The effects of streaming on mathematics achievement among secondary school pupils in Kisumu, Kenya
Ukanda, Ferdinand Ingubu
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This study investigated the effects of streaming on Mathematics achievement. The study examined whether the Learning setting played a significant role in determining pupil achievement and whether the effect of the Learning setting depended upon the Ability level of the pupils. The subjects of the study consisted of Form Three Secondary School pupils (N=48). Purposive sampling was used to select an urban secondary school that streamed its pupils according to Ability. A stratified random sampling technique was used to select the subjects. The stratifying criteria was pupil Ability as determined by end-of-year examination results. A factorial research design was used. The factors studied were: the Learning setting and the Ability levels. The Learning Setting had two levels namely the Individual Learning Setting and the Group Learning Setting. Ability had three levels namely high-ability, medium-ability and low-ability levels. The dependent measures used were the total error scores on two Mathematics tests namely Algebra and Logarithms and Indices. The instruments used for data collection were; two mathematics achievement, an observation checklist to obtain data on interaction in groups; a pupils Questionnaire to determine the pupils' views on streaming; and Learning materials. The tests were administered under examination conditions. The observation data was collected by trained research assistants, while the pupils' Questionnaire was completed immediately after doing the tests. Two-way factorial Analysis of Variance was used to identify the significant effects of the Learning setting and that of Ability on the total error scores, on both Algebra and Logarithms and Indices. It was also used to identify the interaction effects of the Learning setting and Ability on the total error scores. For the Learning setting, the F-values of 3.749 on Algebra and 0.13 on Logarithms and Indices were not significant (P<. 05, 1, 42 DF). For Ability, the F-values of 3.966 on Algebra and 13.58 on Logarithms and Indices were significant (P<. 05, 2, 42 DF). For the interaction of the Learning setting and Ability, the F-values of 1.562 on Algebra and 0.128 on Logarithms and Indices were not significant (P<. 05, 2, 42 DF). AVONA was also used to test the effects of the Mathematics Tasks and its interaction with the Learning setting. For the Mathematics tasks, the F-value of 10.232 for high-ability pupils was significant (P<. 05, 1, 20 DF), that of 3.158 for medium-ability pupils was not significant (P<. 05, 1, 44 DF) and that 0.011 for low-ability pupils was not significant (P<. 0.5, 1, 20 DF). For interaction of the Learning setting and the Mathematics Tasks, the F-values of 0.605 for high-ability pupils and 0.161 for medium ability pupils, the F-values of 4.825 was significant (P<. 05, 1, 20 DF). The above findings indicated that the Learning setting had no significant effect on the performance of the pupils. However descriptive analysis pointed to a clear-cut effect though it was insignificant. There is therefore need for replicating the study, with a larger sample of pupils and also requiring more time for the pupils to master the Tasks properly. The study can also be replicated using tasks in other subjects than Mathematics. However, Ability had a significant effect on the performance of the pupils as expected. The performance at each Ability level was however seen to depend on the Learning setting though the interaction effect of the Learning setting and Ability was not Learning setting though the interaction effect of the Learning setting and Ability was not significant on both the tasks. The medium-ability and low-ability pupils greatly benefited from the Group Learning setting while the Individual setting seemed to favour the high-ability pupils. Analysis of group interaction indicated that the high-ability pupils in nearly every group directed the group- work and delegated work to another members of the group. They thus engaged in peer tuition. The high-ability pupils were able to locate their own area of difficulty by giving explanations. This was quite necessary for high achievement. The medium-ability pupils rarely explained how to carry out calculations but received explanations about them. The low-ability pupils rarely participated in setting up algorithms but often solicited and received explanations from other members. This must have led to their increased performance. When asked to indicate their preferences, the high-ability pupils showed no preference for any one of the Learning settings. The medium-ability and low-ability pupils showed clear preference for the Group setting. The high-ability pupils indicated they liked the streaming practice used in their school. Half of the medium-ability pupils liked the system while the others did not. All the low-ability pupils did not like the streaming practice and thought it did little to help them learn better. From the findings, it was recommended that mixed-ability group discussions should be encouraged in secondary schools. Peer-to-peer teaching should thus be encouraged especially given our very large classes and teacher's inability to attend meaningfully to individual needs in a classroom. Secondary schools should have classes with pupils of mixed-ability. All the pupils be provided with appropriate learning materials. The practice of streaming should be discontinued. It was also recommended that the study be replicate using a larger sample and requiring more time and also in other subjects. A similar study should be carried out at other levels of education like primary schools, colleges and the University.