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Causes And Effect Of Mathematics Anxiety Among Junior Secondary School Students In Onitsha North Local Government Area Of Anambra State




This study investigated the causes and effect of mathematics anxiety among junior secondary school students in Onitsha North Local Government Area of Anambra State. The study adopted a descriptive survey design. The population of the study consisted of all the secondary school students in Onitsha North Local Government of Anambra State while a sample of 150 JSS3 students were used for the study. This sample was randomly drawn from a population of 3000 students. Data for the study was collected using questionnaire. To ensure the validity, the initial draft of the instrument was subjected to face validation. It was done by my supervisor; Head of Mathematics Department FCE(T), Asaba and two experts in Educational Foundations of Measurement and Evaluation in FCT(T), Asaba. Reliability of the instrument was ascertained using Cronbach-Alpha. It is mandatory that assessors to the interpretation of their data (Taval and Denrick). Two secondary schools in Onitsha North Local Government Area of Anambra State which are not part of the sample were trial tested. Cronbach-Alpha statistical analysis was used to determine the internal consistency coefficient of the instrument and was found to be 0.78 and this shows that internal consistency is within an acceptable level. The researcher together with two research assistants administered the questionnaire in different schools that were selected. The research assistants were already educated by the researcher on the purpose of the study and how it will be administered. The questionnaire were collected by the researcher and her assistants from the respondents for analysis. The data collected were analyzed using mean and standard deviation. Based on the analysis, it was found that limited timed-test in mathematics cause anxiety on students, teachers’ related factors causes mathematics anxiety among students and parental education and attitude effect students mathematics anxiety. On the basis of the findings, it was recommended among other that the teachers/facilitators should be positive and supportive as well as employing teaching method that empower students to develop positive attitude and feelings, towards mathematics and teachers should demonstrate interest in mathematics in order to raise students’ motivation in mathematics as a means of helping students to reduce their mathematics anxiety.          



1.1 Background to the Study

Mathematics is an important school subject because it is associated with future academic and career opportunities, and it as well determines individual functionality in a given society. It is an essential requirement in every field of intellectual endeavor and human development to cope with the challenges of life. It can also be seen as the queen and servant of the school subjects since it cuts across the school curriculum (Martins 2013).Mathematics is defined as the science of numbers ,space and language of science and technology. Fajemidagba, Salman and Ayinla (2012) see mathematics as a core subject and tool for the development of any science. According to Onwuachu and Nwakonobi (2009) in Olaiyan and Salman (2015), mathematics is the foundation on which the whole essence of lining resolves and the platform for scientific and technological innovations.

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Mathematics is much more than a collection of definition, theories and proofs. It is a richly woven fabric of connections that involves visualizing, abstracting and associating ideas (Abolagade, Waheed and Sanoniyi: 2013). Mathematics encourages the habit of self–reliance and assists learners to think and solve their problems themselves (Adedayo 1997).The relevance of mathematics cuts across all works of life and cannot be overemphasized. It helps man to give exact interpretation of his ideas and conclusions. It is the numerical and calculation part of man’s life and knowledge. It plays a predominant role in our everyday life and it has become an indispensable factor for the progress of our present day world (Rooch,nod). Makar (2001),noted that mathematics has played an important role in the development of society from the pre-historic era to the present and its role is more significant in the future.

The great recognition given to mathematics as a result of its contribution to the development of the society is expected to translate to a satisfactory students’ performance in the subject but, reverse is the case in Nigeria society. Despite its importance in daily life and career and academic choices, mathematics is often viewed as a difficult subject. Such perception is in path due to the nature of mathematics. However, many students have trouble learning mathematics, some of which are visual learners and find it difficult to grasp mathematics concept when they are presented verbally or numerically. Elekwa (2010) remarked that students exhibit nonchalant  attitude towards mathematics even when they know that they need it to forge ahead in their studies and in life.

Majority of Nigerian school children generally dread mathematics, most of them consider it abstract, difficult and complex and these leads them to developing phobia for mathematics including the brighter ones. Such students who have already conditioned their minds that mathematics is difficult are usually not serious in the learning of mathematics and therefore perform poorly in mathematics tests and examination (Ihendnihu, 2013).

Ishabalala and Neube (2013) in Sa’ad, Adamu and Sadiq (2014) pointed that shortage of well trained teachers, inadequate of teaching facilities, lack of funds to purchase necessary equipment, poor quality of textbooks, large classes, poorly motivated teachers, lack of laboratory and libraries, poorly coordinated supervisory activities, interference of the school system by the civil services, incessant transfer of teachers and principals, automatic promotion of pupils, the negative role of public examinations on the teaching-learning process and inequality in education opportunities all hamper the smooth acquisition of mathematics knowledge. Also one of the greatest causes of poor performance in mathematics among secondary school students in mathematics is anxiety.

Mathematics anxiety is an intense emotional feeling of anxiety that people have about their ability to understand and do mathematics. People who suffer from mathematics anxiety feel that they are incapable of doing activities and classes that involve mathematics and this lead to many students choosing their college major in the basis of how little mathematics is required for the degree. A remarkable body of research has been accumulated on mathematics anxiety since the 1960s (Sahin, 2008). Mathematics anxiety could develop as a result of students’ prior negative experience learning mathematics in a classroom or at home (Rossan;2006). It seemed to be a problem to many learners, and panic can be seen as a turbulence in the mind, a kind of mental frenzy and some students do panic about mathematics. The mind may also freeze and the students may experience physical tension and rigidity (Buxton;1981).It has been estimated that two-third of adults loathe and fear mathematics (Furner and Duffy;2002).

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Okigbo(2010) citing Aprebo indicated that anxiety is an academic sickness whose virus has not yet been fully diagnosed for an effective treatment in the class and the symptoms of this anxiety are usually expressed on the faces of mathematics students in their classes. Sloan (2002) observed the construct as related to personality characteristics, negative attitude, poor mathematics background, poor teaching behavior, achievement levels, lack of confidence and negative experiences in school. Mark H. Ashcraft (2002) defined mathematics anxiety as a feeling of tension, apprehension or fear that interferes with mathematics performance.

The origin of negative beliefs and anxiety about mathematics can be classified into three categories which are environmental, intellectual, and personality factors (Trujillo and Hadfield; 1999). Environmental factors include negative experiences in the classroom, parental pressure, insensitive teachers, mathematics being taught in a traditional manner as a rigid set of rules and non-participatory classrooms. Intellectual factors include being taught with mismatched learning styles, students’ attitude and lack of persistence, self- doubt, lack of confidence in mathematics ability and lack of perceived usefulness of mathematics. While personality factors include unwillingness to ask questions due to shyness, low self-esteem and for females viewing mathematics as a male domain (Trugillo and Hadfield; 1999).

Mathematics, prolonged feeling of mathematics anxiety impacts negatively on the interest of students in the subject. It is in the light of this background that, this study seek to find out the causes and effect of mathematics anxiety among Junior Secondary School Students.

 1.2 Statement of the Problem

Considering the relevance attached to the study of mathematics with respect to its contributions in scientific, technological and economic development of a nation, poor achievement in the subject is due to persistent anxiety and will pose danger in the development stride of the nation. Likewise parental encouragement since they have much influence on adolescent course-taking and career choices. Therefore, this study is carried out to answer the question: What are the causes and effect of mathematics anxiety among secondary school students.

 1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to determine the causes and effects of mathematics anxiety among Junior Secondary School Students in Anambra State. Specifically, the study is design to:

  1. Examine how limited time-test in mathematics infuse anxiety on the students
  2. Justify teacher’s perceived factor causing mathematics anxiety among secondary school students
  3. Determine the influence of parental education and their attitude towards mathematics to student’s mathematics anxiety
  4. Indicate gender bias as a major variable causing mathematics anxiety on secondary school students
  5. Inspect how limited student’s poor grade level in mathematics influence anxiety on the students.
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1.4 Significance of the Study

This study will give a full understanding on the causes and effects of mathematics anxiety among secondary school students, and it is expected that it could be useful to students, teachers, parents, textbook writers, some professional academic association.

It will help students to elevate their anxiety for mathematics so that they will be able to appreciate the importance of the effective domain like interest and motivation thereby improving their attitude and performance towards mathematics.

Teacher will be able to adjust their teaching method and reduce disparity and bias on gender differences.

Parents as well will understand that their attitude towards mathematics has a great effect whether positively or negatively. Their encouragement will give their children a positive insight and influence their attitude towards mathematics. And also that their educational background matters since professional parents or parents with their degrees provides extract learning opportunities encouragement and expect higher from their children than manual workers parents does.

Finally, professional academic association and textbook writers will be in need of the curriculum planners and experts in the field for better organization and construction of topics in mathematics subject.

 1.5 Scope of the Study

This study is carried out in Onitsha North Local Government Area of Anambra State. It focuses on the causes and effects of mathematics anxiety among junior secondary school students. It is delimited to the causes and effects of mathematics anxiety.

 1.6 Research Questions.

The following research questions here raised to guide the study:

  1. To what extent do limited time-test in mathematics cause mathematics anxiety on students?
  2. How does teachers’ perceived factor cause mathematics anxiety on student?
  3. How does parental education and attitude towards mathematics influence students’ mathematics anxiety?
  4. To what extent does gender disparity and bias cause mathematics anxiety on students?
  5. To what extent do students’ poor grade level in mathematics affects mathematics anxiety on students?

1.7 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were used to guide this study:

Hypotheses 1: There is a pitched significance relationship between limited time-test and students mathematics anxiety

Hypotheses 2:These is a significant relationship between teachers’ perceived factor and students’ mathematics anxiety.

Hypotheses 3:There is a significant influence of parental education and attitude on students’ mathematics anxiety.

Hypotheses 4: There is no significant difference between gender and mathematics  anxiety of students

Hypotheses 5: There is significant relationship on students’ poor grade level in mathematics and their anxiety for mathematics.

Pages:  62

Category: Project

Format:  Word & PDF               

Chapters: 1-5                                          

Source: Imsuinfo

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.


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