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1.1       Background to the study

Mathematics has long been considered as the scientific language. It is a critical discipline in the development of logical thinking and a critical tool for achieving practical goals. Mathematics concepts are applicable to the solution of issues in applied engineering (Andre, 1985). Mathematics is critical to the job of national development. It is a means through which economic, social, political, scientific, and technical changes can be effected. To accomplish these educational aims, instructors must be efficient in their tasks and be assigned a manageable and appropriate class size of 35 pupils to teach mathematics effectively (Balogun, 2002). The history of knowledge and a large portion of growth in science and technology have been aided significantly by the use of mathematical understanding and processes.

The function mathematics plays in the realization of scientific ability is widely established, and any culture concerned about technological development must be serious about mathematical education and learning. Many students consistently neglect mathematics, even though they are aware that it is required to solve issues in the field of science. They assert that if it were feasible to skip mathematics entirely, they would have done so in favor of continuing their studies in science. As a result, individuals develop a negative attitude toward mathematics study, which appears to have an effect on their performance in the sciences. Because students have already conditioned their minds to believe that mathematics is impossible to understand, they will always struggle to master the subject matter, regardless of how hard they try (Uhumuavbi and Umoru, 2005). The researcher believes that something must be done to alter pupils’ unfavorable attitudes about mathematics learning. There is a need to pique kids’ interest in mathematics..

This research aims to shed light on some of the various issues plaguing mathematics and impeding efficient teaching and learning in Nigerian secondary schools. Class size is a critical aspect of this study since it pertains to the teaching/learning of mathematics at the senior secondary school level. Alio (2003) links students’ unfavorable attitudes about mathematics professors to what he refers to as mathematics instruction’s “idiosyncrasy.” The typical approach taken by some mathematics teachers contributes to pupils developing unfavorable views about both the topic and the teachers. Effective and superior mathematics achievement is impossible when pupils have a negative attitude toward professors and the topic.


The growth of science and technology in our country will be impossible without resolving the issue of low mathematics performance (Betiku, 2002). According to Onu (2003), mathematics’ use, potency, and role in human endeavor continue to be acknowledged. Mathematics is critical when a nation is attempting to develop science and technology. It is critical to gaining access to the realm of scientific information and comprehension. Mathematics’ importance is undeniable, which is why, in the first decree imposing western education established by Fredrick Lord Luggard (1914), Arithmetic, writing, and reading were the three disciplines in which the pioneers of formal education in Nigeria were educated. The study’s objective is to determine an appropriate class size that enables students, particularly those with medium and low ability, to get teachers’ attention and quickly and intelligibly comprehend the subject’s content.

Education (FRN, 2007) recommended an average class size of 30. Anikweze (2004) recommends teachers/pupils ratio to be 1:35 in order to be more effective to, cope with an over-crowded classroom in our schools. The present study considers class size as the total number of students in a class at a given time to a teacher. That is students/teacher ratio of 20 students to a teacher, which constitutes a small class size; 40 students to a teacher as average class and 90 students to a teacher as a large class. These are to be tested in this study to see the effectiveness. According to the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2007), a teacher should have an average class size of 40 pupils, although this is rarely achieved in Nigerian institutions. Duyilemi (2004) found that in the majority of Nigerian schools, the ratio of pupils to teachers ranged between 50 to a significant number of 120 in several secondary schools. Oakes (1992) and Lynch (1994) described ability grouping as the process of categorizing students into distinct groups of high, average, and poor performers, or classifying students based on their academic achievement. This is the most effective way to address individual differences in the classroom. Feldhusen (1992) observed that when students of high ability are present and creating competition, pupils of lower and average ability frequently thrive or improve. All classes require high ability or talented kids to engage, encourage, and inspire other pupils. Salau (1996) observed that when class size increases, the performance profile of high achievers deteriorates. This indicates that increasing class size tends to lower students’ performance on average, regardless of their level.

The researcher believes that using diverse classes might be more beneficial since low and average achievers would learn more information from their interactions and sharing with high achievers regardless of the class’s size. The primary goal of this study is to ascertain the appropriateness and efficacy of class size and ability levels on the academic success of various groups of students in mathematics when taught mathematical concepts in senior secondary schools in Abeokuta, Ogun. This is in order to determine what constitutes an adequate class size for promoting teaching and learning in schools. This thus is the basis for doing this investigation.


1.2       Statement of the Problem


Secondary school education’s goal is to develop high-quality students capable of meeting society’s issues and preparing them for further education.

Since the commencement of Universal Primary Education in Nigeria, our secondary education has been challenged by a huge student population. As a result, the percentage of students who fail mathematics is quite high.

Numerous research have been done to ascertain the factors that contribute to secondary school pupils’ low mathematics performance (Korau, 1988). Numerous justifications have been advanced, including poor teacher quality, insufficient use of instructional materials due to funding constraints, a dearth of workshops and seminars for Mathematics teachers, overcrowded classrooms, a dearth of Mathematics textbooks, and a dearth of Mathematics laboratories. Students themselves have cited a variety of causes, including a lack of motivation, a negative attitude toward learning, and the impact of peer groups (Kemiyele, 1993). These variables make it more difficult for the government to accomplish the stated objectives of teaching/learning mathematics in secondary schools.


1.3       Objectives of the study

The objectives of this study are to:

  1. Investigate the relationship between class size and varying ability levels and students‟ performance in Mathematics in senior secondary schools.
  2. Determine the effects of class size and ability levels on gender-related difference in the performance of students in Mathematics in senior secondary schools.
  3. Determine the relationship between teachers‟ qualification and students performance in Mathematics in Senior secondary schools.


1.4       Research Questions

In an attempt to come up with relevant findings in this study, the following questions were raised to guide and give focus to the study:

  1. What is the relationship between class size, ability levels and students performance in Mathematics in Senior secondary schools?
  2. What is the effect of class size on male and female students with different ability levels and students‟ performance in Mathematics in senior secondary schools?
  3. What is the relationship between teachers‟ qualification and students‟ performance in Mathematics in Senior secondary Schools?


1.5       Hypotheses


The following hypotheses were postulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance.


H01:    There is no significant relationship between class size and performance of students


exposed to various class sizes and ability levels in mathematics.


H02:    Class size does not significantly affect the performance of male and female students exposed to different class sizes and varying ability levels in mathematics.

H03:    Teachers’ qualifications have no significant relationship with the students’ performance in mathematics in secondary schools in Abeokuta, Ogun metropolis.


1.6       Significance of the study

The findings of this study will hopefully provide the following benefits:

It is hoped that this study would contribute in enhancing the standard of teaching/learning of mathematics in any given class size and the students’ ability levels. This study would encourage mathematics teachers particularly in senior secondary schools to acquire skills and appropriate teaching methods so as to encourage interest and comprehension of the principles and concepts taught in any given class size and varying ability levels of the students.


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