A year long study of maths learning among middle-school students (those studying in classes 6-10) has revealed that a majority of students have poor comprehension skills, which directly contribute to drastic fall in Maths scores from class 7 onwards. The study, conducted by maths-learning app Countingwell and published in its ‘State of Maths Learning’ report, aimed to understand gaps and challenges in maths learning. It monitored over 75,000 middle-school students nationwide for over a year and found that on average, just 28% of the students showcased good comprehension skills.
The study also revealed a drastic drop in students’ marks in Maths starting from 7th class onwards. Countingwell explained that a fundamental shift in complexity of concepts, learning content and problem statements was one of the contributing factors for this decline. Further, 17.4% of the students, or nearly one in five, were found to lack basic calculation by the time they reach class 6.
“From Class 7 onwards, not only the concepts tend to become more abstract, students also often need to use multiple concepts to solve a single problem,” said Nirmal Shah, cofounder of Countingwell. “Further, we also noticed a decline in parents’ involvement in teaching maths, which is understandable as parents also find it hard to explain complex and abstract concepts easily to their children.”
Nirmal added, “Our purpose to conduct this year-long study was to accurately determine the challenges that school students were facing in learning maths, understanding the extent of these challenges and then trying to find solutions for them. We hope the findings of this report will serve as valuable inputs for schools and teachers in order to help their students get better in maths.”
The study found that after language comprehension, it was modeling of maths problems that was challenging for most students. Only 39% of the monitored students were able to model problems as given in tests or exams accurately. On the other hand, 63.5% of students demonstrated adequate knowledge of maths concepts.
Interestingly, when it comes to proficiency in maths learning, students from Tier-II and Tier-III cities were found to be at par with students of metros or Tier-I cities. The report’s analysis found that students from smaller cities like Varanasi, Madurai, Jabalpur or Nashik were performing equally well as their counterparts studying in Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore. This finding contradicts the widely prevalent belief that students from smaller cities do not get the same quality of education as their counterparts in metros or bigger cities.
“The report makes it quite evident that there was a huge gap in learning concepts that needs to be addressed. And we were glad to see that through Countingwell’s intervention, an additional 23% of students were able to improve their knowledge and we were able to add nearly 20% more students’ comprehension skills. This shows that with the right guidance and help students will be able to perform much better in math.” said Mr. Shah.
The report’s findings also run counter to another widely-held belief that boys are distinctly better at studying or mastering maths than girls, noting that difference in maths knowledge, calculation or modeling was insignificant. However, boys scored better in comprehension than girls.