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**EFFECT OF THE USE OF GEO-BOARD IN TEACHING OF DIFFICULT CONCEPTS IN MATHEMATICS**

CHAPTER ONE

# INTRODUCTION

Background of study

Mathematics is a “science that has an important role in education” (Ramdhani, Usodo & Subanti, 2017, p. 1). Despite this, a number of studies have been conducted about learners’ poor performance in Mathematics in South Africa. Campbell and Prew (2014), and Howie and Plomp (2002) reported that Mathematics learners perform poorly across the country. Furthermore, the role of Mathematics is “to equip learners with an ability to think critically, logically, systematically, innovatively and creatively” (Ramdhani et al, 2017, p. 1). However, Mathematics is still considered to be a difficult subject (Sani & Salahudeen, 2016). Those learners who regard Mathematics as a difficult subject tend not to have an interest in the subject. As a result their performance in Mathematics still remains poor across the country.

It seems that geometry theorems are sections in Mathematics where most teachers find it difficult to teach, in a way that learners understand easily (Adolphus, 2011). In the same vein, Cassim (2006) argues that geometric theorems is a major cause of poor performance in Mathematics. Geometric theorems are regarded as a problematic sections for some teachers, even those who did study geometry theorems up to the institutional level (Bowie, 2009). So, geometric theorems is the branch of Mathematics that relates to spatial relationships (Reddy, 2015, p. 20) and there is a tendency for teachers and learners to struggle with spatial connections. Atebe (2008, p. 13) also defined geometric theorems as “properties of spatial objects and the relations between those properties”.

Reddy (2015, p. 20) defined geometric theorems as a “branch of Mathematics that deals with relationships, properties and measurement of lines, angles, points, surface and solids”. In addition, geometric theorems seems to be a most important topic in Mathematics simply because it can be applied in different areas such as architecture, surveying and engineering. However, the performance of leaners in geometric theorems is far worse than in Algebra (De

Villiers, 1996). Research evidence (Ali, Bhagaawati and Sarmah, 2014, p. 73) revealed that “the fundamental knowledge in geometric theorems is very poor among most learners in secondary level”. Ali et al (2014, p. 76) also found that out of 120 Secondary School learners only 23% of the learners passed a test on geometry theorems.

Many researchers suggest the use of manipulative tools such as Geoboard as one of resolutions to the poor performance in geometry theorems (Orisebiyi, 2007, Meremikwu, 2008, Tapia & Marsh, 2003). Manipulative tools are “educational resources utilized to improve learners’ knowledge and skills and also to facilitate the assimilation of knowledge in order to contribute to overall development of the learners” (Sani & Salahudeen, 2016, p. 142). They further argue that these tools can be “visual or audio visual tools, like poster, flash card and tape recorder”. Manipulative tools are useful because it makes Mathematics realistic and meaningful and also it increases the memory, understanding and motivation of learners (Azuka, 2012).

The geoboard is an important manipulative tool that is easy to design and utilise in Mathematics classrooms. Scandrett (2008, p. 30) defines the Geoboard as being a versatile manipulative that can be used at all levels for teaching and learning about different areas of Mathematics. Carroll (1992) also states that the geoboard is a useful manipulative tool for problem solving and investigational approaches. Also, the geoboard can be utilized to assist the learning of geometric theorems, numeracy and measurements (Russel, 2013). A geoboard is a tool that can be made using a piece of wood and nails. This tool can be utilized to “demonstrate the properties of many plane shapes” (Sani & Salahudeen, 2016, p. 142).

Whilst the geoboard seems to be useful manipulative tool for teaching and learning of geometric theorems, does the geoboard increase learners’ understanding of geometric theorems? A study by Ali et al. (2014, p. 73) showed that “learners still struggle with geometric concepts, and the reason for fear of Mathematics is mainly due to poor geometrical conception”. Research evidence (NSC Examination Technical report, 2014, p. 62) revealed that most of learners who wrote Mathematics Paper 3 in 2012, attempted the answers for probability and statistics instead of the geometry section. Research evidence (Sani and Salahudeen, 2016, p. 146) reveals that learners who are taught geometry theorems with manipulative tools such as the geoboard perform much better than those who are taught without manipulative tools. This means that the geoboard supports learners’ understanding and appreciation of geometric theorems (DBE, 2011a). It should be noted that learners tend to develop an understanding of geometric theorems through the use of Geoboards.

Gutierrez and Fernandez (1985) also find that a Geoboard can be designed to help learners to gain a better understanding of geometric theorems. Similarly, Allen (2007, p. 15) revealed that “…using a Geoboard gives learners a better understanding of basic math skills and seems to hold their interest and help them to enjoy learning”. Even though the Geoboard has been recommended for teaching and learning of geometric theorems (Sani and Salahudeen, 2016, p. 147) its effectiveness on increasing learners’ understanding of geometric theorems has not been experimentally determined.

Mathematics as a science subject is important. Its usefulness in our present society cannot be over emphasized. It is overtly that the subject Mathematics has been proved as an essential subject in primary and secondary schools in Nigeria today. According to Malik and Salman (2018),

Mathematics is a concenter subject which serves as a foundation for pupils’ level of thinking, skill development and problem solving. Any nation that must develop their manpower scientifically and technological wise must have a strong mathematical foundation at the basic school level. Malik (2017) opined that Mathematics is a unifying subject that prepares pupils for a useful and meaningful living, and that Mathematics is the language and key to everyday activities of mankind in science and technology.

Mathematics is a science which is applied to both physical science and other fields (Ambali, 2014). Ogbonna (2007) stated that among other physical science subjects, Mathematics is the backbone in national capacity building. This is because Mathematics equips individuals with the capacity to enumerate, calculate, measure, collate, group, analyze and relate quantities and ideas, among others. In Arts and Humanities, mathematical concepts such as measurement, enlargement, symmetry, sequence, proportion, angle of elevation and depression, provide the baseline for better understanding of some related universal concepts like earth and the space (Odili, 2006). Educational institutions, whether Primary, Secondary or Tertiary, have courses that are mathematics-based or mathematically-inclined. This is because Mathematics is used for thinking about and facilitation of the learning of all other subjects especially sciences.

Mathematics is seen by society as the foundation of scientific and technological knowledge that is vital in the socio-economic development of the nation, (Anaduaka, Olaoye, and Sunday, 2018).Because of this, Mathematics is a compulsory subject at both primary and secondary levels in Nigeria. Mathematics is also used as a basic entry requirement into any of the prestigious courses in tertiary institution such as medicine, architecture and engineering among other degree programmes. Students with an interest in a subject like Mathematics are likely to be more motivated to manage their own learning and develop the requisite skills to become effective learners of that subject. Hence, interest in Mathematics is relevant when considering the development of effective learning strategies for Mathematics. In contrast, anxiety about learning Mathematics can act as a barrier to effective learning. Students who feel anxious about their ability to cope in Mathematics learning situations may avoid them and thus lose important career and life opportunities.

Despite the importance of Mathematics to societal development, it is a subject that many students fear, fail and possibly dislike (Areelu, 2014). Mathematics has always been perceived as the most difficult subject in the school curriculum (Poopola and Ajani, 2011). This has resulted in learners having a negative attitude towards the subject and this attitude seems to have existed from one generation to another. Learners, including adults, who have failed Mathematics at one time or the other, preserve this image of failure and justify their failure by devaluing the importance of the subject – an attitude that influences the efforts that educators put into the teaching of the subject (Ajani and Konku, 2012)

The students’ low achievement in Mathematics at the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) has been found to be caused by the following factors, among others, e.g. lack of understanding of basic mathematical principles (Bursal and Paznokas, 2006), poor teaching and learning environment and lack of modern equipment (Adegoke, 2013), poor mathematical ability of the students (Olatoye, 2007), students’ poor attitude toward Mathematics, inadequate teaching materials, lack of motivation of both teachers and students. Other explanations target teacher expectations, teacher quality, tracking, testing, family characteristics, and student characteristics (Areelu, 2014).

This is why Odili (2006) and Iyekekpolor (2007) agreed that Mathematics education in

Nigeria is still in a deplorable state. This students’ low achievement in Mathematics has been of great concern to Mathematics educators in the country. In order to address this issue, Mathematics educators such as Harbor-Peters (2000), Iji (2012) and Obodo (2007) explored different strategies to ensure that Mathematics is properly taught and learnt in the schools. Various attempts have been made towards improving students’ low achievement in Mathematics in secondary school education without much remarkable successes. This could be due to the use of inappropriate teaching method in the Mathematics classroom. There is therefore, the need to explore more instructional strategies to enhance students’ achievement in the subject. Use of geo-board game in Mathematics

instruction is one of such strategies that researchers are exploring its efficacy. Would students’ achievement in Mathematics improve more when taught with geo-board game than when taught using other instructional strategies? Would its use bridge the gap in gender in achievement in Mathematics?

Games or plays are the birth right of every child. Hence, Mathematics educators inferred that the achievement of students in Mathematics can be achieved through games. In the words of Mwalor (1993), Mathematics games are activities involving cooperation and competition guided by standard rules. In other words, a game is a contest (play) between adversaries (players) operating under constraints (rules) in order to achieve an objective (winning or pay-off). To buttress this, Agwagah (2001) asserted that a game is a situation in which two or more participants, the players, confront one another in pursuit of certain conflicting objectives. So, for those objectives to be achieved, it involves skills, chance, and endurance on the part of two or more persons who play the game. However, a game can be considered as mathematical when the players can perceive and/or influence the course of the game on the basis of mathematical considerations (Thiele, 1994). This implies that not all games are Mathematics games. A Mathematics game must have mathematical structure. This is why this study considers geo-board game as an instructional strategy to determine its effect on the academic achievement of the junior secondary school students on selected mathematical concepts such as identifying and differentiating polygons, describing and locating coordinate points, representing and calculating areas of geometric patterns and describing their properties; demonstrating parallelogram theorem; demonstrating alternate, obtuse, acute, reflex, and vertically opposite angles.

Gender disparity in Mathematics achievement has worried scholars in the field of Mathematics. Ozomadu (2006) found no significant difference in achievement between gender and teaching method. Hydea and Mertzb (2009) observed that females have reached parity with males. Ogunkunle (2007), in separate studies, established significant difference between males and females, in favour of male Mathematics students while in another study, established difference in favour of females. These studies above, with contradictory results, have made the influence of gender on academic achievement of students inconclusive. This work, therefore, investigated the level of male and female students’ achievement when geo-board was used to teach some selected mathematical concepts.

# Statement of Problem

Mass failure of Mathematics at all levels of education in Nigeria is a big challenge to the nation. Lack of interest and fear of Mathematics are hindrances to passing examination. Despite the relative importance of Mathematics in science and information based courses, as well as in medicine and social science, students’ performance in the subject in both internal and external examinations has remained consistently poor. Mathematics educators have tried and are trying to identify the major causes of problems associated with the teaching and learning of Mathematics in schools. Among the leading causes are lack of adequate preparation, shortage of qualified teachers, inadequate teaching aids, lack of good school environment and infrastructural facilities.

Also it is evident from literature that the use of Mathematics games may affect positively students’ academic achievement. Yet there is dearth of studies in this area particularly in Nigeria and so it becomes imperative to have a study that will find out if really Mathematics games (geoboard game) have effect on students’ academic achievement in Mathematics in junior secondary schools in Ideato North L. G. A., Imo state.

# Purpose of Study

The main purpose of this study was to determine the effect of geo-board game on academic performance of junior secondary school students in some selected mathematical concepts.

Specifically, the study sought to determine:

- The achievement of students taught identifying and differentiating polygons with geoboard game and those taught with conventional method.
- The achievement of students taught describing and locating coordinate points with geoboard game and those taught with conventional
- The achievement of male and female JS2 students taught identifying and differentiating polygons; and describing and locating coordinate points with geo-board.

# Research Questions

The following research questions were formulated to guide the study:

- What is the achievement mean score of students taught identifying and differentiating polygons with geo-board game and those taught with conventional method?
- What is the achievement mean score of students taught describing and locating coordinate points with geo-board game and those taught with conventional method?
- What is the achievement mean score of male and female JS2 students taught all selected mathematical concepts with geo-board?

# Research Hypotheses

The following research hypotheses were formulated for the study:

- There is no significant difference between the academic achievement mean scores of students taught identifying and differentiating polygons with geo-board game and those taught with conventional method.
- There is no significant difference between the academic achievement mean scores of students taught describing and locating coordinate points with geo-board game and those taught with conventional method.
- There is no significant difference between the academic achievement mean score of male and female JS2 students taught all selected mathematical concepts with geo-board.

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