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Towards O-Level Students’ Performance in Mathematics: Do Teaching and Learning Environment factors matter?

Nyamizi G. Lillian, Lotto Josephat


Purpose: This paper is aimed at assessing the possible factors which impacted the mass failure in O-Level mathematics examinations for the year 2012 in Tanzania.  Methodology: The paper benefited from the secondary data collected from the Open Data Portal hosted by the Government of Tanzania. Common factors which determine the students‟ performance such as class-size, teacher-students ratio, number of mathematics textbooks and learning environment were examined in different secondary schools across 7 zones in Tanzania to see how much they might have contributed to this poor performance in mathematics. Using ttest statistics, the results show that neither of these common factors had a statistically significant impact in a concerned students‟ performance in mathematics. To test whether the year 2012 students‟ performance in mathematics was statistically significantly different from other neighbouring years, t-statistics was employed to test statistical difference of the mathematics results between 2012 and 2013 and that between 2013 and 2014.  Results: The results show that there is a strong significant statistical difference in performance between 2012 and 2013. However, the difference in performance between 2013 and 2014 is reported to be statistically insignificant. These findings propose the possible effect of grading system change between 2012 and 2013 which was an outcry all over country by the education stakeholders. It is thought that change in grading system from division system to GPA system had its large contribution in the poor performance of mathematics in 2012. Recommendation: Following the wide-spread complaints from educational stakeholders that the process of changing the grading system lacked transparency and no clear justification was provided in lowering the pass benchmarks, this paper recommends the education policy makers to involve all key education stakeholders in changing any education policy which might affect the education standards in the country.

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students’ performance, grading system, mathematics education

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