Background of the Study

Education in Nigeria has become an instrument for attaining national development. It is highly rated as the most important instrument of change, since any change in the intellectual and social outlook of the people must be preceded by an educational revolution (Federal Republic of Nigeria, FRN, 2004). Thus, National Policy on Education identified the main national goals of Nigeria which should be achieved through education to include:

  • To have a nation that is free, just and democratic in outlook;
  • To have a land full of opportunities for all citizens and able to generate a great and dynamic economy and
  • Growing into a united, strong and self-reliance nation (FRN, 2004). All these reflect the increasing need and desire for scientific and technological advancement

In fact the national philosophy of education in Nigeria is geared among other things, towards social, cultural, economic, political, scientific and technological progress (FRN, 2004). This philosophy can only be attained if Nigeria citizens are properly equipped with necessary knowledge and skills offered in science especially mathematics

Mathematics is a universal part of human culture. It is the tool and language of commerce, engineering and other sciences. Mathematics plays a vital, often unseen roles in many aspects of modern life such as space travel, business, decision making, modeling the spread of epidemics, predicting stock market prices and so on. The mathematics curriculum document for schools in New Zealand considers the nature of mathematics thus:

Mathematics makes use of specific language and skills to model, analyze and interpret the world… it involves creativity and imagination in the discovery of patterns of shape and number, the perceiving of relationships, the making of models, the interpretation of data, and the communication of emerging ideas and concepts. (Ministry of Education, New Zealand, 1992).

Awodeyi (2004) opined that mathematics has always been seen as a factor in the prosperity, development and undertaking of any nation. According to Ukeje (1997), without mathematics there is no science, without science there is no modern technology, and without modern technology, there is no society. In the same vein, Usman (2002) noted that mathematics is a subject that encourages all aspects of human endeavor and has been described as the life wire in the study of various disciplines. Mathematics opens up the mind to logical reasoning and analytical thinking. Harbor-Peters (2001) stated that the acquisition of mathematical skills is mandatory for proper intellectual development. This is why every student needs to be given opportunity to learn as much mathematics as he/she can in order to function effectively and intelligently in the society.

According to the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, NERDC, (2012), the mathematics curriculum of the basic education level aims at giving the learners the opportunity to:

  • Acquire mathematical literacy necessary to function in an information age;
  • Cultivate the understanding and application of mathematics skills and concepts necessary to thrive in the ever changing technological world;
  • Develop the essential element of problem solving, communication, reasoning and connection within the study of mathematics;
  • Take advantage of the numerous career opportunities provided by mathematics;
  • Become prepared for further studies in mathematics and other related fields.

All these give credence to the importance of mathematics both to the individual in particular and the society at large. This importance is clearly reflected in its status as a compulsory subject for all learners at basic and secondary school levels (FRN, 2004). Due to the great importance attached to the learning of mathematics, it becomes imperative to assess learners’ achievement in mathematics so as to find out whether learning is taking place or not.

Assessment, according to Nworgu (2014) refers to a systematic process of gathering data from a variety of sources in order to understand, describe and improve learning. In education, three domains are usually assessed. They are cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. Cognitive domain includes those objectives that deal with thinking, memory, knowing and problem solving. Psychomotor domain covers those objectives which deal with muscular and motor skills or manipulations of material and objects, or activities that have to do with muscular coordination (Krathwohl, Bloom and Masia, 1973). Krathwohl et al, further described the affective domain as falling into five levels namely: receiving, responding, valuing, organization and characterization. Affective domain also includes objectives which describe changes in interest, attitude and values and the development of appreciation and adequate adjustment. It is concerned with the worth a learner attaches to a phenomenon which is reflected by active participation on the part of the learner.

To assess all these domains properly, the continuous assessment is used. Continuous assessment has been adopted as the mode of assessment at all levels in Nigeria (FRN, 2004). This was introduced to liberalize educational assessment. This mode of assessment is expected to take into cognizance the overall ability of the learner (cognitive, affective and psychomotor) at all levels of the programme. However, the use of continuous assessment in assessing learners’ overall ability has not been effective. According to Offorma, Esere and Idowu as cited by Nworgu (20l4), continuous assessment has continued to focus only on the cognitive domain to the exclusion of the affective and psychomotor domains. This is in line with Popham’s (2011) view that most classroom teachers do not devote attention directly to students’ affective constructs, and even greater number of teachers fails to assess them. However, it is entirely conceivable that potentially the largest piece of the puzzle (poor performance of learners), to which educators, educational leaders and legislators seek a solution, remains dormant. What is often forgotten is the fact that the cognitive and affective domains go hand-in-hand; they do not and should not function independently but should complement one another. Although, increasing what students know and are able to do is primary, their content-related attitudes, values, beliefs and disposition are at least equally significant. Popham (2011) further asserted that affective variables are often more significant than cognitive variables. Therefore, to teach any concept, principle or theory is to teach, not only for its comprehension, but also for an attitude towards it, the acceptance or rejection of it as useful or dependable and so forth (Smith, 1996). It is thus important to assess this domain of behavior. To assess learners’ behavior (cognitive, psychomotor or affective), the teacher plays a vital role.

Teachers are the implementer of the curriculum. Ali (1988) observed that assessing the learning outcome of learners is directly significantly affected by the competency of the teacher. It therefore becomes necessary to know the extent to which mathematics teachers are competent in assessing students especially in the affective domain.

Competency, according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Human Resource (UNL, HR) (2015) is the combination of observable and measurable knowledge, skills, abilities and personal attribute to enhance employee performance and ultimately result in organizational success. To understand competencies, it is important to define the various components of competencies namely:

  • Knowledge is the cognizance of facts, truths and principles gained from formal training and/or experience. Application and sharing of one’s knowledge base is critical to individual and organization success.
  • A skill is a developed proficiency or dexterity in mental operations or physical processes that is often acquired through special training; the execution of these skills results in successful performance.
  • Ability is the power or aptitude to perform physical or mental activities that are often affiliated with a particular profession or trade such as computer programming, plumbing, calculus and so forth.
  • Individual attributes are properties, qualities or characteristics of individuals that reflect one’s unique personal makeup. Individual attributes are viewed as genetically developed or acquired from one’s accumulated life experiences (UNR, HR, 2015).

The above definition made the researcher view competency in relation to teacher’s qualification, experience and gender. A teacher is seen as a store of knowledge acquired and adapted to meet the demands of the teaching profession. It thus becomes necessary to look at the educational qualifications of teachers as they relate to competencies in assessing affective outcome of mathematics students. Teachers’ either qualified or unqualified may have varied teaching experiences. Whether teachers’ teaching experiences will influence these competencies in assessing students’ affective outcome is of interest in this study.

Experience they say is the best teacher and success can be attained in the class if the teacher combines experiences with professional training. With this in mind, the researcher deemed it fit to judge the competence of a teacher in assessing affective outcomes in relation to years of experience on the job. Ewetan and Ewetan (2015), found out that teacher’s teaching experience has significantly influenced student’s academic performances in mathematics as measured by their performance in the Senior School Certificate Examinations and as perceived by the respondents. Oyewole (2011) revealed that there was a significant relationship between teachers’ years of experience and teacher’ job performance. In a similar study, Joshua, Ekanem and Agborbechem (2010) showed among other things that teacher effectiveness was not significantly influenced by any of the three teacher characteristics (gender, academic qualification and teaching experience). The results of these studies are contradictory thus the need for this study.

Of interest in this study also is the influence of teachers’ gender on their competencies in assessing students’ affective outcome. Teachers’ may be classified based on their gender as either male or female. Gender of the teacher may also influence the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Soldan (1990) tested a number of variables and found that gender was not a factor affecting the performance of a teacher. On the contrary, Ndubisi (1999) stressed that the social background, age and gender of the teacher, among other things, determine how the teacher performs. Okoro, Ekanem and Udoh (2012), showed that the academic performance mean scores of pupils taught by male teachers do significantly differ from those of pupils taught by female teachers with the latter performing better than the former. Odunaike, Ijaduola and Amode (2013), tested a number of variables and found out that female teachers put extra efforts in ensuring high standard of performance by students to their male counterparts who perceive teaching as a profession for the weaker sex (females). Heather, Ozkan and Serkan (2012), studied the effects of teacher gender on student achievement. The study revealed that female students who were assigned to a female teacher suffered from lower mathematics test scores at the end of the academic year. Oreopoulous and Hoffman (2009), revealed that teacher’s gender plays only a minor role in determining college students achievements. Based on the contradictory nature of the findings of these studies, this study will among other things, find out the influence of gender, experience, and educational qua1ification of mathematics teachers on the competencies in assessing the affective outcome.


Statement of the Problem

More than three decades after the introduction of continuous assessment in the education programme, most teachers have continued to focus only on the cognitive domain to the exclusion of the affective and psychomotor domains. This implies that the overall ability of the learner may not be assessed. The continuous assessment programme gives the teacher the task of giving evidence of the child’s achievements in the affective domain as well as cognitive and psychomotor domains. For the teacher to be able to do this effectively, the teacher needs to possess certain competencies. This brings about the questions on the competencies possessed by a teacher for effective assessment of achievement in the affective domain.

In view of the above, the problem of this study posed as a question is: What are the competencies possessed by mathematics teachers in assessing students’ affective outcome in secondary schools?