STUDENTS ATTITUDE
TO MASTERY LEARNING INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACH IN TEACHING MATHEMATICS ON THEIR
ACHIEVEMENT IN MATHEMATICS IN OYO STATE, NIGERIA.
Osiesi Prince Mensah^{1}, Akomolafe Oluwayemisi Damilola^{2}
^{ }
^{1} Department of Education Management and Business Studies, Faculty of
Education, Federal University OyeEkiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria. Email: princeosiesi@yahoo.com
^{2} Department of Educational
Foundations, Faculty of Education, Federal University OyeEkiti, Ekiti State,
Nigeria.


ABSTRACT 
Keywords: Mastery; Learning; Instructional; approach;
Students’; Mathematics; Nigeria; 

This paper presents
students’ attitude to mastery learning instructional approach implementation
in improving their achievement in mathematics among senior secondary school
students’ in Ibadan Metropolis. Mastery learning is an alternative method of
teaching and learning that involves the student reaching a level of
predetermined mastery on units of instruction before being allowed to
progress to the next unit. The study adopted the action research type of the
non experimental design. The study population consisted of senior secondary
school students in private schools in the state. The multistage sampling
technique was used to select the samples of the study which comprised of all
SS 1 student’s in a private secondary school in the city (37 students). Results of the study show that mastery
learning strategy is effective in enhancing students’ learning outcomes in
mathematics; students have a positive attitude towards the implementation of
mastery learning strategy in teaching and learning mathematics; the gender of
students do impact on their achievement in the subject. It is
recommended therefore, that mathematics teachers should be encouraged to
adopt mastery learning approach during instructions and that educational
planners increase the numbers of periods allotted to mathematics teaching and
learning in schools as this would foster students’ learning outcomes/mastery
of the subject. Publisher All
rights reserved. 
INTRODUCTION
Mathematics
is a basic instrument in the development of any science based knowledge for
sound analytical reasoning in daily living in a modern society such as ours
(Babalola, 1983). The Nigerian Government is quite desirous of achieving
scientific and technological innovations geared at encouraging students’
learning of science related subjects vizaviz their applications in solving
problems as they emerge over time. Mathematics as a subject has been described
as a model of thinking which encourages learners to observe, reflect and reason
logically about a problem; communicating ideas, making it the pivot of
intellectual discipline, a vital tool in science, commerce and technology and
as a precursor of scientific discoveries and inventions (Iji, 2008; Imoko &
Agwagah, 2006; Salman, 2005).
Despite the accorded essence and recognition to
mathematics, Elekwa (2010) posited that students exhibit nonchalant attitude
towards the subject, even when they are aware of its’ usefulness in their
future academic and career undertakings. Students who might have conditioned
their minds that the subject is difficult are usually of poor attitude and
underperforming in internal or external examinations. An analysis of school certificate mathematics
examination results shows that students’ achievements in mathematics are
consistently poor. Uwadiae, (2010) reported that less than 42% of registered
candidate in SSCE obtain credit pass in mathematics. Even the SSCE results
released by WAEC and NECO for 2012 indicated poor achievement of students in
mathematics. Also, Olunloye (2010) restated the ugly trend of high failure rate
in mathematics as a national disaster. Therefore, feasible ways of improving
the performance has remained an area of great concern for researchers. The
deplorable state of mathematics achievement is attributed to a number of factors
such as attitude of students (Uhumuavbi & Umoren, 2005); lack of
instructional resources (Yara and Otieno, 2010); Instructional techniques
(Olulonye, 2010) among others. Overmayer (2010) stated that the challenge of
covering the entire mathematics syllabus while accommodating the needs of
struggling students creates an almost impossible situation. Consequently, many
students move through the mathematical curriculum with deficiencies. Students
stumble through the mathematics curriculum with these gaps in learning, gaps
that seem to grow exponentially, until finally, frustrated by continuous
failure, many drop out.
Mathematics teachers know what to teach, when and how
to teach and understand why students are having difficulty in passing
Mathematics examination as well as how to stimulate interest in the subject.
Adeleke (2007) conducted a study on topics preference of senior secondary
students in Mathematics, she discovered that numbers and numerations, algebraic
process and statistics were the most preferred topics while bearing and
distances, probability and menstruation were the most disliked topics. Nnaji
(1998) in another study found out that some topics which students perceived as
difficult; namely: longitude and latitude, bearings and distances, probability,
twovariables inequality, change of subject formula, arithmetic and geometry
(sequence and series), number bases, graphs (linear and quadratic types) and
set theory are the major difficult topics for the students. According to
Akinsola (1987) some of the most common reasons for disliking Mathematics
include rigidity and lack of creativity, anxiety of the students and poor
teaching methods.
Current students ‘learning outcomes reveals that the
conventional teaching approach may be deficient in meeting the needs of
majority of learners. The present practice of mechanically applying the same
methods to dull, average as well as the bright children could be responsible
for much of the ineffectiveness of instruction given in schools. In the
classroom, instructions are prepared with the average students in focus. The
above average of fast learners feels bored whereas slow learners or below
average students remain passive leading to poor attitude and achievement in
mathematics. Instructional technique adopted by the teacher can be manipulated
to bring about improvement in performance of students. Hence teaching and
learning of mathematics consistently generates interest among scholars over the
years. Several studies have shown that good instructional strategies are
capable of improving the achievement of students in mathematics and other
subjects (Iji, 2005; Ihendinihu, 2008). What is imperative therefore is an
innovative proposal for change, a major departure from current practices. An
alternative to overcoming these challenges is mastery learning.
Mastery learning according to Block and Anderson,
1975; is an approach to learning
intended to bring all students to a preestablished level of mastery on a set
of instructional objectives. Students are taught the defined objectives,
formatively assessed, given corrective instruction if needed, and then
summatively assessed. This model provides teachers with timely feedback about
the progress and deficiencies of students in meeting specific instructional
goals and presents a curriculum that provides extra time and opportunities for
all students irrespective of their cognitive capacity to attain mastery. This
learning approach takes care of individual differences in learning,
assimilation, analysis of concepts taught and its synthesis when assessed.
Mastery learning as an instructional strategy is based on the principle that
all students should learn a set of reasonable objectives with appropriate
instruction and sufficient time with little or no pressure. With this instructional
strategy, students are not advanced to a subsequent learning objective until
they demonstrate proficiency with the current one taught as they must
demonstrate mastery on unit examinations, typically 80%, before moving onto new
material (Davis & Sorrell, 1995).
Students who do not achieve mastery (who must have underperformed)
receive remediation through tutoring, peer monitoring, small group discussions,
or additional homework. Additional time for learning is prescribed for those
requiring remediation.
Students’ attitudes towards mastery learning approach
do vary, especially across gender. Students’ attitude to mastery learning
approach refers to students’ general disposition towards the conduct and
implementation of mastery learning as a strategy for mathematics teaching and
learning. Attitude is a kind of learning which is acquisitive and is affected
by the external factors. It is changeable and if this change occurs due to
recognition of anything in person, it will have effect on his emotions and his
readiness for acting and behaving toward it. It seems that application of
mastery learning method has effect on recognition and image of the person about
his success and as a result, it has effect on his emotions to mathematics and
has created readiness in the person for learning mathematics; if not other
subjects. When students’ possesses the right attitude, their interest, attitude
and performance in the subject specifically enhances; however, this could be as
a result of the students’ gender.
Gender is a variable that could predict students’
achievement in learning. It involves the psychological and sociocultural
dimensions of being male or female. Most studies have shown that on the average
girls do better in schools than boys more especially in languagelearning
situations such as reading and writing. It seems that boys are more interested
in subjects associated with numbers and are trained to tackle difficult
problems than their female counterparts. Boys generally are seen to be stronger
physically than the girls and so can as well handle difficult jobs, but recent
development has changed such notion since girls are also delving into some
activities which were previously believed to be for boys, in the field of
engineering and mechanical works. Unfortunately, gender inequality in education
has remained a perennial problem of global scope (UNESCO, 2003; Reid, 2003).
Mathematics is a science subject and some genderbased science researchers have
reported that what both the ‘feminist empiricists’ and the ‘liberal feminist
critics’ seem to agree is that females in principle will achieve highly as
their male counterparts in science based knowledge (Howes, 2002; Sinnes, 2006).
Academic achievement of student is students’ ability
to study and recall facts; being able to communicate their knowledge orally or
in written form even in an examination condition. It is the extent to which
they apply what they have been taught or learnt in a school/classroom setting
at any point in time; most especially when they are formatively or summatively
assessed, in which case, they could be low, moderate or high academic
achievers. Academic achievement is therefore a yard stick for ascertaining the
capabilities of a pupil from which his overt, covert and inherent or unrevealed
abilities could be inferred. Factors that influence a students’ academic
achievement at any level of education are not conclusively known and could be
multivariate in nature.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The
teaching and learning of some perceived difficult topics in the secondary
school mathematics curriculum remains an issue to be addressed; as this may
have been causing students poor achievement in the subject. The study
investigated the essence of mastery learning instructional approaches as well
as students’ attitude to its implementation in teaching mathematics can influence
their achievement in the subject.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS
 At what mastery learning stage did the student
perform better?
 What is students’ attitude to mastery learning
approach in teaching and learning mathematics?
 Is there a relationship in students’ achievement
in mathematics across gender as a result of mastery learning instructional
approach?
 Is there a relationship between students’
attitude towards mastery learning instructional approach and their
achievement in the mathematics?
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
(i) Research Design
The
study adopted the action research type of the non experimental design. This
design accommodates generalization of the findings of the study upon the whole
population from which only a representative portion will be studied.
(ii) Population, Sampling Technique and
Sample
The
study population comprised of all senior secondary school 1 (SS I) students in
private secondary schools in Ibadan Metropolis, Oyo state. The study adopted
the multistage sampling technique. Simple random sampling was used in selecting
an educational zone in Oyo state; the Ibadan metropolis. A local government
area from the zone (Akinyele L.G.A) was purposely selected from the educational
zone. Simple random sampling was also used to select a private secondary school
in the LGA. Also, purposive sampling was used to select an SS 1 intact class in
the school; comprising of 37 students.
(iii)
Instrumentation
Two
instruments were developed and used for data collection for the study. They
are: mathematics achievement test (MAT) and students’ attitude to mastery
learning questionnaire (SAMLQ). The mathematics achievement test (MAT) with
KudarRichardson KR20 reliability coefficient of 0.81, students’ attitude to
mastery learning questionnaire (SAMLQ) with Cronbach Alpha reliability
coefficient index of 0.74. The instruments were all developed, pilot tested and
validated by the researchers. The Mathematics Achievement Test (MAT) contains
questions designed to test the cognitive level of achievement of the learners’
in Mathematics. It consists of 6 theory test items. Correct response to each of the items
attracted a score of 5 while an incorrect response attracted a score of 0. The
mathematics achievement test (MAT) was administered to a sample of about 38
students in the intact class. The students’ attitude to mastery
learning questionnaire (SAMLQ) consisted of section A and B. The section A
captured students’ demographic data while the section B had 9 items designed to
elicit students overall attitude towards the use of mastery learning
instructional approach in teaching mathematics.
(iv) Procedure for Data Collection
The
researchers administered the instruments to the students while the intact class
mathematics teacher was adopted to teach a particular topic in the sampled
schools. The test was administered to the students after the thorough teaching
of a particular topic from the SS 1 mathematics textbook (inequalities). The
administered tests were retrieved from the students after each testing by the
researcher and recorded all the way. The study lasted for 4 weeks. The regular
mathematics teacher of the class selected for the study was coordinated and
trained as research assistants to help in conducting the study. The teacher
took up the group (SS 1) intact class. Students in the class received mastery
learning instructions on a particular topic (in this case: inequalities) for
all the periods of mathematics in that four weeks. The students were all taught
the said topic throughout all the mathematics period in the weeks and at the
end of each week, a test that is the same in nature (which is to be
administered to them throughout the study period) was given to the students by
the teacher to determine the extent to which all of them have understood the
said topic. The researcher scored all the scripts of the students for this
first cycle and recorded their scores. The same topic was taught in the second
week, students were tested and their scores recorded as for the second cycle.
The same was done for the third and last cycles in the third to fourth week.
(v) Data Analysis
The
data collected were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics (frequency
ounts and percentages, mean and standard deviation and correlation) at 0.5%
level of significance. The Data
obtained from the test scores of the 37 students were analysed to answer the
research questions raised in the study. The research questions raised were
answered using descriptive and inferential statistics.
RESULTS
Research question 1: At what mastery learning stage did the student
perform better?












Total Number of Student in
Class 
Descriptive statistics 
Stage One Test 
Stage Two Test 

37 
Mean 
15.21 
20.39 


Std. Deviation 
3.878 
4.475 

From
Table 1, it is evident that students’ performance was better and higher in the
second test than in the first test; as the performance of students in the
second test had a mean value of 20.39 and std. deviation of 4.475 which is
higher than that of the first test performance of students with mean value of
15.21 and std. deviation of 3.878.
Research question 2: What is the correlation between students’ attitude to
mastery learning instructional approach and their achievement in both tests?
Table 2: Correlation between student
attitude and test achievement
Variables Stage One Test Stage Two Test Students Attitude to Mastery Learning
Stage One Test
Pearson Correlation 1
250 .271
Sig. (2 tailed) .129 .100
Stage Two Test
Pearson Correlation .25 1 .153
Sig. (2 Tailed) .129
.360
Students Attitude .271 .153
to Mastery Learning
Sig. (2 Tailed) .100
.360
*Significant at p< 0.05
Table 2 represents the Pearson
product moment correlation result of the relationships between students’
performance in the stage one test, stage two test and students attitude to
mastery learning. The table reveals a low positive significant relationship
between the variables; students’ performance in the stage one test and the
stage two test. Also, there is a negative correlation between students first
and second test achievement and their attitude to mastery learning
instructional approach. This entails students’ achievement in mathematics is
not dependent on their attitude to mastery learning instructional approach.
Research question 3: What is students’ attitude to mastery learning
approach in learning mathematics?
Table 3: Attitude of students to mastery learning instructional
approach
S/No 
Statements on Students’ attitude to Mastery Learning 
SA 
A 
D 
SD 
Mean 
St. Dev 
REMARK 
1. 
I enjoy mastery learning
class all the time 
23 (62.2) 
14 (37.8) 
0 (0) 
0 (0) 
3.38 
.492 
Positive 
2. 
I sleep each time mastery
learning is use to teach mathematics in my class 
0 (0) 
0 (0) 
31 (83.8) 
6 (16.2) 
1.84 
.374 
Positive 
3. 
Mastery learning has made
me understand mathematics better 
5 (13.5) 
32 (86.5) 
0 (0) 
0 (0) 
3.14 
.347 
Positive 
4. 
Mastery learning in
teaching mathematics is the reason i hate mathematics 
0 (0) 
0 (0) 
26 (70.3) 
11 (29.7) 
1.70 
.463 
Positive 
5. 
Teaching mathematics with
mastery learning makes mathematics easy and interesting to me 
12 (32.4) 
25 (67.6) 
0 (0) 
0 (0) 
3.32 
.475 
Positive 
6. 
My teacher should stop using
mastery learning in mathematics classes 
0 (0) 
0 (0) 
13 (35.1) 
24 (64.9) 
1.65 
.484 
Positive 
7. 
Mastery learning should be
used for teaching other subjects except mathematics 
0 (0) 
0 (0) 
18 (48.6) 
19 (51.4) 
1.51 
.507 
Positive 
8. 
I am very attentive during
Mastery learning classes 
3 (8.1) 
34 (91.9) 
0 (0) 
0 (0) 
3.08 
.277 
Positive 
9. 
I now love mathematics more
due to my teacher using mastery learning technique to teach us 
10 (27) 
27 (73.0) 
0 (0) 
0 (0) 
3.27 
.450 
Positive 
Grand Mean = 22.89 weighted Average = 2.54
Table
3 exposes the attitude of students to mastery learning approach in the teaching
and learning of mathematics. From the table, of the 37 students under study,
all the 37 students agreed that: they enjoy mastery learning class all the
time; mastery learning has made me understand mathematics better; mastery
learning in teaching mathematics is the reason i hate mathematics; teaching
mathematics with mastery learning makes mathematics easy and interesting to me;
they are very attentive during Mastery learning classes; they now love
mathematics more due to my teacher using mastery learning technique to teach us
and that their teacher should always employ mastery learning in teaching us
every topic in the mathematics textbook. More so, all the 37 students’
disagreed to the statement that: they sleep each time mastery learning is use
to teach mathematics in my class; their teacher should stop using mastery
learning in mathematics classes and that mastery learning should be used for
teaching other subjects except mathematics. From the aforementioned, it can be
concluded that students’ possesses a positive attitude to their teachers
employing mastery learning in teaching them mathematics.
Research question 4: Is there a relationship in students’ achievement in
mathematics across gender as a result of mastery learning instructional
approach?
Table 4: Correlation between student achievement across gender
Variables Test 1
Test 2 Gender
Test 1
Pearson Correlation 1 .250 .200
Sig. (2 tailed) .129 .228
Test 2
Pearson Correlation .250 1 .438^{**}
Sig. (2 Tailed)
.129 .006
Gender
Pearson Correlation .200 .438^{** } 1
Sig. (2 Tailed) .228 .006
*Significant at p< 0.05
Table 4 reveals that gender
have a low positive relationship with students’ achievement in both the first
and second tests; as it was significant at 0.01 level of significance. Thus,
achievement of students in mathematics is gender related.
DISCUSSION
Results of the study show
that mastery learning strategy is impactful in enhancing students’ achievement
in mathematics. The findings from the study corroborates those of other
researchers (Samuel, 2007; Wambugu and Changeiywo, 2008; Olunfunmilayo, 2010; Akinsola,
2011; and Abakpa and Iji, 2012) who reported that mastery learning if
effectively employed would enhance students’ academic achievement in various
school subjects. Also, the findings of the study support the findings of Iji
(2005) and Elekwa (2010) who reported that effective instructional mastery
strategy equally improved the performance of both high and low ability
students. Thus, mastery learning approaches enhances the achievement of
students of different abilities in a learning task. It was also observed that
students’ possesses a positive attitude to the mastery learning instructional
approach when used in teaching mathematics. Moreover, the findings of the study
is in consonance with the findings of Campbell et al. 2000; Epstein, 1991; Fluty,
1997; which confirms that students gender plays a significant role towards
their academic achievement. However, the study findings negates those of Abiam and
Odok (2006); Olatoye
and Ogunkola (2008); who found no significant relationship between gender and
achievement in mathematics.
Conclusion
and Recommendation
Research evidence shows
that mastery instructional approach does positively influence academic
achievement of students. Current results show that the conventional teaching
approach may not be adequate in meeting the needs of learners in mathematics,
hence the need to refocus attention on other alternative teaching approaches
such as the mastery learning approach. Mastery learning approach is found to be
effective in enhancing the achievement of students in mathematics. Students do
have a positive attitude to mastery learning instructional approach been used
in teaching them mathematics and there is a positive relationship with students
gender and mathematics achievements. It is hereby recommended that mathematics
teachers be encouraged to adopt mastery learning instructional approach during
instructions to foster students learning and retention of mathematics concepts
and educational planners should incorporate more periods for the teaching and learning
of mathematics to ensure additional instructions and mastery of the content
taught since the mastery learning teaching approach requires longer
time/periods if mastery of the content taught is to be achieved.
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