Ghanian students think it's important to get high marks in maths
Ghanaian students in higher grades think it's very important to thoroughly understand the mathematics syllabus, and to get high marks. Insights like this can help education researchers understand why students from poor countries perform worse in maths compared to those in rich countries.
Researchers hypothesised that what students consider important when learning at school might affect how they perform in mathematics.
In this study, the researchers investigated what students in Ghana considered important when they learn mathematics. They compared this across students in different grades.
They surveyed primary, junior and senior secondary school students in Cape Coast, Ghana, to see if they valued things like high test scores, using calculators, knowing formulas or being able to explain maths to their classmates.
The researchers found that all students, regardless of their grade, placed some importance on passing mathematics. The students wanted lessons to be clear, and they wanted to thoroughly understand the content.
The researchers also said that unlike primary students, junior and senior students wanted to be given lots of mathematics practice work. The students felt it was very important to know how to solve maths questions, and understanding why a solution was incorrect or correct.
Unlike senior students, the primary and junior students thought it was important for teachers to use demonstrations when they explained maths. They also valued teachers giving them formulas or shortcuts to use to solve mathematics problems. The students said it was very important for them to know which formulas to use to solve maths problems.
The researchers observed that when compared to primary students, junior and senior students believed that being able to explain maths solutions to their classmates was very important.
Researchers said senior students also liked being told stories about mathematics, for example where maths rules or formulas came from, more than junior or primary students.
The researchers said all students found mathematics difﬁcult and felt that using calculators or the internet was helpful. Only senior students used calculators though.
While this work sheds light on what students in different grades find helpful when learning maths, researchers caution that their findings might not be generalised for Ghana.
They therefore recommended studies that cover other regions of Ghana. They also recommended research on how students’ values were influenced by study materials such as textbooks.
In this chapter, the authors explored the effects of grade levels on what students find important in their mathematics learning in Ghana. A survey involving 1,256 primary, junior high and senior high school students was conducted in the Cape Coast Metropolis of Ghana, using the WIFI questionnaire. It revealed that the Ghanaian students valued attributes such as achievement, relevance, fluency, authority, the use of ICT, versatility and Strategies in their learning of mathematics. The one-way Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was used to investigate whether significant differences exist in what students valued in mathematics across grade levels. The results revealed a significant effect of grade level on students’ valuing in mathematics. Implications for research and curriculum delivery are provided.
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