International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Role of the Language of Mathematics in Students’ Understanding of Number Concepts in Eldoret Municipality, Kenya Ednah Chebet Mulwa

This study set to examine the proficiency of students in using mathematical terminology and the related concepts. The need to carry out the study arose from the concern by the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) and the general public over the perennial poor results in mathematics. Therefore, the objective of the study was to investigate the extent to which meanings of some mathematical terms are understood and/or confused by students for whom English is a second language in Eldoret Municipality, Kenya. The basis for the study is the constructivist theory by J. Bruner and the cognitive flexibility theory of R. Spiro, P. Heltovitch and R. Coulson which advocates for teaching learners to construct their meanings of mathematical terms. The descriptive survey utilized written tests as the main data collection instrument. The target population was standard eight pupils within Eldoret Municipality. Public schools were ranked according to performance in last year's KCPE results. Systematic random sampling technique was used to sample out 9 of the 34 public schools. Simple random sampling was then used to select a study sample of 270 pupils. Data analysis involved the use of both descriptive statistics such as the frequencies and the means and inferential statistics. The Analysis Of Variance (ANOVA) was used to test the hypotheses. The findings of the study showed that students have difficulties in using mathematical terms and the related concepts. Suggestions of possible ways of teaching these terms so as to generate more meaning to the learners were also made. The study could assist mathematics teachers, curriculum planners, and textbook authors to deal with the challenges that learners face in understanding mathematical language as a contributory factor to performance in the subject.

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