**ABSTRACT**

This study investigated the effects of higher-level cognitive questions and interactive learning strategies on students’ academic achievement in Mathematics in senior secondary schools in Edo Central Senatorial Districts of Edo State, Nigeria. Six research questions and six null hypotheses were raised to guide the study. The quasi-experimental research design was adopted for the study. The population of the study consisted of all the seventy one (71) public schools SSS II students in Edo Central Senatorial District numbering 3,485. The sample used for the study comprised 600 students drawn from senior secondary schools in Edo Central. The schools randomly selected for the study was randomly assigned to the two treatment groups (Higher-Level Cognitive Questions and Interactive Learning Strategies) and the control intact classes. All the groups received Mathematics instructions for a period of five weeks. Data for analysis was collected using the Mathematics Achievement Test (MAT) made up of forty (40) objective test items. Data collected were analysed using the Univariate Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA). The pre-test scores were used as the Covariate. The results of the tested hypotheses revealed that there was a significant difference between the use of higher-level cognitive questions and the conventional method of teaching on students’ achievement in Mathematic (p<0 .05="" achievement="" also="" and="" be="" between="" cognitive="" conventional="" difference="" effect="" favour="" found="" gender="" higher-level="" ils.="" in="" interaction="" interactive="" lastly="" learning="" mathematics="" method="" not="" of="" on="" p="" questions="" significant="" strategies="" students="" the="" to="" use="" was="">0.05). It was recommended that Mathematics teachers should avail themselves of the uses of these unique techniques of higher-level cognitive questions and interactive learning strategies in the teaching of Mathematics to ensure effective learning among students in Edo Central Senatorial Districts of Edo State.

**CHAPTER ONE**

**INTRODUCTION**

Background to the Study

Background to the Study

For any nation to developed and be sustained, it needs to place priority on the teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) which form the bedrock that provides the springboard for the growth and development of the nation. The Federal Government of Nigeria in her national policy on education (2004) stipulated that secondary school education should prepare students to effectively cope in this modern world of Science and Technology. It may suffice us to know that the proper handling and teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to students, will be positive result-oriented, if teachers see the need to vary their methods of instruction. This will lead the students in mind training that will enable them understand the world around them, acquisitions of appropriate skills, capacity building and the competencies to live as individuals. This will enable them to contribute their quota to the growth and development of their immediate and larger society through Mathematics Education as one option.

The importance of Mathematics Education cannot be overemphasized. It remains the gateway to various professions such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Nursing, Agriculture, and many other fields of endeavour. It is the tool available for formulation of theories in sciences, for explaining observation and experiments in the field of inquiry. That is why (Roger cited in Aguele, 2004) described the neglect of Mathematics works as an injury to all knowledge, since the ignorance of it, is the lack of knowledge of science and other fields of endeavour.

In spite of the great importance of Mathematics in the growth and sustainable development of the nation, the secondary school students’ achievement in the subject is outrageously discouraging. According to Abiodun (1997), any short fall in Mathematics, constitutes a drawback to the attainment of the aims and objectives of Science and Technology. This is the gross mistake which many of the third world countries including Nigeria, are making. They assumed that Science and Technology can be acquired without realizing the necessity of possessing a strong background in Mathematics knowledge as the first pre-requisites of Science and Technology.

In recent past, substantial changes in content have taken place in Mathematics curricula, especially at the secondary school level. These changes were made in realization of the importance of Mathematics in nation’s Science and Technological development. The introduction of the new system of education, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) which is the 9-3-4, was also a contributor to the changes. These changes in content have been accompanied by many recommendations for improving the teaching and learning of the subject (Aguele, 2004). According to Buhari (l994), in spite of the attractiveness and novelty of these innovations in the teaching and learning of Mathematics, there seem to be no evidence to substantiate the potency of the approaches made. Findings from the available studies revealed that teaching and learning of Mathematics are characterized by rote memory of some basic processes and abstract presentation of facts and principles (Aguele 2004).

From the above, it seems that despite the effort to provide development changes, there have been no desired improvements on students’ academic achievement in the subject. Students’ achievement in the Senior School Certificate Mathematics Examinations seems to remain poor. The mass failure and consistent poor achievement in Mathematics which students have shown for some decade now casts serious doubt on the country’s high attainment in science and technology (Ifamuyiwa, 2010). In Romans chapter 6 verse 1 the Holy Bible put forth this question, “shall we continue to sin so that grace shall abide…?” This poor situation in Mathematics has to be remedied. It should not be allowed to continue unabated.

The poor achievement of students in Mathematics according to (Okebukola in Oriahi, 2007), has been attributed to the following:

1. Ineffective instructional styles characterized by a direct teacher to student interaction which does not foster a student to student interaction in the learning process.

2. Poor teaching method in the form of excessive talking, copying of notes and rote learning of textbook’s materials adopted by Mathematics teachers.

3. Expository rather than inquiring method of Mathematics instruction which does not predispose students to experimentation (practical).

4. Shortage of Mathematics teachers, inadequate facilities and lack of instructional materials for practical.

5. Negative attitudes towards work by Mathematics teachers and lack of man power.

Research findings in education tend to indicate that the instructional strategies adopted by the teachers have influence on the three domains of learning (cognitive, affective and psychomotor) as well as the outcomes of the students. Barton (2008) is of the opinion that the use of quick flip questions for critical thinking based on the original work of Bloom’s Taxonomy which gives room for Higher Level Questions is used as instructional strategy in Mathematics class. Another dimension of making all categories of learners benefit is the use of Interactive Learning Strategies during classroom instructions. Interactive learning strategies give room for students’ participation in learning process to interact with their teachers and classmates.

During instruction, teachers usually ask questions to elicit one piece of information or another from the students. This may take the form of verbal or written questions. Questions are used by teachers to investigate whether the students are listening and subsequently understanding the lesson that was being taught. Good questioning skills are an integral part of any successful Mathematical experience; it provides avenue for students thinking and helps them to make good sense of judgment of the Mathematics content being taught. Questioning skills is a vital tool in the introduction of a topic in any Mathematics lesson and in informal assessment. Waston and Young (2000) stated that as many as fifty thousand questions are commonly asked by teachers in a year compared to ten questions asked by students.

It is very important that students must communicate their thoughts and reasoning, often clarifying and making sense of the Mathematics than remaining passive in the classroom. It may suffice to know that questioning has a high eve of interaction. It is therefore necessary that through the question and interactive strategies, the teacher plays the role of helping the students to make Mathematical connections, help them to observe and to make sense of the concept being taught irrespective of any instructional method applied.

Questions are categorized by many researchers according to the thinking levels by Bloom and Krathevohl (1956) into cognitive level which is determined by students’ responses as required by the teacher. Bloom’s Taxonomy divides the way people learn into three domains (Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor). The focus of this study is on the cognitive domain which emphasizes intellectual outcome. This domain further divides into levels which are arranged progressively from the lowest levels of simple recall to the highest, evaluating information. These cognitive levels are knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. These levels are also categorized into two aspects according to the levels of cognitive learning. The first aspect is called the “low level” which covers Knowledge, Comprehension and Applications while the second called “high level” covers Analyses, Synthesis and Evaluations Bloom and Krathevohl (1956). The categorizations of questions into different levels are: to improve thinking skills of students at any age.

For the purpose of this study, emphasis was on the High Level Cognitive Questions. More frequently, questions are classified into subdivisions of the taxonomy: Higher-order Thinking Questions (often referred to as higher-level thinking, or H.O.T) and the lower-level thinking questions. The lower level- question refers to a factual question which has only one expected response drawn directly from the content of instruction and has to do with information learnt. These are questions on the knowledge level.

Higher-level cognitive questions are open ended questions that extend knowledge beyond factual recalling or repeating learned skills. It makes the students to use their previous knowledge in exploring and developing new concepts and procedures. Identifying questions for specific higher-level cognitive questions especially applying and analyzing, sometimes depends on the context or setting. For instance, what is the nutritional value of mushrooms? The level of thinking in this question depends on the situation but in the question such as, “did the lesson on nutrition state the value of the mushroom? In this case, the response would require a recall. When the lesson provided a list of foods but did not include mushrooms, the response to this question would be more challenging and require critical thinking (Arends, 1997).

Learning is being promoted through the use of Higher Level Cognitive Questions because it makes the students to think more deeply about the topic of discussion. Martion and Maher (1999) stated the function of Higher Level Cognitive Questions being used by teachers to provide more adequate explanation, justification or generalization from students. This simply means that the use of Higher Level Cognitive Questions is appropriate teaching strategy which could enable teachers explore the thoughts of their students. This strategy appears to be lacking in the teaching of Mathematics because most teachers either dodge the use of the style or are ignorant of the use of this style to improve on students’ ways of critical thinking that will likely enable them to perform better in Mathematics class. They are mostly used to the conventional method of instruction. According to Oriahi (2007) the conventional method of instruction largely frustrates the development of concrete ideas and imaginative perceptions and understanding required for the solution of practical problems. This may lead the students to have poor achievement in Mathematics.

Morgan and Saxton (1991) stated the following advantages for Teachers’ Higher Levels Cognitive Questions.

i) The act of asking questions helps teachers keep students actively involved in lesson.

ii) Students are given the opportunity to openly express their ideas and thought.

iii) Questioning students enable other students to learn from their mates.

iv) It helps teachers pace their lessons and moderate students’ behaviour.

v) Helps to evaluate students learning and for revision purpose when necessary.

When a proper consideration is not given to the use of questions, as an instructional skills, Mathematics teachers will be void of the opportunity of creating dynamic and interactive dialogue in the classroom that can promote an environment for students to actively analyze and process information for better responses to questions. Through questioning strategy in the classroom, Mathematics teachers can inculcate in their students an enriched Higher Level Critical Thinking and learning in natural ways; since Higher Level Cognitive Questions and thinking help to establish the manipulation of information and ideas which give room for the development of new ideas and understandings.

From the above, it is worthy to note that Higher Level Cognitive Questions go beyond memorization and factual information (cognitive-level questions). It requires students’ frantic effort and adequate time to think critically about cause-effect relationships for an effective solution for problems in complex situations. Failure to understand where to use lower-level questions and higher cognitive-level questions which are also referred to as divergent questions, is one of the challenges in question strategy in Mathematics.

Thomas and Place (2001) investigated the patterns of students’ responses to Higher Level Cognitive Questions by student gender. Their findings revealed that a higher level cognitive question that promotes analysis, synthesis and evaluation, encourages students to think critically and interact freely, is regarded as a powerful learning tool. Questions such as: How is the formula for finding the perimeter of a rectangle similar to circumference of a circle? A card is drawn from an ordinary pack of 52 playing cards. What is the probability that the card is a queen of hearts and why? How would you simplify this equation: 9x + 27y = 153? While lower level questions only deal with memorization of facts that rely on the recollection of information. For instance, what is the formula for finding the area of a rectangle? What is the name of the main card in a playing card? 9 x3 = 2. Thus Wimer and Colleagues (2001) assumed that higher level cognitive question leads to higher level learning. Findings from Wilen, (1991) declared that efficient teachers are more likely to ask higher level cognitive questions. Teachers therefore should be able to use effective question strategy that contributes to students’ learning gains which will improve positively on their academic achievement.

Since changes shape the occupational outlook of today’s students, teachers on their own must begin to embrace the need to inculcate “Higher-Level Cognitive Questioning” in their students during classroom instructions to prepare them for the 21st century workforce. It is no longer enough for high school graduates to simply rely on knowing just the basic facts and skills. To be successful, students must master decision-making, prioritizing, strategizing and collaborative problem solving of the concept. Teachers therefore should be conversant with the fact that students should be given the chance to express their responses freely so that their exploration of ideas will flow. In higher-level questions and interactive learning strategies, students are expected to expantiate more on their responses by asking why they gave such responses and participate freely among themselves.

According to Knezevic (2011), contemporary teaching strategies are directed towards adapting teaching to the spirit and needs of the learner in this modern time, society is in permanent evolution and general knowledge is expanding. So there are also changes in opinions related to social interaction. In other words, since the society is growing tremendously, the teacher has to move positively along with the trend of time. That is, since there is increase in general level of human knowledge, the teacher has to put in his or her best to broaden the horizon of teaching. That means, there should be a change in the planning, programming, implementing and evaluating the previous learning strategies or teaching styles.

Roeders (2003) said that modern teaching expects a continuous learning, creativity and exploration from an individual. Students are expected not only to manage their own potentials, knowledge, skills and habits but also to discover and examine their own talents and areas of interest. Only a positive (rich) environment full of stimuli and challenges for students is required to achieve these potentials. Therefore, only through engaging students in interactive learning strategies of teaching that significant effects of learning can be achieved cognitively, socially, emotionally and all round development of the child. Teachers therefore should make maximal use of these strategies of teaching to enable the students to go beyond acquiring professional knowledge and skills and also be exposed to personality development such as, creativity, self-confidence, self-esteem and social competence (Knezevic, 2011).

Recent studies also raised concern and point to the issue of gender and students’ achievement in Mathematics. Studies have been carried out on differential performance of students in primary and secondary school Mathematics. Some of these studies are longitudinal while others are within specific levels. Results from these studies have tended to show difference of none relating to sex. It may suffice to know the implication of Higher-Level Cognitive Questions and Interactive Learning strategies on male and female students. Has sex a way of reacting to questions? Does gender have anything to do with classroom interaction? Do males benefits more than the females or equally? Can these strategies (higher-level cognitive questions and interactive learning strategies) be used for all categories (male and female)? What are the implications of teachers’ confidence in asking questions and creating avenue for interaction in the classroom? Do they possess the ability or inability of asking higher-level cognitive questions and to use interactive learning strategy in Mathematics classroom? Hence, there is the need to investigate the effects of Higher Level Cognitive Questions and Interactive Learning Strategies on achievement of senior secondary school students in Mathematics.

**Statement of the Problem**

1) Government and other stake holders have been making efforts to improve on the achievement of students in Mathematics in secondary schools. Yet, reports from the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Chief Examiners (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015) have continued to indicate candidate’s lack of skills in answering most of the questions generally asked in Mathematics. Evidence from the West African Examination Council Chief Examiner’s report of percentage passes and percentage failures, 2010-2015 are as follows: In 2010, 41.5% passes and 58.5% failures. In 2011, 38.3% passes and 61.7% failures. In 2012, 37.7% passes and 62.3% failures. In 2013, 38.5% passes and 61.5% failure. In 2014, 38.1% passes and 61.9% failures. While in 2015, 37.7% passes and 62.3% failure were recorded, West African Examination Council Chief Examiners’ Report (2010-2015)

From the above, it was showed that the percentage of students that passed Mathematics between 2010 and 2015 range from 37.7% to 41.5% while the percentage of students that failed Mathematics within the same period range from 58.5% to 62.3%. Could the poor achievement of students in Mathematics be linked to the only one-way conventional teaching method (Lecture method) which is most commonly used in secondary schools? This method does not make for meaningful understanding of the concepts of Mathematics. It is teacher-oriented method whereby the teacher is active while the students are passive in the class. The students are not given the opportunity to freely express their thoughts and feelings and cannot interact with their teacher and classmates. This method also serves as canopy for the weak ones to hide. This further compounds the issues of consistent poor achievement in Mathematics.

2) The low students’ achievement in Mathematics is raising alarm in the educational sector. Many teachers, parents, community, government, the business sector and other stake holders in educational sector are worried over the poor performance of students in Mathematics, despite the efforts of the government, teachers, Ministry of Education, Mathematic Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Science Teacher Association of Nigerian (STAN).

3) It has been observed by Schoenfeld (2007), that most of the methods adapted by Mathematics teachers in the teaching of Mathematics have not been able to provide an effective remedy to this problem of poor achievement in Mathematics, or inability to involve students in interactive section during instruction.

4) In spite of what is known about teachers’ qualities and student achievement in Mathematics in several states of Nigeria, it is not to the researcher’s knowledge that any study has been carried out on Higher-Level Cognitive Questions and Interactive Learning Strategy on students’ achievement in Mathematics in secondary schools in Edo Central Senatorial District. This research was therefore carried out to fill this knowledge gap in the study area and also extend the frontiers of the search to advance solution to the problem of persistent low achievement in the subject by the impact of Higher-Level Cognitive Questions and Interactive Learning strategies within Mathematics classroom on students’ achievement in Mathematics in senior secondary schools in Edo Central Senatorial District.

**Purpose of the Study**

The purpose of this study was to ascertain the effect of Higher-Level Cognitive Questions and Interactive Learning Strategy on students’ achievement in Mathematics in senior secondary schools in Edo Central Senatorial District. Specifically the study sought to:

1) determine whether the use of higher-level cognitive questions have any effect on students’ achievement in Mathematics;

2) ascertain whether the use of interactive learning strategy have any effect on students’ achievement in Mathematics;

3) determine whether the achievement of students taught using higher-level cognitive questions differ from students taught using interactive learning strategy in Mathematics;

4) determine whether the gender of students has any significant effect on their achievement when taught Mathematics using higher-level cognitive questions;

5) ascertain whether gender of students has any significant effects on their achievement when taught using interactive learning strategy; and

6) ascertain whether there is any interaction effect of higher-level cognitive questions, interactive learning strategy and gender on the achievement of students in Mathematics.

**Research Questions**

The following research questions were raised to guide the study:

1. Do the uses of higher-level cognitive questions in Mathematics classroom have any effect on the achievements of students?

2. Do the uses of interactive learning strategies in Mathematics classroom have any effect on the achievements of students?

3. What are the mean achievements scores of students taught using the higher-level cognitive questions in Mathematics classroom and those taught using the interactive learning strategies?

4. What are the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught using the higher-level cognitive questions in Mathematics classroom?

5. What are the mean achievement scores of male and female students exposed to the use of interactive learning strategies in Mathematics classroom?

6. Is there interaction effect in the use of higher-level cognitive questions, interactive learning strategies and gender on students’ achievement in Mathematics?

**Hypotheses**

The following hypotheses were formulated to guide the study and tested at the 0.05 level of significance.

1. There is no significant difference between the mean achievement scores of students taught Mathematics using the higher-level cognitive questions and those taught with conventional strategy.

2. There is no significant difference between the mean achievement scores of students taught Mathematics using interactive learning strategies and those taught with the conventional strategy.

3. There is no significant difference between the mean achievement scores of students taught using higher-level cognitive questions and those taught using interactive learning strategies in Mathematics classroom.

4. There is no significant difference between the mean achievement of male and female students taught Mathematics using higher-level cognitive questions.

5. There is no significant difference between the mean achievement of male and female students taught using interactive learning strategy in Mathematics classroom.

6. There is no significant interaction effect of higher-level cognitive questions, interactive learning strategy and gender on students’ mean achievement in Mathematics classroom.

**Significance of the Study**

This study would be of benefit to educational administrators, policy makers, and proprietors of institutions of learning, stake holders in educational sectors, authors of Mathematics textbooks, curriculum planners, Mathematics teachers, Curriculum planners, examination bodies, students and prospective researchers. As the findings would be working documents and a guide to them, by including Higher-Level Cognitive Questions and Interactive Learning Strategies in Mathematics as a strong determinant of teaching skills. In other words, to provide adequate and relevant Mathematics education curriculum, there would be need for a database concerning instruction procedures for effectively teaching the content of such curriculum.

The findings of this study would be of immense benefits to Mathematics teachers by providing guidance for the use of Higher-Level Cognitive Questions and Interactive Learning Strategies in the teaching of Mathematics. It would also improve their questioning and interactive learning techniques in the course of teaching the subject. In this way, some of the existing gaps in the knowledge of methods of instruction in Mathematics would hopefully be filled.

The findings of this study would also enable Mathematics Curriculum planners, examination bodies such as the National Examination Council (NECO), to plan alongside with the use on the questions and interactive learning strategies. Recommendations based on findings in the study would help them to make informed decision about how to set questions for candidates in public Mathematics in examinations.

On the part of the students, it would help to promote independent student thinking and involvement in an interactive learning process which will enable students make good reflections to the steps that were discussed in class during examination to enable them achieve their educational objectives.

Furthermore, the findings of this study would be an open avenue for prospective researchers in related studies. The materials and methodology will be available for other researchers. This study is also of the anticipation that there would be inducement of other researchers into classroom instructional procedures, aim at remedying Mathematics phobia developed by secondary school students.

It is therefore necessary for government to give public enlightiments of the uses of HLCQ and ILS methods of instruction in Mathematics organising workshops, seminars and conferences for all stakeholders in Education.

**Scope of the Study**

This study examined the effect of Higher-Level Cognitive Questions and Interactive Learning Strategy on students’ academic achievement in Mathematics in secondary schools in Edo Central Senatorial District of Edo State, Nigeria. The district comprises of five (5) local government areas namely: Esan Central, Esan North East, Esan South East, Esan West and Igueben. The study was carried out in selected public Secondary Schools by students in class two (SSII) in Edo Central Senatorial District. The researcher decided to make use of Edo Central Senatorial District of the State only due to the experimental nature of the study. The choice of SSII was due to the fact that certificate classes students may not be available for experimental study.

The dependent variable, Mathematics academic achievement of students in Mathematics covered four (4) areas namely: Algebraic expressions, Linear equations, Simultaneous equations and Quadratic equations in senior secondary schools class two (SSS 2).

The independent variables covered two teaching strategies (Higher-Level Cognitive Questions and Interactive Learning Strategy).

**Operational Definition of Terms**

The following terms were operationally defined for the study.

Higher-level Cognitive Questions: These are questions that cover analysis, synthesis and evaluation in the cognitive level of knowledge in Mathematics at the senior secondary school two (SSS II) level. These questions allow for critical thinking and create room for expantiation on the responses.

Lower-level Questions: These are questions that cover knowledge, comprehension and application in the cognitive level question that allows for memorization and recall of previously learnt materials in Mathematics at the senior secondary school two (SSS II) level.

Interactive Learning Strategy: This refers to teaching style that promotes an atmosphere for students’ attention and participation in Mathematics at the senior secondary school two (SSS II) level in Edo Central Senatorial District. It is the process of making the class interesting, exciting and creates fun, involving teacher-students and students-students involvement in the concepts taught in the class.

Question Style: This refers to ways by which teachers help the students to make sense of the concept being taught and Mathematics connections in secondary schools in Edo Central Senatorial District

Intention of Teachers’ Questions: These refer to teachers’ questions used to bring about reasoning from students in Mathematics at the senior secondary school two (SSS II) level in Edo Central Senatorial District.

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