Applying mathematics in real-life problems: A case study of two senior high schools in Ghana
The purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate the extent to which senior high school students could apply mathematics in real life situations by examining the relationship between their performance on “routine” mathematical calculations and that on a “shortwriting” task related to the application of mathematics. It involved thirty boys and thirty girls from two Senior High Schools in Accra, the capital of Ghana in West Africa. All the sixty participants were in Form 1 (SHS1) at the time of the study. Data for the study was collected between June and August 2008 using tasks and interviews. Both qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques were used to analyse the data. The results of the study showed no significant gender differences in the students’ performance on both the routine and the short-writing tasks but showed marked differences between the students’ performance on the routine calculations and that on the short-writing task. The students’ mean score for the routine calculations was significantly higher than their mean score for the short-writing task as the difference between the two mean scores was statistically significant at the 0.1% level. Furthermore, there was a strong correlation between the students’ performance on the two different tasks. The implications of the results for the teaching and learning of mathematics are discussed.
Keywords: problem-solving, application, routine, task-oriented
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