## Selected Psychological Factors as Predictors of Mathematics Achievement among Form Three Students in Public Secondary Schools in Nakuru County, Kenya

##### Résumé

Mathematics is an important subject because it is the foundation of all scientific and technological knowledge which is vital for social-economic development of any nation. But over the years in Kenya and in Nakuru County in particular, the subject has been characterized by dismal achievement as evidenced by low grades attained by students in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE). This poor achievement may result to loss of opportunities for students, both in their choice of preferred careers and ultimately in their employment. At the societal level, this may lead to inadequate human capital for social-economic development. However, despite this important role mathematics plays in the society, there is little effort in terms of research that has been undertaken to find out factors that influence mathematics achievement in secondary schools in Nakuru County. Therefore, this study was designed to examine perceived mathematics-control, mathematics self- concept and problem-solving strategies as predictors of mathematics achievement. The study objectives were; to determine the relationship between perceived mathematics-control and mathematics achievement, to investigate the relationship between mathematics self-concept and mathematics achievement, to examine the relationship between problem-solving strategies and mathematics achievement, to find out if there are gender differences in perceived mathematics-control, mathematics self-concept and problem-solving strategies and to establish the prediction equation of mathematics achievement in relation to perceived mathematics-control, mathematics self-concept and problem-solving strategies. Theoretical framework was based on self-determination theory. The study used ex post facto research design particularly, correlational design to establish relationship among the study variables. The target population was all form three students in public secondary schools in Nakuru County. Purposive sampling was used to select the study location while stratified sampling was used to select different categories of schools and simple random sampling was used to select the schools and respondents. A sample of 585 respondents was used. Self-report questionnaire for students was used to collect data on demographic factors, perceived mathematics- control, mathematics self-concept and problem-solving strategies. A pilot study was conducted to establish the validity and reliability of the instrument, where 45 students from three secondary schools were sampled. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze quantitative data using SPSS. The study hypotheses were tested at α = .05. The results revealed that perceived mathematics- control, mathematics self-concept, problem-solving strategies significantly predict mathematics achievement. Results also revealed that there were significant gender differences in perceived mathematics-control, mathematics self-concept and problem-solving strategies and mathematics achievement in favour of female students. The three variables had a joint significant predictive influence on mathematics achievement in public secondary schools F (3, 584) = 695.63, p < .05). It is recommended that teachers should guide and support students to enhance mathematics-control, mathematics self-concept and problem-solving strategies to improve their mathematics achievement.