Prevalence and nature of mathematical difficulties among grade 5 pupils in selected schools in Lusaka Province
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This study investigated the prevalence and nature of mathematical difficulties among grade five pupils in selected schools of Lusaka Province. The objectives of this study were: • To establish the proportion of fifth graders that experience difficulties in mathematics in selected schools in Lusaka urban and rural. • To establish whether there is a difference in prevalence of mathematical difficulties between male and female pupils. • To establish the nature of mathematical difficulties experienced by grade five pupils in Lusaka Province. • To determine the extent to which specific psychological skills correlate with mathematical competence. The pupils were selected using the random sampling method. The sample consisted of hundred and twelve (112) participants, 57 females and 55 males from both urban and rural schools. In order to assess their mathematical skills, two instruments were used, the Mathematics of Zambia Achievement Test (ZAT-M) which was an instrument developed by the University of Zambia and the YALE University; the Grade Five National Assessment (G5NA), a test developed by the Examinations Council of Zambia to assess learning achievement of children in grade five. The Universal Non-verbal Intelligence Test (UNIT) was used to measure the cognitive skills of the children to see how the UNIT scores correlated with mathematical achievement. The results of the study indicated that 4.5 % of the children had scores falling 1.5 standard deviations below the mean. This means that 4.5% of the sample population had mathematical difficulties. The results further showed that there was a difference in prevalence of mathematical difficulties between the male and female participants (males 4.5% in the ZAT-M and 3.6% in the G5NA; the females 7.3% in the ZAT-M and 4.5% in the G5NA). The results also showed that there was a difference in performance between the rural and the urban participants on all of the tests in the study. The results also showed that children had different types of mathematical difficulties. Some had difficulties in number computations, fact retrieval difficulties, mathematical word problems, principles of calculation, estimations and others had problems with identification of numbers and number place values. The results further showed that there was a significant correlation between the mathematical tests and the intelligence test. From the findings of this study, it may be relevant for the Examinations Council of Zambia to review the manner in which examinations are taken to include those children who may have adequate mathematical skills but have poor reading skills. Teachers should be made aware of the specific problems children may experience in order to maximum the benefit of the children from the instruction process.
- Education