The Importance Of Research Education Essay

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Abstract

This study examined the knowledge and attitudes of 12th grade students in Alahmadi Governorate towards mathematical concepts and applications. The study aimed to describe and determine the relationship between knowledge of mathematical concepts, attitudes towards mathematical concepts and gender and academic grades. The study used a math test and an attitude scale designed specifically for the present research. The instruments were developed and tested according to the prescribed test development procedures and questionnaire construction procedures. The validity and reliability of the instruments were established prior to the data gathering. Using cluster sampling, 8% of the 12th grade student population in Alahmadi Governorate was subjected to the knowledge test and attitude scale. The data was analyzed using SPSS 17, to answer the research questions, correlation, regression analysis and t-test were conducted, as well as descriptive statistics. The results of the study indicated that the participants were not very knowledgeable of mathematical concepts and its applications, and that they did not have positive attitudes towards math concepts. Moreover, it was also found that high achieving students had better knowledge in math concepts compared to the low achieving students. There was no variation across gender in both knowledge and attitudes towards math concepts and applications. Further, it was reported that there is no relationship between math knowledge and math attitudes and that gender, grades and attitudes did not predict knowledge of math concepts and applications. It is concluded that academic performance is more likely associated with knowledge of math, and that gender and attitude is least likely to influence math knowledge. It is recommended that teachers focus more on developing instructional methods and approaches that would make learning math enjoyable and interesting and to set aside biases about gender differences in math proficiency.

Table of Contents

Abstract

2

Table of Contents

4

List of Tables & Figures

6

 Introduction

7

 Aims of the Study

9

 Importance of Research

9

 Previous Studies

11

 Research Questions

12

 Constructs

12

 Definition of Terms

13

Methodology of the Study

14

 Research Instrument

14

 Hypothesis

16

 Population and Sample of the Study

18

 Limitations of the study

18

 Reliability and Validity of the Instrument

19

 Procedure and Data Collection & Ethical Considerations

20

 Results

22

 Discussion

27

 Conclusion

29

 References

31

List of Tables

Table No. (1)

Variables of the Study.

18

Table (2)

t-test of Knowledge and Attitudes across Gender.

24

Table (3)

t-test of knowledge and attitude according to academic grades

24

Table (4)

Correlation Matrix between knowledge and attitude

25

Table No. (5)

Regression Analysis of selected variables

26

List of Figures

Figure No. (1)

Histogram of Knowledge Test scores

21

Figure No (2)

Histogram of Attitude Scale Score

22

Introduction

Learning is the acquisition of knowledge and skills of a particular subject or field which has been brought about by instruction and practice. Learning as with any other task is influenced by a number of factors, such as the method of delivery, the knowledge of the subject of the teacher, and the kind of materials used to aid in the learning process, the learning atmosphere and the perception and attitude of the learner towards the subject (Ashcraft & Kirk, 2001). Learning theories had often prescribed that optimum learning can be achieved when the learner has a positive perception and attitude towards the material to be learned.

The affective component of learning is an important consideration to examine since it can hinder or facilitate learning. Mathematics is already a difficult subject and in order for optimum learning to occur, math should be taught in a way that is nonthreatening, interesting and exciting (Grouws & Cebulla, 2000). However, of all the basic subjects in elementary and secondary school, math is probably the most difficult and threatening as perceived by majority of students (Cote & Levine, 2000). The difficulty with math lies in its subject content. The student has to learn and master the intricacies of mathematical principles, theorems and logic which are in numerical form rather than in words. There is the difficulty of understanding the logic behind number sentences and problems and finding a solution is always complex for the ordinary students (Dossey, 1992).

On the other hand, there are students who really are proficient in math and do not have any problems with the learning of the subject (Day et al., 1992). But they are often the exception than the norm. Those who are competent with math are often perceived as more intelligent than most students (Terwilliger & Titus, 1995). Also, there is a premium placed in the competence and mastery of math skills. In fact, in international competitions, math is one of the most prized. However, students need to learn the basics of math and build up their skills as math subjects progress to the higher math as students go from one level to the next (Webb, Lubinski & Benbow, 2002). Knowledge and skills in math cannot be learned from the more top-down because the principles and skills build progressively from the most basic to the more complex, one would not be able to tackle the complex mathematical concepts if they are not equipped to work on the more basic tasks (Ma & Xu, 2004).

Teachers have tried to dispel the fear of math by making math more accessible and more real as it is applied in daily activities. Thus, the teaching of math now involves application problems and the student is able to relate the concepts in math to solving problems in the real world (Koller, Baumert & Schnabel, 2001). Such approach would facilitate the learning of math as something that occurs in real life and not just an abstraction. Despite such practices, math continues to be the least liked subjects in school across levels, from primary to the tertiary level (Randhawa, Beamer  & Lundberg, 1993).

There also have been differences in the competencies in math according to gender and academic performance (Webster & Fisher, 2000). Males are said to be more competent and proficient in math because they have more logic-mathematical orientation than females who are more verbal and language oriented (Kenschaft, 1991). Moreover, students who are better in their academic standing have better skills in math than those who are not performing academically.

This study aims to measure the knowledge and attitudes of 12th grade students on mathematical concepts and applications and to compare the variables according to the age and academic performance of the students. This study would provide evidence of how knowledge and attitude is related and whether there is a variation among the attitude and knowledge of math concepts and application among 12th grade students when grouped according to age and academic performance.

This paper is organized into five sections, the introduction which sets up the framework of the study and its research aims; the review of related literature and studies on the knowledge and attitude of students of mathematical concepts and applications; the methodology of the current study which includes the research design and data gathering methods and analysis; and the results and discussion of the findings as well as the conclusions and recommendations derived from the present study.

Aims of the Study

This study aims to describe and determine the knowledge and attitude of 12th grade Kuwaiti students on mathematical concepts and applications and to examine if there is a difference between their knowledge and attitudes when compared according to gender and academic performance.

Importance of Research

The relationship between knowledge and attitude of math subjects had been documented, although in a largely western orientation. The importance of this research lies in its aim of contributing to the literature and knowledge on the attitude of students towards mathematical concepts and applications. The present study would be able to demonstrate that attitude and knowledge is interrelated and in which direction does the relationship occur. Also, this study would contribute to the literature on gender differences of attitudes towards math and mastery or knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications.

This study would help in providing a new perspective on how attitudes influence the learning or competency of mathematical concepts and thereby provide evidence of the role of attitudes to learning in general. Negative attitudes hinder learning while positive attitudes facilitate learning, but whether this is true for all subjects or in some subject's only remains to be proven. On the other hand, some learning theories say that a positive attitude does not always guarantee optimum learning or the acquisition of skills, but negative attitudes are indicative of poor learning (Åžengül & Tükenmez, 2009).

Learning is also enhanced by other factors such as gender and previous academic experiences, which is why this study focuses on the comparison of 12th grade students knowledge and attitude of math concepts according to gender and academic performance. Math had often been regarded as a domain where males excel and females do poorly, although, there are males who are poor in math and there are females who are considered experts in math (Chatard, Guimond & Selimbegovic, 2007). This study would provide evidence to either support or debunk such assumptions.

Since math is a subject that requires the acquisition and building of skills, from the most basic arithmetic, to the more complex Bayesian systems, and knowledge and attitude is also influenced by previous learning, this study would find evidence of how such variables are related and whether one causes the other. In this study previous learning will be measured in terms of the academic grades of the participants in their math subject of the present school year.

The results of the this study would therefore aid in the development of mathematics curriculums and instructional methods for the best possible learning experience that would guarantee learning of math skills and developing better appreciation and positive attitudes towards math. This study would greatly benefit teachers or instructors of math in the secondary level.

Previous Studies

The attitude of students in the learning of math as a subject and as a skill had been the focus of mathematics education. More so, that in the early years of education research, the relationship of attitudes towards math and math achievement had been the most widely researched (Ma & Kishor, 1997). As early as the 1960's Neale (1969) had found that there is a reciprocal relationship between math attitudes and achievement, such that math attitudes exert influence over math and vice versa. However, some studies had reported that there is no significant relationship between the two variables (Ng-Gan, 1987; Papanastasiou, 2002).

Alternatively, it was also documented that performance does not have a simple direct relationship to attitudes. Mullis et.al (2000) found that Japanese students consistently performed excellently in math subjects but they had poor attitudes towards the subject. Albeit the conflicting results on the study of attitudes and performance in math, developing positive attitudes towards math has been advocated as an effective means of fostering mathematics learning and competence (Cleary & Chen, 2009).

Further, the impact that motivation and attitude has on math performance has also been examined and there are evidences to support the idea that the said variables are indeed related (Cote & Levine, 2000; Singh, Granville & Dika, 2002). Also, it was determined that math problems when presented interestingly and engaged the student, even with learning disabilities, the students solved the problems using higher order processing skills (Bottge, 2001). In another area, it was reported that academic level was strongly related to math performance and that age and gender were slightly associated with attitudes towards math (Tymms, 2001). Consequently, the investigation of the relationship of gender to math attitudes and performance found that males have higher grades in math and have more positive attitudes towards the subject (Koller, Baumert & Schnabel, 2001).

Gender differences in the attitudes towards school and math was investigated and indicated that girls have more positive attitudes about school but have negative attitudes of mathematics subjects (Gill, 1994). Females generally do not take well to math subjects and studies on how to improve the teaching of math to girls had recommended that math should be presented in interesting ways that females can relate to (Hanson, 1992). Moreover, it was also found that girls often have poor expectations about their ability to work and perform in math subjects when compared to boys (Stipek & Granlinski, 1991; Dumais, 2009), also that such negative perceptions and beliefs starts early in elementary school, indicating that any intervention should focus in the teaching of math in the early years (Stipek & Granlinski, 1991). Alternatively, it was also reported that girls have positive attitudes of math as a subject but they lose such attitude as they progress in the educational system (Swetman, 1995).

Research Questions

Are 12th grade Kuwaiti students proficient in mathematical concepts and applications?

What is the attitude of 12th grade Kuwaiti students towards mathematical concepts?

Are there significant gender differences in the knowledge and attitude towards mathematical concepts and applications of 12th grade Kuwaiti students?

Are there significant differences in the knowledge and attitude towards mathematical concepts and applications of 12th grade Kuwaiti students in terms of their academic grades?

Is there a significant relationship between the 12th grade Kuwaiti student's knowledge and attitudes towards mathematical concepts and applications?

Is knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications predicted by the attitude, gender and academic grades of 12th grade Kuwaiti students?

Constructs

The two constructs to be measured in this study are the knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications and the attitudes of students towards mathematical concepts and applications.

Definition of Terms

For the purposes of the present study, the following variables have been operationally defined:

Knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications refer to the cognitive and mental ability of the student to correctly answer a 15 item multiple choice test of math concepts and applications. A high score would indicate proficiency and a high level of knowledge.

Attitude of mathematical concepts and applications refer to the affective component of the student's perception of math concepts and applications. In this study, it will be measured by a 15 item attitude scale based on the positive and negative attitudes towards math concepts.

Academic Grades refer to the numerical equivalent of the academic performance of the students in the 12th grade. In this study, it is the accumulated grades of the students from all subjects in the present school year.

Methodology

This study espouses the scientific paradigm and quantitative methodology. The present study is a descriptive survey of the knowledge and attitudes of 12th grade students of mathematical concepts and applications. It is descriptive because it aims to describe the profile of 12th grade student's performance in the math knowledge test and their attitudes towards the subject. Using descriptive statistics, the mean, standard deviation and frequency counts will answer the descriptive questions. The relationships between the variables of the study will be tested using the Pearson moment correlation and the differences between the variables will be tested using the independent t-test.

Research Instrument

The present study used two instruments to measure and gathers the data for the analysis of the study. The first instrument was a 15-item attitude scale which was developed for the present study. The items in the attitude scale were derived from the findings of the existing literature. The 15 items measured attitudes towards mathematical concepts and applications ranging from liking the subject to being motivated to study the subject. Responses to the items were indicated by choosing one of the following responses; strongly disagree, disagree, agree and strongly agree. All the items were positively stated, the higher the rating, the more positive the attitude towards math and a low rating indicated negative attitudes towards math.

The second instrument was a 15-item multiple choice test of the knowledge of math concepts and applications. The more correct answers, the higher the score and the more knowledge the individual has. A low score indicates poor knowledge of the subject.

Background Data

The participants of the study were asked to indicate their gender and academic grades for the present school year. Gender was either male or female while academic grades were asked to be written in a blank space.

Questionnaire Development

The knowledge test of mathematical concepts and applications and attitude scale towards the subject was developed in accordance with the prescribed steps of questionnaire development (Dwyer, 1993). The first one was literature searches.

Based on the literature search, it was evident that mathematical concepts and applications referred to the basic arithmetic and algebraic principles and as it is used to solve real-world problems. Hence the items in the knowledge test were all basic applications of math concepts. For the attitude scale, reported factors that influenced the attitudes of students towards math was identified and incorporated in the questionnaire.

Exploratory interviews were also conducted, for the knowledge test, math teachers in the secondary and college levels were asked of their test construction methods and samples of math concepts and application problems were gathered. For the attitude scale, experts in social science research and survey questionnaire development were asked on how to develop valid and reliable attitude surveys. Math teachers were also asked about the usual attitudes of their students to the subject.

During the question construction, the identified factors and components from the literature searches and exploratory interviews were taken into consideration and appropriate themes were devised. The said themes guided the questionnaire development and item construction.

The designed questionnaire was then presented to a group of experts on test construction and survey questionnaire development in order to establish the face validity of the instruments. Appropriate revisions were made per suggestions and recommendations of the experts. The instruments were pilot tested using 4 12th grades students who were not part of the actual sample of respondents to check for readability, content and reliability of the instruments. Their scores were not included in the final data analysis.

Hypothesis

H1: There is a significant difference between male and female knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications.

HO1 : There is no significant difference between male and female knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications.

H2: There is a significant difference in the knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications between academic grades.

HO2 : There is no significant difference in the knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications between academic grades.

H3: There is a significant difference between male and female attitude towards mathematical concepts and applications.

HO3: There is no significant difference between male and female attitude towards mathematical concepts and applications.

H4: There is a significant difference in the attitude of mathematical concepts and applications between academic grades.

HO4: There is no significant difference in the attitude of mathematical concepts and applications between academic grades.

H5: There is a significant relationship between the knowledge and attitude of mathematical concepts and applications.

HO5: There is no significant relationship between the knowledge and attitude of mathematical concepts and applications between academic grades.

H6: The 12th grade students' knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications will be significantly predicted by attitude, gender and academic grades.

HO6: The 12th grade students' knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications will not be significantly predicted by attitude, gender and academic grades.

Table (1)

Variables of the Study

Hypothesis

Independent Variables

Dependent Variable

H1

Gender

Knowledge of mathematical concepts and application

H2

Academic Grades

Knowledge of mathematical concepts and application

H3

Gender

Attitude towards mathematical concepts and application

H4

Academic Grades

Attitude towards mathematical concepts and application

H5

Attitude and Knowledge towards mathematical concepts and application

H6

Attitude

Gender

Academic Grades

Knowledge of mathematical concepts and application

Community of the Study

The community of the study is all the 12th grade students (1019) in Alahmadi Governorate enrolled during school year 2009/2010.

Sample of the Study

Using cluster sampling, 80 students were chosen to be the participants of the study, 40 males and 40 female students were recruited. The sample size is 8 percent of the total population and is an accepted sample size to carry out the present study.

Limitations of the Study

The study was conducted in two local secondary schools in Kuwait and is limited to the 12th grade students in the said schools.

Psychometric properties of the instrument:

Validity

The internal validity of this study was strengthened by a well designed knowledge test and attitude scale which had undergone the prescribed test and questionnaire construction steps as well as having the instruments reviewed by a panel of experts and pilot testing it to a similar group to respondents. Moreover, the sampling method ensured that all of the students would be represented in the sample of participants and an equal number of male and female participants ensured that gender would not be a confounding variable. The reported academic grades of the students in the questionnaire will be checked according to school records to ascertain the accuracy of the grades.

The external validity of the study is limited since it uses two secondary schools and the said schools may not fully represent all the secondary schools in Alahmadi governorate. Moreover, the study is conducted in Kuwait, thus any generalizations derived from the study will be limited to the Middle Eastern culture and to the Kuwaiti population. External validity was strengthened by ensuring that the test and attitude scales were reflective of the teaching and learning of math which is a universal subject.

Reliability

It is important to establish the reliability of any test or instrument in order to strengthen the validity of the results of the study. Reliability refers to consistency to which the instrument is able to measure the constructs it purports to measure. In order to do this, reliability measures were carried out by subjecting the pretest scores to statistical analysis, and the resulting Cronbach alpha from the inter-item analysis yielded a value of 0.678 which was sufficient for the present study.

Procedure

Preparation and development of the knowledge test and attitude scale.

Pilot testing and face validity of the instruments were established.

Permission from the secondary school to conduct the study in their school was obtained.

The 80 sample of participants were identified and given the knowledge test and attitude scale.

The knowledge test and attitude scale were scored and the gathered data was encoded in a spreadsheet.

Data and statistical analysis were carried out.

Statistical Processing

Descriptive statistics was used to determine the frequency counts, mean and standard deviation of the variables. t-test was used to determine the differences between gender and academic grades, Pearson moment correlation was used to determine the relationship of knowledge and attitude while regression analysis was used to predict knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications.

Ethical Considerations

The present study will be using human participants to complete the attitude scale and test, and hence require that certain ethical considerations must be addressed. For example, research with human participant's demands that informed consent and confidentiality be maintained and protected at all times. The participants will be asked to volunteer to participate in the study. By doing so, the students agree to the conditions of the study and the collection of data from their responses. It will also be stressed that confidentiality of the responses will be protected at all times. The completed tests and questionnaires will be assigned codes to indicate the response number but no personally identifying information will be used in the analysis of the data. The responses will be immediately entered into the datasheet and hence will minimize the possibility of the completed questionnaires and tests being read or seen by individuals other than the researcher.

Results

ò First question: Are 12th grade Kuwaiti students proficient in mathematical concepts and applications?

Figure 1

Histogram of Knowledge Test scores

The graph presents the distribution of the test scores of the participants of the study; the mean is 6.69 with a standard deviation of 2.144. The results indicate that the lowest score is 2 and the highest score is 13, with a 15 item test, we can say that the 12th grade Kuwaiti students have low proficiency in mathematical concepts and applications.

ò Second Question: What is the attitude of 12th grade Kuwaiti students towards mathematical concepts?

Figure 2

Histogram of Attitude Scale Score

The graph presents the attitude of 12th grade Kuwaiti students towards mathematical concepts and application as measured by the attitude scale designed for this study. The 4 point scale ranged from 1 to strongly disagrees and 4 as strongly agree. The mean attitude score is 2.62 and the standard deviation is 0.719. The results indicate that generally, the students had average attitudes towards math, it is not very negative, and it is also not very positive.

ò Third question: Are there significant gender differences in the knowledge and attitudes of mathematical concepts and applications of 12th grade Kuwaiti students?

Table ( 2 )

t-test of knowledge and attitudes across gender

gender

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

t

Sig

knowledge

Male

40

6.3846

2.05983

.32984

-1.236

.220

Female

40

6.9756

2.20780

.34480

attitude

Male

40

2.5981

.69589

.11143

-.239

.811

Female

40

2.6369

.74792

.11681

The table presents the t-test of knowledge and attitude scores according to gender, the means for male and female was compared to determine if there were any differences in the means that could be explained by gender. The results indicated that there are no statistically significant differences (p>.050); it can be observed that the mean for knowledge and attitudes for males and females are quite close or similar in value. Thus it can be said that male and female students had the same knowledge and attitudes towards mathematical concepts and applications.

ò Fourth question: Are there significant differences in the knowledge and attitudes of mathematical concepts and applications of 12th grade Kuwaiti students in terms of their academic grades?

Table ( 3 )

t-test of knowledge and attitude according to academic grades

grade

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

t

Sig

knowledge

Low

40

6.2381

2.37938

.36715

3.564

.010

High

40

7.6316

1.88050

.30506

attitude

Low

40

2.5012

.69413

.10711

1.245

.210

High

40

2.7471

.73240

.11881

The table presents the t-test of knowledge and attitudes of mathematical concepts and applications according to academic grades. The students we grouped according to high and low achievers. The results indicated that there is a significant difference in the knowledge of math concepts and applications (t=3.564; p=.010). The mean scores indicated that the high achievers have greater mean scores in the knowledge test; hence, the high achievers are more proficient in the subject than the low achievers. On the other hand, there is no significant difference (p>.05) for the attitude towards math concepts and applications. It would appear that both the high and low achieving students are lukewarm towards the subject.

ò Fifth question: Is there a significant relationship between the 12th grade Kuwaiti student's knowledge and attitudes towards mathematical concepts and applications?

Table ( 4 )

Correlation Matrix between knowledge and attitude

knowledge

attitude

knowledge

Pearson Correlation

1

-.059

Sig. (2-tailed)

.602

N

80

80

attitude

Pearson Correlation

-.059

1

Sig. (2-tailed)

.602

N

80

80

The table presents the correlation matrix between knowledge and attitude, the results showed that there is no significant relationship between the two variables (r=-.059, p=.602). The correlation coefficient is very small and nearing zero, which indicates a very weak to no relationship at all. This would mean that knowledge of math concepts and applications is not associated with attitudes towards the said subject.

ò Sixth question: Is knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications predicted by the attitude, gender and academic grades of 12th grade Kuwaiti students?

Table ( 5 )

Regression Analysis of selected variables

Coefficientsa

Model

Unstandardized Coefficients

Standardized Coefficients

t

Sig.

B

Std. Error

Beta

1

(Constant)

-9.120

16.656

-.548

.586

gender

.523

.491

.123

1.066

.290

grade

.197

.211

.196

.932

.354

attitude

-.178

.344

-.060

-.517

.607

a. Dependent Variable: knowledge

The table presents the regression analysis of the variables in the study, this tested whether gender, grade and attitude predicted knowledge of math concepts and applications. The results indicate very small beta values and there is no significant factor that predicted knowledge of math concepts and applications (p>.05).

Discussion

This quantitative study of the knowledge and attitudes of 12th grade Kuwaiti students towards mathematical concepts and applications have come to a number of findings. First is that, students in the 12th grade are not very proficient in mathematical concepts, across gender and academic performance. This would indicate that there is a general lack of knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications, which is surprising since, math is a basic subject and students generally work with math problems in their schooling years (Grouws & Cebulla, 2000). This would probably support the reports of international math councils that there is a decline in the knowledge of math among students across different countries (Dossey, 1992).

Second, it was also found that the students did not have positive attitudes towards the subject, but they also do not have very strong aversion to the subject. This would indicate that there is a general dislike for the subject, but the level of dislike is not too much that it would hamper the students' ability to learn from the subject. But the poor attitude that most students have in math despite their knowledge of the subject is cause for concern since one's attitude have been found to significantly influence one's perception (Terwilliger & Titus, 1995). If the student develops the wrong perception of the subject, then not liking the subject would become a strong dislike. The findings support previous literature that says that math is the least liked among high school subjects.

Third, it was also reported that gender was not associated with knowledge and attitude towards math concepts and applications. Thus, both male and female students share the same liking or dislike for the subject and have the same skill or mastery of math concepts and applications. Either, this group is largely heterogeneous, or that the group happens to share the same experiences in their math subjects that made them like the subject less and have average to poor skills in it. This finding is contradictory to previous findings wherein, gender had been associated with mastery of math; males were reported to be more oriented towards math than females (Chatard, Guimond & Selimbegovic, 2007).

Fourth, it was found that knowledge of math concepts and applications was associated with the academic performance of the student but not to attitudes towards the subject. High achieving students were found to have more knowledge of math concepts and applications than poorly performing students. The relationship of math skills to academic performance is manifested in this result and supports the findings of previous literature that said that high achievers also have better math skills than most (Dumais, 2009).

Fifth, this study also found that there is no significant association between knowledge and attitude of math concepts and applications. It would seem that attitude and knowledge are independent constructs that can occur at any given time, without being influenced by the other. Thus, the level of proficiency and the kind of attitude that a student has for the subject is not related at all. This is a strange finding since previous literature had established that a bond between knowledge and attitude of and towards a particular subject, event or phenomena existed (Cote & Levine, 2000), but could it be different for the math subject, remains to be investigated further.

Lastly, it was found that gender, academic performance and attitude did not predict knowledge of math concepts and applications. This would mean that the identified variables are not related to the level of knowledge that a student may have in mathematical concepts and applications. Thus, the teaching of math is largely dependent on its delivery and instruction, learning math is also more a function of personal experience with math problems rather than on the measured variables (Bottge, 2001).

Conclusion

The findings of this study showed that the 12th grade Kuwaiti students were not very proficient with mathematical concepts and applications, moreover they do not have positive attitudes towards the subject, nor are they extremely negative towards it.

It is also concluded that gender does not influence knowledge or attitude toward mathematical concepts and applications, thus the notion that males are more positively oriented towards math is not supported in this study.

It was also found that academic grades did impact knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications where high achieving students were associated with higher scores in the knowledge test. On the other hand, this influence was not found for attitudes towards mathematical concepts and applications. This would indicate that high and low achieving students are not as enthusiastic about working with math problems.

This study also reported that there is no relationship between knowledge and attitudes of students towards mathematical concepts and applications. Thus, it is very unlikely for knowledge or attitude to influence the other.

Lastly, this study showed that knowledge of mathematical concepts and applications are not predicted by gender, grades and attitudes of the students. It would seem that knowledge is brought about by the formal learning process and is not as volatile and affected by external forces in the Kuwaiti context.

Recommendations and Further Research

In light of the following findings, it is recommended that:

Teachers should be able to facilitate the learning and mastery of mathematical concepts and applications in the Kuwaiti secondary schools.

Teachers should focus more on enhancing the attitudes of students towards math and working with math problems.

A more in-depth study on the academic achievement of the students as it relates to knowledge and attitude of math subjects should be conducted in the future to ascertain the role that knowledge and attitudes have on the acquisition and mastery of math skills.

Teachers should dispel the concept that there are gender differences in the learning and appreciation of math, females should not be made to feel that math is a difficult subject for them.

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