Students' Difficulties in Learning Mathematics: A Case Study // M.Ed Thesis // View PDF



This study entitled "Students' difficulties in learning mathematics: A case study" is the emerging field of mathematics education in Nepal. The main objectives of this study were to explore the causes of difficulties faced by the students in learning mathematics and also to explore the ways to improve the interest of students in learning mathematics. The approach of this study was a case study under the qualitative research method. This study was bounded on Mahendra Ratna Campus, Tahachal and Sanothimi Campus, Bhaktapur. This study was only related to the students studying mathematics in B.Ed. and also, the respondents of the study were two mathematics teachers, six mathematics students, and their parents. Classroom observation, in-depth interviews, and document analysis were used as tools of data collection.

This study found that mathematics teaching-learning ways in the selected colleges were good but not excellent. All the students were taught based on equality rather than based on equity. Teachers did not teach the mathematical problems in connection with students’ daily life and also most of the teachers taught mathematics only based on exam-oriented.

            Also, this study found that misconception and pupil’s weak perception about mathematics subject, students not being able to spend enough time to learning mathematics at home, lack of students previous knowledge in subject matter, the learner does not have his interest, lack of teachers teaching technique, teachers should not teach the mathematical problems in connection with students’ daily life, teachers should not motivate the students to learn mathematics and teachers should always give priority only to the good students and not give opportunities to the weak students in the classroom are the main causes of students difficulties in learning mathematics. And also this study found that to use digital technology in the mathematics classroom, to teach mathematical problems in a practical way rather than theoretical way, to use cooperative learning method in the mathematics classroom, to motivate the students for mathematics learning in the classroom, to teach the mathematical problems in connection with students’ daily life, to conduct the national/school level awareness program about mathematics subject, to use the student-centered method in classroom are the main ways to improve the interest of students’ in learning mathematics.

 Background of the Study

            I am a mathematics student. I have been studying mathematics continuously for the last 17 years. When I was in grade nine, I started to study optional mathematics, and then I did start to get excited about mathematics. After that, in the upper classes, I continued to learn mathematics and continued to enjoy it. By the time I was studying for a bachelor's level, I was beginning to be matured, and I began to associate connected mathematics with my daily life. And I was motivated to solve the problems that came up in my daily life through mathematics. Similarly, when I started studying at the master's degree level, I started to take mathematics not only as a subject, I began to see mathematics as my life, my profession, and my career. Based on the time I have spent in mathematics and in my experience, the school level mathematics seems to be related to helps the problem solving of our daily life. But the undergraduate level mathematics seems to be related only to a large amount of study, rote learning contents, memorization, and also related to only exam-oriented learning.In this way, I found a lot of difference between I studied at school level mathematics and I studied at undergraduate level mathematics. In this way, I felt that mathematics which was easy at the school level, but while I was studying at the undergraduate level, I felt mathematics was a bit difficult subject. 

 Statement of the Problem

                 In Nepal, the school education system has introduced mathematics as a compulsory subject under grade 10 and an elective/optional subject in grade 11/12 (Aryal, Shrestha & Regmi, 2019). It shows that mathematics has been placed as an important subject in school education. It provides a platform for the development of entire mathematics education as well as a foundation for the higher study of science and technology. In general mathematics learning helps people to understand and interpret the quantitative except living and natural phenomena. In my experience, people who have not studied mathematics beyond grade 10 consider mathematics as a more difficult subject than other subjects, and in the same way, I have seen that even the senior people who have spent their entire life in mathematics also considered mathematics as a difficult subject and assume that only talented students can study mathematics.  

               Students are losing their interest in science and mathematics in Nepal (Joshi, 2017) the finding of this study generated many questions. Why the interest of students in studying mathematics is decreasing? The reason for this decreasing interest of students in learning mathematics is that mathematics is a difficult subject? Or, is it due to an ineffective teaching-learning process? Is mathematics really a difficult subject or we have made it difficult?  Why the number of students studying mathematics is constantly decreasing? I was curious to study about why so many students have taken mathematics as a difficult subject. Therefore, I am interested in studying this area. I am also a mathematics-related person, so it is necessary for me to study about how to increase the number of students studying mathematics, how to teach mathematics effectively, and how to improve the interest of students in learning mathematics. Therefore, this topic has become a problem for me and I got to connected with this problem. 

          Thank you !!! 

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