Mathematics across the curriculum: a case study of the applications of mathematics in selected Kenyan secondary school subjects
Kiswili, Patrick Muoki
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The objectives of this research were to establish the nature of the mathematical concepts that find application in other subjects studied in secondary schools, the effects this applied mathematics has on the elarning and teahcing process of the subjects wehre it is applied'; and whether both the learners nad teachers are aware of the application ofthis mathematics in these subjects. Two questionnaire, one for the students and the other for the teachers were administered. The researcher also pored through some textbooks used in the teaching of the ten subjects which were selected for the study. It was found that a lot of mathematics is oftenly applied in the other subjects but no much attention is usually paid to this, except in the sciences. Learners find mathematical knowledge very useful especially those who like it (mathematics) when learning subjects like chemistry, physics and geography. Some mathematical concepts like arithmetic (counting, adding and subtracting) permeate throughout the curriculum. These concepts cause some problems for the weaker students in mathematics. Some learners listed several topics that cause problems to them, simply because they use mathematics. Teachers also had their own problems in teaching subjects that heavily rely on mathematics. Some topics in chemistry and physics were said to cause great problems for both students and teachers. Student found themselves limited in their choice of careers because most of the careers require mathematical knowledge which they are either limited in, or they fear that their expected poor performance in mathematics will not enable them to take such careers. Some advanced mathematical skills like vectors, matrices, trigonometry, probability etc were found to have negative effects on the learning of the subjects where they are applied. Logical thinking was found to be the most espoused aspect of mathematics that has permeated greatly and assists the learners in other subjects. Both learners and teachers were in agreement that reasoning is mainly achieved in the process of learning mathematics and once it has been acquired in such a situation it can very conveniently be used in the process of learning other subjects in the curriculum. Mathematics was felt to be used by other subjects mainly due to its ability to communicate information with precision and economy. The use of symbols and formulae were felt to be the cornerstones of mathematical application especially when presenting natural phenomena in summary form. More than 90% of all the respondents who participated in this study were in agreement that mathematics should remain compulsory in secondary school and that people of all walks of life need and use mathematics, be they educated formally or not.