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This chapter is going to deal with the background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, delimitation of the study, limitation of the study and definition of the terms.



One of the objectives of secondary education in Nigeria is to inspire students with a desire for achievement and self improvement both at schools and later life (National policy on education 2004). The present senior secondary school physics curriculum is built on the conception of science as both product and process.

As a  process, physics has   to  do  with  the  skills  that  are  called  into  play  by scientists  in  carrying  out   scientific  investigation. This implies adopting an enquiry in the teaching of physics at the secondary school   level.

As a product, physics is viewed as consisting of   scientific facts, principles, laws and generalization derived from scientific investigation.  The new curriculum   of  science (Physic) adopts a  child-centred  approach,  that is the teacher  is  supposed  to  provide guidance to the students who should  participate  actively  in  the  teaching  learning   process.

On the  other  hand, Mathematics is one  of t he  oldest  subjects in primary and  secondary  school curriculum, mathematics  has  been  the bedrock  of several subjects  in the  school curriculum  and  it is  indispensable  to  national goal and   objective of  attaining a   height  in the  knowledge of science  must  possess an average  knowledge  of   mathematics.

In this scientific age, we cannot underestimate the importance of mathematics.

Mathematics has limb in virtually fields of study which ever mathematical or non-mathematical. In fact, mathematics is the pivot on which all sciences, engineering, Business and even social science revolve.

Mathematics is an intrinsic component of science and serves as a universal language and indispensable source of intellectual tools, mathematics is widely regarded as the language of science and technology.

Mathematics, being a bedrock provides the spring board for   the growth   of   physics, it is also the   gate way and the key to science.  The   importance  and  contributions  of mathematics to the modern culture  of science and  technology  stated   that without mathematics  there   is   no science and  without science,  there is   no  modern  technology  and without modern   technology there  is non-modern society,  Akpan (2005).  Furthermore, mathematics is the precursor and the queen of science and technology and the indispensable single element in modern societal development.

Mathematics education is therefore indispensable in nation building, its form a strong foundation for the study of physics. Either simple operations or more advanced ones all requires some form of   mathematics knowledge.

Mathematics and physics often poses a threat to some students while mathematics may be regarded as a fearful subject which involves massive use of symbols and mathematics proofs, physics is seen as a subject which involves a lot of abstract formulas which makes conceptualization of ideas difficult.

Physics curriculum has similar aims with mathematics curriculum as both emphasized skills in decision making and problem solving.

Mathematics serves as symbolic expression in physics to show the structure of the relationship between different factors. Similarly, symbolic expression allows learners to have a better understanding of physics contents and improve their procedural knowledge to inter-relate various symbols during solving physics problem. In order to achieved the expected goals by the students Ekanem (2006) stated.

Just as we can arrange our children to acquire particular information and to learn particular skills, so we arrange them   to acquire interest and ability”.

Interest relates to memory, which is one of the determinants for successful academic performance in schools. Interest is always associated with cognitive elements, one got to develop the right interest before he or she could be able to succeed in life.  Therefore, for one to achieve the said goals, hard work must be considered.

Hard work is a panacea to academic excellence, one has full responsibility to develop commit and concentrate in one’s field   of endeavour be it academic or other profession.

History has revealed that nations are built by the creative production of innovative hard work of   people themselves, these being only facilitated by the government via policy enunciation and implementation, Eyo, (2004).

In teaching and learning of science, especially physics, interest is the life wire for any meaningful academic performance.

Physics is an important science subject that requires   immense academic demands on students   in its learning. The learning of physics   is difficult at best and almost impossible at worst.

But because of its enormous importance to science and technology, there is understandably huge   interest in students achievement in physics.

Physics – the study of matter, energy and their interactions, is an international enterprise, which plays a   key role  in t he  future progress of human kind.

The support of physics education and research in all countries is important because, physics is an exciting intellectual adventure that inspires young people and expands the frontiers of our knowledge about nature.

Physics is the most basic of the physical science, from chemistry and geology through  to biology and cosmology,  we  understand science  in  terms  of the  concept  developed in  physics. The ability and concerns of physicist have always formed the basic of future technology.

Physics has the capability of playing a major role in finding solutions to many of the problems facing the human race, of course it does n o t have all the answers but the science is developed enough to have created unclear weapons which remain a global threat, though surely it can be used for the betterment of all people around the globe.

Physics play an important role in developing strategies to combat climate change, in the development of technological advancements.

Physics and technology must work together to resolve the   need   new technologies that will decrease the  damage to  our planet, for strategies to ensure  the  people of developing countries  have  the  tools to  progress, the need for  solutions to deadly diseases that remains a threat to human lifes and other wide lifes and the need for solutions to  the  increasing  demands  we place   on   our resources before they are depleted or gone  into  extinction.

The role of physics in our modern world is more important than in any other time in history. Physics generates fundamental knowledge needed for the future technological advances that will continue to drive the economic engines of the world. Physics contributes to the technological infrastructure and provides trained personnel needed to take advantage of scientific advances and discoveries.

Physics is an important element in the education of chemists, engineer and computer scientist, as well as practitioners of the other physical and biomedical sciences. Physics extends and enhances our  understanding  of  other  disciplines, such as the earth, agricultural,  chemical,  biological  and  environmental sciences as well as astrophysics and cosmology- subjects of substantial importance to   all peoples of  the  world.

Physics improves our quality of life by providing the basic understanding necessary for developing new instrumentation and techniques for medical applications such  as computer tomography magnetic resource image, positive emission  tomography ultra-sonic imaging, and laser surgery.

In all, physics is important to man’s life because it is used in cooking food, cleaning clothes, watching television, heating our house, playing sports and everything else in life.

In conclusion, physics is an essential part of the educational system and of an advanced society. Therefore as a matter of fact, the learners should develop a positive way of achieving the said goals.

Government are to seek advice from physicists and other scientists on matter of science policy, and to be supportive of the science of physics.

This forms the basis for this research undertaking to investigate the effect of mathematics ability on students and their academic performance in physics.



Over the years, the progressive decline in secondary school students subjects including physics has been as source of serious concern and has variously been described by most  National dailies as  abysmal.

The  most recent report on  this  critical  issue were those  of the daily indepent of Wednesday 19, 2012,  Business  Day of Monday 1, 2014 and  Punch of  Sunday 23, 2012 to mention  but  a  few.

Similarly,  the statistics released by the WAEC  also   revealed a high percentage failures recorded by  secondary school students in physics in public examinations for instance between  1999-2009  the  percentage  (%)  of  students in Nigeria  who failed  their SSCE examination in physics were respectively  put   at  68.40%, 80.50%, 66.08%, 53.14%, 50.61%,  58.50%, 41.94%, 56.81%, 51.74% and 52.17% (source WAEC, Test development Division,  Yaba  Lagos).

This high percentage failures as  shown by students in physics Examination has  consciously caused a  huge  outcry of criticism  on  the  education ministry  and  also  raised a lot  of questions regarding  Nigerian educational system.

The high  measure with  which  the concern have reached  came  to t he  fore  recently, as  it may  have  informed the rationale behind the convocation  of National  conference on education by the  federal  ministry of  education. The gathering of stake holders in education including students, leaders, principals academic, journalist, non-governmental organization, international development patrons and senior government official, sought to identify factors responsible for the poor performance by students in public examinations.

Therefore, it is against this background or  situation, that necessitated the study which  investigated the  effects  of  students and mathematics ability on students academic  performance  in  physics in Ini Local Government Area  of Akwa Ibom  State.


The purpose  of t h is study  is t o investigate  the effect  of mathematics  ability  on  students academic  performance in  physics  in  senior secondary  two (SS2)   in  Ini Local Government  Area  of  Akwa Ibom  State. Specifically, the study intends to:

  1. Find out the high mathematics ability on students and their academic performance in physics.
  2. Determine the average mathematics ability on students and their academic performance in physics.
  3. Investigate the low mathematics ability on students and their academic performance  in physics.



To effectively carry out this research the following research questions were raised to generate answer for the study.


  1. There is no significant difference in academic performance of physics students with high mathematics ability and those with average mathematics ability?
  2. Is there any significant difference in academic performance of physics students with average mathematics ability and those with low mathematics ability?



Based on the research questions above, the following null   hypotheses which will be tested at 0.05  level  of  significance have been formulated to guide this study:

  1. There is no significant difference in academic performance of physics students with high mathematics ability and those with average mathematics ability?


  1. There is no significance difference in academic performance of physics students with average mathematics ability and those with low mathematics ability?


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