Assessment of Errors Made by Secondary School Student’s That Influence Achievement in Solving Word Problems in Mathematics in Gatanga Sub-County, Kenya
Ngigi, Stephen Chege
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The purpose of this study was to analyze and establish the errors made by secondary school students that influence achievement in solving word problems in mathematics in Gatanga sub-county, Murang’a County, Kenya. The objectives of the study were to: establish the errors made by secondary school students; investigate the sources of these errors; identify the gender differences in the errors made and determine the methods used to remediate these errors in solving word problems in mathematics. The study hypotheses were: Ho1: There is no significant relationship between errors made by students and type of school they attend in solving word problems in mathematics; Ho2: There is no significant relationship between the errors made by students and their sources in solving word problems in mathematics. H03: There is no significant relationship between errors made and gender of student in solving word problems in mathematics. The literature review highlighted studies, opinions, suggestions and recommendations on errors made and their effects on achievement in solving word problems in mathematics. The research adopted a cross-sectional descriptive survey employing correlation methods. A total of thirty two secondary schools and fifty eight trained mathematics teachers were targeted for the study. Nine secondary schools were selected using stratified sampling. Two hundred and seventy eight students and twenty four teachers were selected for the study using random sampling. Students’ Mathematics Test, Trained Mathematics Teachers Questionnaire and Interview schedule for students were used to collect data on errors made in solving word problems in mathematics in Gatanga sub-county. Data was analyzed by use of SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences). Data obtained was presented in tabular and graphical forms. The findings of this study showed that students made a variety of errors in solving mathematics word problems. These errors included computational errors, wrong equations, wrong facts, premature approximations and wrong formulation. A chi square test revealed that there was no significant relationship between errors made and the gender of the students in solving word problems in mathematics (χ2 (4, N=278) = 3.22, p<0.522).However, there was significant relationship between errors made by the students and the types of schools they attended. The study concluded that student’s ability to master basic facts, concept attainment, prerequisite skills, false generalizations and ability to carry out multi-step calculations were areas of concern. Most students made errors due to inability to give adequate interpretation to the word expressions, the language of the problem as well as use of incorrect mathematical operations that were required for a particular transformation of a mathematical statement into its equivalent algebraic equation. The study recommended remediation of errors which should be based upon careful analysis of students’ errors, in the light of specific identified errors. Word problems given out to students should be attended to, by mathematics teachers through immediate scoring, identification of particular errors made and giving adequate corrections to students in form of feedback. KNEC should ensure that the yearly reports on performance of national examinations with details of the students’ errors reach all the secondary schools on time. Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development should ensure that teaching resources such as textbooks are designed in such a way that those activities that would enhance word problem interpretation are suggested at the end of every topic. This would help in learning of mathematics in secondary school and would guide students to solve word problems with minimum or no errors.