Students have many different perceptions of mathematics. Most business and athletics leaders will talk about how the individual’s attitude directly affects their performance in the office or on the field. Attitude towards mathematics plays a crucial role in the teaching and learning processes of mathematics. It affects students’ achievement in mathematics. The teaching method, the support of the structure of the school, the family and students’ attitude towards school affect the attitudes towards mathematics. This study looked at how students’ attitudes impact the mathematics performance of the students in the classroom. Five selected school in Katsina – Ala Local Government Area of Benue State were the focus of this study. Students were surveyed by the researcher on their attitude towards mathematics education. The findings revealed that attitude and gender difference have a significant impact in the performance of students in mathematics. It also revealed that positive attitude towards mathematics leads students towards success in mathematics. Attempt to improve attitude towards mathematics at lower level provides base for higher studies in mathematics. It also causes effect in achievement of mathematics at secondary school level.
1.1 Background of the Study
There is no disagreement on the vital importance of mathematics to both the scientist, the technologist and even to every layman in his everyday life (Omenka, 2013). Mathematics is the key element and activity in the day to day living that every human being practices in one form or the other (Kurumeh, Akure, and Oguche, 2007). The knowledge of mathematics is an essential tool in our society (Baroody, 1987). It is a tool that can be used in our daily life to overcome the difficulties faced (Bishop, 1996). Due to this, mathematics has been considered as one of the most important core subject in a school curriculum. More mathematics lessons are likely to be taught in schools and colleges throughout the world than any other subject (Orton, Orton, & Frobisher, 2004).
The Nigerian education accorded mathematics a special position in the school curriculum. In fact, it made a core-subject for both Arts and Science students. All the junior secondary schools students have to pass it at the junior secondary school certificate examination before they are allowed to register for senior secondary school examination. In other words mathematics is one of the core-subjects both at the junior and senior secondary school levels. It is also required that a student gets a credit pass in it to get admission for science related courses in the universities.
However, the standard tests and evaluations reveal that students do not perform to the expected level. The student under achievement in mathematics is not just a concern for particular countries, but has become a global concern over the years (Pisa, 2003).
Despite the relevance of mathematics and the efforts made by the government to improve the student’s achievement in mathematics, the result is not yet satisfactory. The West African Examination Council, WAEC (2004) Chief Examiner’s Report shows that 1,090,503 candidates sat for external out of which only 10.5% passed. In 2005 out of 1464,301 candidates that sat for external only 15.2% passed mathematics. In 2007, out of 1,484,611 candidates, only 18.5% passed mathematics. National Examination Council, NECO (2006) reported that many of the candidates exhibited lack of knowledge of basic principles needed to tackle some of the mathematics problems.
Several studies and researches have been done in many countries to find the factors that influence the student’s performance in mathematics. Among these factors, student’s attitude towards mathematics is one important factor that has been consistently studied. Often, the studies on relationship between student’s attitude and the student’s academic performance show a positive relationship (Mohd, Mahmood, & Ismail, 2011; Bramlett & Herron, 2009; Nicolaidou & Philippou, 2003; Papanastasiou, 2000; Ma & Kishor, 1997). Hence students’ attitude towards mathematics is a major factor that might influence the performance of the students. Due to this, several studies have been conducted in different countries in order to find out the students attitude towards mathematics (Tahar, Ismail, Zamani & Adnan, 2010; Tezer & Karasel, 2010; Maat & Zakaria, 2010; Bramlett & Herron, 2009; Köğce, Yıldız, Aydın, & Altındağ, 2009; Tapia & Marsh, 2004; Fennema & Sherman, 1976) and hence to use these data to suggest the low performance of students and factors affecting it. The aim of this research is to find out the factors influencing the attitude of secondary school students towards mathematics in some schools in Katsina-Ala, Benue State. The research focuses on finding the students’ attitude towards mathematics and also finding the significant difference between student’s attitudes towards mathematics with regard to the gender of the students.