This chapter is going to deal with the background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, delimitation of the study, limitation of the study and definition of the terms.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
One of the objectives of secondary education in Nigeria is to inspire students with a desire for achievement and self improvement both at schools and later life (National policy on education 2004). The present senior secondary school physics curriculum is built on the conception of science as both product and process.
As a process, physics has to do with the skills that are called into play by scientists in carrying out scientific investigation. This implies adopting an enquiry in the teaching of physics at the secondary school level.
As a product, physics is viewed as consisting of scientific facts, principles, laws and generalization derived from scientific investigation. The new curriculum of science (Physic) adopts a child-centred approach, that is the teacher is supposed to provide guidance to the students who should participate actively in the teaching learning process.
On the other hand, Mathematics is one of t he oldest subjects in primary and secondary school curriculum, mathematics has been the bedrock of several subjects in the school curriculum and it is indispensable to national goal and objective of attaining a height in the knowledge of science must possess an average knowledge of mathematics.
In this scientific age, we cannot underestimate the importance of mathematics.
Mathematics has limb in virtually fields of study which ever mathematical or non-mathematical. In fact, mathematics is the pivot on which all sciences, engineering, Business and even social science revolve.
Mathematics is an intrinsic component of science and serves as a universal language and indispensable source of intellectual tools, mathematics is widely regarded as the language of science and technology.
Mathematics, being a bedrock provides the spring board for the growth of physics, it is also the gate way and the key to science. The importance and contributions of mathematics to the modern culture of science and technology stated that without mathematics there is no science and without science, there is no modern technology and without modern technology there is non-modern society, Akpan (2005). Furthermore, mathematics is the precursor and the queen of science and technology and the indispensable single element in modern societal development.
Mathematics education is therefore indispensable in nation building, its form a strong foundation for the study of physics. Either simple operations or more advanced ones all requires some form of mathematics knowledge.
Mathematics and physics often poses a threat to some students while mathematics may be regarded as a fearful subject which involves massive use of symbols and mathematics proofs, physics is seen as a subject which involves a lot of abstract formulas which makes conceptualization of ideas difficult.
Physics curriculum has similar aims with mathematics curriculum as both emphasized skills in decision making and problem solving.
Mathematics serves as symbolic expression in physics to show the structure of the relationship between different factors. Similarly, symbolic expression allows learners to have a better understanding of physics contents and improve their procedural knowledge to inter-relate various symbols during solving physics problem. In order to achieved the expected goals by the students Ekanem (2006) stated.
Just as we can arrange our children to acquire particular information and to learn particular skills, so we arrange them to acquire interest and ability”.
Interest relates to memory, which is one of the determinants for successful academic performance in schools. Interest is always associated with cognitive elements, one got to develop the right interest before he or she could be able to succeed in life. Therefore, for one to achieve the said goals, hard work must be considered.
Hard work is a panacea to academic excellence, one has full responsibility to develop commit and concentrate in one’s field of endeavour be it academic or other profession.
History has revealed that nations are built by the creative production of innovative hard work of people themselves, these being only facilitated by the government via policy enunciation and implementation, Eyo, (2004).
In teaching and learning of science, especially physics, interest is the life wire for any meaningful academic performance.
Physics is an important science subject that requires immense academic demands on students in its learning. The learning of physics is difficult at best and almost impossible at worst.
But because of its enormous importance to science and technology, there is understandably huge interest in students achievement in physics.
Physics – the study of matter, energy and their interactions, is an international enterprise, which plays a key role in t he future progress of human kind.
The support of physics education and research in all countries is important because, physics is an exciting intellectual adventure that inspires young people and expands the frontiers of our knowledge about nature.
Physics is the most basic of the physical science, from chemistry and geology through to biology and cosmology, we understand science in terms of the concept developed in physics. The ability and concerns of physicist have always formed the basic of future technology.
Physics has the capability of playing a major role in finding solutions to many of the problems facing the human race, of course it does n o t have all the answers but the science is developed enough to have created unclear weapons which remain a global threat, though surely it can be used for the betterment of all people around the globe.
Physics play an important role in developing strategies to combat climate change, in the development of technological advancements.
Physics and technology must work together to resolve the need new technologies that will decrease the damage to our planet, for strategies to ensure the people of developing countries have the tools to progress, the need for solutions to deadly diseases that remains a threat to human lifes and other wide lifes and the need for solutions to the increasing demands we place on our resources before they are depleted or gone into extinction.
The role of physics in our modern world is more important than in any other time in history. Physics generates fundamental knowledge needed for the future technological advances that will continue to drive the economic engines of the world. Physics contributes to the technological infrastructure and provides trained personnel needed to take advantage of scientific advances and discoveries.
Physics is an important element in the education of chemists, engineer and computer scientist, as well as practitioners of the other physical and biomedical sciences. Physics extends and enhances our understanding of other disciplines, such as the earth, agricultural, chemical, biological and environmental sciences as well as astrophysics and cosmology- subjects of substantial importance to all peoples of the world.
Physics improves our quality of life by providing the basic understanding necessary for developing new instrumentation and techniques for medical applications such as computer tomography magnetic resource image, positive emission tomography ultra-sonic imaging, and laser surgery.
In all, physics is important to man’s life because it is used in cooking food, cleaning clothes, watching television, heating our house, playing sports and everything else in life.
In conclusion, physics is an essential part of the educational system and of an advanced society. Therefore as a matter of fact, the learners should develop a positive way of achieving the said goals.
Government are to seek advice from physicists and other scientists on matter of science policy, and to be supportive of the science of physics.
This forms the basis for this research undertaking to investigate the effect of mathematics ability on students and their academic performance in physics.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Over the years, the progressive decline in secondary school students subjects including physics has been as source of serious concern and has variously been described by most National dailies as abysmal.
The most recent report on this critical issue were those of the daily indepent of Wednesday 19, 2012, Business Day of Monday 1, 2014 and Punch of Sunday 23, 2012 to mention but a few.
Similarly, the statistics released by the WAEC also revealed a high percentage failures recorded by secondary school students in physics in public examinations for instance between 1999-2009 the percentage (%) of students in Nigeria who failed their SSCE examination in physics were respectively put at 68.40%, 80.50%, 66.08%, 53.14%, 50.61%, 58.50%, 41.94%, 56.81%, 51.74% and 52.17% (source WAEC, Test development Division, Yaba Lagos).
This high percentage failures as shown by students in physics Examination has consciously caused a huge outcry of criticism on the education ministry and also raised a lot of questions regarding Nigerian educational system.
The high measure with which the concern have reached came to t he fore recently, as it may have informed the rationale behind the convocation of National conference on education by the federal ministry of education. The gathering of stake holders in education including students, leaders, principals academic, journalist, non-governmental organization, international development patrons and senior government official, sought to identify factors responsible for the poor performance by students in public examinations.
Therefore, it is against this background or situation, that necessitated the study which investigated the effects of students and mathematics ability on students academic performance in physics in Ini Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of t h is study is t o investigate the effect of mathematics ability on students academic performance in physics in senior secondary two (SS2) in Ini Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Specifically, the study intends to:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
To effectively carry out this research the following research questions were raised to generate answer for the study.
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
Based on the research questions above, the following null hypotheses which will be tested at 0.05 level of significance have been formulated to guide this study: