An investigation of generic errors committed by students in a: gebraic questions: a case of Migori district
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This study was an investigation into generic errors committed by students when dealing with problems involving algebra. The study identified generic errors secondary students commit in algebra; exposed their misconception or misunderstanding; determined activities necessary to overcome these errors and established whether sex difference contribute to errors. To achieve the objectives mentioned above. i) Tests were administered to some 619 students from ten randomly selected schools in the district. The scripts were marked and analyzed. ii) Forty-eight students were randomly selected from those who made various errors and interviewed individually to establish their reasons for the errors; iii) Discussion with students getting correct answers to explain their reasoning and argue their cases were done; iv) Besides discussions with teachers were held, on how to remedy the errors. Data obtained was presented in both text and tabular forms in order to answer the research questions. Percentages of children giving the correct answer were worked out, as well as frequencies of errors committed. Chi-squares were used in comparison of performance between girls and boys in algebra. The major findings of the study were as follows: i) Students have difficulty in remembering facts and algorithms meaningfully. They lack computational skills and mastery. Most of them reconstruct knowledge wrongly. ii) Girls perform as well as boys in mixed schools in algebraic questions. The study concludes that meaningful learning does not take place in algebra and recommends that secondary mathematics teachers should;- i) Enables students to realize the points of similarity and dissimilarity between rational numbers and algebra (isomorphism); ii) Make the topic palatable and meaningful to the students through practical work and use of real life situation in problem-solving; iii) Collaborate with primary mathematics teachers in the laying of a firm foundation in the learners if performance is to be improved. The study also suggests areas in algebra where revision is needed. It reveals aspects of the child's thinking which the teacher needs to know in order to help the child improve in understanding. Illustrative extracts from the student’s paper are included along with their reasoning for direct use, or adoption by teachers. The study is expected to be important to teachers, teacher trainers, curriculum developers and even students in many ways that relate to the improvement of performance in mathematics.