1.1 Background to the Study
Mathematics, to most, is a complex and difficult subject. The tendency for most students is to consider the subject as one that is boring, thus, creating lack of interest in the topics being discussed. This poses a great challenge for teachers and educators, especially in the primary and intermediate levels, wherein a good study habit and a firm grasp of basic concepts should be developed.
Mathematics is one of the most important school subjects in the curriculum worldwide. It is a subject that has direct relationship with other subjects, particularly technical and sciences. Mathematics is also a subject that cuts across primary and secondary school as a compulsory subject. Umameh, (2011) in Tshabalala and Ncube, (2013) was of the view that mathematics is bedrock and an indispensable tool for scientific, technological and Mathematics advancement of any nation. In addition to that Davies and Hersh, (2012) see mathematics as the important subject not only from point of view of getting an academic qualification at school or college, but also is a subject that prepares the students for the future as well irrespective of which work of life they choose to be a part of. Mefor, (2014) summarized it all by saying that mathematics relates to everything in the universe from the smallest to the largest. Umameh, (2011) added that mathematics is intimately connected to daily life and everybody’s life-long planning. Therefore, mathematics is a subject that education and human life cannot function effectively without it. Equally, in Nigeria, mathematics is given all the necessary importance in the curriculum and all policies related to education, right from primary to higher levels. In relation to that Federal Republic of Nigeria (FGN) (2004) categorically stated that mathematics is one of the core or basic subject for all primary and secondary school children. In addition to that mathematics is one of the compulsory subjects that must be passed at credit level by students before getting admission into any tertiary institution in Nigeria. The secondary school mathematics has the following objectives as identified by Comparative Education Study and Adaptation Centre (CESAC) (1982):
- To develop computational skills and foster the desire and ability to be accurate in a degree relevant to the problem at hand.
- To develop precise, logical and abstract thinking.
- To develop ability to recognize problems and to solve them with related to mathematics knowledge.
- To provide necessary mathematical background for further education.
- To stimulate and encourage creativity, originality and curiosity in the learner.
However, it is disheartening to note that with all the importance attached to mathematics in Nigeria’s education system, poor performance is recorded in public examinations in recent time. This poor performance in mathematics is one of the major reason for decline in science and technology courses and development, even though FGN(2004) emphasis on 60:40 ratio in favour of sciences in the area of admission into higher institutions.
For long, the role of Mathematics was limited to purely academic domain. Now, the role of Mathematics is not restricted to purely academic domain. It has entered the domain of Technology and Industry. New fields in Mathematics such as Operation Research, Control theory, Signal Processing and cryptography have been generated which need technology. Technology can reduce the effort devoted to tedious computations and increase students’ focus on more important Mathematics.
Educational technology is an interdisciplinary field which is comprised of a diverse set of disciplines and knowledge domains (Bhagwan, 2005). It is mainly concerned with the use of various forms of instructional modes that aids in simplifying abstract concepts during the teaching and learning process. Computer Assisted Learning (CAL) refers to the use of a computer as an instructional material in the teaching learning process. In the process, the teacher gives learners computer directions in a programming language, use the computer as a tool using in-built software such as word processors and spread sheets or as a tutor the learners take drills, practice, tutorial, use exploration tools or simulation, and at times test using the computer (Deepark& Turner, 2006).
Snir (1996) in Hung and Khine (2006) argues that computers can make a unique contribution to the clarification and correction of commonly held misconceptions of phenomenon by visualizing those ideas. For instance, he suggests that the computer can be used to form a representation for the phenomenon in which all the relational and Mathematical wave equations, are embedded within the program code and reflected on the screen by the use of graphics and visuals. Such use, according to Anderson, Boyle and Yost, (1986) in Hung and Khine (2006) makes the computer an efficient tool to clarify scientific understanding of waves and other Mathematical topics.
Skinner’s (1950) concept of programmed instruction emphasized the need for total educational plan involving, identifying objectives; arranging subject matter into logical sequences; preparing and testing instructional programs; and then implementing, testing, and revising them. Skinner shifted the emphasis in education away from the teacher’s presentation of information and toward the learner’s behaviour and, especially, reinforcement of that behaviour. His teaching machines provided programmed instruction, which allowed students to proceed through lessons by small steps, at their own pace, following an orderly sequence, and receiving immediate reinforcement for every correct response. Skinner’s work emphasized the use of audio-visuals, which are well-illustrated in facilitating individualized learning.
Paper-and-pencil manipulation has been the standard approach in the teaching and learning of mathematics for many years. However, technology has the potential to change that. Many traditional difficult problems can now be solved by pressing a few keystrokes, using the appropriate technology. Computers allow more powerful mathematical problem-solving and graphing opportunities in the learning and teaching of mathematics. They provide convenient, accurate and dynamic drawing, graphing and computational tools (NCTM, 2003) and give students opportunities to explore applications and concepts that would be too tedious and time consuming using paper-and-pencil techniques. Nowadays, there is an increasing realisation that graphing technologies, particularly computers, may help secondary school students in learning mathematics and thus improve the ways of teaching and learning mathematics.
Various ideas have been put in place to checkmate the academic performance of students in Mathematics, part of which is the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to support learning. ICT is technology that supports activities involving information. Such activities include gathering, processing, storing and presenting data. Increasingly these activities also involve collaboration and communication.The impact of ICT on learning is currently in relation to use of digital media, primarily computers and internet to facilitate teaching and learning. ICTs are the technologies used in conveying, manipulation and storage of data by electronic means, they provide an array of powerful tools that may help in transforming the present isolated teacher-centered and text-bound classrooms into rich, student-focused, interactive knowledge environments.
One defining feature of ICTs is their ability to transcend time and space. ICTs make possible asynchronous learning, or learning characterized by a time lag between the delivery of instruction and its reception by learners. Online course materials, for example, may be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ICT-based educational delivery (e.g., educational programming broadcast over radio or television) also dispenses with the need for all learners and the instructor to be in one physical location. Additionally, certain types of ICTs, such as teleconferencing technologies, enable instruction to be received simultaneously by multiple, geographically dispersed learners (i.e., synchronous learning).
Another defining feature is that teachers and learners no longer have to rely solely on printed books and other materials in physical media housed in libraries (and available in limited quantities) for their educational needs. With the Internet and the World Wide Web, a wealth of learning materials in almost every subject and in a variety of media can now be accessed from anywhere at any time of the day and by an unlimited number of people. This is particularly significant for many schools in developing countries, and even some in developed countries, that have limited and outdated library resources. ICTs also facilitate access to resource persons— mentors, experts, researchers, professionals, business leaders, and peers—all over the world.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Mathematics has been recognized worldwide over the ages of civilization as a vital tool for survival particularly in areas of science and technology. Mathematics education therefore has increasingly become science and technological oriented. The 21st century has witnessed an advanced development in information communication and technology (ICT) through the introduction of undersea fibre optic cables which link the whole world through the computer (internet), making the world a global village (Deepark and Turner, 2006). Further to these, there has been an increase in access to computers due to tremendous advancement witnessed in computer hardware and software engineering which has resulted in the lowering of the prices of desktop and laptop computers (Garrison and Anderson, 2003).
Due to the initiative of the Nigerian Government through the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders, there has been massive rollout of computer hardware and software to learning institutions. This rollout, it was hoped would enable the learners in using the computers during their learning sessions be at par with the rest of the world. Education sector professionals were particularly keen to adopting the technology of using computers in teaching and learning particularly of Mathematics and Sciences due to insight on its benefits in educational media instructions.
This study therefore sought to assess the usage of computer applications in the teaching and learning of Mathematics, in some selected secondary schools in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The aim of this study was to contribute to an improved Mathematics teaching and learning environment at secondary school level. The main purpose of this study is to assess the usage of computer applications in the teaching and learning of Mathematics, in some selected secondary schools in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State.
The study was guided by the following specific objectives.
- To find out the current status of computer models and mathematics computer software resources.
- To establish the difficulties teachers face when using computers in teaching and learning mathematics.
- To establish the challenges students face when using computers in learning mathematics.
- To give recommendations on using computers in teaching and learning mathematics.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions were identified in order to assist the researcher. The questions are:
- What is the relevance of application of computer to the teaching and learning of Mathematics?
- What difficulties do teachers face when using computers in teaching and learning mathematics?
- What challenges do students face when using computers in learning mathematics?
- What recommendations may be given on the usage of computers in teaching and learning mathematics?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The research hypotheses are;
- There is no significant difference between the application of computer and the teaching and learning Mathematics.
- There is no significant difference between the application of computer and the academic performance of students in Mathematics.
- There is no significant difference between the challenges faced in the use of computer and students’ academic performance in Mathematics
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study will be useful and will make a major contribution in providing information on the factors that affect the use of computers in teaching and learning mathematics in secondary schools. First and foremost, as the implementers of all research inputs related to academic excellence in schools, Mathematics teachers will find much assistance in the findings. The findings will provide the teachers with appropriate information on using computers in teaching and learning Mathematics in secondary schools in order to enhance the performance of their students in the subject.
Secondly, students of Mathematics have a responsibility of responding to the learning activities and utilization of time for proper guidance. The findings will increase students’ awareness of the use of computers as a medium of teaching and learning mathematics which will lead to improved learning strategies with modern technology and achievement in mathematics.
Thirdly, policy makers will use the findings to review the existing policies especially on teacher training on computer skills with a view of guiding them on using computers as a medium of teaching and learning. The findings will also assist in formulation of policy guidelines on using computers as a medium of teaching and learning in all secondary schools of not only Mathematics but other subjects as well.
Lastly, educational administrators are charged with the responsibility of monitoring learning programmes in schools. The findings will help them to ensure appropriate and meaningful computer instructions in Mathematics and other subjects as used in secondary schools. The results will also help the Government to identify and plan administrative issues related to imports, marketing and access to computers and computer software in order to enable students’ access quality education.
1.7 Scope and Limitations of the Study
This study aim at assess the usage of computer applications in the teaching and learning of Mathematics in some selected secondary schools in Ondo West Local Government of Ondo State.
The limitations of the study are time constraint, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work; and inadequate fund which tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection.
1.8 Definition of Terms
ICT (Information Communication Technology):Processing and distribution of data using computer hardware and software, telecommunications, and digital electronics.
Computer: A machine that performs tasks such as calculations or electronic communication under a set of instructions (program).
Computer Application: A computer program designed to help people perform a certain type of work.
Teaching: To impart knowledge or skill to somebody by instruction or example.
Learning: To acquire knowledge of a subject or skill through education or experience.
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