EFFECT OF USING COMPUTER AS TUTOR AND TOOL ON STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT AND RETENTION IN QUADRATIC EQUATION IN ENUGU STATE, NIGERIA
Mathematics has all through the years been an important subject both in the role it plays in everyday activities and in its usefulness to other sciences. Mathematics is a body of knowledge centred on concepts such as quantity, structure, space, change and also the academic discipline that studies them (Pierce, 2007) . Mathematics is further defined by Pierce as the science that draws necessary conclusions. Other practitioners of mathematics such as Sowmya (2005), maintains that mathematics is the science of pattern and highly needed in everyday life. According to Agwagah (2008), mathematics is the study of topics such as quantity, structure space and change. Carl Friedrich Gauss known as the “prince of mathematicians” as cited in Wikipedia (2007), also refers to mathematics as “the Queen of the sciences” and the bedrock of other sciences. These definitions emphasize the importance of mathematics.
From the National Curriculum for senior secondary schools, mathematics is divided into six sections which include: Number and Numeration; Algebraic processes; mensuration; plane geometry; Trigonometry, statistics and probability. The focus of this study is on Algebraic processes. This is because reports have shown that Algebra occupies a major content in school mathematics and students perform poorly in Algebra (WAEC Chief Examiner Report, 2004). Algebra is a branch of mathematics of Arabian origin. It is a generalization and extension of arithmetic in which symbols are employed to denote operations and letters to represent number and quantity (Wikipedia, 2007). Algebra is an aspect of mathematics that opens students mind to critical thinking. According to Michael (2002), Algebra is an aspect of mathematics which every individual must know, as it is a gate way to other areas of mathematics, yet many students struggle with Algebra and are left behind because they find it difficult to understand. It is the importance of Algebra that makes it to be in almost all the classes in the National Mathematics Curriculum. Algebra involves solving equations, graphing linear, simultaneous linear and quadratic equations (Federal Ministry of Education, 2009). These areas have the potential to open students’ mind towards different styles of thinking and understanding. It is good for students to know the basic fundamentals in Algebra so as to meet up with the challenges of other areas of mathematics. Mathematics is widely used through out the world, in human life and many fields including Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Medicine and Education. It is a vital tool in science, commerce and technology. According to Iji (2007), mathematics provides an important key to understanding of the world. In the areas of buying and selling, communication, timing, measurement, moulding, recording among others, the importance is highly acknowledged. Mathematics is one of the core subjects in both junior and senior secondary school curricula in Nigeria, which justifies its recognition as being essential in the development of technological advancement in Nigeria. The Nigerian Federal Government made mathematics compulsory and one of the core subjects in both primary and secondary schools because of its usefulness (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004). Some of the roles of mathematics according to Nurudeen (2007), include: its ability to enhance the thinking capabilities of individuals by making them to be more creative, reasonable, rational as well as imaginative. There is no school curriculum or a national development planning which does not take cognizance of the usefulness and development in school mathematics.
Wikipedia stated forms of algebraic equations as follows: Linear equation, Simple and Simultaneous equations, Quadratic Equations, Cubic Equations and Exponential Equations. Quadratic equation is a major topic in SSII mathematics curriculum and also appears in West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) and National Examination Council of Nigeria (NECO) Certificate Examinations. According to WAEC Chief Examiner’s report (2006), quadratic equation is among the areas students avoid attempting questions on while those who dare to, perform poorly. The report further indicated that most candidates ended up completing the table of values but were not able to plot the correct graph or to read off the roots of the equation. Some students do not like solving algebraic problems as they look at algebra as difficult and abstract. According to Adedayo (2001), the problem of failure at this level has always been attributed to teacher’s failure to use appropriate method of teaching and teachers lack of knowledge of technological innovations in the society. Hence a better teaching of the concept was suggested.
Harbor-peter (1999) was of the opinion that poor method of teaching and lack of basic knowledge are responsible for the observed poor performance of students in secondary school mathematics. Michael (2002) also noted that poor textbooks and lack of computer technology in schools are also responsible for poor performance of students in mathematics. Mansil and Wiln (1998) are of the opinion that lack of knowledge and unavailability of computers are responsible for poor performance of students in mathematics. They suggested that teachers be sent on in-service training and re-training so as to meet up with the technological challenges in the society and also improve students’ achievement in mathematics.