Relationship between self efficacy and mathematics performance among Zambian grade 11 pupils in Lusaka Urban

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Chimfwembe, Gertrude
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This study, on the relationship between self efficacy and mathematics performance among grade eleven pupils was conducted in three high schools in Lusaka urban, Lusaka province, Zambia. The study concentrated on investigating the relationship between self efficacy and mathematics performance. The aim of undertaking the study was because School certificate (SC) and general certificate examination (GCE) results in Zambia show desperately poor performance in mathematics. For example, the 2000 SC and GCE mathematics results showed that more than half of the pupils who sat for mathematics examinations failed and this situation poses totally unacceptable levels of pupil performance (Haambokoma,et al;2002:101).Leading research objectives were:To investigate if pupils at high school hold positive beliefs concerning their own self efficacy in mathematics; to find out if there is a difference between higher and lower achievers in terms of mathematical self efficacy and to investigate if there is a significant association between pupils' level of mathematical self efficacy and their performance in mathematics. In this study, 81 grade eleven pupils were sampled in three high schools in Lusaka urban. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. Data collection included pupils completing the questionnaires, writing a test and responding to a focus group discussion, as well as oral interviews with three mathematics teachers, three heads of departments, a school manager and a mathematics standards officer. The study revealed that: There is a variation in the level of self efficacy in the pupils with a good number of pupils having a medium level of positive mathematical self efficacy. There is a significant difference between higher and lower achievers.There is a positive correlation. A positive correlation indicated a significant relationship between pupils' performance in the selected five topics and their mathematical self efficacy. However, the teachers interviewed were of the view that there is no relationship. They pointed out that culture, teacher training curriculum and errors in some recommended Zambian textbooks are the main factors leading to a no relationship between mathematics self efficacy and pupil performance. But a standards officer (mathematics) said that there is a relationship between self efficacy and mathematics performance.Based on the above noted findings of the study recommended that: The Ministry of Education should ensure that Society is sensitized on the importance of inculcating positive mathematics self efficacy beliefs in the children. This can be done by exposing pupils to live or symbolic role models, performance exposure, self instructed performance and performance sensitization (a process through which aversive behaviour is paired with pleasant or relaxing experience), histories of past failures should be narrated to children. Furthermore pupils should be exposed to symbolic exposures such as creating environments which are similar to examination atmospheres. This will allow children to practice in dealing with stress. Techniques such as relaxation techniques should also be made available to pupils.The Zambia Association of Mathematics Educators (ZAME) should educate its teachers and other stakeholders in mathematics to stop finger -pointing and running away from the problem of poor performance of pupils in mathematics. Instead, teachers and other stake holders should aim at instilling positive mathematical self efficacy in their pupils. What should be born in their minds is that, pupils' self efficacy beliefs towards mathematics teaching and learning play an important role in national and individual development.Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) should design a curriculum that has emphasis on the three domains namely, cognitive, psychomotor and affective. Currently, the mathematics curriculum puts less emphasis on the affective part of learning
Self Efficacy , Mathematics Performance