Gender Differences and Academic Performance of Secondary School Students
The study was designed mainly to examine gender differences and academic performance of students in mathematics in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. It was considered under two (2) variables as follows: Gender differences and academic performance of students in public secondary schools and private secondary schools.
Quasi experimental research design was used in the study; the instrument for data collection was students mathematics achievement test (SMAT).
To achieve the objectives of the study, two (2) hypotheses were formulated for testing. The statistical analyses used in analyzing the data in this study were the mean (), standard deviation (SD) and student’s independent t- test (t-test) at 0.05 significance level with 110, 84 degrees of freedom for the two hypotheses.
The finding showed that there is a significant difference on gender in the academic performance of JS1 students in mathematics in public secondary schools but there is no significant difference on gender in the academic performance of JS11 students in mathematics in public schools.
Gender Differences and Academic Performance of Secondary School Students
1.1 Background to the Study
The study of gender is not just mere identification of male and female sexes according to Okeke (2003). Scholars have gone further to identify responsibilities assigned to opposite sex and to analyze the condition under which those responsibilities are assigned.
Meanwhile, when considering gender in academic standpoint, it is noted that such notion as gender differences and assigned responsibilities should be out of context. Rather, gender equity and balance treatment should be maintained in both sexes in Mathematics and science in general.
Now considering national growth in terms of science and technology, Mathematics is number one subject and the tool that service science and technology. The world is fast changing due to science and technology, hence emphasis on science, technology and Mathematics.
Mathematics is seen as the language of science, engineering and technology and it can be said that without Mathematics, there can be neither science nor engineering and it found important use in our society been pervasive in every life’s endeavour.
To this end, Samuel Joshua and Asim (2011), described Mathematics education to a nation as what protein is to a young human organism. According to them Mathematics plays a vital role of a precursor and harbinger to the much needed technology advancement leading to national development.
Simply put, Mathematics is the study of structure whose form can be expressed in symbols and is the grammar of all symbolic system.
The symbols and relationship that exist between them are the stuff of which Mathematics is made. Students therefore develop fear and hatred to the learning of Mathematics when these symbols, signs and formulae are not understood.
However, when it comes to workforce in a given nation, it is noted that there are gender differences especially in science, Mathematics and engineering.
In the past three decades, there has been a concerted effort to find out why there is a shortage of women in science, Mathematics, engineering and technical field according to American Association of University Women Report (AAUW, 1993).
It was found that women who pursue careers in sciences, engineering and Mathematics most often chose fields in biological science where they represent 40% of workforce with smaller percentage found in Mathematics. Odebode (2001) pointed out that “it is disheartening to note that a very small percentage of employed female are in science, technology and Mathematics education (STM)”.
Meanwhile, emphasis on gender difference is advocated by many to maintain gender equity and balance treatment in both sexes, most especially in science and Mathematics to ensure a balanced workforce. To this end, Odebode (2001), opined that this negative attitude towards gender fairness should be discouraged and proper encouragement of gender balance in education should be promoted.
Unfortunately, gender imbalance in science education has remain a continual problem of global scope (Bordo, 2001; Reid, 2003; United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2003). Therefore, in order to realize the significant role of Mathematics, to the nation and human development, demonstrated achievement and subject mastery should be evenly distributed across gender.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The choice of the current topic is predicated on the current world trend and research emphasis on the issue of gender differences and academic achievement of students.
Meanwhile, owing to gender and academic performance of students, the following were observed from recent researches. It was discovered in a research by Ekeh (2003) that male students performed better than female students in science and mathematics.
Hydea and Mertzb (2009), reveals that girls have reach parity with boys in Mathematics performance in high school. Bassey, Joshua and Asim (2007) in their study in rural secondary school in Nigeria rather found a significant gender gap in favour of rural male.
Moreover, other researches stress on inconsistency. Hannover and Kassels, (2011); stanat, Pant, Bohme and Richter (2012), stressed that the picture of gender achievement in Mathematics is less clear.
Deducing from the above studies, it is noted that the issue of gender differences and academic achievement is a problem that need a further study as it stance is not certain.
This prompted the researcher to carry out this research in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area to ascertain the stance of gender differences and academic performance of students in the Area.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to examine gender differences and academic performance of secondary school students in mathematics; specifically, the study sought to;
(i) Ascertain if there exists any significant gender difference in the academic performance of JS1 students in mathematics in public secondary schools in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area.
(ii) Examine the significant difference in academic performance of gender of JS11 students in mathematics in public secondary school in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The significance of the study sought to help mathematics teachers to be able to marry the gender characteristics of male and female students in the classroom setting. Thus, given equal attention to both sexes.
The finding would also help curriculum planners and relevant educational agencies on the need to work toward achieving gender equity.
The findings are equally expected to serve as a body of literature review for other researchers in various professions.
1.6 Research Hypotheses
The research hypotheses that were formulated to guide the study were as follow:
i There is no significant difference on gender in the academic performance of JS1 students in Mathematics in public secondary schools.
ii There is no significant difference on gender in the academic performance of JS11 students in Mathematics in public secondary schools.
1.7 Limitation of the Study
A work of this nature and magnitude demands enough time and finance, but this study is constrained by its limited time and financial problem for the completion as the researcher combined the study with normal final semester’s work.
1.8 Delimitation of the Study
The study concentrated mainly on gender differences and academic performance of secondary schools’ students in mathematics in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area. For the success of this study, the researcher uses a Student Mathematics Achievement Test (SMAT) where 198 students from Etim Ekpo L.G.A were used.
1.9 Definition of Terms
Gender: Gender as used in this study refers to the properties that distinguishes organism on the basis of their reproductive role as male and female.
GENDER DIFFERENCES: This refers to the disparity, the variation, the imbalance and gap existing between male and female.
GENDER STEREOTYPE: This refers to those wrong ideas and erroneous believe about gender.
GENDER EDUCATION: This refers to the instructional sensitization practices devoid of cultural bias and prejudices about gender in any field of study irrespective of sex.
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT: As used in this study refers to high performance in tests, passing courses, terminal examinations and completion of school at all level.