Concept Mapping and Academic Performance of Students in Mathematics


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1.1    Background to the Study

Learning is a purposeful, conscious and complex process. An important feature of learning is that it involves a complex interactive system including environmental, social, motivational, emotional and cognitive factors (Baron& Byrne, 2003; Huffman,2004; Joyce, weil & Cathown, 2004). Various teaching-learning strategies have been developed to accelerate learning process of students. Learning strategies evolve from the learning theories defining the role of teachers, students and the contents.

In Pakistan, at present, mostly behavioural practices are in vogue in schools were students are passive and classroom environment is mostly teacher dominated (Igbal,2011). The national policy on education 2013 stresses for the paradigin shift from the behavourism to constructivism to enhance conceptual learning in science and development of attitude towards learning of science. This curriculum demands such teaching-learning strategies that may involves students in their own knowledge construction, placing them as centre of learning activity and teacher as a facilitator.

Concept mapping is one of the teaching-learning strategies under constructivism having its orientation in Davis Ausubel’s Assimilation theory (1968) of cognitive learning, which aims at fostering meaningful learning by students. Concept mapping as a learning strategy uses a rich social environment, where learners work individually and in groups to scaffold and mediate learning of each other (Oakley, 2004).

Concept mapping is a technique of visually representing the structure of information, concepts and their relationship. Research studies in the field of science education reflect that concept mapping can be used as a successful teaching-learning strategy from primary school to university level.

Concept maps are used as a tool for meaningful learning, assessment, instructional planning and findings out the alternative concepts or misconcepts held by the learners (Nesbit & Adesope, 2006; Novak & Canas, 2006). Learning through concept mapping has long lasting effect on memory demonstrated in the form of better results in delayed post test as compared with other manipulative learning strategies like experimental method and concept mapping (Hilbert & Renkl, 2007, Donnell, Dansereau & Hall, 2002).

However, Chabeli (2010) posited that if students can link new information to their existing conceptual framework, they can construct new, meaningful interconnection so that the existing conceptions are transformed, enriched or revised and conceptual change occurs. Therefore existing conception are transformed during knowledge construction, that construction is that of understanding.

Gravett (2011) added that interactions, collaboration, dialogue and discourse are key concepts in facilitating understanding of educational activities. The author further stated teaching method should succeed in revealing the subject contents to the students and the teaching method used for instruction, be it in the classroom or in the laboratory should have a scientific character.

It is therefore important to investigate didactic method validity in view of laying down guidelines to improve the practice of teaching mathematics and promote creative and critical thinking among students. It was on this background that the study is carried out to investigate the effect of concept mapping on the academic performance of students in Mathematics in secondary schools.

Concept Mapping and Academic Performance of Students in Mathematics

1.2    Statement of the Problem

The importance of Mathematics as a tool for science and technology is continually increasing. While science and technology have become so pervasive, Mathematics education has continued to dominate the school curriculum and remains a key subject area requirement in higher education and employment sector.

Despite the high position offered to Mathematics in Nigeria education system, many students struggle to learn Mathematics and often do not achieve success through their learning. This may stem from the fact that, they do not construct appropriate understanding of fundamental Mathematics concepts through their learning strategies. This has left the students with poor performance in both public and internal examinations (Obodo, 2004).

It is also disheartening that approaches and strategies for teaching and learning of this subject at secondary levels of education are not probably being put to use effectively that could promote learners activity and provide learners’ guided practice enabling them to retain concepts taught and solve problems (Achor, Imoko & Uloko 2009). It is against this backdrop that this study was carried out to determine effect of concept mapping on academic performance of students in Mathematics in secondary schools in Eket Local Government Area.


1.3    Purpose of the Study

This study will investigate the effect of concept mapping on academic performance of students in Mathematics in secondary schools in Eket Local Government Area. Specifically, this study will seek to:

  1. Investigate whether students taught Mathematics using the concept mapping method perform better than those taught using conventional method.
  2. Find out gender difference on academic performance of students in Mathematics when taught using concept mapping.

Concept Mapping and Academic Performance of Students in Mathematics

1.4    Significance of the Study

This study would be significant in the following ways:

  1. Curriculum designers in developing curricular for Nigerian science teacher of tomorrow will be equipped with knowledge on what type of method to include for instruction.
  2. It will enhance innovative thinking, creativity and resourcefulness among Mathematics teachers as they will have to think of selecting relevant instruction technique for their lesson.
  3. Future researchers will use the outcome of the research as reference materials on related topics.

1.5    Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses is formulated to guide the study:

  1. There is no significant difference in the academic performance of students taught Mathematics using concept mapping and those taught using conventional method of teaching.
  2. There is no significant difference in the academic performance between male and female students when taught Mathematics using concept mapping.

1.6    Delimitation of the Study

Due to constraint of time, the study is delimited to the effect of concept mapping on students’ academic performance in Mathematics in selected secondary schools in Eket Local Government Area. Also, only Senior Secondary Two (SS2) students is considered for the study due to financial constraint as well as time.

1.7    Operational Definition of Terms

The following terms is defined as used in the study:

Concept Mapping: This is the method of teaching use to represent the relationships among concepts. It is the representation of a set of concept meanings embedded in a financial of proposition.

Academic Performance: This is the students examination scores in the schools.

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