1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The art of thinking and computation is known as mathematics. It is the study or science of numbers, amounts, or shapes. Kitta (2004) defined mathematics as a language that enables us to articulate concepts and relationships derived from our surroundings. Mathematics allows one to make the invisible apparent, allowing one to solve issues that would otherwise be impossible.
Mathematics is one of the most significant educational courses in the world's curriculum. It is a subject that is directly related to other disciplines, particularly technical and scientific subjects. Mathematics is also a subject that is required in both primary and secondary education. According to Umameh (2011) in Tshabalala & Ncube (2013), mathematics is the backbone and a vital instrument for every nation's scientific, technological, and economic growth. Furthermore, Davies & Hersh (2012) perceive mathematics as a vital subject not just for obtaining an academic certificate at school or college, but also for preparing pupils for the future, regardless of the job of life they want to be a part of. According to Mefor (2014), mathematics is related to everything in the cosmos, from the tiniest to the largest. According to Umameh (2011), mathematics is inextricably linked to daily life and everyone's long-term plans. As a result, mathematics is a topic without which education and human existence cannot work successfully. Similarly, mathematics is given the appropriate priority in the curriculum and all educational initiatives in Nigeria, from primary to higher levels.
According to Lambdin (2009), when children progress through school and begin their adult lives at home and at work, the mathematical expectations placed on them expand. In order to perform mathematically literately in the future, students must have a solid mathematical foundation. A sound foundation necessitates considerably more than the mindless application of procedural knowledge. According to a 2004 report by the Ontario Ministry of Education, all students should be able to understand, make sense of, and apply mathematics, as well as establish connections across topics and detect patterns throughout mathematics.
Many research and authority have identified a variety of reasons for students' low performance in Mathematics. Vudla, (2012) in Tshabalala & Ncube, (2013), for example, believed that there was a shortage of well-trained teachers, inadequate teaching facilities, a lack of funds to purchase necessary equipment, poor quality textbooks, large classes, poorly motivated teachers, a lack of laboratories and libraries, poorly coordinated supervisory activities, civil service interference in the school system, incessant transfers of teachers and principals, and automatic promotions of graduates.
Tata (2013) conducted his research in Nigeria and discovered that poor mathematics performance is caused by students' unfavorable attitudes about mathematics, fear of mathematics, a lack of skilled teachers, and inadequate instructional resources. Students' performance in mathematics could be improved by cultivating a good attitude, motivation, and adequate direction toward mathematics, as well as providing suitable instructional resources.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Over the years, experts, educators, the government in mathematics, and parents have been concerned about Nigeria's high rate of poor student performance. Obviously, this is due to the significant impact that education has on the country's overall development. According to a research analysis, there is widespread agreement that Nigeria's educational standards have deteriorated (Adebule, 2004). Parents and the government agree that their education expenditure is not generating the anticipated results. According to reports from the chief examiners of the West African Examination Council, applicants' overall performance in mathematics for the May/June 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015 tests did not differ considerably from previous years (Odili & Vincent, 2011). However, the Chief Examiners also reported that candidates' mathematics performance is declining and getting worse every year, even though the rate of failure in all subjects appeared to have decreased when compared to previous years (WAEC, 2013 & 2014), but there is still a low percentage of students passing mathematics. However, the researcher's goal is to do research on the performance of Nigerian students in mathematics.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The broad objective of this study is to examine the causes of poor academic performance in Mathematics. Other objectives are:
i. To determine whether teachers attitude toward mathematics influences students academic performance in mathematics.
ii. To determine whether teachers teaching methods influences students academic performance in Mathematics
iii. To determine whether students personal factors influences students academic performance in Mathematics
iv. To examine the challenges students face in the studying and learning of mathematics
v. To find out possible solutions to the challenges students face in the studying and learning of mathematics.