WORD PROBLEMS IN ALGEBRA: NIGERIAN JUNIOR SECONDARY ONE STUDENTS’ EXPERIENCE

O. Ladele

Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Lagos (NIGERIA)
Word problems are known to foster mathematical literacy as they depend upon an understanding the language of the text, mathematical language and the relevant mathematical concepts for correct solutions to them. Algebra is a very important aspect of mathematics and it is basic to many applied sciences as well. Thus, students’ exposure and understanding of how to solve word problems in algebra is crucial for further work in mathematics and many sciences. Through the theme ‘algebraic processes’ in the Nigerian Junior Secondary School curriculum, algebra is formally introduced to students at the Junior Secondary School One level. The fact that Nigerian secondary school students are still English Language Learners cannot be ignored and this could impact their problem-solving ability. The results at the terminal classes do not often reveal the happenings in the previous classes particularly at the students’ first point of formal contact with algebra and algebra word problems. One hundred and eighty-one students from two public and two private schools in Lagos State, Nigeria solved some algebra word problems. The results revealed that not more than 10% of all the students correctly answered the two questions reported in this paper. Building on this performance, this paper argues for a more focused approach to the teaching of word problems in Nigerian junior secondary schools.