An Investigation into some of the Factors which Influence Students’ Performance in Mathematics in Public Secondary Schools in Embu West District, Embu County, Kenya
Njagi, Lydia Igandu
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The research addressed the factors that could influence performance in Mathematics in public secondary schools in Embu West District. It aimed at determining the teacher, student and school-related factors that influence performance in mathematics in the district. The study adopted descriptive research design. The target population was mathematics teachers and Form Three students. Stratified sampling technique was used to select fourteen (14) public secondary schools: 4 for boys, 4 for girls and 6 for mixed from 44 public secondary schools in Embu West District, Embu County, Kenya. The study used a sample of four hundred and nineteen (419) Form Three students from the fourteen stratified and randomly selected secondary schools. Twenty-seven Mathematics Teachers teaching the study classes were purposively sampled. Simple random sampling was used to select one stream from each category where there were more than one stream, otherwise the stream was purposively selected. This study was carried out in Embu West District, Embu County, Kenya. The factors considered in this study include: the students’ gender, class size, teaching methods and availability of teaching/learning resources. These are the independent variables and the dependent variable is students’ performance. The objective of the study was to find out whether these factors influence the students achievement in mathematics significantly or not. A pilot study was conducted to test the reliability of the measuring instruments. Questionnaires, classroom observation schedules and achievement test were used to collect data. The data collected, was coded and analyzed using the SPSS package. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) technique was used to test the effect of the factors on students performance. The study revealed that students’ performance is influenced by teaching method. The student- centred method was found to be superior to teacher-centred method of teaching. Class size was found to have a significant influence on students’ performance: large and medium classes were found to perform significantly better than small classes. However, the small classes were found in mixed day secondary schools where the KCPE mean entry score was very low(177.7) as compared to 338.75 and 333.25 for boys and girls boarding schools respectively which had large and medium classes. The study also revealed that the availability of textbooks influence students’ performance, although, the influence was not statistically significant. Gender differences were noted in performance where on average male students performed better than female students, however, the difference was not statistically significant. It was recommended that heuristic approaches to teaching should be integrated with expository approaches to enhance teaching and learning. Cooperative learning should be emphasized among teacher-students and students-students and students should be exposed to problem-solving situations to help them develop critical thinking skills.