Background to the study

Mathematics is a subject that has been defined by various authorities as a systematized, organized and exact branch of science. One of the definitions of mathematics from the various authorities is that it is a subject that is encapsulated with abstractions. Mathematics as the study of number and space is heavily symbolic, quantitative and precision – driven. By its nature, Mathematics is spiral and full of both vertical and horizontal integrations, the kind of connectedness that links a lower – order concept with a higher – order concept, such that mastery of the difficult topics is virtually impossible until the related simpler ones have been understood.  One of the objectives of mathematics education as stated by Federal Ministry of Education (2013) in the senior secondary mathematics education curriculum, is to develop teacher’s interest towards using innovative teaching methods such as guided discovery approach. Mathematics education in Nigeria is expected to help learners acquire appropriate knowledge, skills and competencies needed in the modern world and also in the investigations to broaden the frontiers of science. It is through this that the learners are able to contribute in a meaningful way to the development of the society.

Glenda and Walshaw (2009) posited that many students struggle with mathematics and this makes them to become affected negatively in terms of performance. According to WASSCE 2019, the performance of students in mathematics has persistently continued to be poor. Since the subject is dreaded like a hydrogen bomb (Denga, 2007), no effort should be spared at reducing mathematics abstractions and adopting instructional strategies aimed at de-mystifying the discipline through its teaching According to Aku, Adeyemo and Bulus (2018), teachers are expected to change their attitudes from the old method of teacher-centered teaching to students-centered approach which involves use of new innovative approaches such as: Activity, Student-Centered, Experiment, and Improvisation (ASEI); and plan, see and improve (PSAI). The quest to compel teachers to use innovative teaching methods can be successful through effective use of instructional materials. Indeed researchers such as Nwosu, Ibe, and Folorunso (2013), Megbo and Saka (2015) and Achimugu (2017) have linked ineffective teaching and learning of mathematics to insufficiency and non-utilization of instructional materials for mathematics education.

The use of instructional materials in pedagogy has been advocated as the panacea for improving mastery and understanding. According to Ibe & Bassey (2008), an instructional material is an object of communication that stores and distributes human experiences of knowledge. When effectively used, the materials stimulate students’ interest, help retention of factual ideas, aid teaching, improve teacher competence and make learning more meaningful for students. They also enhance visual imagery, stimulate and scintillate learners (Araromi, 2005). Furthermore, instructional materials meet the special need of making the lesson vital, fresh, and intellectually lasting, thus solving problems posed by individual differences in abilities of the learner (Upe, 2005). The significance of instructional materials makes them very critical in determining school standards, for institutional accreditation and public valuation. It is a vital school quality variable. Adequate use of school material is known to be associated with instructional effectiveness (Okon, 2005 and Elijah 2009). Mathematics teaching often requires creativity and improvisation. Students most time tend to see mathematics as a difficult subject and so, to make mathematics comprehensible to students, mathematics teachers must employ creative teaching methods and be prepared to respond to queries and explain concepts in a typical manner (Nbina, 2012). The author further pointed out that the widespread of poor performance and the negative attitude towards mathematics from secondary school students have largely been ascribed to lack of proper teaching methods. Teachers who adapt appropriate improvisation materials in teaching mathematics will likely be more successful in imparting mathematics knowledge to the dull students in their classes. Samba and Eriba (2011) see improvisation as the act of using alternative materials and resources to facilitate instructions whenever there is lack or shortage of specific first hand teaching aids. The authors see improvisation as the choice of the best instructional material which enables the teacher to achieve some carefully specified educational objectives. Stiggins (2008) added that there are various methods used to increase class participation and performance among students. The researchers were of the view that improvisation of instructional teaching materials could be one of them. Recent models of teaching and learning view learning as a social activity in which students construct knowledge with the teacher and other students (Kerry, 2012).

In as much as abstraction is involved in the subject matter of mathematics, it implies that it will take a great deal for such abstract concepts to be understood by students when taught. It is therefore advocated that the teaching of mathematics concepts should be concretized, Ayola (2015). Concretization of mathematics concepts means teaching mathematics from concrete to abstract. This calls for use of available standard instructional resources to carry out instruction in mathematics. But a situation where the standard instructional materials are not available, as a result of inability of government to provide instructional materials for schools, it becomes imperative that the mathematics teacher makes an alternative move to locally produce instructional materials to teach mathematics. This alternative move to produce instructional materials using resources in the local environment is called improvisation. Abolade and Olumorin (2004) in their study reported that most of the standard instructional materials produced in the factory are scarce and expensive to buy. Abolade (2009) emphasized that it is when the original instructional materials are not readily available for use in teaching and learning that the teacher can come up with other forms of instructional materials. Mboto, Ndem & Utibe-Abasi (2011) defined improvisation as the act of providing teaching materials from our locality when there is shortage of the standard ones. Improvisation is the ability to take existing pieces of materials from our environment and put them together in a new combination for a purpose. Oxford (2000) in Asokhia (2009) defined improvisation as the use of what is available as a result of lack of what is actually needed. Improvisation of instructional materials for teaching mathematics is the ability of the mathematics teachers and students to create appropriate, adequate and relevant material resources. There are prerequisite skills that mathematics teachers need for the improvisation of instructional materials. In order to effectively produce instructional materials from locally sourced materials, the teacher must have adequate skills which are basic. This acquisition of skill can be made possible through constant practice and observation of the experts. They also must include the knowledge of the basic principles and elements of design. Some of the skills needed in production of instructional materials are cutting, folding, painting, and measurement, sorting, assembling and mounting of devices. Maleu & Lajoie (2011) stated the need for teachers to possess professional improvisation skills. It is therefore not an understatement to say that teachers’ possession of the professional competencies in the improvisation of mathematics instructional materials will guide against improvisation of substandard/poor instructional materials. This is because poorly improvised instructional materials will lead students to misconception of ideas. The effect of use of relevant and adequate instructional material (be it standard or improvised) in students’ achievement in mathematics should in its ideal sense improve their understanding of mathematical concepts. Olumorin, Yusuf, Ajidagba & Jekayinfa (2010) posited that a teacher must be equipped with the basic improvisation skills to pave way for a successful improvisation of instructional materials from locally sourced materials. In support of this, Ibaam (2012) asserted that the skills needed for a successful improvisation of instructional materials is cutting, colouring, measurement, folding, sorting, dismantling, assembling, creative and manipulative. Usman & Adewumi (2006) posited that the ability of a teacher to improvise requires professional commitment, competence, creativity, initiative, mechanical skills and resourcefulness.

Olagunju (2000) summarized the reasons for improvisation as follows:

  • Fulfill science education objectives;
  • Substituting alternative where standard equipment are not available;
  • Reducing cost;
  • Promote creative and technical skills;
  • To meet the high demand of coping with large class;
  • Conserve foreign exchange earnings from improvisation of equipment.

Achimugu (2017) defined improvisation as the teacher-made teaching material used by him or her to facilitate instructions. The focus of this study is on teacher-made instructional material. The inability of teachers to produce, select and use teacher-made instructional materials is a great dis-service to science and most expecially to mathematics education. Adebimpe (2005) defined improvisation as an act of using instructional materials obtainable from the local environment designed either by the science teacher or with the help of local personnel’s to enhance instruction. Baja (2008) defined improvisation as a way of widening inquiry, curiosity creativity and productive application of intellect in the local application of universality of science. In line with the last definition, Ezekannagba and Ifeakor (2010) while citing Ikeagu (2008) observed that improvisation help students and teachers to: participate in creative and analytical thinking; acquire problem solving and manipulative skills, acquire scientific attitudes among others. And this improvisation can be effectively achieved by a positive attitude and willingness on the part of the teachers toward improvisation

Zubairu (2014) defined attitude as a preposition to respond in a favourable or unfavourable manner in respect to a given situation or object. Akujieze and Ifeakor (2017) defined attitude as an aggregate measure for attractiveness or repulsiveness of the subject and the belief that the subject is relevant or irrelevant. Also, Aku, Adeyemo and Bulus (2018) defined attitude as an outward and visible postures of human believes that determines what each individual will see, hear, think and do. Therefore, the attitude of a teacher may be a major factor that determines whether or not he/she do something important. Thus, positive attitude indicates the willingness to improvise instructional materials while negative attitude indicates unwillingness to improvise instructional materials. To this end, the focal point of this study is to examine the factors affecting attitude of mathematics teachers towards improvisation of instructional materials.

Statement of the Problem

The use of instructional materials in the teaching of mathematics helps to enrich learning. Before now, the Nigerian government used to purchase and supply instructional materials to schools. The present scenario in the educational system reveals that the poor funding of schools has led to the dearth of instructional materials in schools. In spite of the importance and emphasis that mathematics teachers should select and use instructional materials in the teaching and learning mathematics, research reports have shown that these teachers teach without using instructional materials. If mathematics is taught without instructional materials, it then bounces back to teaching mathematics by employing the horrible memorization strategy. The performance of students in it at the senior secondary school certificate levels has not met the desired needs of the nation hence the need for this investigation. The commonest reason, they give for this is that already made ones are not available in the schools. This situation has worsened in the present days due to economic recession and high exchange rate of dollar to naira that makes it impossible for many schools to purchase enough instructional materials.

Therefore, due to this challenging situation, mathematics teachers have been called upon to improvise the necessary instructional materials but most mathematics teachers have not picked up interest to improvise these instructional materials. It is based on the above premises that the researcher tends to investigate the factors affecting attitude of mathematics teachers towards improvisation of instructional materials.

Purpose of the study

The main purpose of this study is to find out the factors affecting attitude of mathematics teachers towards improvisation of instructional materials. The study specifically aimed at:

  • Determining the attitude of teachers toward improvisation of instructional materials for teaching mathematics.
  • Ascertaining the difficulties teachers encounter in the improvisation of instructional materials in teaching mathematics
  • Finding out the roles of improvisation towards enhancing teaching mathematics.
  • Determining how the improvised teaching materials has helped mathematics teachers



Research Questions

For the purpose of this study, the following research questions were formulated as a guide to the research.

  1. What are the attitudes of mathematics teachers towards improvisation of instructional materials?
  2. What are the factors inhibiting mathematics teachers from improvisation of instructional materials?
  3. What roles do improvisation of instructional materials play in enhancing teaching of mathematics?
  4. To what extent has the improvised teaching materials in mathematics has helped mathematics teachers

Significance of the study

The findings from this study will be beneficial to mathematics teachers, students, school administrators and the government

To the teachers: the study will guide teachers who always have the desire to see their students perform well by using the appropriate improvised teaching materials in teaching mathematics. It will again help teachers in understanding better the diversity of teaching materials and as such, develop more effective methodologies in teaching their subject for better understanding by the students. It will also help in assisting and encouraging teachers to realize the importance of improvised teaching aids on their academic performance in mathematics students

To the students: the study will help to increase the level of knowledge they have in mathematics because instructional materials enhances effecting learning of a concept

To school administrators and  the government: the study will help school administrators as well as the government to provide the needed teaching aids and facilities to motivate students to enhance the development of good academic performance and assist the teachers in teaching mathematics effectively in class

Scope of the Study

This research work focuses on the factors affecting attitude of mathematics teachers towards improvisation of instructional materials in some selected schools in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State. The researcher intends to carry out investigation on mathematics teachers paying particular interest to ten (10) secondary schools in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.