Interest in maths fades as pupils age

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 December, 1998, 12:00am

Most primary pupils love maths but lose interest as they get older, according to figures released yesterday.

Some pupils admitted to copying answers from classmates.

And while most younger children said they had understood what they were taught only a small percentage of older students did so.

The disclosures came as part of research intended to help a revamp of the maths curriculum, which has been unchanged for 13 years.

The Education Department commissioned the Chinese University to seek views from students, parents, employers and teachers.

An interim report released yesterday showed reforms were necessary.

About 9,000 students from Primary Three, Primary Six, and Forms Three, Four and Six were interviewed.

The results showed interest in the subject decreased as pupils moved up the system.

Some 65 per cent of Primary Three students said they liked attending maths lessons, but only 31 per cent of Primary Six students said so.

About 22 per cent, 26 per cent and 28 per cent of Form Three, Form Four and Form Six students were interested.

When asked whether they understood what they had learned, 54 per cent of Primary Three pupils answered yes, but only 12.3 per cent of Form Six students said so.

Just under 16 per cent of Primary Six students admitted they had no qualms about copying answers from their classmates, while 10 per cent of Form Four students said they would simply give up on the questions.

About 6,500 parents were interviewed. Most said they did not know how to help their children with maths.

Researcher Dr Wong Ngai-ying, lecturer in Chinese University's department of curriculum and instruction, said: 'We are very concerned about our students showing less and less interest in maths as they are promoted to senior classes.

'Maths is more than doing calculation. It trains logical thinking and ways of solving problems.

'Our students should not only be able to speak fluent Chinese and English but also know how to think logically.' Dr Wong said students found learning difficult because teaching was boring and the curriculum complicated.

He said researchers would later seek views from teachers.

Results will be submitted to the department, which hopes to finalise a new maths curriculum in 2001.