A study of the relationship between the sex of a child and his or her mathematical abilities among some Nairobi primary schools
Mondoh, Hellen Amolo
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The purpose of this study was to find out the relationship between the sex of a child and his or her mathematical abilities. The study was specifically carried out in Nairobi area. The sample consisted of 401 standard seven children. Out of the 150 primary schools in Nairobi, only six tripple-steamed mixed primary schools were selected by stratified random selection, out of these, twelve classes were selected at random, two from each of the six schools. The study sought to answer the following questions: 1. are there any sex differences in children’s arithmetic reasoning? 2 are there any sex differences in children’s abilities to solve problems? 3 are there any sex differences in the way children apply learnt mathematical concepts? 4 are there any sex differences in children’s computation abilities? 5 are there any sex differences in the way children use the fundamentals of numeration and number. 6 are there any sex differences in the application abilities of boys and girls? The study was prompted by the researcher’s concern about the repetitive poor performance of girls on the CPE mathematics examination. However, the study was limited by shortage of time and as a result most variables were not considered; though they were considerably controlled. Some literature review related to the study was done and the material reviewed mainly emphasised the last decade and part of this decade. The instruments of study were a number of mathematical ability test batteries-adapted from those used by Wamani (1980) and Kapiyo (1982) in similar studies carried out in Nyeri and Kisumu respectively. These test batteries were organised into a number of categories, all testing different mathematical abilities among the children. These categories were: Mathematical concept, Arithmetic reasoning, place value, whole number comprehension, computation, application and problem solving. The data to be analysed was obtained from the series of mathematical ability tests administered on the selected pupils. After the test administration, the answer sheets were collected and all the scoring done by the researcher herself. The window key was used for scoring, each item carrying just one point. The marks were then represented on an analysis sheet. To analyse the data, the services of a Casio fx-39 type of calculator were used to first compute the means and the standard deviations for the boys and girls on individual tests. Later the overall mean and standard deviation was also computed by use of the same calculator. A t-test was then applied on all the tests to find any significant sex differences. The same was also done on the overall to find any significant differences among boys and girls in mathematical abilities. The interpretation of the data showed no overall significant difference between boys and girls on mathematical abilities. However, there was a significant difference between boys and girls in their problem solving abilities in favour of girls. Some significant difference was also established between the application abilities of boys and girls again in favour of girls. There was also significant difference between arithmetic reasoning computational skills of boys and girls. Since no significant sex differences were found to exist between boys and girls of Nairobi in mathematics abilities, the researcher gave some recommendations and suggestions hopefully to be adapted. She also concluded that it was high time the myths about sexism and mathematics abilities were discarded.