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Mathematics Education Forum

Dec 2008, Vol. 11, Issue 24. Year 12, pp 36-40



Indra Kumari Bajracharya Ph. D.

Background and Prior Studies

Regarding student achievement in mathematics, Nepalese researches have uncovered

very interesting figures. The researches revealed the fact that achievement level of primary
school students in Nepal is relatively low and, there by, unsatisfactory. A study conducted by
Research Center for Educational Innovation and Development (CERID) in 1985 among the
grade V students concluded that majority of students secured less than 45% marks in
mathematics (CERID, 1985). Another study concluded that the mean score of students of
grade I and II was less than 42% (CERID, 1989). A research conducted by NEW ERA shows
that the mean score of grade III students was less than 50% (BPEP, 1995). Another research
on achievement of grade IV students pertaining to the effects of new curriculum revealed that
mathematics achievement was 28% (BPEP, 1997). Similarly, a Basic Primary Education
Project (BPEP) research on the effects of new curriculum in student achievement among the
grade V students shows that mathematics achievement is 26.58% (BPEP, 1998). An
evaluation research of primary school students conducted by the Primary Education
Development Project (PEDP) reported that mean score of grade V students in mathematics
was 33.68% (PEDP, 1993). A national achievement research, which was conducted by
Educational and Development Service Center (EDSC) in 1997, reported that mean score of
grade III students was 43.81% (EDSC, 1997). The same type of study pursued in 1999

Dr Bajracharya is a lecture of Department of Mathematics Education
Mahendra Ratan Campus, Kathmandu , Nepal

concluded that the mean score of grade V students was 27.25% (EDSC, 1999). The other
national achievement study of grade III students revealed the facts that mean score of grade
III students was 47 (EDSC, 2001). A study conducted by CERID, development of
standardized test in mathematics shows that mean achievement in secondary level was
42.02% (CERID, 1988). Another study on student achievement in lower secondary level,
which was jointly conducted by CERID and SEDP (Secondary Educational Developmental
Project), reveals that the mean score of mathematics achievement was 28.87% (CERID,
1999). A study conducted by Bajracharya (1999), pursued a research relating to mathematics
achievement among the students of grade V in selected schools in Lalitpur district shows that
mean achievement of the district level examination was 41.49.
The findings of the studies conducted in the past have elaborated achievement of students
in mathematics. However, scores secured by students of different levels in mathematics did
not exceed 50%. This situation of lower achievement level in schools might be influenced by
several variables. Achievement as such is essentially determined by different variables. Those
variables are mainly the school related variables, student related variables, teacher related
variables and the household related variables (EDSC, 1997, EDSC, 1999 EDSC, 2001, and
CERID, 1984). Each category of variables is comprised of sub-variables. All the sub-
variables from different variable categories determine the level of achievement in
mathematics in one way or another. Some studies mentioned above were conducted in order
to identify the factors, which influenced achievement level of students. The factors, which
affect achievement level of students of any grades in mathematics, are changeable in time and
space. Therefore, achievement itself requires further analysis after a certain interval of time
(EDSC, 1997). Therefore, present research has focused on identifying determining variables
in mathematics achievement among the grade eight students. In other words, the factors
affecting of student related variables influence in student mathematics achievement remains
still unanswered yet. In this regard, this study, through provides a picture on achievement
level of lower secondary school students influenced by student related variables student
related variables. Hence the main purpose of this study was to find out the factors affecting
the student related variables and their mathematics achievement.


This research was based on the study of grade 8 students in the Kathmandu valley.
So, at the first stage, schools in each selected district were categorized into two strata
according to their location - schools in urban area and schools in rural area. Hereafter
referred to as urban schools and rural schools. The schools located in municipality areas in
each sample district were considered as urban schools whereas schools located in Village
Development Committees (VDCs) were considered as rural schools. Each group of schools
was further divided into two groups according to their type - community schools and
institutional schools. So, all the schools of three districts were classified into four strata (2
areas × 2 types of schools = 4 strata). The determination of sample size and procedure for
sample selection was based on sampling frames designed by Kenneth Ross for designing
the national sample for data collection. The sampling frame suggested selecting at least 20
students from each sample school in the research. Therefore, the researcher has followed
Ross’s sampling guideline and selected 860 student samples from 43 sample schools. The
size of total number of student samples used in this research was determined by desired
accuracy of 95% confidence for the value of sample estimate. Altogether 43 Schools were
selected randomly within the designed strata, which would be proportional to total number
of schools in each stratum. Consequently, 27 schools (17 urban schools and 10 rural
schools) in Kathmandu, 12 schools (6 urban schools and 6 rural schools) in Lalitpur district
and 4 schools (2 urban schools and 2 rural schools) in Bhaktapur district were selected as
sample schools. From each group of schools twenty students were selected randomly.
Therefore altogether 860 students were the sample of the study.
This study was used two types of instruments – mathematics achievement test and
student interview form. Mathematics Achievement tests with 64 full marks, which was
prepared and finalized by a study, whose reliability is claimed 0.90 in her study was used in
this study. Second instrument was used student interview form, which consisted of structured
questions regarding the student related variables such as gender, age, prior achievement
score, peer grouped inter action and attendance. The researcher visited all the sample schools
and administered the achievement test at the end of the session and interviewed the all
sample students. Basically, this research intended to find out student related factors
identifying of achievement in mathematics among the grade eight students. Data collected
through the interview method was qualitative in nature. In the first stage, data depicted from

the use of interview form was quantified. After quantifying data to determine the factors
predicting student achievement were analysis by multiple regression.
Results of the Study

For the purpose of this study, mathematics achievement score of grade eight
students is defined as the dependent variable and five student related variables are defined as
independent variable. All the independent variables were quantifying for the purpose of data
analysis. Independent variables considered for this analysis are as follows.

Among those Variables, gender is dichotomous therefore, boy = 1, girls = 2. Age is

another variable, from the survey, minimum and maximum ages were found 11 to 19 years.
This age interval was divided into three levels - under 14 (under age), 14 years and above 14
years (over age), According to the government examination policy, 16 years is required for a
student to appear in the SLC examination. The previous mathematics score of grade VII
final examination was measured as prior mathematics background. Peer Group Interaction
was measured and indicated by discussion of mathematics problems with classmates. There
were three groups of sample students. The first group never had any discussion with peers.
This group was named as group A. The second group sometimes-discussed mathematics
problem with the peers is called group B. Finally, the third group, group C always discussed
mathematics problems with their friends. Another variable is Attendance of students. The
minimum attendance was 90 and the maximum was 238. The mean attendance was 178.87
and variability was 24.54. All the sample students were divided into three groups based on
mean attendance and variability score. The attendance record of group A was less than 154
(mean – variability score = near to 154), group B’s attendance was between 154 and 205, and
attendance of group C was 205 (mean + variability score = near to 205).

All the student related independent variables (gender, age, prior achievement, peer
group interaction and attendance) were included in the multiple regression analysis. So, these
variables were used to evaluate the model of independent variables, which is presented in the
following model (table 1).

Table 1
Model Summary

R Adjusted
Mode R
Square R Square
1 .502 .252 .248

As the table (no. 1) shows, R is the multiple correlation.1 The value of R = 0.502, and
R2 is the model that explains the variance in the dependent variable. R square is the
proportion of variation in the dependent variable explained by the regression model. The
value of model is .252 or R2 =.252. It means that this model explains 25.2% of the variance
in the dependent variable achievement score. The Adjusted R square attempts to correct R
square, which more closely reflects the goodness of appropriateness of the model in the
population. The Adjusted R square value of model is .248. The following ANOVA table (2)
indicates that the model is highly significant.
Table 2
ANOVA table

Sum of Square df Mean Square F Sig.

Regression 22321.487 4464.297
57.507 .000
Residual 66294.489 77.631

This model included five student related variables, which explained 24.2% of the
variance in the dependent variable. It is indicated by the ANOVA table as significant { F (5,
854) = 57.507, p <. 000}.

Regression Equation

The following coefficients were obtained to generate the regression equation for
predicting mathematics achievement scores based on the information of five student related
variables in the following table 3.

Table 3
Sometimes it is known as the coefficient of determination. R represents to the
total correlation between all the independent variables and dependent variables.

Coefficients of Variables

Student Unstandardized Standardized

related Coefficients Coefficients
t Sig.
variables B Std. Error Beta
(Constant) 37.745 4.920 4.376 .000
Gender -1.463 .618 -.072 -2.368 .018
Age -1.217 .315 -.120 -3.866 .000
Peer interaction .939 .566 .050 1.660 .097
.177 .017 .334 10.435 .000
Attendance .078 .012 .197 4.275 .000

Five independent student related variables considered in the regression equation

contributes the most in the prediction of student achievement. One with the least predictive
power is a matter of concern. The standardized coefficient Beta displayed above shows that
student achievement score highly depends on the previous score or prior achievement score.
This variable has appeared as the strong predictor in the model. Its Beta coefficient is . 334.
The positive sign indicates that there is direct variation between prior achievement score and
the dependent variable. It means that achievement increases or decreases according to
changes in prior score a unit increase in prior achievement score is associated with 17.7%
increment in student achievement score in mathematics. It is also logical to assume that those
students’ background of mathematics has impact on obtaining score. Thus, a good prior
achievement obviously leads to achievement further. Generally, it is true that good (in terms
of academic background) students perform well in exams of related subjects.

The second powerful indicator is attendance. The Beta coefficient is .197 in the
model. It means that students’ regularity in the class increases student achievement. A unit
increase in attendance is associated with 7.8% increments in achievement in mathematics.
Therefore, it can be assumed attendance might motivate students to incline to achievement.
Similarly, another indicator in the model is age of students. The Beta coefficient is -.120. The
negative sign indicates that achievement scores decreases according to the growing age of
student. The older students were failed, there by repeating the same grade in some cases. A
year increase in the age of student showed achievement decrease by 12.17% in mathematics.

Another variable in the model is gender. The Beta coefficient of gender variable is
-.072. The negative sign indicates that gender of students impact student achievement score.
A unity increase in gender difference decreases achievement in mathematics by 14.63%. In
the Nepalese society, girls are preoccupied with certain homely business. They do not have
much freedom as the boys have. Girls have many responsibilities in their home such as
cooking, cleaning, dishwashing, and laundry etc. Therefore, these sorts of heavy-duty
household works affected their studies.

The least powerful variable is the peer group interaction in this model. The Beta
coefficient of this variable is .050. An increase of a unit in peer group interaction in the
classroom contributed to achievement score to increase by 93.9%. Generally, the ‘peer group
interaction method’ is not used in the classroom instruction. However, peer interaction
significantly influenced student achievement in mathematics. Therefore, teachers should lay
emphasis on peer group interaction for better achievement.

A model was constructed to estimate the impact of five student related variables on
mathematics achievement. With the unstandardized Beta coefficients obtained for each
variable, the regression equation predicting the achievement score is generated as follows :

Y = β + β 1x1+ β 2x2+β 3x3+β 4x4+β 5x5

Where Y = depended variable total achievement score

x1,x2, x3, ….x5 represent five student related variables

β = The intercept on achievement scores

β 1, β 2, β β 5 are the unstandardized coefficients 2 for the five independent variables x1,to

x5 respectively. Thus, on substitution of the Beta value from the above table (no 47), the
actual regression equation reduces to

Total achievement score = 37.745 - 1.463 * gender -1.217 * Age + .939 * Peer group
interaction + .177 * Prior achievement + .078 * Attendance.


The findings of the study, out of five student-related independent variables,

Standardized coefficients are used to compare the contribution of independent
variables where as unstandardized coefficients are used for constructing a
regression equation.

four student related variables - gender, age, prior achievement and attendance

significantly predicted with dependant variables and achievement score. But peer group

interaction did not significantly predict in this study.


The findings of the study reveal that the variables such as gender, age, prior

achievement and attendance significantly predicted in the students related variables

model. A special priority for girl students, over aged students and weak students are

needed to improve mathematics achievement. It is necessary to follow strictly the rules on

class attendance, which is expected to help increase attendance thereby affecting their

achievement. The variable of 'class attendance' would help to improve students' interest in

class activities and improve achievement.

There is also a need to focus on peer interaction among students because the study has

found out that the students who always discussed mathematics problems with the peer

group performed better. This group of students obtained better scores comparing to the

students who never discussed mathematics problems or sometimes discussed with the

peer groups.


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