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AS A PROPOSAL FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL MATHEMATICS REFLECTION FOR NATIONAL MATHEMATICAL CENTRE

APRIL, 2012.

ABSTRACT

Mathematics clinic serves students who are having difficulties with mathematics and the teachers who are interested in diagnosis training. This paper aims at providing the necessary information/guidelines for the National Mathematical Centre on how to organize such program. The paper therefore, starts by introducing mathematics: its values and problem associated to it as a subject, and then gives the background information for better understanding of the mathematics clinic outlook, history of mathematics clinic and finally the guidelines for setting up the clinic.

INTRODUCTION Mathematics is a quantitative subject that fosters the development of cognitive abilities such as thinking (Shaffer, 2001). Reasoning skills are important for success in mathematics and other subjects students study in school. Mathematics as observed by Abiodun (1997) is the major tool available for formulating theories in the science as well as in other field of inquiry. Therefore, mathematics particularly, is a base for all scientific and technological studies. Additionally, mathematics has high relevance and practical applications to many real-life situation and problem. According to Harbour-Peter (2000): An important feature of the application of mathematics to science is that it enables us to make scientific prediction that are to draw on the basis of logic and with the aid of mathematical methods, correct conclusion whose agreement with reality is then confirmed by experience, experiment and practice. It is therefore, a key and compulsory subject in many schools system. In Nigeria, mathematics is a core subject both at primary and secondary schools. Important as it may be, the study of mathematics has however unfortunately been not easy for many students. Mathematics is one of the school subjects in which students often perform poorly. Almost every year students manifest poor performance both in internal and external examination. Supporting this argument are the studies of Kajuru (2008), Galadima (1998) and Ojo (1990). Furthermore, Osibodu (1977) in a study noted a regular high rate of failure at the school certificate level. This high

rate of failure can be verified by taking a look at the reports of the Chief Examiner, West African Examination Council, year 2006. 3-year results of the Senior Secondary Mathematics in the May/June 20042006 WASSCE Examination Years 2004 2005 2006 Entries 844,371 943,371 1,045,4-6 % Pass with Credit 34.52 35.55 39.92 % Pass and below 65.42 64.45 60.08

Many reasons have been suggested to be responsible for this disappointing achievement level. These range from teachers factor, environment factors and the students factors. Other factors as advanced by different studies to have caused dismal performance of students in mathematics include the qualifications of science teachers (Mathematics inclusive) (Ferguson, 1991; Obemeata, 1996; Ogunwuyi, 2000); effectiveness of the teachers (Olaoye 1998); work load entrusted to the teachers to handle (Greenwald, Hedges and Lane, 1996); instructional facilities available to enhance teaching and learning of the subject (Osafehinti 1984), and attitudes of students towards the learning of Mathematics (Oyeniran and Farayola, 1999). All the aforementioned studies have in one way or the other, identified the extent to which these factor had affected the performances of students in mathematics and provided solution accordingly. But none of these studies had considered the psychological factor that affects students trying to learn mathematics. Apart from this, almost all the solutions provided by various studies have not been

understand the objectives of in-service: it improves their efficiency and professional performance. Teacher education programs are still inadequately equipped to

prepare educators for their jobs. How can we ensure that all new teachers will be better prepared to strengthen students learning? In the light of this, the National Mathematical Centre is addressed to challenge this problem by organizing a diagnostic clinic called Mathematic Clinic, which serves students that are having difficulty with mathematics, trains teachers in diagnosis and advancement of mathematical understanding and organizes summer mathematics clinic for secondary school students. History of Mathematics Clinic The Mathematics clinic began at the school of Mathematics Sciences, Claremont Graduate University (CGS) about 1960 and at Harvey Mudd College about 1973. These two of the six Claremont colleges, jointly conduct the mathematics clinic for the students in their graduate and undergraduate applied mathematics programs. A major purpose of the clinic is to help students gain the experience required to obtain positions in industry and government without further graduate training. The clinic includes specialist activity, engaged in research in nearly all phrase of applied mathematics with established reputation in areas such as mathematics modeling of physical and economic system; probability theory, and

computer science etc. To date, 52 post doctoral mathematicians have participated in and benefited from the clinic. This paper presentation describes the need of mathematics clinic for Nigeria secondary school students. In other to better understand the need, it is necessary to have the background information. Background Information The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000) states: Effective mathematic teaching requires understanding what students know and to learn and then challenging and supporting them to learn it well. Therefore, an effective mathematics teacher should be able to understand the mathematics learning problem, students cognitive thinking deficits, among others. Working with students in one-to-one format in a mathematics clinic provides a unique opportunity for teacher to focus instruction based on the need of individual students. Mathematics clinic has different purposes: teacher education, public service, or research (Engelhardt, 1985). Therefore, it implies that the two major focuses of the clinic are: To educate teachers on how to cope with students who have difficulties learning mathematics and to assess a students intellectual ability, personality, learning aptitude etc

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The key to successful instruction is beginning with the known and working towards the unknown. Since the level and accuracy of prior knowledge varies with each child, he describes diagnostic testing as a positive action to determine each students knowledge level. This level of individualization is not typically available in traditional classroom setting, even in private schools. In the Vanguard Newspapers released on February 17, 2010, a non governmental organization MCLILYVILLE, an education consultant firm in collaboration with Lagos State government organized a mathematics clinic for SSI students in Lagos mainland. And according to Mr. N.C. Ojarana, coordinator of Mathematics clinic, the programme was aimed at reaching out to weak students in mathematics, create the right atmosphere for the study of mathematics, ensure the credibility for the virtues of mathematics in secondary schools and to appropriate degree of awareness which will in no distant time ensure anticipated attitudinal change for mathematics students among others. The coordinator further explained the purpose of the clinic which is to make the students develop interest in mathematics as a way of realizing the vision 2020 project of the federal government. Therefore, having understood the term mathematics clinic in detail, it is very important to design comprehensive guidelines for setting up this clinic.

Mathematic clinic is an educational program aimed at reaching out to weak students in mathematic, create right atmosphere, exploring individual students strengths and weaknesses by understanding their unique personality type, intellectual ability as well as their academic background. It is also a centre for teacher education and research based. Below are the proposed guidelines for the National Mathematic Centre for setting up the clinic. 1. Revamping Mathematics Curriculum The National Mathematical Centre should deliberately review the existing mathematics curriculum to integrate content and pedagogical knowledge, laboratory experience and how cognitive diagnosis assessment could be made. National

Mathematic centre should have their main focus on topics that are difficult to understand and teach, and which students also find difficult to comprehend. 2. Teaching and Learning Environment In other to provide effective tutoring services, the National Mathematical centre should provide a best teaching and learning environment. The environment should have good structures including classrooms, academic offices, mathematics laboratory, computer room and availability of instructional materials like makers, slide chalkboards etc.

3. i.

For National Mathematical centre to achieve best services the nature of teaching should be considered One of the basis truths in education is that the quality of education depends largely upon the quality of the teacher, (Stinnelt, 1965). By nature of teaching, we mean the quality of the teacher. Certified teachers with training in the diagnosis and advancement of mathematical understanding should be employed. They should be at least masters degree holders with some teaching experiences. This is to say that the expected teachers should be those that are well versed in the curricula, know their communities, apply their knowledge of child growth and development, use assessment to monitor students progress and affectively encourage students in learning. ii. Non-Academic Staff National Mathematical centre should bear it in mind, the need of administrative staff such as clinic director, school psychologist, school social workers, educational diagnosticians, accountant and other professionals who will be in charge of the school monitory, recording keeping, paying salaries, providing comprehensive educational and psychological service etc.

4. i.

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Student learning must serve as one of the focal of the National Mathematical Centre. Their major aim should be to get a complete picture of the child and the problem confronting that child in other to be able to remediate the child difficulties. This can be achieved by: a. Organizing mathematics clinic class in which the child will be diagnosed first

then study under the professional tutors. One on one tutoring instruction should be provided for the child so as to ensure continuous checking for understanding as new concepts are developed. The lesson can be schedule during the weekend days due to pressure of school in the week days. b. National Mathematical Centre also organize summer mathematics clinic by

going round the state public and private schools to teach them all those difficult mathematics concepts. Centres can be selected from all the state schools for the training. And the training should incorporate the participation of students in stimulating projects and activities so that all participants will leave with not only a greater understanding of mathematics but a greater appreciation of mathematic as well. ii. Teacher Education National Mathematics Centre should design a program for both pre-service and in-service mathematics teachers who are willingly to have a good knowledge of the mathematics content and pedagogical content, lesson plan design, classroom management and to acquire diagnostic skill which will help them in determine

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alternative method or technique that they may use to help a child. This program should be a part-time program. 5. Terms and Condition of Each Package Contract National mathematic centre should design the terms and condition of each package contract examples of which are: i. ii. iii. Outline payment for both enrolment and fees Payment should be non-refundable Session must be used within at least a 6 months time period and extensions can be requested prior to expiration date. iv. Arriving late will shorten the session and not conflict with the next students appointment 6. Location The mathematics clinic tutoring service can be located in a town to facilitate its description. Students should schedule their tutoring sessions in advance online. This will allow preparation to be made for the visit as well as controls the flow of students into the centre so that each student gets individualized attention.

Conclusion As a result of the concerns raised by many teachers, school administrators, researchers and the general public about the students mathematics performance in

11

both internal and external examination, the National Mathematical Centre should organize mathematics clinic in other to diagnose and remediate the students learning difficulties in mathematics.

REFERENCES Abiodun, R.F.A. (1997). The Challenges of Mathematics in Nigerias Economic Goals of Vision 2010. Keynote Address presented at 34th Annual National Conference of the Mathematical Association of Nigeria, Sept. 1-61.

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Eaves, R.C. (1992). Case Study of a Mathematic Clinic. Focus on Learning Problem in Mathematics, 15, 2-6. Engelhardt, J.M. (1985). Mathematic Clinic Purposes: Organization or Values? Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics, 7(2), 41-49. Ferguson, R. (1991). Paying for Public Education. New Evidence on how and why money matters. Havard Journal of Legislation, 28, 438-465. Galadim, I. (1998). An Exploratory Study of the Mathematics: Problem Solving Process of Class Six Pupils in Sokoto State. Studies in Humanities Journal of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, 5, 81-87. Greenwald, R. Hedge L. and Lane, R.D. (1996). The Effect of School Resources on Student Achievement. Review of Education Research, 66, 361-396. Harbour Peter, V.F. (2000). Mathematics: Language for the New Millennium, Implication to the Society. A Paper presented at the 37th Annual Conference of MAN, Sept. 4-7. Kajuru, Y.K. (2008). A Systematic Attempt to Establish the Fear and Poor Performance of Senior Secondary School Students in Geometric and Trigonometric Concepts. A Journal of the Faculty of Education, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 46-50. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000). Principles sand Standards for School Mathematics. Obemeata, J.O. (1996). Evaluation of a Distance Learning Programme. Nigeria Education Forum, 8, 251-258. Ogunwuyi, A.O. (2000). A Casual Model of Teachers and Students Factors as Determinants of Achievement in Secondary School Integrated Science Achievement in Secondary School Integrated Science. Unpublished Ph.D Thesis University of Ibadan. Ojo, M.O. (1990). Maximizing Students Learning of Mathematics through Students Interaction Patterns. A Paper presented at the 28th Annual Conference of the Mathematical Association of Nigeria (MAN) at Bauchi in September.

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Olaoye, L.A.A. (1998). Learners Difficulties in Mathematics. A Case Study of Secondary Schools in Ibadan, Oyo State of Nigeria. Unpublished M.Ed. Dissertation. University of Ibadan. Onocha, C.O. and Okpala, P.N. (1988). Classroom Interaction Pattern of Nigeria Physics Trainees Physics Education. Journal of the British Institute of Physics, 23(5), 225-290. Osafeninti, I.O. (1984). Correlates of the Level of Achievement in Mathematics at end of Secondary Education in Oyo State of Nigeria. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis University of Ibadan. Osibodu, B. (1977). Modern Mathematics for Nigeria School Blessing or a Bane. A Study of the Problems and Issues of Mathematics Teaching in Nigeria, NERDC, Lagos, 27-28. Oyeniran, J.O. and Farayola, P.I. (1999). Effect of Students Attitude and Gender Difference on Performance in Mathematics in Senior Secondary School in Oyo State, Nigeria. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 16, 33-37. Puma, M.J., Karweit, N., Price, C., Ricciatti, A., Thompson, W. and Vadenkiernan, M. (1997). Prospects: Final Report on Students Outcomes. Washington, D.C. Planning and Evaluation Service, US Department of Education. Stinnett, T.M. (1965). Profession on Teaching, New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India (Private) Ltd. Vanguard (Feb. 17, 2010). Group, Lagos Government Organize Mathematics Clinic for Students. Retrieved from at Follow @ Vanguardngnews. WASSE (2006). The Executive Summary of Entries, Results and Chief Examiners Reports on the West African Senior School Certificate Examination Council, Nigeria.

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