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Education Quarterly June 2011, Vol. 1 No. 2. Pp 31-36. Dean's Office Faculty of education Tribhuvan University Kritipur

Analysis of Student Attitude in Thesis Writing in Mathematics Education
Dr. Indra Kumari Bajracharya
Abstract
The objective of this paper is to analyse student attitudes towards thesis writing at the Masters' level in mathematics education. Altogether 65 students were selected as samples in this study. For the collection of data, a Liket type five-point attitude scale was developed which contains 32 items. The reliability of the test is 0.87, and the validity of the attitude test was determined by means of judgments. The obtained data was analyzed using SPSS packet program. The result shows that students have strongly agreed that thesis writing needs to be included as complementary part of M. Ed. in mathematics. It helps students in the future career as well as ongoing studies.

Introduction Thesis writing is one of the courses for Masters' degree in mathematics education in the faculty of Education at Tribhuvan University. The aim of this course is to develop practical skills to carry out different kinds of research works in the field of mathematics education. Students not only learn about theoretical aspects of research but also learn various practical components of research and its implementation. Thesis is a proposition, affirmation, or assertion that can occur in literature, rhetoric, science, mathematics, or even everyday talk. Thesis writing is not just a necessary task; it is a prerequisite to grant certain degree. Moreover, it has become a prerequisite to fulfill Master’s level courses. Thesis writing concerns with a problem or series of problems in the area of concern. It should describe what was known about it previously, and where and how further progress in the field can be made. During the writing stage ideas are generated and conclusion is drawn. Skills acquired during the process of selection of material, analysis of information, assessment of ideas and written communication will be valuable throughout the career. Thesis writing is a substantial task, which requires a lot of serious efforts. Students may not have undertaken writing tasks in such a magnitude previously. In most cases, it is unlikely
Dr. Indra Kumari Bajracharya is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics Education, Tribhuvan University, Mahendra Ratna Multiple Campus, Tahachal, Kathmandu.

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that students offer thesis writing as part of their courses. Therefore, it is recommended to seek guidance as students plan to offer thesis writing. They can seek preliminary advice from Professors, academicians and perhaps from fellow students who have successfully completed theses writing. The trend of student enrollment in Masters' degree in mathematics education is ever increasing. Each year, a large number of students are offering in thesis writing as a prerequisite course. But they face difficulties in carrying out thesis writing properly. Students face several problems while writing thesis. It is always confusing for students to identify a research problem. They also have difficulty to write a research proposal. Since they don’t pay much attention on theoretical aspect of research, their knowledge of research is almost non-existent. They have problem with commencing review of relevant literature as required. Above all, not to able to solicit proper attention and guidance from the supervisor is yet another problem. These are pertinent problems that student face during thesis writing. This causes students' negative attitudes and feelings towards thesis writing. These negative attitudes effects showed in students' writings performances and some students couldn't complete thesis. Attitude plays most important role in writing a thesis. Thesis writing develops students' practical writing skills to carry out different kinds of researches in the field of mathematics education. There is substantial relationship between students’ attitude towards thesis writing and their perception on its benefit. But no comprehensive study has been undertaken yet regarding the attitudes of Master’s degree students on thesis writing in mathematics education. Thus, for better understanding of student attitude on thesis writing, it requires a thorough analysis of existing situation. Objective of This Study The objective of the proposed research is to analyse student attitude on thesis writing at the Masters' level in mathematics education. Methodology This paper is designed according to survey research method. Samples were selected from among the students of M. Ed. in mathematics education to collect data. Tools were developed and a test was conducted. Sampling For the purpose of collection of required data, Kirtipur Campus and Mahendra Ratna Campus were selected because these two campuses offer M. Ed. in mathematics education. Therefore, the department has been concerned with writing thesis. These campuses were

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selected purposively. The sample students were selected by using incidental sampling technique. Those students were selected who were involved in proposal presentation and thesis presentation in the data collection period. Therefore altogether 65 M. Ed. students were included student samples. Tool Attitude test was the main tool for collection of required data. But there is no any attitude test previously designed for this type of research. Therefore, the research has developed a new attitude test. An attitude test form was prepared under the following themes: • • • • • • • • Express the feeling about the thesis writing course, The need to include thesis writing course in the M. Ed. programme, The role of thesis writing in the students’ future career, Student attitude toward thesis writing, Students' confidence to do thesis writing, The role of thesis writing in the profession, Perceptions of thesis supervisor's involvement, and Perceptions of time and weightage needed in thesis writing.

The attitude test was constructed using the Likert method of summated ratings - strongly agrees, agrees, neutral, disagrees and strongly disagrees with each statement was constructed and necessary instructions were included in it. The split half method was used to compute the reliability coefficient of the present attitude test. The reliability of the test was 0.87. Similarly, the content validity of the attitude test developed for this study was determined by means of judgments. Data Collection and Analysis Procedure The researcher visited departments in both the campuses at the time of proposal presentation to observe and collect data from students. The researcher met students who presented their research proposals. They were explained about the nature and purpose of the research and then the attitude test form was distributed. They were given guidelines to respond questions in the attitude test form. For the purpose of analysis, all the test papers were checked and number was assigned to every statement according to pre-determined answering keys. The data was finally entered in the SPSS for analysis.

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Results and Discussion In the first stage, the descriptive statistics was calculated. In the second stage, respondents' attitude on each statement was calculated by percentage. Description of Samples Altogether 65 students who were involved in thesis writing in mathematics education were taken as samples in this study. Among them, 41 (63%) students completed thesis and remaining 24 (37%) did not complete yet. Altogether 25 (38%) students were from Mahendra Ratna Campus and 40 (62%) students were selected from the Central Campus at Kirtipur. Only 2 (3%) among them were girls but they have completed thesis writing already. Attitudes of Students The aim to offer thesis writing course is intended to develop practical skill to carry out researches in mathematics education. No doubt that it is very essential for M. Ed. Students. So, student attitude on thesis writing in mathematics has been analysed in this paper. For this purpose, a Liket type five-point attitude test comprising of 32 statements was administered to 65 students. Upon the administration of the test, scores obtained by each participant was calculated. Then, score of each participant was obtained for test and for each of eight components. From scores of all sample participants, frequency and percentage was calculated. It results are discussions are given accordingly: Express the Feeling about the Thesis Writing The first statement of questionnaire is related to express feelings about thesis writing course in general. This section has three questions which intended to measure if Masters' degree students perceive thesis-writing course as (i) Easy (ii) Necessary or (iii) Interesting. Altogether, 65% of respondents feel thesis writing difficult and 34% students have no such feeling rather they took it very easy in general. Secondly, 91% of students felt the course necessary. But 1.5% students responded that thesis writing is not necessary at all. Finally, 83% of students are of opinion that thesis writing is an interesting subject. We can conclude on the basis of data analysis that thesis writing in general, is interesting and necessary but difficult. Need to Include Thesis Writing as a Course in M. Ed. Programme The second statement of the attitude scale has three questions – 1. 2. Thesis writing should be complementary part of M. Ed course Thesis writing course should be optional, and

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3.

Thesis writing M. Ed should be a non-credit course.

Altogether 91% of total respondents viewed that thesis writing should be complementary in M. Ed, 48% stated that thesis writing course should be optional and 31% favoured to make it a non-credit course. Therefore, it is concluded that thesis writing needs to make complementary in the M. Ed. It is not recommended to make it a non-credit course. Role of Thesis Writing in Future Career of Students The third statements of the attitude scale has four questions 1. 2. 3. 4. Thesis writing course imparts necessary professional skills for math teachers. Teaching and research are so related that separating one from the other teaching career incomplete. Interested in doing research at some time during teaching job so as to make more professional, and Thesis writing helps in for further studies such as M. Phil and Ph. D. The questions in this section support respondents' view that skill in research further helps in academic activities. Regarding the positive role of thesis writing in future career, 89% believe that it imparts necessary professional skills for math teachers, 83% are of opinion that teaching and research are so interconnected that separating one from the other creates incompleteness in one’s teaching career. 89% of the respondents had experience of research at some point during their teaching career so as to make more professional. On the other hand 98% are of opiniion that it helps students for further studies in various programmes. Student Attitudes on Thesis Writing Another statement on attitude test has six statements 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Enjoy discussing or listening about research, Enjoy reading literatures on the mathematics education, Find people who do research are very interesting to listen to, Enjoy normally working on a research project, Need to learn more on research for my future career and There must be an award system for best thesis to encourage students to pursue research in mathematics education. This section intended to elicit attitude of M. Ed. Student on thesis writing and engage in research activities. Altogether 91% of the respondents stated that they enjoy discussing or listening to discussions about research methods. Similarly, 84% of them enjoy reading research papers in mathematics education; and 43% of the student samples found interesting to listen

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experience of people who pursued research. In the same way, 74% responded that they enjoy normally working on research projects. 40% held a view that they need to learn more on research for future career. 71% of them are of opinion that there must be an award system for best theses to encourage students in to offer thesis writing in mathematics education. Confidence Level to Do Thesis Writing The statement of students' confidence to do thesis writing test has four statements. These statements are 1. 2. 3. 4. Ability to select a researchable topic in mathematics education for research, Adequately known about research methodology to bring into use in research in mathematics education, Confident in ability to design a simple research project in mathematics education, and Ability to evaluate research findings to apply in teaching mathematics. This section explores the confidence level of M. Ed students who offer thesis writing in understanding, designing and evaluating research in relation to teaching mathematics. The total percentage of respondents who were confident in their ability to select a researchable topic in mathematics education is 84%. Among them, 74% have adequate knowledge of research methodology to bring it into use in research in mathematics education. 71% of them were confident in ability to design a simple research project; and again 74% of the respondents were confident to analyse research findings in terms to apply in teaching mathematics. Role of Thesis Writing in Teaching Career This section was designed to elicit attitude level concerning the role of thesis writing in teaching profession. There were three statements in this section 1. 2. 3. Thesis writing is important for identifying and investigating problems in different aspects of mathematics education, Thesis writing is important in improving classroom practices, and Thesis writing is important in the recognition and development of mathematics teaching. The percentage of scores obtained from the Student attitude on the role of thesis writing is calculated accordingly. There were 96% of the students who responded thesis writing to be important for identifying and investigating problems in different stages of mathematics education. 77% of them said it as important in improving classroom practices. Similarly, 85% of

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respondents expressed their views that thesis writing is important in the recognition and development of their skill in teaching mathematics. About the Role of Supervisor in Thesis Writing This section deals with respondents' perception on the role of thesis supervisor in supporting thesis writing activities. This attitude test has four statements such as 1. 2. 3. 4. Supervisors lay higher emphasis on thesis writing, Supervisors encourage students in thesis writing giving suggestions right starting from the stage of proposal writing, Supervisors provide ample time for research students to address queries related to the research project, and For producing a quality thesis, supervisor's cooperation is most essential and students can't complete thesis writing without the cooperation of the supervisor. The percentage of scores obtained from the perceptions of respondents on supervisor’s involvement in supporting thesis writing, there were altogether 86% of students who responded that supervisors place greater emphasis on thesis writing. 88% agreed that supervisor encourages students in thesis writing giving suggestions from the development phase of research proposal. 57% of them expected that supervisors provide ample time for students to address queries related to research and the theme. 92% believe that supervisor's cooperation is most essential for producing a quality thesis, and 87% viewed that it is not possible to complete thesis writing without the cooperation of the supervisor. Perceptions on Time and weightage Needed in Thesis Writing The last section of the attitude test deals with the perception of respondents on time and weightage needed in thesis writing. It has four statements – 1. 2. 3. 4. Duration of thesis writing must be fixed and limited, Thesis writing as a course should be started after completion of first year M. Ed., Weightage on thesis writing must bear 100 marks, and Separate weightage must be given to statistics and theoretical courses to carry out research project producing a thesis. The percentage of scores obtained from this section of test helps to design the course in a practical manner. As data is calculated, al together 66% said that duration of thesis writing must be fixed and limited. Another 66% expected thesis writing should be started after completion of first year M. Ed. 80% among them are in favour of providing thesis writing bearing 100 marks

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weightage. Another 80% expected separate weightage should be given to statistics and theoretical courses for the preparation to carry out research project. Conclusion The paper based on the field research concludes that students' attitude about thesiswriting is very interesting and also necessary to focus while restructuring the syllabus. No doubt that thesis writing is a difficult requirement for M. Ed. students. However, students have positive attitude on thesis writing. Similarly, students have strongly emphasized that thesis writing is needed to include as a complementary part of M. Ed. in mathematics education. This course helps students in their career and also supportive in pursuing further education such as M. Phil and ph. D. The respondents have positive attitude in the role of thesis writing skills in academic profession. For producing a quality thesis, supervisor's cooperation is essential. The weightage of thesis writing course must be of 100 marks and separate weightage must be given statistics and theoretical courses.
References

Best, John W. (1985). Research and Education. New York: Prentice Hall. Blaxter Loraine et. al, (1996), How to Research.Philadelphia: Open University Press. Bhomi (2000). Effectiveness of Adult Education Programme in Nepal A proposed Model for rural areas, Unpublished Ph. D Dissertation. Punjab University. Ewards, A.L(1969). Techniques of attitude test construction, Bombay: Vakils Feffer and Simons. Freeman, Frank S. (1962). Theory and Practice of Psychological Testing, New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing. Kerlinger, Fred. N. (1973). Foundations of Behavioral Research. New Delhi: Surjeet Publication. Nunnally J. C (1981). Psychometric theory. New Delhi; Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Meece, J. L., Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (1990). ‘Predictors of Math Anxiety and Its Influence on Young Adolescents’ Course Enrollment Intentions and Performance in Mathematics.’ Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 60-70. Papanastasiou Elena C. (2005) Factor Structure of the “Attitudes Toward Research” Test, 6 Statistics Education Research Journal, 4(1), 16-26, www.stat.auckland. ac. nz/serj

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