THE BACKGROUND OF STUDENTS IN MATHEMATICS AS A PREDICTOR OF ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN PHYSICS IN EKITI STATE TERTIARY INSTITUTION

**ABSTRACT**

The study examined the background of students in mathematics as a predictor of academic achievement in Physics in Ekiti state tertiary institution. Data was collected from two hundred (200) students (male and female) from tertiary institutions in Ekiti state. The instrument for the study was self-structured questionnaire to collect data from them. A test-retest method was employed to ascertain the reliability of the instrument, using Pearson product moment correlation. Eight research questions and eight hypotheses were used for the study. They analysed using Pearson product moment correlation. The study concluded that: there was significant relationship between students’ background knowledge of mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics in state and federal institution and that there was significant relationship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics in state and federal institution. Therefore, the following recommendations were made: all science students should be encouraged to offer mathematics as this will enhance their performance in Physics and teachers of mathematics should teach the subject very well so that students will understand and apply the knowledge in other areas.

**TABLE OF CONTENTS**

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** **Contents page

TITLE PAGE

APROVAL PAGE

CERTIFICATION

DEDICATION

AKNOWLEDGEMENTS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT

** CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION**

Background of the Study

Statement of the Problem

Purpose of the Study

Research Questions

Research Hypotheses

Significance of the Study

Delimitation of the Study

Definition of terms

**CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE**

Concept of Physics

Teaching and Learning of Physics

Trends in Nigerian schools Physics Performance

Students’ academic achievement in Mathematics and Physics

Studies of Students’ Mathematical skills and academic achievement in Physics

The Relationship between Students’ Success in Physics and Their Attitudes towards Mathematics

Interrelationship between Students’ academic achievement in Mathematics and Physics.

Summary of Literature Review

** CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHOD**

Research Design

Population of the Study

Sample and Sampling Techniques

Research Instrument

Validity of the Instrument

Reliability of the Instrument

Administration of the Instrument

Method of Data Analysis

**CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION**

Research Hypothesis One

Research Hypothesis Two

Research Hypothesis Three

Research Hypothesis Four

Research Hypothesis Five

Research Hypothesis Six

Research Hypothesis Seven

Research Hypothesis Eight

Discussion

**CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS**

Summary

Conclusion

Recommendations

Limitations to the Study

Suggestion for further studies

**REFERENCES **

**APPENDIX I **

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**CHAPTER ONE**

**INTRODUCTION**

**Background to the Study**

A complete understanding of the concepts in physics requires fluency in the mathematical language in which these concepts are couched. However, many introductory, algebra-based physics students perform poorly on mathematical problem solving tasks in physics. Physics as one of the physical science subjects plays an important role in the technological development and industrial revolution of any nation. The knowledge of scientiﬁc skill in physics is of tremendous use in solving diverse problems of humanity and providing solution to natural and artiﬁcial problems in the world at large. According to Esiobu (2015) and Akinyemi & Orukotan (2005), Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) education play a dominant role in the developmental effort of nations.

Science and technology are seen as the foundation of national power and productivity. Technological advancement seems to be the gateway to present day economic growth, social well- being, political power and military superiority. It means that the knowledge of physics contributes to the cognitive reservoir that facilitates the sustenance and advancement of technologically oriented society. Physics links the principle learnt and the phenomena observed in the classroom to applications in engineering and allied ﬁelds.

The importance of physics cuts across human endeavour such as medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, petroleum engineering, geology, engineering, industries and computer. The feats of science and technology are in every facet of human endeavour. It could be rightly said that every sector of the society now depends on science and technology for proper functioning and mathematics as the creation of human mind (Awofala , 2013) is the universal language used to describe the problems arising in most branches of science and technology.

Mathematics, the creation, representation analysis, interpretation of numbers and symbols affects all aspects of the human environment signiﬁcantly but at varying degrees. The social, economic, political, geographical, scientiﬁc and technological aspects of man’s life centre on number. One very important fact is that all other disciplines of numbers- Arithmetic, statistics, accounts etc. are integral parts of mathematics. The earliest civilization of mankind came through mathematical manipulation. The pyramid of Egypt constructed several years ago still remains tourist attraction to date.

The construction of the pyramids involved sound and intelligent mathematical calculation. The marriage of mathematics to the evolution and development of the civilization and overall advancement of human world conﬁrms its importance, owing to its numeral and symbolic nature, it is more married to the scientiﬁc and technology facets of our world than to any other aspect. It occurs and reoccurs in physical and natural sciences which are mainly represented by physics and chemistry in our secondary schools.

Based on this circumstance, it is an established fact that mathematics is and remains a dominant contributing factor to the performance of student in physics and chemistry and the control tool of mathematics remains the basic skills underlying all scientiﬁc and technological skills. Mathematics is a subject that is related to other science subjects such as physics and chemistry in areas like Number and numeration–fractions, logarithms indices, Algebraic processes – solution of equations, variation, graph, and also in volume and students often perform poorly in the sciences (Jegede , 2012; Mkpananga, 2015).

Although, science has been accepted by many people including students as the bedrock for technological development they still feel that mathematics is not necessary for achieving good performance in science. The reason for this can be attributed to the controversy surrounding the nature of mathematics (Hailikari., 2007) and one question beckoning for answer is under what branch of studies should mathematics be classiﬁed? While one school of thought agrees that mathematics is a science another argues that mathematics must be an art.

This later school of thought is based on the fact that mathematics, in its application is purely an art. On the other hand students view mathematics as a difﬁcult school subject and so many of them try to avoid it. The physical sciences (Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics) are studied in our secondary schools as separate subjects having little or no direct relationship with one another even when the same teacher teaches the two or more of these subjects. The lack of coordination, integration and purposeful planning makes students fail to understand the interrelatedness among the various subject ﬁelds in mathematics and physics.

Mathematics and science in primary and secondary schools share common objectives and it is desirable, for a better academic achievement, for those who major in science to select mathematics as their minor as this will be of immense beneﬁt. Physical sciences are deeply rooted in mathematics, and as such they should not be studied in isolation of mathematics. The poor approach of teachers to the inter-relatedness of these subjects or the total lack of it makes the students believe that mathematics is not necessary for them to perform well in physics. Unfortunately for them mathematics has been accepted as the compulsory pre-requisite for admission into universities.

In addition, poor grounding in mathematics is manifested in their overall performance in physics which over the years have faced a continuous downward trend in Senior Secondary School Certiﬁcate Examination results. In Nigeria, students’ poor performance in physics have been attributed to poor teaching methods, unqualiﬁed and inexperienced teachers, poor student attitude toward physics, poor learning environment and gender effect (Ogunleye, 2000; Jegede , 2002; Owolabi, 2004). In spite of all the advantages derived and the recognition given to physics as one of the core science subjects and as a pivot upon which technological and economic development rest, there are wider gaps between curriculum planner intention, the implementers, that is, physics classroom teachers and what goes on in the classroom.

This has led to the negative perception of students that physics is a difﬁcult school subject. More often than not the interrelatedness of mathematics and physics is not always emphasised in physics teaching. What students already know about the content is one of the strongest indicators of how well they will learn new information relative to the content. Commonly, researchers and theorists refer to what a person already knows about a topic as “background knowledge.”

Numerous studies have conﬁrmed the relationship between background knowledge and student achievement (Nagy., 2007; Dochy., 2009; Tobias, 2004). In these studies the reported average correlation between a person’s background knowledge of a given topic and the extent to which that person learns new information on that topic is Prior research has attempted to measure the impact of high school physics courses on students’ success in undergraduate physics (Hart & Cottle, 2003; Alters, 2005).

These American studies generally found that students who performed well in high school mathematics and physics subjects also did well in undergraduate physics. However, Tai & Sadler (2001) point out that these conclusions were reached by examining only a few variables and forming simple correlations. The present study was undertaken to investigate the background of students in mathematics as a predictor of academic achievement in Physics in Ekiti state tertiary institution.

**Statement of Problem**

This study is set out to examine the background of students in mathematics as a predictor of academic achievement in Physics in Ekiti state tertiary institution. The teaching and learning of Physics have standards to be followed by the science teachers if effective learning is to be achieved.

Despite the fact that government has invested a lot on science education, there are some persistent problems in our tertiary institutions. Students’ low success level in Physics as a subject has been a worry for a long time in many countries including Nigeria. Despite stringent measures and strategies employed by the Nigerian government to ensure that educational standards are maintained in higher institutions, students, whom after passing through all these vigorous teaching and learning strategies, still performs far below expectations. In an attempt to put sound education on ground worldwide, many factors have been incriminated as being responsible for falling standard of education where it is perceived and established. Such factors could traced to students’ attitudes to learning, poor infrastructure, students’ background knowledge in mathematics. All these have been posing a great challenge to students’ achievement in various subjects especially in Physics.

Physics is unpopular and known to be a boring subject among students in tertiary institutions. If this phenomenon is not addressed and is ignored, students who are neither interested nor motivated to learn this subject will increase and this will lead to negative attitude and perception towards Physics (Business Coalition for Education Reform (2002). Furthermore, according to Guzel (2004), the decrease in Physics academic achievement is alarming. In schools, teachers have always commented that failure in Physics achievement by some students is due to their power background knowledge in Mathematics. Shallow of mathematical concept affects internal motivation which in turn affects the academic achievement and students’ participation in various subjects especially in Physics (Visser, 2007).

Physics has always been perceived as a tough subject compared to its other two pure science counterparts, Biology and Chemistry. Physics is not only difficult to be grasped but students also consider finding the solutions to solve any problems related to Physics as complicated (Seth, Fatin, & Marlina, 2007). The relevant question to be asked is that does students’ background knowledge in mathematics contribute significantly to their achievement in physics in tertiary institutions. Hence, this research works intends to investigate the background of students in mathematics as a predictor of academic achievement in Physics in Ekiti state tertiary institution.

**Purpose of the Study**

The general objective of this study is to examine the background of students in mathematics as a predictor of academic achievement in Physics in Ekiti state tertiary institution. The study intends to specifically;

- Examine the relationship between male and female students’ background knowledge of mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics.
- Investigate the relationship between students’ background knowledge of mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics in state and federal institution.
- Scrutinize the relationship between male and female students’ attitudes towards mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics.
- Determine the relationship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics in state and federal institution.
- Ascertain the relationship between male and female students’ mathematical ability and their degree of readiness to learn physics.
- Find out the relationship between students’ mathematical ability and their degree of readiness to learn physics in state and federal institution.
- Point out the relationship between male and female mastery of Mathematics and easy calculations of physics by tertiary institutions students.
- Appraise the relationship between mastery of Mathematics and easy calculations of physics by tertiary institutions students in state and federal institution.

**Research Questions**

The following research questions are formulated to guide the study;

- What is the relationship between male and female students’ background knowledge of mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics?
- What is the relationship between students’ background knowledge of mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics in state and federal institution?
- What is the relationship between male and female students’ attitudes towards mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics?
- What is the relationship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics in state and federal institution?
- What is the relationship between male and female students’ mathematical ability and their degree of readiness to learn physics?
- What is the relationship between students’ mathematical ability and their degree of readiness to learn physics in state and federal institution?
- What is the relationship between male and female mastery of Mathematics and easy calculations of physics by tertiary institutions students?
- What is the relationship between mastery of Mathematics and easy calculations of physics by tertiary institutions students in state and federal institution?

**Research Hypotheses**

The following research hypotheses are formulated to guide the study;

- There is no significant relationship between male and female students’ background knowledge of mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics.
- There is no significant relationship between students’ background knowledge of mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics in state and federal institution.
- There is no significant relationship between male and female students’ attitudes towards mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics.
- There is no significant relationship between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and their academic achievement in Physics in state and federal institution.
- There is no significant between relationship male and female students’ mathematical ability and their degree of readiness to learn physics.
- There is no significant between relationship students’ mathematical ability and their degree of readiness to learn physics in state and federal institution.
- There is no significant relationship between male and female mastery of Mathematics and easy calculations of physics by tertiary institutions students.
- There is no significant relationship between mastery of Mathematics and easy calculations of physics by tertiary institutions students in state and federal institution.

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**Significance of the Study**

The imperativeness of this study cannot be underrated. The study will be of high significance in that it will help the following categories of people in the following ways; lecturers, parent, students and school administrators to consider the relevance of background of students in mathematics to their academic achievement in Physics.

This study will serve as an eye opener to the lecturers in knowing the importance of students’ background knowledge of mathematics as a predictor of academic achievement in Physics. This research work will serve as information to the lecturers on existing factors affecting students’ achievement in Physics especially in higher institutions.

The school authorities will benefit immensely from this study, as it will help keep them informed on use of effective mastery of mathematical concept to influence better achievement in Physics in various higher citadel of learning. Government would not be left out in the list of the beneficiaries of this study. The research work will help the government to see reasons why trained and qualified lecturers should be recruited into our tertiary institutions, why seminars and workshops should be organized by the government for the lecturers to enable update their knowledge.

This study will in no small measure assist parents and the society at large in knowing what their children and wards do in school and thus, see ways of assisting them to learn and concentrate more on their studies and knowing much about mathematical skills and concepts.

Students will be derived benefits from this study. It will expose the extent to which the background of students in mathematics contributes to their academic achievement in Physics. It will help them to know the way out of various difficulties encounter in learning of Physics. Equally, it will guide them step up their reading and mastery of various skills and abilities in Mathematics in order to come out in flying colour in their various examinations especially in Physics.

It is expected that this study will proffer salient information that would assist the society at large to encourage teaching and learning of mathematics because of its importance to various courses of study.

The would-be researchers in the related topic of this study will find this study as a point of reference to substantiate their facts and figures. It will serve as a foundational premise to fall back upon in carrying out their researches in the shortest possible time.

**Delimitation of the Study**

This study is delimitated to Ekiti state tertiary institutions. The background of students in mathematics is the independent variable while the academic achievement in Physics in Ekiti state tertiary institution is the dependent variable. The respondents cut across both male and female students.

**Definition of Terms**

** ** The following terms were operationally defined in this study:

**Teaching:** This is the process of transferring ideas through methods by the teacher to the students’ in order to ensure learning.

**Learning:** This is the process of acquiring new ideas which involve change in behavior after acquiring new concept.

**Students:** someone who is studying at a university, school etc

**Classroom:** a room that you have lessons in at a school or college

**Teacher:** someone whose job is to teach, especially in a school

**School:** a place where children are taught

**Lecturer:** someone who gives lectures, especially in a university:

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