Teachers’ Views in the Aspect of New Mathematics Curriculum
This study sought to identify Teachers’ Views In The Aspect Of New Mathematics Curriculum in Post Basic Education levels in Enugu state of Nigeria. Based on a review of literature, five research questions guided the study while three hypotheses were equally tested. A survey design was used for the study. A multistage sampling procedure involving simple random sampling techniques by balloting and cluster sampling techniques were adopted to compose the sample of 120 mathematics teachers in four Education Zones of Enugu State. A Structured Questionnaire Titled Mathematics Topic Assessment Questionnaire (MTAQ) was used to collect data from the respondents. The data collected were analyzed using mean, standard deviation and one-way ANOVA to test the hypotheses at 0.05 levels of significant. The analysis of the data yielded the following results: the teachers find the teaching of matrices, sphere, trigonometry functions, collection and presentation of data, differentiation and integration of algebraic function difficult. Gender, academic qualification and location of services of the teacher have no significant influence in the difficulty levels of topics in the new mathematics curriculum. It was recommended that in-service training, constant workshops, higher degree programmes, provision of modern instructional materials, use of computer and its softwares, re-equipping of school library, using teachers past performance for promotions, frequent supervisions by ministries, employing more qualified teachers, supplying relevant textbooks, holiday tutorials and mathematics laboratory are necessary for improvement on the difficult topics. Suggestions for further research and limitations were also given.
Background of the Study
Education is an instrument for transformation, which over the years has transformed many cities, cultures, races and nations. There is a global acceptance of the role of education as an important instrument for the realization of the goals and aspirations of any Nation (Joseph, 2010). Consequently, education has been viewed as the instrument “par excellence” for national development (FRN, 2004). Ashipu (2001) sees education as an instrument, which enables an individual to improve and develop the right attitudes, abilities and competences necessary for effective adult life.
In view of the importance of education to both individual and National life, Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) in her National policy on education categorized the education system into five levels namely; lower basic, middle basic, upper basic, post basic, and tertiary. Lower basic is primary 1-3, Middle basic is primary 4-6 Upper basic is Js1-3 and Post basic Education is SS1-3 (Segun, 2012). The subjects offered in school comprise the following: English Language, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Government etc. Mathematics is one of the fundamental subjects every child must in his/her attempt to acquire education.
Mathematics is the science of number and space (Kurumeh and Imoko, 2008). It is the language of the new millennium (Harbor-Peters, 2000). It is the queen of science and technology. It is a tool for scientific and technological development. No nation can develop scientifically and technologically without proper foundation in school mathematics (Okafor, 2005). Its usefulness in everyday living cannot be over emphasized. It is due to its indispensability in nation building that, it is made one of the core and compulsory subjects in primary, junior and senior secondary levels of Nigerian education system (Kurumeh and Imoko, 2008).
Therefore, mathematics as a subject influences all aspects of human life at different degrees such as the social, economic, political, geographical, scientific and technological facts of life (Agnes, Anthony and Julie, 2009). They believe that the inter-relationships among mathematics, development and advancement of human technology show the importance of mathematics to human development and existence.
Mathematics education in Nigeria has witnessed constant changes from one form to another since 1960 till date. Firstly, in 1958, mathematics education experienced a world wild curriculum reform at all levels of education (Odili, 2006). This mathematics curriculum reform which was held in Edinburgh an international congress of mathematicians which actually gave birth to a new curriculum popularly known as Entebbe mathematics or modern mathematics. This curriculum was meant to meet the technical needs of mathematics, physics and engineering (Godwin, 1997).
Three is no new Curriculum with a shortcoming, so also the modern mathematics curriculum had its own lapses.
1. The content was purely irrelevant to Nigeria culture and experience.
2. The hasty nature of the implementation of the modern mathematics curriculum with pilot testing and evaluation before reader implementation.
3. Lack of adequate training of modern mathematics teachers
4. The curriculum did not include problem solving experience
5. Derived from the local environment and the method of teaching was by role memory, devoid of understanding basis of mathematical thoughts and operations (Odili, 2006).
In March 1978, a National Critique workshop held in Onitsha gave birth to another new mathematics curriculum known as New General Mathematics (Godwin, 1997). The contents of this new mathematics curriculum represent a compromise between modern and traditional mathematics. This curriculum also had its own shortcomings. The curriculum failed to provide a link or bridge the gap between secondary school mathematics and tertiary mathematics course (Godwin 1997).
This shortcoming led to another new curriculum in 1984 from a workshop held in Jos which gave birth to further mathematics, meant for potential mathematics, engineers and scientists (Odili, 2006). For a long time was new general mathematics and further mathematics here been on us till 2007 when these curriculum were reviewed and decision was taken by NERDC to integrate some part of further mathematics into General Mathematics to bride the existing gap between secondary school mathematics and tertiary mathematics (Obioma, 2007).
Many new topics were added into the new general mathematics in other to meet up the targets of MDGs and NEEDS on value orientation, poverty eradication, job creation, wealth generation and using education to empower the people (Obioma, 2007). The new mathematics curriculum added some introductory topics in matrices, modular arithmetic, simple calculus (differentiation and integration), simple co-ordinate geometry, logical reasoning and financial mathematics like annuity and amortization. Therefore, the new curriculum might not be left without some challenges also.
The most challenging part of curriculum planning is attaining the intended curriculum (Cuban, 1993). The intended curriculum is the one prescribed by policy makers, the implemented curriculum is the one that is actually carried out by teachers in their classrooms and the attained curriculum is the one learnt by the students (Offorma, 2006). Part of the mismatch between the intended and attained curriculum is due to the fact that teachers work on more limited goals than those proposed by curriculum developers (Handal, 2001).
The teacher factor is very prominent in determining the quality and the output of any educational system (Azuka, Jekayinta, David and Okwuoza, 2013). Hence teachers are regarded as the hub around which every other factor affecting the quality of education revolves. In other words irrespective of the quality and quantity of buildings, curriculum, books and other infrastructures are provided in any education and other infrastructures are provided in any education system, in the final analyses the success and performance of the educational system will depend on the teacher.
Burke (1996) has argued that curriculum policy-makers may do well to look in depth at mathematics teacher’s perception about the curriculum under implementation. If the mathematics teacher’s perceptions are not congruent with the perceptions underpinning an educational reform, then the success of the innovation as well as the teacher’s moral and willingness to implement the new curriculum will be greatly reduced. The difference between curriculum goals and teacher’s perceptual systems is a factor that affects curriculum change in mathematics education (Handed and Herruigton, 2003).
Brew, Rowley and Leder (1996) interviewed 40 teachers on their perceptions of the implementation of the Victorian certificate of Education (VCE) in Sydney, a curriculum that relied heavily on investigative work. The investigators found that a number of teachers held contradictory beliefs to the reform and some teachers were finding difficulties while other teachers were just paying lip services to the curriculum goals not implementing them. Likewise, if not at all checked, the newly introduced topics might lead to rote learning like that of modern mathematics in 1970’s.
Moreover, what is perception? Perception is the organization, identification and interpretation of sensory information in order to fabricate a mental representation signals through the process of transduction, which sensors in the body transform signals from the environment into encoded neural signals (Kendra, 2012).
Perception is a product of biological and environmental factors. Also, perception is our sensory experience of the world around us and involves both on recognition of stimuli and actions in response to these stimuli (Kendra 2012). Therefore, poor perception reduces proper actions. Through the perceptual process, we gain information about the properties and elements of the environment. Perception not only creates experience but also allows us to act within the experience (Andrew, 2013).
Teacher’s perceptions are shaped tremendously by social forces. Social changes can result in teachers having showed or biased perceptions of some of the things they deal with on a daily basis (Andrew, 2013). However, teachers also can act as agents of change, shaping the world in ways that they may not even realize. It follows therefore that better understanding of any topic lies on the personal interpretations or construction that the person makes of it (Adegun and Adegun, 2013), that is perception in action. Teachers’ perception has much to do with curriculum implementation especially mathematics curriculum.
In recent curriculum reform teachers’ development is one of the central focuses of the curriculum planners in Nigeria (Olorantegbe et al, 2010). If the teacher’s development is one of the central focuses, therefore, the teacher’s attributes such as gender, teaching experience and educational qualification have to be seriously considered as important factors in curriculum implementation (Anderson, 1999). Therefore, the influence of teacher’s perception on new mathematics curriculum implementation needed to be re-considered again.
The perception of male teachers might likely differ from that of female teacher. Amoo and Onasanya (2010) discovered significant difference in male and female disposition towards teaching of mathematics. The gender of the teacher is another factor that influences mathematics curriculum implementation (Gbenga, 2011). Gender is referred to as the social roles that are believed to belong to male and female within a particular social grouping (Amoo and Onasanya, 2010). Gender is the out come of a social, historic and cultural process that develops through practices, symbols, representations, social standards and values, which determine the appropriate roles for male and female (Dora, 2006).
Presently, the teaching profession appears to have taken over by females while males continually decline from teaching (Agharuwhe and Nkechi, 2008). Dee (2005) stated that gender interaction that exists between teachers and students influences the students` performance. Gbenga, (2011) believes that female students thought by female teachers in Mathematics have a positive perception about Mathematics.
Perception is a product of biological and environmental influences (Kendra, 2012). School location has been found as one of the potential factors influencing teacher’s perception (Owoeye, 2011). Throwing more light on locational influence, Ezike (1997) conceptualized urban environment as those environment which have high population density containing a high variety, beautiful and common place views. He further identified the rural environment as being characterized by low population density containing a low variety and isolated place views. Earlier in his comment, Owoeye (2011) corroborated that rural community is characterized by low population, subsistence mode of life, monotonous and burdensome, Citing hotels, recreational centers, markets, banks and good road network as being present in their urban environment.
Owolabi (1990) accentuated that our highly qualified teachers prefer to serve in urban rather than the rural areas. As a corollary of the above, Owoeye (2011) observed that teachers do not accept postings to rural areas-because their conditions are not up to the expected standard as their social life in the areas is virtually restricted as a result of inadequate amenities, facilities are deficient, play ground are without equipment, libraries are without books while laboratories are glorified ones.
The location of some schools has been an impediment to the implementation of new innovations even when qualified teachers are being deployed to the school. Amponsah, (2008) declared that the number of facilities available to a people often defines the quality of life in that environment or society. Making a critical analysis, Hallak (1990) surmised that provision of education in rural areas is normally fraught with the following difficulties and problems, qualified teachers refuse to relocate to rural areas, villagers refuse to send their children to schools especially the female children, lack of accessible roads, lack of electricity, insufficient teaching materials, poor provision of science teaching equipment and library. Teachers in such environment are usually influenced by the poor and deprived conditions of the environment. They perceived every new innovation as not possible or difficult to achieve even when it is not tried.
To teach new curriculum at all levels of education, the teachers or instructors currently employed by the Government have to receive further training in teaching the new contents of the curriculum (Ajibola, 2008). Also teachers’ perception about the new mathematics curriculum needed to re-examine and how teachers gender differences and qualification help in influencing their perceptual processes over the new curriculum. How location create bias mind in mathematics teachers over new innovation needed to be discovered or disproved.
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