Influence Of Mathematics On The Academic Performance Of Students In Physics



1.1    Background to 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 school and later life (National policy on education 2004). Physics as one of the physical science subject plays an important role in the technological development and industrial revolution of any nation. The knowledge of scientific skill in physics is of tremendous use in solving diverse problem of humanity and providing solution to natural and artificial problem in the world at large.

Physics as a science that involves the study of the physical properties of matter and its interaction with the energy and study of systematized knowledge produce by careful observation, measurement, and experiment in a view to establishing basic physical laws as well as give a scientifically reliable explanation of physical phenomena. The study of physics has made significant contribution through advance in new technologies that arise from the theoretical breakthrough. Example, in the understanding of electromagnetism led to the development of new products which have contributed to the transformation of the society, such as television, computers, domestic appliance, and nuclear weapons (Wikipedia, 2010). It is an essential subject because it links the principle learnt and the phenomena observed in the class room with application of every human endeavour, and to application in engineering and allied fields.


The important of physics cuts across human endeavour such as medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, petroleum engineering, geology, engineering, industries and computer. It could be rightly said that every sector of the society now depends on science and technology for proper functioning and mathematics as the creation of human mind (Awofala etal 2013) is the universal language used to describe the problems arising in most branches of science and technology. According to Esiobu (2005) and Akinyemi and Orukotan (1995), Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) education play a dominant role in the development effort of nations.

Mathematics, the creation, representation analysis, interpretation of number and symbols affects all aspect of the human environment significantly but at varying degrees. The social, economic, political, geographical, scientific and technological aspects of man’s life centre on number. One very important fact is that all other disciplines of numbers-Arithmetic, statistics, account etc. are integral parts of mathematics.

However, mostly, on numerical explanation of physics, its considered that physics seems difficult and unattractive by many students in secondary schools (Onwio-duokit, 1996, Ivowi 1999, Angeli, Guttersand, Henriksen, & Isnes, 2004). This could be attributed to the mathematical nature of physics where students have to learn and understand numerous theoretical concept which are rooted in mathematics (Obafemi, 2005)

Mathematics is commonly referred to as the language of science (Reddish 2005). Scientists studying in all field of science interweave equations into their every day theories, the study of physics benefit from the conceptual understanding of mathematics, physics and mathematics are actually inseparable. Physical science cannot do without mathematics (Adesoj, 2008), because most expression in physics are lent in mathematic students understanding of basic mathematical concept influence greatly how they are cope with higher level materials, where the application of these concept of mathematics are require in solving physics problems,Tharnormsuary (2010) discovered from his study that science and engineering students need strong mathematical background to succeed in their field, Akatugba and Wallace (2009) in the same vein said that mathematical issues among other were associated with students use of proportional reasoning in physics.

Most students finding physics interesting but have trouble with the mathematics used in physics, most students will concede they understand the concept of physics, but they do not know how to show mathematically the how and whys of physics. Ighomeroho (2005) found that students who perform poorly in physics have inadequate background in mathematics.

Chief examiner’s report of west Africa examination council (WAEC, 2006) noted that the marks lost by students studying physics is as a result of their mathematical mistakes, this  contributes to about half of the marks lost in the subjects. Similarly, Iqhomeroho (2005) and Owolabi (2008) discovered that most mistakes made by students while performing arithmetical operations involved in solving physics problems contributed greatly to their poor performance, in physics. These stirred the interest of the researcher for these study,thus;

Could the performance in physics be influence by the mathematics ability of the students? Or could the performance also depend on mathematics ability due to gender differences? And could rural and urban physics students, be influence by their different background knowledge in mathematic for effective performance in physics?

1.2    Statement of the problem

Over the years the progressive decline in secondary schools students’ performance in physics as been a source of serious concern to educational stakeholders.

The statistics released by the WACE also revealed the high percentage failures recorded in physics (source WACE, test development division, yaba lagos, 2009). This poor performance has been attributed to so many factors among which include the mathematical nature of physics.

Thus, the researcher considered it necessary to examine the influence of mathematics on the academic performance of students in physics in secondary schools in Onna L.G.A.



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Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of A reputable researcher, Web Developer, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education. Call/Whatsapp for complete material: 07068634102

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