Abstract |
Since students spend a majority of time outside of school each day it is reasonable to expect many factors greatly influence learning in school. This research attempts to examine the relationship between home environment and mathematics proficiency. The following factors will be examined and compared to results of the Connecticut Mastery Test and the California Achievement Test. 1) PERIODICALS - number of books, magazines, and newspapers in a household that are age appropriate. 2) HOMEWORK - amount of time spent on mathematics homework during a given week (Monday - Friday.) 3) TELEVISION - amount of time spent watching television during a given week (Monday - Friday) In 1986, NCTM did a study involving 7th graders and their feeling about math. Of those surveyed 55% said they liked math, 60 % said they were good at math, and 51% found math easy. Yet a large percent of Connecticut students fail to perform at grade level. The obvious question then seems to arise, Why is there a large emphasis placed on Connecticut students doing well on the mathematics portion of the mastery test? Looking back at the 1986 study one might ask, does liking math act as an indicator that students will do well, or are there greater outside influences? Family stability, close friendships and stable neighborhoods may have the greatest influences on mathematics achievement. When students are provided with role models, offered advice, comfort and security then self-esteem is high, therefore, so is achievement. Adolescence physically change more than at any other time in their lives. Physical, hormonal and cognitive changes occur at the same time that students are trying to understand who they are becoming. What teachers and students do in schools determines how much learning takes place. Many student behaviors may be viewed as manifestations of a large number of hard to measure influences in the learning and interest in math. In order to enrich the "curriculum of the home" parents should provide books, supplies and a special place for studying. Reading is a basic life skill. It is a cornerstone for a child's success in school and, indeed throughout life. Reading begins in the home. A good reader skillfully integrates information in the text with what already known. Students who read a lot make greater gains on reading achievement tests. They tend to come from homes in which there are plenty of books or opportunities to visit the library. Homework seems to be in the hot seat, especially in the west. Homework is most useful when teachers carefully prepare the assignment, thoroughly explain it and give comments when it is completed. Homework is a useful tool to gain experiences in directions, making judgments and comparisons. Students tend to develop responsibility and self-discipline that transfer to other aspects of their lives. Most research on homework deals with the amount of homework in general, not on any one subject. Homework has been found to boost achievement because total time spent studying influences how much is learned. Many parents and teachers blame television for low grades and low scores on tests. Some studies show higher achievement with more TV viewing, while others found lower and still others found no relationship. There seems to be a difference at different ages however. Almost all research has found that older children, beyond the 4th grade, who watch TV a great deal tend to have lower social achievement. Television can serve many purposes: time-filler, tranquilizer, problem-solver, procrastination device, punishment or even a reward. (SIC). But as with anything, excessive viewing can have an adverse effect on school achievement. The interesting part of my research findings is that achievement has actually increased with moderate amounts of TV watching, that is the more TV, the better the subject did on school related tests, up to two hour of viewing a day that is. Parents, teacher, friends, and relatives can play an important role in the education of a student. Family expectations, encouragement, and participation in student learning can have a powerful influence that one carries throughout life. The ultimate goal of research in mathematics education is to improve learning and teaching. Students should be encouraged to not only master the essential skills and concepts, but develop confidence and value math as a discipline. Students who value math often appreciate its relevance to daily life. Since the early eighties we, in Connecticut have seen a larger emphasis placed on scoring well on mastery tests. This research shows how outside factors can positively or negatively effect achievement efforts and provide insights on changes. Gideon Welles School in Glastonbury is currently beginning to place emphasis on better preparing students for mastery tests that they will be taking during the following school year, which is more than 5 months away. One must often stop and look back at the original intent of mastery tests, and try not to let them drive us so much. The Connecticut Mastery test, a criterion reference test was originally established for schools to have students master a set of statewide standards, but when many of the schools in Connecticut are closely examined these goals are much different from those established by curriculums in various cities and towns. Quite simply, this research study help to demonstrate that outside conditions have impacts on learning. The research shows to what extent homework, reading material and time spent watching television has on mastery test scores. These results will be published so parents and students can see how to successfully provide opportunities to raise future test scores. The research design that I used had some limiting factors that affected the study. Some factors that had the greatest impact on the study were the reliability of the subjects' responses. Students were asked to complete surveys, keep a television viewing log, and keep track of time spent on completing mathematics homework. Since student test scores were used as comparisons the scores had to be available. Some factors that effected their availability were: students exempt from testing, students who previously lived in another state, students who speak English as a second language (ESOL), and special education factors that affect test taking. Profile of students/school participating in research: Suburban middle school (7/8 grade), 7th Graders, 100 Students, 7 Day Period, Study Halls, 100 staff members, 1 Principal and 1 Assistant, 3 Guidance Counselors, 7 Special education teachers, 2 Library Aides. Students were in homogeneous achievement groups. There are many offerings at Gideon Welles which include: 3 Foreign Languages (Russian, French, Spanish), Library Media Center, Extensive After School Program, Reading is Remedial (2 years below grade level), Special education students were mainstreamed whenever possible, special education teachers teamed with regular education teachers, math and English tutorial sessions, and exploring adolescence classes. In order to conduct the research the following objectives were met: 1. Connecticut Mastery Test Scores, and California Achievement. Test Scores were obtained from student files. 2. Students were surveyed on periodicals in their home 3. Students were asked to keep a television viewing log 4. Students were asked to record the amount of time spent on completing mathematics homework 5. Results were tallied and the information typed into a database 6. Results were computed using the Mini Tab Program The statistical method I applied to my research was multiple regression. The statistical techniques were computed individually for each independent variable and then as a group. A comparative analysis of the differences among the variables was also performed. The following procedures were followed: Students were asked to keep a journal of time spent watching television for a one week period, Monday through Friday; Students were asked to record the amount of time it took to complete math homework for a given day in a week. Students were asked to complete a reading list survey for the amount of reading materials that are age appropriate in their homes. These materials are broken down into sections, periodicals, magazines, and newspapers. The above materials were collected and each student was assigned a random number. The data was then entered into a database and the Mini tab program used as a form of statistical analysis. Student data was looked at individually and as a group. Each condition of outside learning was looked at as an independent variable and compared to the CMT score, which is the dependent variable. Suggestions for improvement was explored and possible published suggestions for parents, students and educators. |