UNIVERISTY OF PORT-HARCOURT
DEPARTMENT OF CURRICULUM STUDIES AND EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY (MATHEMTICS OPTION Med) TOPIC
THE EFFECT OF MATHS ANXIETY AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENT IN PORT-HARCOURT LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF RIVERS STATE
NNEAMAKA ONAIFOH MARY
Background of Study
The issue of poor performance of students in mathematics has become a perennial problem, both elsewhere and in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the performances of students in external examinations in mathematics have continued to slide on a downward trend. Learners continue to manifest weak understanding of mathematics concepts, skills, generalizations, etc. Tobias (1993) defines mathematics anxiety as feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations and can cause one to forget and loose one’s self-confidence. Math anxiety usually arises from the lack of confidence when working in mathematical situations (Stuart, 2000). It has been attributed to one of five sources including: myths associated with mathematics, out of class experiences, expectations, reading and language facility, and classroom stress (Handler, 1990). Math Anxiety is often compounded over time and can affect students of math in a variety of ways. Math anxiety can begin at any age of schooling, but most students most commonly have negative experiences (Clawson, 1991, p.2). Unless addressed directly, this anxiety often continues or even worsens through secondary level, and into higher institution. This anxiety is not only difficult for the student to deal with, but it compounds into a lack of understanding of major concepts. This can close doors for students who not only may have otherwise chosen careers that would deal with math directly, but indirectly also. The lack of understanding of basic mathematical principles can result in an inability to solve chemistry, engineering, and other scientific problems (Bursal & Paznokas, 2006). It also prevents students from acquiring logic and reasoning skills that can be used in a variety of areas, even outside the realm of mathematics. Bamidele (2005) in his study mathematics not dreadful subject stated that in Nigerian schools, student’s general impression is that mathematics is a dreadful subject. But ironically, this subject is the basis for scientific and technological advancement of any country. This was corroborated by Prof. Samuel Ale that the subject is rather an interesting one hence, the establishment of the National Mathematical Center (NMC) in Abuja, Nigeria. The main objectives of the NMC was to improve on the teaching and learning of mathematics; to develop interest in the mathematical sciences; to enable researchers in the mathematical sciences to come together for more advanced work by organizing workshops not only for Nigeria, but also for West Africa, Africa and the world at large. Mathematics is more challenging for some students than others and a student with problems in that subject finds ways to continue to do poorly. Bad study habits, low confidence on days of mathematics tests and poor self-esteem inhibit academic potential and can snowball into a lifelong phobia for mathematics, which can spread to other areas of life. An atmosphere that is conducive to the learning process, which is more than just a physical space with good lighting, can help to solve some of the anxiety student experience in mathematics test (Xin, 1999). Learning is maximized when students and teachers share a strong rapport, when students are safe, trusted and respected and when students believe in themselves. When, students get the opportunity to learn in a supportive environment like this, their test scores, self-esteem and confidence are built up. They experience a shift in learning from drudgery to joy. Unfortunately, many of the learning environments are not optimized the way the programmes are and...
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