An Overview Of Teacher’s Attitude And Pupils’ Interest On Mathematics

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AN OVERVIEW OF TEACHER’S ATTITUDE AND PUPILS’ INTEREST ON MATHEMATICS

Introduction

Mathematics is a discipline that often evokes emotional responses in people, previous experiences with mathematics and individual’s beliefs about Mathematics influence how they respond when presented with a Mathematical task. Without intervention, people tend to react consistently with either feelings of enthusiasm and interest, anxiety and apprehension, or disinterest and detachment when confronted with Mathematics related activities. Emotional responses, beliefs and behaviours connected to math are the three ingredients that make-up an individual’s attitude toward Mathematics. Frequently, individuals cite experiences in Mathematics classes or with specific math teachers as the source of their positive, negative or neutral attitude toward mathematics. The cumulative effect of our academic experiences with mathematics contributes to the formation of our general attitude toward Mathematics. It is therefore necessary for mathematics teachers to be aware of how their attitude (emotions, beliefs, and behaviours) toward mathematics affects pupils’ motivation, interest and achievement in the subject.

There is a widespread interest in improving the level of mathematics performance in schools. Apart from the economic benefits of better preparing young people for the numeracy demands of modern work place and raising the overall skill levels of the work force, there are also social benefits tied to improving access for larger numbers of young people to post-school education and training opportunities and laying stronger foundation to skills for lifelong learning. The interest in raising levels of performance has led to a focus on identifying the rang of factors that shape performance as well as understanding how these factors operate to limit or enhance the performance of pupils by gender.

Teachers serve as mentors and potential role models to the pupils and as such have a responsibility to be aware of how their attitude towards mathematics can influence their pupils. Teachers, among other significant adults in children’s lives, maintain an important role in enhancing academic motivation and achievement (Leupuscek & Zuparicic, 2009). Without Mathematics teachers that are zealous, engaging, and creative, pupils may form opinions of the subject that are inaccurate and misguided. Pupils’ perceptions of their math teachers’ attitude towards Mathematics result in significant differences in their motivation and achievement in mathematics. (Levpuscek & Zupancic, 2009).

Attitude:

Attitude is a complex mental state involving emotional responses, beliefs and dispositions to behave in certain ways toward something (Princeton University, 2006).

Attitude involves what people think about, feel about, and how they would like to behave toward an attitude object. Triandis (1971). Attitudes are the established ways of responding to people and situations that we have learned, based on the beliefs, values and assumptions we hold. Attitudes become manifest through your behaviour. It is attitude that determines how fast you achieve your goal or how well you acquire a skill or knowledge. Attitude also provide a framework to solve the problem.

Attributes of Attitude

Attitude Drives Behaviour: If you want to succeed at anything you need to have the right mindset. Your body language is a result of your mental attitude. By choosing your attitude you get in that mood and send out a message that everyone understands, consciously or unconsciously.

Attitude is infectious: Your attitude is the first thing people pick up on your face-to-face communication. Just as laughing, yawning, and crying are infectious, attitude is infectious. Before you say a word, your attitudes can infect the people who see you with the same behaivour somehow, just by looking or feeling, you can be infected by another person’s attitude and vice versa.

Attitude Motivates: Attitude motivation is about how people think and feel. It is their self-confidence, their belief in themselves, their attitude to life, be it positive or negative. It is how they feel about the future and how they react to the past.

Interest:

Is the feeling of wanting to know or learn about something or someone. It is also the feeling of a person whose attention, concern, or curiosity is particularly engaged by something.

Again, interest could also be defined as something that concerns, involves, draws the attention of, or arouses the curiosity of a person Dictionary. Com (2008). Researchers have identified two types of interest. Situational Interest and Personal Interest or Individual Interest.

Situational Interest is Spontaneous, transitory and environmentally activated. Situational interest increases learning when the task or to-be-learned information is novel or when information is relevant to a task or learning goal. Text variables such as coherence, identification with characters, suspense and the concreteness and image-ability of salient text segments also increase situational interest Personal or Individual Interest is less spontaneous, or of enduring personal value and activated internally. Personal Interest increases learning due to increased engagement, the acquisition of expert knowledge, and making mundane tasks more challenging. Personal Interest is also important because it appears to mediate the relationship between short-term situational interest and long-term mastery and learning within a domain (Hidi & Renninger, 2006). In addition, several studies suggest that personal interest increases the amount and quality of information processing. For example, Schiefele (1999) found that readers with personal interest in a topic were more likely to engage in deeper text processing, characterized by the construction of situational models (i.e a mental representation of the people, setting, and events implied by the text). Mitchell (1993) suggest that personal interest develops over time because some topic or event catches an individual’s interest in a situational manner that is supported by learning events that help the person to hold that interest.

Situational Interest appears to be especially important in catching students’ attention whereas, personal interest may be more important in holding it (Durik & Harackewicz, 2007; Mitchell, 1993).

Mathematics:

Ozoji, Dashe and Edozie (2010) defined Mathematics as a form of science of numbers and shapes or the process of calculating using numbers. Ugboduma (2009) Stated that Mathematics came into existence through the ideas of arithmetic used by early men for describing herd of animals.

Goals of Teaching Mathematics in Primary School

Ugboduma and Richard in Ekanem, (2012). Listed the following as the goals of teaching Mathematics in Nursery and Primary Schools.

(a)     Inculcating in the pupils the right type of values and attitudes.

(b)     Training the pupils’ minds to the understanding of the world around, manipulating the system through calculative means.

(c)      Inculcating the mathematics consciousness using them for national unity.

(d)     Increasing and strengthening theoretical and practical scientific and technological bases in the society using Mathematics concepts and.

(e)      Acquisition of the appropriate scientific skills and attitudes towards Mathematics.

The benefits of teaching Mathematics in Primary Schools.

Nwankwo F. M. (2006) highlighted the following as the benefits of teaching Mathematics in Primary Schools.

(i)      The Utility values of Mathematics ideas and process in domestic business and professional life of each individual.

(ii)     Laying a sound foundation for children to study Mathematics in secondary and tertiary institutions.

(iii)    Helping children to develop their abilities in the use of Mathematical ideas in their daily life activities.

(iv)    Helping children to develop positive attitudes in learning of Mathematics.

(v)     Helping children to develop logical thinking.

(vi)    Helping children acquire basic knowledge and skills in number, quantities and practical approaches.

There is an increasing amount of research on the affective aspects of Mathematics education due to the findings that indicate attitudes towards Mathematics have a substantial influence on mathematics instruction and learning. In the education of children, it is important for teachers to be aware of the significant impact and consequence their attitudes can have on pupils. According to Princeton University’s Word Net (2006), attitudes are complex mental states involving emotional responses, beliefs, and dispositions to behave in certain ways toward something. A well supported theory of attitude structure in psychology is the ABC model (affect, behaviour and cognition) Affect refers to gut reactions or emotional responses, behaviour includes overt actions and covert intentions, and cognition is constituted by beliefs and opinions. Together they constitute three distinct components of attitude (Breckier, 1984).

Teacher’s attitude toward Mathematics both overtly and covertly influence the classroom atmosphere by affecting their emotional responses, beliefs and behaviours related to Mathematics. Measureable evidence of a teacher’s attitude toward math can be revealed by their emotional responses toward Mathematics, beliefs about Mathematics and behaviours. In order to study teachers’ attitudes toward math, emotional responses, beliefs and behaviours must be quantified and recorded. Quantifying these emotions, beliefs and behaviours has required researchers to develop reliable and valid surveying instruments as well as interview and observation coding procedures. From the data collected by these surveys, interviews and observation, researchers can infer a teacher’s overall attitude toward Mathematics. The collected data is statistically analyzed to measure

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