers’ perceptions on teaching and learning of mathematics. Specifically, this study aims at:

  1. To examinestudents’ perceptions about the learning of mathematics
  2. To find out teachers’ perceptions on the teaching and learning of mathematics
  3. To determine how teachers’ characteristics impact the teaching and learning of mathematics
  4. To examine the impact of learning environment on teaching and learning of Mathematics among secondary school students in Lagos State
  5. To investigate the influence of instructional materials on the teaching and learning of mathematics among secondary school students.

1.4    Research Questions     

The following research questions were answered in the course of this study:

  1. What are the perceptions of students about the learning of mathematics?
  2. What are the perceptions of teachers on the teaching and learning of mathematics?
  3. What is the influence of teachers’ characteristics on mathematics teaching and learning among secondary school students?
  4. How does learning environment influences teaching and learning of mathematics among secondary school students?
  5. How does instructional materials impact the teaching and learning of mathematics among secondary school students.

1.6    Significance of the Study

This study would be significant to students, teachers, school authority and the Ministry of Education

This study would help mathematics students to understand better the reasons for their attitudes towards and perceptions about the subject. It will help them to identify the different factors that shaped their attitude towards mathematics such as learning environment, instructional materials and teachers and the steps they need to take in order to improve their performance.

This study would reveal to the teachers how students perceive mathematics as a subject, and hence the steps they need to take to help the students improve those perceptions e.g through improved teaching methods. It will also reveal to teachers the reasons for students’ current perceptions and the teaching methods they need to adopt.

Through the empirical findings of this study, the Ministry of Education would be able to get more information about the perceptions of students on the teaching and learning of mathematics among secondary school students.

Curriculum: The designers of the curriculum would be made aware of the changes they need to implement in the classroom teaching of mathematics and also what changes need to be made in recommended textbooks as a way to improve mathematics teaching, learning and performance.

1.7    Scope of the Study

This scope of this study coveredthe perceptions on the teaching and learning of mathematics among secondary school students. It also covers teachers and students of Mathematics in Education District (IV), Lagos State and the descriptive survey research design.


1.8   Operational Definition of Terms

  • Teacher: The secondary school mathematics teacher
  • Student: The secondary school mathematics student
  • Learning Environment: The location in which mathematics is taught in terms of factors such as classroom size, noise level and teacher-student ratio.
  • Learning Materials: This refers to the textbooks, instructional materials, teaching aids etc. used to teach mathematics.
  • Mathematics Teaching:The continuous transmission of mathematics instruction in secondary schools.
  • Mathematics Learning:Students acquisition of mathematics learning through classroom learning activities.
  • Learning Environment: This refers to the diverse physical locations, contexts and cultures in which students learn.
  • Instructional Materials: Thisrefers to the human and non-human materials and facilities that can be used to ease, encourage, improve and promote teaching and learning activities. They are whatever materials used in the process of instruction

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