Essay on Learning Mathematics or “Math”

Essay on Learning Mathematics or “Math”

Learning Mathematics or “Math” as they call is not easy.  D.P. Bryant (2009) states that educators and researchers are beginning to pay more attention to the notion that some students have difficulty learning math skills and concepts taught in today’s classrooms. It is important for school personnel and parents to work together to identify math problems when they arise and to address them both at school and home. Identifying and addressing math difficulties in the early grades can potentially prevent more serious problems in later grades.

Commonly, for most students Mathematics is not their favorite subject even though as what mathematicians say that Math is in everything, more than just the concepts and figures.  Though, it plays an important part in developing logical and cognitive skills needed by the students.  Mathematical competence has been identified as one of the competencies essential for personal fulfilment, active and productive citizenship, social belongingness and employability in the modern society.

If students do not acquire and possess these much needed competencies for life, then inevitably they will not possibly be very successful in personal and professional life.  Several studies have investigated the prevalence of learning difficulties in Mathematics (Dowker, 2004).  This has been verified by the Basic Skills Agency that conducted their research and found a large proportion of adults whom did not possess basic numeracy skills (Bynner and Parsons, 1997).  

Problems connected with learning Mathematics are common in many countries. According to experts, students described as low achievers have very limited knowledge that can only be applied to a few and familiar situations. The weak students cannot demonstrate mathematical literacy in situations which may impede their functioning in society and economic environment (Wisniowski,2014).  

For students, Math is just a pre-requisite to pass every grade levels or to finish elementary or high school. The time and effort spent in math problems and the struggle in coming up with solution is what make this subject likely hate by students. But taking into consideration its relevance in everyday, whether in school or jobs specially in this modern times that people need critical and analytical skills  where in Math  takes pride and recognition that enhance this 21st century skills. 

Muijs and Reynolds (2005, p218) also supports that pupils do often struggle with conceptualizing Mathematics learnt in the classroom to real life situations.  Thus, Mathematics learned best by helping pupils to solve problems drawn from their own individual experiences. NCETM (2009).  This identifies and stresses the importance of real-life problems are not always closed, nor do they necessarily have only one solution. Determining the best approximation to a solution is on the own ness of mathematics teachers and their ability to choose worthwhile mathematical tasks to introduce important ideas. 

Such well-planned tasks pique student interest and provide motivation for learning the concept.  Thus, knowing how to solve math problems, be engage in mathematical problem is needed since students’ cannot outrun the subjects since it is necessary and the gratification that comes with learning is what made this subject   This compels educational institutions to put emphasis on how to study Math since it one of the subjects that is most applied and relevant in various field of science, engineering, and technology. 

As Chubb, 2012 points out “There is a global perception that a workforce with a substantial proportion educated in Mathematics, Engineering and Science (MES) is essential to future prosperity” although Math is yet not in good condition. Engaging students in mathematical problems with real life situations and develop practical solutions able them to cope with the reality.  

Mathematics is one of the subjects most studied, taken up at the Pre-K level all the way to college. In the Philippines,  Mathematics basic education curriculum has undergone several revisions over the years. In 1983, the New Elementary School Curriculum (NESC) was implemented, followed by the New Secondary Education Curriculum (better known as the Secondary Education Development Program or SEDP Curriculum), which was launched in 1988. After curricular reviews that began in 1995, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS, now Department of Education) decided to adopt the Refned Basic Education Curriculum (RBEC) in 2002.  Through Aquino administration the Philippines shifted to a new educational system- The K-12 Program and this reform program, which added two more years to the old basic education system. The new K-12 curriculum guide requires all Filipino students to have one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary schooling (grades 1 to 6), four years of junior high school (grades 7 to 10), and two years of senior high school (grades 11 to 12). 


Despite the many changes to the curriculum, the goals of mathematics education at the basic education level remain more or less the same: “to provide opportunities for individuals to develop skills and attitudes needed for effective participation in everyday living and prepare them for further education and the world of work so that they make worthwhile contributions to the society at large” (Pascua, 1993).

Since Philippines has taken a big leap in improving functional literacy that would help individuals cope with the demands of life. Based on the 2013 Report by the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), the country has registered a 90.3 % rate which means that 9 out of 10 Filipinos are functionally literate.  Furthermore, studies suggests that self-efficacious students participates readily, work harder on math problems and unlikely to have adverse effects in their emotional well-being.

In this note, these studies may sought to convey that students may find significance in Mathematics moreover in regards to its role in real life situations.     Mathematics self-efficacy in mathematics indicates students’ self-belief in their ability to overcome difficulties or obstacles to solving math problems. 

White (2009), identified the three domains of mathematical self-efficacy as a. solving mathematical problems, b. computing everyday life math task and c. performing well in subjects that require mathematical knowledge and mastery.

Memnun ( 2012) states that students’ tolerance of problem solving can be determine by examining his self-efficacy. 


On one hand mathematical efficacy can be linked to students’ engagement to the subject of personal interest. The utility that they feel as using the subject to the day to day real life processes can bring engagement and this might help them render importance to the subject to long term desires and goals.  Students’ cannot particularly enjoy mathematics though he might appreciate the practicality of the skills being learned which can be required within their chosen career (Warwick, 2008).

Moreover, behavioral engagement as it relates to self-efficacy can be accompanied by the students effort in performing well in Mathematics that requires mathematical knowledge and mastery. In Addition, the high level of self-efficacy can encourage perseverance in the face of difficulties and persistence for the completion of a given task.  (Glaister, 2007).

On the other hand, children typically need external guidance to help them choose the later, better reward over the immediate, small reward. This means that delayed gratification is of the essence for positive outcome A person’s ability to delay gratification relates to other similar skills such as patience, impulse control, self-control and willpower, all of which are involved for individual ability to value work and to reap better rewards in the future. Just like the famous “marshmallow test” by Mischel, more success are likely reap by children who waits longer. 

The proven study of Walter Mischel about the delay of gratification states that the degree of people’s ability to delay gratification can be measured at an early age, and can predict later life success. Walter Mischel, an American Psychologist, started in the 1960s and involved what is known as the marshmallow test. In this test, the experimenter gave four-year-old children a marshmallow and told them that they could either eat the marshmallow now, or delay fifteen minutes later until the experimenter got back from doing a task and have two marshmallows.

The children would then have to sit in a room with the marshmallow right in front of them. Some of the children could not resist the urge to do so and ate it before the experimenter returned. Other children displayed delayed gratification and were able to wait for two marshmallows. 

Mischel later on trace that these children and was able to connect their results on this test with success in life more than ten years later. Specifically, children who were able to wait for two marshmallows grew up to be more intelligent, more likely to resist temptation, have better social responsibility, exhibit better ways to cope with life problems like frustration and stress, and strive for higher levels of success in many aspects of life.

Baker (2012) points out that delayed gratification is one of the most effective personal traits of successful people. People that delay gratification are more successful with their career, relationships, health, finances and really, all areas of life. In this essence students who engage themselves in learning Mathematics, exercise patience in solving mathematical problems and believe in themselves that they can succeed the harsh reality of passing the subject whatever the reasons maybe may have better life in the future.

One very hot issue nowadays is students’ retention, it measure’s school performance through the level of retention of students.  Whether student’s retained or drop out of school.  Students’ retention is important especially to stakeholders. However, students’ retention school is the only thing to consider, there is also personal and other external factors which attributes to students’ retention.

Grade retention, or requiring students to repeat a grade, is a controversial issue in education. Grade retention has been the alternative to social promotion where students are promoted from one grade to the next with their peers despite their academic performance.  In the 1860s, it was a common practice to group elementary children by grade levels, with promotion to the next grade level occurring only if mastery of the content had been achieved. Consequently, retention rates I n the 1880s were extremely high, with approximately 70% of all students in any single year being retained (Thomas, 2001). 

During the 1930s, Steiner (1986) concluded social scientists were concerned that grade retention had harmful effects on a child’s social and emotional development, and the practice of social promotion became more prevalent. Goodland (1954) studied grade retention between 1924 and 1948. He found that grade retention had no positive effect on academic performance.

The 1960s and 1970s  saw a pendulum swing further toward social promotion, where students were advanced to the next grade level despite their mastery of grade-level skills. The mood of society during this time was that every child should be equally educated and that the achievement gap had to be narrowed. To this end, President Johnson introduced his Great Society programs and the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965, which earmarked federal dollars for poor children in schools (Young & Adler 2001).

In the 1980s, students were expected to meet higher standards and rigorous testing and graduation requirements; this decade was identified as the back-to-the-basics movement. In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education published.  A Nation at Risk, which blamed America’s economic problems on public education. The report cited poor teaching as a major factor in school failure and called for stricter graduation requirements, higher academic standards, implementation of high-stakes testing, and the use of grade retention for students who were failing.

Retaining students once again became a common practice in public schools. According to Shepard and Smith (1989), retention rates increased from 20% in 1980 to 32% by 1992.  In a 1986 Gallup Poll, 72% of United States citizens preferred more rigorous standards for grade promotion (Fager & Richen, 1999). In the 1990s, President Clinton made it clear that putting an end to social promotion was part of his reform agenda. Individual states put in place their own guidelines for academic excellence. The accountability movement had begun and public schools again became focal points for political issues.

In the State of the Union addresses in 1998 and 1999, Clinton challenged the country to stop promoting children who had not learned the necessary grade level material (Heubert & Hauser, 1999).  In 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act encouraged the pendulum to swing still farther away from social promotion and to support grade retention by pressuring states to use standardized testing as a primary method to measure student academic performance. 

Grade level tests began to determine whether a child was promot ed to the next grade or retained for another year in the same grade (Smik, 2001). Never before had a federal law taken so much authority and put so much pressure on states and schools in educating students. High expectations and accountability had been put in writing; penalties, such as grade retention, were the direct result of this legislation (Dixon, 2005). As educational leaders seesaw between the practices of grade retention and social promotion, the question of why policymakers think that retaining a student is effective is a fundamental issue that should not go unheeded (Wise, 2002). 

(Roper, 2008). Roper found that males were retained more than females, with African American males significantly more likely to be retained than other males.

According to Jimerson et al. (2002), grade retention is the strongest indicator that

a student will drop out of school. A study by Youth in Transition found that students who had repeated a grade before entering high school were 40 % to 50 % more likely to drop out of school (Nicholson, 2005). Dropping out of school is the biggest predictor for low level adult accomplishment (Fine, 1991). According to the National Research Council, students who are retained and drop out of school are more likely to be unemployed, to live on public assistance, or to be in prison (Jimerson & Kaufman, 2003). The National

Association of School Psychologists (1998) found that approximately 50 % of students who repeat a grade end up being placed in special education classes. They reported that, at the secondary level, students who are retained have an increased risk of alcohol, cigarette, and drug use, and an increased risk of violent behaviors (Wise, 2002).  

A study conducted in Florida public schools by Vandecandelaere, Vansteelandt, De Fraine and Van Damme (2016) suggested that retention in the 3rd grade show substantial short-term gains in math & reading.

It is important to note that grade retention has significantly affects the performance of the school thus it is important to understand that it is one of the most controversial topic among educators.  As a researcher, it is important to note determine factors that affects grade retention.

Overlooking these studies as a whole, it can be seen that self-efficacy, engagement and delayed gratification influence human behaviors in many ways especially learning. Describing the effects of student’s efficacy, engagement and delay of gratification in their mathematical retention level and examining that relation is the aim of this study.  

The study examines the aggregated effects of student’s efficacy, engagement and delay of gratification in their mathematical retention level in Grade 6 pupils in the East Zone of Pampanga. The conceptual model of the study that will be utilized in evaluating the aggregated effects of student’s efficacy, engagement and delay of gratification in their mathematical retention level. Students’ efficacy will be assessed in terms of solving Mathematical problems, computing everyday life math task and performing well in subjects that require mathematical knowledge and mastery motivational variables that will influence retention level.

Secondly, students’ engagement will be examines in terms of the following factors: the nature of relationship with the teacher and other students in the class; the perceive relevance of each learning materials; the level of knowledge and skills that students bring into each learning situation and the extent to which students are able to take responsibility for their own learning.

Thirdly, delay of gratification refers to the ability to put off the receipt of a reward in order to gain a better reward late and will be evaluated in terms of individual threshold for delay and the time of delay.  And commonly, retention is defined as the ability to retain something in mind specifically a preservation of after effects of experiences or learning that makes recall or recognition possible and it measures in the level of low, medium and high.


Comments are closed.