The Relevance Of Mathematics To Learning of Physics in Secondary Schools

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Mathematics is an essential part of Physics. It plays an important role in physics research as well as in learning physics. It can be a useful tool or a barrier too high to overcome for some of our students. Only recently this aspect of learning physics has been given more attention. The study presented here makes a contribution to this field of research by providing a view on the relevance of mathematics in (learning) physics. 
To know about relevance of mathematics in learning physics secondary school students and physics teacher have been surveyed. 
Title page
Approval Page
Table of contents

Background of the study
Statement of Problem
Purpose of study
Significance of the study                                                    
Research questions                                                            
Limitation of the study 
Definition of terms                                                  

Mathematics as a Subject                                                                                                 
History of mathematics                                    
Physics as a Subject
History of Physics                                                         
Relationship between mathematics and physics
Role of Mathematics in Physics

Design of the study 
Area of study
Population of the study
Sample and sampling technique
Instrument for data collection
Validation of the Instrument
Reliability of the instrument
Methods of data collection
Methods of data analysis 
The judgment of decision rule

Research question 1                                                    
Research question 2 
Research question 3  
Research question 4 
Research question 5

Principal findings
Suggested area for future study
Prior to 1859, no science was taught in any school in Nigeria. At the establishment of the first senior secondary School (the C.M.S Grammar School, Lagos) in Nigeria in 1859, arithmetic, algebra, geometry and physiology were introduced into the school curriculum (Omolewa, 1977; Adeyemo, 2003). A number of Secondary and Teacher training institutions were founded between 1859 and 1929, and their curriculum were science subjects friendly. These science subjects include astronomy, chemistry, physiology, geology and botany. Omolewa, (1977) reported that science teaching and learning suffered in the hands of teachers and students: entry and performance at external examinations were very poor.
When the Phelps-Strokes funded education commission visited West Africa in 1920, it found that the state of science education was deficient, consequently, a strong recommendation for the inclusion of science subjects in the curriculum of all secondary schools was made. Even then, very competent science teachers were available in a few schools for a long time, “the provision for, and method of teaching science were very unsatisfactory” (Omolewa, 1977, Adeyemo, 2003).
Before 1960, classics and arts subjects were emphasized in most Nigeria secondary schools; general science was being taught in lower forms of secondary schools. The government and mission schools taught biology, chemistry and physics in the senior forms presumably due to availabilities of science teachers and equipment. Health science was taught and taken at the school certificate examination as an alternative to biology in the final year of the secondary school course. The science content in schools was dictated by an external examination board (London Universities Examinations Syndicates) with little or no regards to peculiarities in Nigeria (Ivowi, 1984; Adeyemo, 2009). Science teaching and learning in schools was in fact a privilege. The ministry of education inspected and recommended schools for recognition of their science teaching and learning and for West African Examination Council's (WAEC) approval to present candidates for science subjects at the school certificate examinations. In most cases, the order of approval was usually biology, chemistry and physics, in a few cases; a school had approval for the three science subjects at the same time (Ivowi, 1983; Adeyemo, 2003).

The attainment of political independence in 1960 marked the start of a new era in a number of activities in Nigeria. Modification on the basis of nationalism became a common feature soon after 1960. In education, more institutions were established to cope with the increased demand for formal learning with special emphasis on increased demand for formal learning with special emphasis on science teaching and learning especially at the secondary school level. The numbers of courses available in our educational institutions were increased and these courses were made more relevant to the needs of the country. In particular, science, agriculture and technical courses began to acquire their due position in the scheme of things. By the end of the first ten years of independent Nigeria curriculum development movements became established and concrete efforts at innovations had begun to manifest their reality (Ivowi, 1984).
Physics has been found to be the bedrock of scientific and technological development worldwide in both developed and developed countries alike. Physics is perceives to be a difficult course because of the abstract nature of physics. In teaching the course, the guided discovery method of teaching was highly emphasized whereby the lesson is typified with experimentation questioning and discussion. Interface between physics and mathematics cannot be overemphasized in the teaching of physics. Some of the existing difficulties between mathematics and physics would seem to arise from two main sources which are:
i.Unsymmetrical nature of the two disciplines. Physics cannot exist without mathematics. 
ii.Introduction of new mathematics without any real consideration of its effect on the teaching of physics 
The above posed problems not only to the teachers but even also to the students who are the recipients of what is being taught by the teachers.
In fact, physics teachers these days often complain that their students cannot estimate, cannot calculate with approximate numbers, cannot use ratios and proportions, cannot use decimals, cannot read graphs and not know how and when to make approximations. The difficulties of students in applying mathematics to physics may not be solely the result of the 'new' mathematics. These difficulties may have grown worse in recent years for a variety of reasons, with the 'new' mathematics being only one of several.
This work look into relevance of mathematics in teaching/learning physics and suggests ways to improve learning of physics in secondary schools.

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Ugwu, A. (2018). The Relevance Of Mathematics To Learning of Physics in Secondary Schools. Afribary. Retrieved from

MLA 8th

Ugwu, Anderson "The Relevance Of Mathematics To Learning of Physics in Secondary Schools" Afribary. Afribary, 29 Jan. 2018, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.


Ugwu, Anderson . "The Relevance Of Mathematics To Learning of Physics in Secondary Schools". Afribary, Afribary, 29 Jan. 2018. Web. 24 Feb. 2024. < >.


Ugwu, Anderson . "The Relevance Of Mathematics To Learning of Physics in Secondary Schools" Afribary (2018). Accessed February 24, 2024.