The study explored the perceived causes of low academic performance of Senior High School students in core mathematics in the Kumasi Metropolis. The study used the descriptive survey design with quantitative approach. Multi-stage sampling procedures were used to select a sample of 439 respondents which included 381 students and 58 core mathematics teachers. Students and teachers’ questionnaires were used to collect data for the study. Means and standard deviations were used to analyse the data that was gathered. The findings of the study revealed that school-environment factors such as inadequate teaching and learning materials and unavailability of core mathematics textbooks were contributors to the low academic performance in core mathematics. The study also revealed that teacher-related factors such as lateness and absenteeism, inability of teachers to complete their syllabus and prepare their lesson notes contributed to the low academic performance in core mathematics. The study further revealed student-related factors such as lateness and absenteeism, students being unhappy in core mathematics classes, low self-esteem and poor attitudes toward core mathematics as contributors to the low performance in core mathematics. The findings of the study did not show any home-based factors as contributors to the low academic performance in core mathematics. Further analysis showed that students being unhappy and teachers’ absenteeism in core mathematics classes had the highest factor loadings. Recommendations were made based on enforcing the necessary laws by stakeholders in education to curb lateness and absenteeism, provision of TLMs, exhibition of good attitudes towards core mathematics and good academic relationship among students and teachers.

In the Kumasi Metropolis, it has been noticed that the academic performance of Senior High School students in core mathematics is low as compared to their academic performance in other core subjects (Educational Management Information System, 2012-2016). With reference to the relevance of core mathematics, the low academic performance in the subject in the metropolis poses relevant questions regarding its cause. This is because, core mathematics is recognised as a core subject in Ghana and thus, students’ inability to pass will result in difficulties in progressing to the next educational level. The problem is worth studying because, a lot of concerns have been raised in the metropolis regarding the low academic performance of students in core mathematics. For example, the Metropolitan Director of Education in the Kumasi Metropolis from time immemorial, has been emphasising that the relatively low academic performance of Senior High School students in core mathematics must be taken serious, and come out with the factors that are responsible for it (Educational Sector Performance Report, 2015).

Mefor, (2014), Mensah, Okyere and Kuranchie (2013), Enu, Agyemang and Nkum (2015), among others, have stressed that factors originating form students, teachers, school environment and home affect students’ academic performance in mathematics and other subjects. The study is therefore important because it seeks to provide evidence of these and other factors that are perceived as causing the low academic performance of Senior High School students in core mathematics in the Kumasi Metropolis. This would serve as a policy guideline to curb the problem.

Background to the Study
Globally, education is seen as one of the key components of human and national development (Wambugi, 2014). This is because, education plays a significant role in the political, economic and social development of every country. As noted by Wambugi (2014), education is considered as a critical resource in that it helps a country to particularly equip the youth with respect to knowledge, skills and expertise in enabling them to be actively involved in the development of that country.

In this sense, the ability of a nation to develop largely depends on the availability of quality education to its citizens. The relevance of education that has been underscored globally has paved the way for the Ghanaian economy to put measures in place in ensuring that, its citizens are educated to acquire the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise to aid in the development of the country. The manifest function of education for a developing country like Ghana, therefore, is for the citizens to acquire the skill of literacy and numeracy (Baafi-Frimpong, Yaquarh, & Milledzi, 2016).

Looking at the manifest function of education in Ghana, it is very clear that numeracy, which emphasises computational skills and particularly mathematics, is very important. This is because, mathematics as a subject has a direct relationship with other subjects that are technical and scientific in nature. It is in this view that Umameh (2011) and Tshabalala and Ncube (2013) stressed that mathematics is the bedrock and a tool for scientific, technological and economic advancement of any country. Mathematics is very vital not only because of the academic qualification one obtains, but also prepares the individual for the future irrespective of the work of life he or she chooses (Davis & Harsh, 2012). It must be pointed out that, mathematics relates to everything in the universe which is connected to the daily life of individuals and thus, it remains the subject that education and humans cannot function meaningfully without (Mefor, 2014).

Mathematics as a discipline is therefore held in high esteem due to its presence in all scientific discoveries (Akinyi, 2003). Notably, radio, television, telegrams, satellites, computers and calculators, among others, would not have come to being without the numerous results in pure mathematics (Akinyi, 2003). The importance of school mathematics is emphasised by its usage in various contexts and thus, people working in the public and private sectors require some basic (core) knowledge of mathematics in their daily endavours. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation’s report in science and technology in Africa (1999) maintains that, the development of knowledge and skills in mathematics is quintessential as it holds the key to Africa’s industrialisation and poverty alleviation.

In Ghana, mathematics and more specifically, core mathematics is given all the necessary importance regarding the curriculum and all educational policies from the basic level to the secondary level. Sa’ad, Adamu and Sadiq (2014) explain that core mathematics helps the individual to develop basic computational skills which foster the desire and the ability to be accurate in problem-solving and also prepares the mind of the individual to appreciate and understand further mathematics.

In addition, the study of core mathematics helps the individual to develop logical and abstract thinking, recognise problems and provide solutions to, with related mathematical knowledge and also inculcate in the individual the ability to be creative and curious in discovering solutions in their daily lives (Sa’ad at al., 2014). The vital role core mathematics plays has been recognised and that is why in Ghana, core mathematics is a compulsory subject in both basic and secondary schools.

It is worth noting that, in Ghana, core mathematics is a prerequisite subject of study in all tertiary educational institutions that offer scientific and business courses and as a requirement for most employment opportunities. In this regard, a student must obtain a grade from A1 to C6 in West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination in order to satisfy the admission requirement in core mathematics into the tertiary institutions. This suggests that, there is the need for students who want to pursue their education in tertiary institutions and secure attractive employment opportunities to perform well in core mathematics. There is therefore the need to put in measures in boosting students’ academic performance in mathematics and especially core mathematics.

Unfortunately, in all the priorities attached to core mathematics and the relevance placed on the subject in the academic lives of the students, it remains one of the core subjects in which students perform poorly especially in the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination, and thus, Senior High School students in the Kumasi Metropolis are of no difference (Chief Examiner’s Report in Core Mathematics, 2016). As indicated in the Educational Sector Performance Report (2015), students achieve significantly lower pass rates in core mathematics as compared to Social Studies, Integrated Science and English Language throughout the country of which the Kumasi Metropolis is included.

As indicated in the Educational Management Information System’s Report from 2012 to 2016, comparing the pass rate of core mathematics to the pass rate of other core subjects like Social Studies, Integrated Science and English Language, students’ academic performance in core mathematics has been very low over years. Specifically, the reports have shown an undesirable and low students’ academic performance regarding core mathematics in Senior High Schools and instances where there are appreciations, they are not significant as compared to the other core subjects (EMIS, 2016).

Particularly, it was uncovered that students’ performance in core mathematics was not encouraging in 2015 as compared to 2014 and the performance was very low in 2014 as compared to 2013 and this is applicable to years past (Chief Examiner’s Report in Core Mathematics, 2016). In addition, in the Kumasi Metropolis, the pass rate of Senior High School students in core mathematics is low as compared to the other core subjects (EMIS, 2016). Specifically, Table 1 depicts the pass rates of Senior High School students in all the core subjects in WASSCE from 2012/2103 academic year to 2015/2016 academic year in the Kumasi Metropolis.

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 140 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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