## Preference for mathematics-based careers and attitude towards mathematics among secondary school students in Makueni district, Kenya

##### Abstract

This research sought to investigate and determine the relationship between students' preference for mathematics-based careers and selected student factors, which are: attitudes towards mathematics, attitudes towards the mathematics teacher's approach to teaching, mathematics and knowledge about careers. The study-also- investigated sex difference in students' preference for mathematics-based careers.
A survey design was employed in this study. A random sample (N =232) of' form four students was selected From six secondary schools in Makueni District. The sample had both boys (n = 116) boys and girls (n = 116). A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect the study data. The data obtained from the questionnaire was coded, scored and analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics.
Students' preference for mathematics-based careers was established as low and' wanting. Generally, careers that did not require a Heavy basis of' mathematics like law and journalism were highly preferred by the students. It was also established that students had an average positive attitude towards mathematics, and attitude towards the mathematics teacher's approach to teaching mathematics. Students' knowledge about careers was established as below average. preference for mathematics based careers (independent variable) was build to be significantly related to attitude towards mathematics (r = .339**, p = .000). It was also found to be significantly related to attitude towards mathematics teaching (r =- .244**, h = .000), and knowledge about careers (r = .174 **, p = .009).
A combined effect of attitude towards mathematics attitude towards maths teaching and knowledge about careers on preference for mathematics-based careers produced a multiple correlation coefficient (R = .386 ; V = 11.969* p = .001). A variance of' 14.9 % in preference for mathematics-based careers was accounted for by a combination of the three variables (R˛= .149). Attitude towards mathematics accounted for the largest variance (b = .300; t = 3.346*, p = .001), followed by knowledge about careers (b = .191; t = 2.962, P = .003) and attitude towards maths teaching (b = .048, p = .593).
Differences were found between boys (n = 116) and girls (n = 114) in their preference for mathematics-based careers. An Independent samples t - test determined that the differences were significant (t = 2.816*, p = .00.5). It was also discovered that the school type had a significant effect in students' preference for mathematics-based careers (ANOVA F= 3.703*, p =.026).
Basing on the study findings, it was recommended that spirited efforts be put in place to encourage students to develop positive attitude towards mathematics. The need for mathematics teachers to sharpen their pedagogical skills was also highlighted. This study supported some findings of' past researches. It also suggested a strong trend in career preferences and development over the past, the present, and will be very useful in predicting the future of career development. It has thus suggested necessary interceptive measures in career counselling in high school.