Factors influencing mathematics performance in KCSE among learners in public secondary schools in Kilifi sub-county
Githaiga, Esther Wanjiru
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Mathematics plays a critical role in development of thinking skills, creative problem solving, precise communication as well as teamwork skills for 21st century socio-economic development. Despite mathematics playing an important societal role, students continue to perform poorly in mathematics in national examinations. In Kilifi Sub-County of Kenya, very few students attained the required grade of C+ in mathematics. The study’s main aim therefore was to assess factors influencing mathematics performance in KCSE among learners in public secondary schools in Kilifi sub-county. The study specifically assessed how: Student’s attitude, family background, teaching and learning resources influence mathematics performance in KCSE among learners in public secondary schools in Kilifi sub-county. The study was founded on social cognitive theory, self- efficacy theory as well as Plato and Socrates’ perspectives on teaching and learning. It targeted mathematics heads of department, mathematics teachers and Form Three students from all the public secondary schools in Kilifi Sub-county. Slovins formula was used to come up with a sample of 12 secondary schools. From each of the schools, purposive sampling was used to recruit, mathematics HODs, teachers and students. The study therefore had a sample of 156 respondents comprising 12 mathematics heads of department, 24 mathematics teachers and 120 students. Students were selected among the worst performing students in the previous end-of-term examinations. Questionnaires were used to collect data. SPSS were used to aid in data analysis. Descriptive statistics comprising frequencies, percentages, mean and standard deviation were used to organize findings. Chi-square tests were used to establish relationships. Tables were used to present the study findings. The study found that students generally had negative attitudes towards mathematic subject terming it as a complex subject. Majority of students were from poor backgrounds and therefore lacked necessary resources for learning mathematics. Teaching resources were also found to be inadequate. The findings showed that poor preparedness of teachers in mathematics was brought about by heavy workload. Chi-square analysis showed that students attitude (p=0.000) and teaching resources (p=0.021) were significant at 95% confidence level. Cramer’s V values showed that student’s attitude (v=0.680) had a greater influence than teaching resources (v=0.305). The study therefore concluded that poor mathematics performance in KCSE among learners in secondary schools in Kilifi sub-county could have been caused by students’ negative attitudes and inadequate teaching resources. It was recommended that secondary schools in Kilifi sub-county to hire motivational speakers in order to change their poor perception of mathematics. In addition, the ministry of education should commit more mathematics teaching resources to secondary schools. Benchmarking with schools performing well in mathematics should also be done where students can visit and learn. The study also recommended that teachers use audio-visual equipment and internet based programs to teach mathematics.