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CHAPTER 1
THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTINGS


Introduction

Have you ever heard of left brain-right brain thinkers? Left-brain thinkers are
usually good at Mathematics because they are logical, rational, analytic, objective etc.,
which are aspects of math. While the right-brain thinkers are in English because they are
the people who are more social, linguistic, intuitive, subjective which are aspects of
English. Left-brain is to math, like Right-brain is to English.
People say that they tend to be more of a left-brain or right-brain thinker. Either
we read it from a book or heard it from television programs or people we knew.
According to the theory, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. In
psychology, the theory is based on what is known as the lateralization of brain function.
No matter how lateralized the brain can get, though, the two sides still work together,
science writer Carl Zimmer explained in article for Discover magazine. Its absolutely
true that some brain functions occur in one or the other side of the brain. Language tends
to be on the left, attention more on the right. But people dont tend to have a stronger left-
or right-sided brain network. It seems to be determined more connection by connection,"


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explained the study's lead author Dr. Jeff Anderson. Researchers have demonstrated that
right-brain/left-brain theory is a myth, yet its popularity persists. While often over-
generalized and overstated by popular psychology and self-help texts, understanding your
strengths and weaknesses in certain areas can help you develop better ways to learn and
study. For example, students who have a difficult time following verbal instructions
(often cited as a right-brain characteristic) might benefit from writing down directions
and developing better organizational skills. The study adopted the descriptive-correlation
research in determining the relationship between academic performances in English and
Mathematics to their academic performance in the said course in the college level.
Additionally, this research design was also used in finding out the relationship between
the grades of students in English and Mathematics in the college level. Careful
examination and interpretation of the given questionnaires results can help reveal areas of
relative strength and weakness in student achievement. Results are reported in such a way
as to encourage improved learning and to minimize possible harmful effects of testing for
individual students. The percentage of students who achieve the acceptable standard and
the standard of excellence are reported to enable comparisons of English test results and
Mathematics tests results.

Theoretical Framework

If you're "right-brained": creative, artistic, an open-minded thinker who perceives
things in subjective terms. Or perhaps you're a "left-brained" person, where you're
analytical, good at tasks that require attention to detail, and more logically minded.


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It turns out, though, that this idea of "brained-ness" might be more of a figure of speech
than anything, as researchers have found that these personality traits may not have
anything to do with which side of the brain you use more.

Researchers from the University of Utah found with brain imaging that people don't use
the right sides of their brains any more than the left sides of their brains, or vice versa.
"It's absolutely true that some brain functions occur in one or the other side of the brain.
Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right. But people dont tend to
have a stronger left- or right-sided brain network. It seems to be determined more
connection by connection," study researcher Jeff Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., said in a
statement.
Anderson and his colleagues, who published their new study in the journal PLOS ONE,
looked at brain scans from 1,011 people between ages 7 and 29. All the study participants
were part of the International Neuroimaging Data-Sharing Initiative, and they had their
brain scans taken with a functional connectivity MRI while their brains were in a resting
state for five to 10 minutes.
Researchers looked for something called "lateralization," which is the idea that certain
mental processes occur mainly in either the right or left hemisphere of the brain. They
divvied up the brain into 7,000 regions, to see if any brain connections between regions
were left-lateralized or right-lateralized.
"Everyone should understand the personality types associated with the terminology 'left-
brained' and 'right-brained' and how they relate to him or her personally; however, we
just don't see patterns where the whole left-brain network is more connected or the whole


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right-brain network is more connected in some people," study researcher Jared Nielsen, a
graduate student in neuroscience at the university, said in the statement. "It may be that
personality types have nothing to do with one hemisphere being more active, stronger, or
more connected."
According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, each side of the brain
controls different types of thinking. Additionally, people are said to prefer one type of
thinking over the other. For example, a person who is "left-brained" is often said to be
more logical, analytical, and objective, while a person who is "right-brained" is said to be
more intuitive, thoughtful, and subjective.
In psychology, the theory is based on what is known as the lateralization of brain
function. So does one side of the brain really control specific functions? Are people either
left-brained or right-brained? Like many popular psychology myths, this one grew out of
observations about the human brain that were then dramatically distorted and
exaggerated.
Later research has shown that the brain is not nearly as dichotomous as once thought. For
example, recent research has shown that abilities in subjects such as math are actually
strongest when both halves of the brain work together. Today, neuroscientists know that
the two sides of the brain work together to perform a wide variety of tasks and that the
two hemispheres communicate through the corpus collosum.
"No matter how lateralized the brain can get, though, the two sides still work together,"
science writer Carl Zimmer explained in an article for Discover magazine. "The pop


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psychology notion of a left brain and a right brain doesnt capture their intimate working
relationship. The left hemisphere specializes in picking out the sounds that form words
and working out the syntax of the words, for example, but it does not have a monopoly
on language processing. The right hemisphere is actually more sensitive to the emotional
features of language, tuning in to the slow rhythms of speech that carry intonation and
stress."
In one study by researchers at the University of Utah, more 1,000 participants had their
brains analyzed in order to determine if they preferred using one side over the other. The
study revealed that while activity was sometimes higher in certain important regions,
both sides of the brain were essentially equal in their activity on average.
Its absolutely true that some brain functions occur in one or the other side of the brain.
Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right. But people dont tend to
have a stronger left- or right-sided brain network. It seems to be determined more
connection by connection," explained the study's lead author Dr. Jeff Anderson.





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CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE


Related Literature

It is concluded that that positive self concept and self perception does improve the
motivation level of students which consequently increase achievement levels. It is also
concluded that male students are lagging behind in their level of motivation and
achievement and they also have less positive self concept as compared to girls. The
findings reported in this study justify the importance of motivation to academic
performance and of self concept and achievement. The findings have implications for the
teachers of English and mathematics that they should focus on and carry out motivational
strategies to involve students in academic activities for improving their grades and overall
performance in the subjects. Teachers must make it clear to students, about the types of
goals they should set for themselves and should make the students focus on mastering
skills and behavior change rather than memorizing material. Teachers need teaching
strategies that reduce academic gender differences. They need to encourage all students
to achieve to their potential and to provide them with emotional and academic support
when needed. Teachers must appreciate students for their achievements whether
inconsequential or most important as children who perceive that their teachers said
positive things to them have higher self-concepts. There must be a close relationship


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between teachers and students because when the students like a teacher they experience
motivational and achievement benefits (Montalvo, Mansfield, and Miller, 2007).
Language and communication are essential elements of teaching and learning
mathematics, and this is evident from research carried out in bi/multilingual settings.
Mathematics itself is a type of formal language. The mathematics register is more than
just vocabulary and technical terms. It also contains words, phrases and methods of
arguing within a given situation. This register is conveyed through the use of natural
language and each language has its own mathematics register. Mathematics is not
language free and due to its particular vocabulary, syntax and discourse it can cause
problems for students learning it in a second language. There are conflicting views about
the learning of mathematics in a second language at all levels of education. Some studies
have found positive correlations with learning mathematics in a second language and
academic achievement. On the other hand, submersion programmers have demonstrated
that bilingual students underachieve in mathematics when the school language is different
from their home language (Planas, 2009).

Interest in gender-related differences in academic performance has been
stimulated by concerns about the failure of female students to achieve their academic
potential. Most recently, these concerns have focused on age-related declines in female
performance in the areas of math and science. The most widely reported findings in this
area suggest that girls tend to do better than boys in English and that boy tend to excel in
math. The literature also indicates that there are age-related differences in these male and
female performance patterns. For example, a longitudinal study of student performance


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on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills found that in the 4
th
, 6
th
, 8
th
, and 11
th
grades, females
scored significantly higher than males in English. However, early female superiority on
math achievement tests disappeared by the end of the high school years (Kathryn R.
Wentzel, 2000).
A dependency test between mathematics achievement and English proficiency
shows that good mastering of English is needed to nurture and understand of mathematics
to achieve excellent results. Furthermore, low English proficiency resulted in students
experiencing a shortage in mathematics learning and obtained a lower grade in
mathematics. Mathematics is a natural language involving certain vocabulary, syntax,
logic and reasoning. The skills to understand the mathematical language need to be
learned in the native language and the mother tongue is also a precursor to excellence in
learning mathematics using a second language (S.H. Jaaman, 2008).

The lower mathematics achievement levels of minority students may be indicative
of the curriculum and instruction that these students receive. Data collected on
instructional practices differences between how minority and white students are taught.
The NAEP data suggest that many minority students are not experiencing instructional
practices consistent with the recommendations suggested by the National Council
Teachers of Mathematics. Trends in the mathematics achievement suggest that the gap
between some minority and White students persists and may even be widening. Attitude
towards mathematics, readiness, and motivation are student characteristics used by
researchers to account for the achievement gap in mathematics (Robert Q. Berry III,
2005).


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Related Studies

The initial investigation of the English language basis of mathematical
understanding of undergraduate mathematics students used a test that presents
mathematical questions using five different modes: general English text; mathematical
technical text; symbols; diagrams; and graphs. Four mathematical concepts were chose,
each of which should be understandable by first year undergraduate mathematics
students. A short question testing understanding of this concept was written in each of the
five modes. The general English text mode uses words predominantly from the 2000
most frequently occurring words, while the technical text mode uses specialized language
that students at this level should understand. Both these modes use a minimum of
numbers or symbols. No text at all is used for the symbolic, diagrammatic and graphical
modes (Bill Barton, 2003).
All studies reported that students in general performed worse than the
teachers/lecturers anticipated. There was evidence from interviews that, contrary to
assumptions, some students did not have the background required for senior levels of
mathematics. The language features causing difficulties varied across the studies, and
appear to depend on the mathematical level as well as the home language and English
language proficiency levels. Vocabulary on its own is not the big issue that was
anticipated. However, it was a component of the difficulty experienced with
understanding mathematical discourse as a whole. Prepositions and word order were key
features causing problems at all levels. So also were logical structures such as


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implication, conditionals, and negation, both at senior secondary and third-year university
levels. Mathematics couched in everyday contexts caused the expected problems (Pip
Neville-Barton, 2005).
Longitudinal causal models of growth in Math and English constructs (school
grades, standardized tests, academic self-concept, affect and coursework selection) were
based on three waves of data from the large (N = 24,599). Math and English self-
concepts had significant path coefficients leading to subsequent school grades,
coursework selection, and standardized test scores. Unlike previous studies that did not
consider Math and English constructs in the same model, we found these relations to be
very domain specific. Girls had higher scores for all English constructs and Math school
grades, but they had lower Math self-concepts. Whereas similar studies conducted over
the past 20 years found diminishing gender differences, these data show relative gains for
girls in achievement and coursework selection for both Mathematics and English. Path
coefficients relating prior Math and English constructs to subsequent outcomes, however,
were similar for boys and girls. Hence, the extreme domain specificity of relations
between prior self-concept and subsequent outcomes was similar for boys and girls
(Herbert W. Marsh, 2012).
In view of the findings of this study it is enough to conclude that proficiency in
English language is strongly related to students academic performance in science and
technical education. It is therefore very important to always ensure that students who are
admitted into these courses have good English language proficiency. It was also observed
that students in technical education performed better than students in science education;


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however, it might be difficult to generalize this finding unless further study is carried out
on it. Students in technical education are better than those in science education because
their mean scores are higher than those of science education in the same English language
examinations (Jacob Kola Aina, 2012).
The study found that preschoolers (who because of their young age have not yet
learned basic math) who have a good inherent number sense also do better on tests that
predict mathematical ability. Number sense is a primitive and inborn sense that, for
example, helps you determine at a glance how many people are in movie theatre. The
relationship between number sense and math ability is important intriguing because we
believe that number sense is universal, whereas math ability has been thought to be
highly dependent on culture and language and takes many years to teach (Melissa
Libertus, 2011).