**STUDENT VARIABLES AND ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN MATHEMATICS IN IKWUANO LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA**

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**Abstract**

*The study investigated student variables and academic performance in Mathematics in Ikwuano Local Government Area. In order to achieve this, three research purposes and research questions were formulated to guide the study. The population of the study comprised of 500 Mathematics students in junior secondary two in all the nine (9) public secondary schools in Ikwuano Local Government Area. *

*The sample size was 200 junior secondary two students. The instruments used were a fifteen (15) item questionnaire titled “Students’ Variable Questionnaire (SVQ)” and Mathematics Achievement Test (MAT). The data collected were analyzed using simple percentage. Based on the findings, it can be concluded that: students’ gender, age and learning styles influence the academic performance in Mathematics in secondary schools in Ikwuano Local Government Area. Based on the finding, it was recommended that: students should recognize the need for effective participation during teaching/learning of Mathematics.*

## Student Variables and Academic Performance in Mathematics

**CHAPTER ONE**

**INTRODUCTION**

**1.1 Background to the study **

The teaching/learning process involves a vast array of interventional processes at the centre of which is the teacher (the facilitator of learning) on one hand and the students (the learners) on the other hand. According to Eyo (2014), learning is a purposeful, conscious and complex process which must involves the effort of the learners before there is effective learning. An important feature of learning according Eyo is that it involves a complex interaction between the students and the learning concepts.

However, according to Ekwe (2015) the students occupy the central role for learning to occur as learning cannot be forceful and as such the learners must be ready to learn before they can learn. However, due to the important position occupy by students in the teaching/learning process, their variables become necessary to be investigated upon.

Clark and Rumble (2014) in addition to personal and mental developments, students’ variables analysis is critical for ensuring ones access to social, economic and civic life. In the contemporary Nigerian society, greater emphasis is being placed on industrial and technological development. As a result, students are being encouraged to take up science related subjects. One of such subjects that cut across all the areas is science education. In our march towards scientific and technological advancement, we need nothing short of schooling (Inyang, 2015).

Contemporarily, individual variables such as gender, age, peer group, study habit, intelligence, and personality play an important role in learning. The conclusion by Udofia (2012) in his findings on self concept and students’ academic performance in Mathematics in secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area was that student’s variables such as motivational orientation, self-esteem and learning approaches are important factors influencing academic performance in science. In effort to improve students’ cognitive and effective out comes in school learning, educational psychologist have continued to search for variables that could be manipulated in favour of academic gains of all the personal and psychological variables that have attracted researchers in this area of educational achievement, motivational orientation seems to be giving more popularity and leading other variables.

Now considering national growth in terms of science and technology, Mathematics is number one subject and the tool that service science and technology. The world is fast changing due to science and technology, hence emphasis on science, technology and Mathematics. Mathematics is seen as the language of science, engineering and technology and it can be said that without Mathematics, there can be neither science nor engineering and it found important use in our society been pervasive in every life’s endeavour.

To this end, Samuel Joshua and Asim (2011), described Mathematics education to a nation as what protein is to a young human organism. According to them Mathematics plays a vital role of a precursor and harbinger to the much needed technology advancement leading to national development.

Simply put, Mathematics is the study of structure whose form can be expressed in symbols and is the grammar of all symbolic system. The symbols and relationship that exist between them are the stuff of which Mathematics is made. Students therefore develop fear and hatred to the learning of Mathematics when these symbols, signs and formulae are not understood.

However, when it comes to workforce in a given nation, it is noted that there are gender differences especially in science, Mathematics and engineering. In the past three decades, there has been a concerted effort to find out why there is a shortage of women in science, Mathematics, engineering and technical field according to American Association of University Women Report (AAUW, 1993). It was found that women who pursue careers in sciences, engineering and Mathematics most often chose fields in biological science where they represent 40% of workforce with smaller percentage found in Mathematics. Odebode (2001) pointed out that “it is disheartening to note that a very small percentage of employed female are in Science, Technology and Mathematics education (STM)”.

**1.2 Statement of the Problem**

It is observed that over the years, majority of students that sat for the Junior Secondary School Certificate (JSSC) examination have been recording mass failure not only in the area of overall performance, but also in the key subject like Mathematics, English and Mathematics. The percentage of students who passed their Junior Secondary School Certificate (JSSC) with credit in Mathematics, Mathematics and English Language was below 50% (Eguridu, 2017). The same poor performances were equally recorded by students in the subsequent year 2017. These ugly trends may have indicated the current worries among stakeholders on factors responsible for poor performance of students. All the blames tends to be attributed to teachers and school environment. The stakeholders failed to consider students’ characteristics as contributory factors.

Hence, the researcher is worried whether student’s variables such as gender, age and learning styles could influence academic performance of students in Mathematics owing to the important position students occupy in the teaching and learning processes of any school subject. This ugly situation triggers the researcher to investigate students’ variables influence on their academic performance in Mathematics in secondary school students in Ikwuano Local Government Area.

**1.3 Purpose of the Study**

The main purpose of the study was to examine the student’s variables and academic performance in Mathematics in secondary school students in Ikwuano Local Government Area. Specifically, the study intended to find out:

(i) Influence of gender on academic performance in Mathematics in secondary school students in Ikwuano Local Government Area;

(ii) Influence of age on academic performance in Mathematics in secondary school students in Ikwuano Local Government Area; and

(iii) Influence of learning style on academic performance in Mathematics in secondary school students in Ikwuano Local Government Area.

**1.4 Significance of the study**

The findings of this study would help in the following ways:

- It would be useful to the curriculum planners and developers in the areas of secondary education syllabus as it would enable them to develop a Mathematics curricular that is student-centered bearing in mind the differences between the students.
- The findings of this study would help the school counselors to frequently organize orientation study on Mathematics for the students.
- The findings from this study would help parents to get more involved in the education of their children by giving them the necessary educational materials that would motivate them.
- This study would help the teachers to make both the school and classroom environment conducive, also to improve on their method of teaching and strategies which in turn motivate the students during the teaching-learning process.
- This study would help the school counselors to identify students whose personal traits affect the learning/study habits negatively, thus helping them to re-adjust themselves to ascertain effective participation to promote academic excellence.
- The findings of this study would help the students to be aware that their personal characteristics are key determinants of their learning outcome and these should be strictly observed for better learning result.
- The findings would also enable school administrators to provide a conducive working environment for counselors to exercise their professionalism that would be of help to students to re-adjust their negative personal variables towards effective learning of Mathematics.
- This research finding would stimulate further relevant researchers in the area or related area.

#### Student Variables and Academic Performance in Mathematics

**1.5 Research Questions**

The following questions were formulated to guide the study in line with the objectives of the study.

- How does gender influence the academic performance of students in Mathematics?
- How does age influence the academic performance of students in Mathematics?
- How does learning style influence the academic performance of students in Mathematics?

**1.6 Delimitation of the Study**

This research work was restricted to student’s variables such as gender, age and learning styles and academic performance in Mathematics in secondary schools in Ikwuano Local Government Area. Only junior secondary two (JS2) Mathematics students in the 2017/2018 academic session in public secondary schools in Ikwuano local Government Area were involved in the study.

**1.7 Limitation of the Study**

Lack of adequate funding and poor rural roads network limited the extent of this study. Also, the time given for the completion of this study limited the scope of this study. There was also challenge of finding relevant materials related to the study.

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**1.8 Operational Definition of Terms**

The following terms were defined as used in the study;

**Student’s variables:** This is individual students physical characteristics such as gender, age and learning styles used in the study.

**Gender:** This is the sexual orientation of the student which is either a male or female.

**Age: **An individual’s development measured in terms of the years requisite for like development of an average individual.

**Learning style:** This is a specific way used by students to get information. It is a style preferred by students to his/her learning.

**Academic Achievement:** This is the score of students in Examinations or Test.

**Mathematics**: The study of Mathematics is about how individuals and group of people organize, plan and act to create and develop goods and services for human consumption and satisfaction.

Lawson Peter – Chief Editor in Projectvilla Nigeria. A writer and academic researcher.