An Assessment Of The Students’ Difficulties In Chemistry Practical Class (Case Study Of Some Selected Senor Secondary Schools In Adamawa State)
The study focused on the factors that affect the academic performance in secondary schools in Yola LGA. The study was guided by the following research objectives, to relate the how the teaching and learning facilities such as (text books, chemicals facilities) and the students’ academic performance in chemistry practical class in secondary schools in Yola LGA, and to establish how guidance and counselling affect academic performance of students in chemistry practical class in secondary schools. The study employed qualitative research design. Interview, focused group discussion and documentary were employed in data collection. The funding indicated that the schools were experiencing problems of science on one side and interaction during learning of the other side. Schools were observed to skip formative evaluation because of high costs of stationeries. Lastly, the results showed that many schools had no counsellors to counsel teens. The finding further indicated that even if teens were pretend learning, they lost in between many hours for non-academic activities like charting on email, smart phones and they had poor concentration in their studies. Recommendations to improve the academic performance are attached.
1.1 Background of the Study
The need and demand of science and technology in today’s world is well established; therefore, in order to meet the growing challenges, the education system has to gear itself to provide the required training in scientific skills.
Khitab, Ghaffar, and Zaman (2013) reiterate that it is the application of science and technology that transformed the world through dramatic advances in every field including medicine, engineering, electronics, aeronautics and others and in more recent times dramatic leaps in computer technology have revolutionized information and communications sector.The quality of science education has a crucial role in acquiring the leading character among the nations of the world. The development and turn down of any nation depends on the advancement and decline in science respectively. A country that progresses in the discipline of science, industry and technology is more urbanized than the one that lacks progression in the field of science.
Chemistry as a science subject is a field of study in which a lot of experimentation is involving. An experiment is a test carried out under controlled conditions to demonstrate a known truth, to examine validity of a hypothesis and to determine the efficacy of something new. Laboratory experience also gives students an opportunity to observe chemical systems and to gather data useful for the development of principles subsequently discussed in the textbook and in class. However, experimental work is a fundamental part of any science course and this is especially true for chemistry courses. It is vital to know that any one in chemistry should be able to conduct practical work effectively.
Practical work in science plays a vital role in developing scientific knowledge by enhancing scientific skills, attitude and inquiry based learning. Hofstein and Luneta (2003) describe science practical activities as learning experiences where students work together with materials or with models in order to observe and understand the natural world. According to Duschl, Schweingruber, and Shouse (2007), “Students who are proficient in science know, use, and interpret scientific explanations of the natural world, generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanations, understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge, and participate productively in scientific practices and discourse”. Hofstein (2003) believes that laboratory work is the core of science education. While performing laboratory work, the students get an opportunity to develop their own abilities to design, conduct, interpret and report scientific investigations. Tobin (1990) opines that, “Laboratory activities appeal as a way to learn with understanding and, at the same time, engage in a process of constructing knowledge by doing science.
Hofstein and Mamlok-Naaman (2007) elucidate that the aim of laboratory experiences are to promote goals of science education including the enhancement of students’ understanding of concepts in science and its applications; scientific practical skills and problem solving abilities; scientific ‘habits of mind’; understanding of how science and scientists work; interest; and motivation.
The technological advancement of any country depends on the scientific background of such country. Chemistry teaching practical to be précised has been faced with a lot of problems. More attempts have been made to find solutions to these problems. Accordingly, Nigeria students, studying chemistry are expected to be taught what chemistry is (STAN, 1970). They are expected to acquire scientific skills of observing, reporting, organizing of information, generalizing, predicting or speculating and designing experiment to test hypothesis.
On the contrary, the inadequacy of basic laboratory infrastructures and technical personnel which are involved in the teaching of chemistry practical, have manned this methods. As a result, the objectives of teaching and learning of practical and experimental exercise which are geared towards improving the preparation of scientific background for technological advancement have not been achieved.
Several difficulties encountered serves as an impediment not only to chemistry practical but also to the teaching of chemistry in secondary school some of these difficulties encountered would be enumerated later in this research.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Chemistry as a science subject is taught in most secondary schools in Yola Local Government Area of Adamawa State. Almost all science students in these school offer chemistry (the practical in particular) because of its vital role as one of the basic chemistry practical relevant in science profession. In spite of students’ interest and reactions towards chemistry practical, they perform poorly in chemistry in their final examination as a result of the way they were been taught by their chemistry teacher. The questions that come to mind are what are the problems of teaching chemistry practical in schools? Could it be as a result of lack of laboratories in schools, lack of laboratory attendance, or lack of qualified personnel or inability of the teachers to use the laboratory equipment in teaching? This has been a great concern to most people. And it forms the essence of this project.
Practical work has had a central and distinct role in chemistry education (from school to university) for more than a century. Science is practical in nature and psychologists have found that learning by doing is the most effective method for science. It is obvious that the terms, principles their applications and the materials of science become more meaningful by actual use in daily life (Millar and Abrahams, 2019).
Research in chemistry education has continued to seek better approaches for teaching practical chemistry in order to bring about meaningful learning and to identify factors responsible for persistent problems of low interest and understanding among students. Regrettably. The situation of laboratories in general and chemistry laboratories in particular is not satisfactory in public sector schools. Lack of equipment and chemicals are the major issues faced by chemistry teacher and students in the chemistry laboratory. Because of these barriers students only get one chance to perform practical in the chemistry laboratory. In chemistry laboratory, students perform practical usually in groups; therefore, sometimes they do not get the opportunity to perform the practical by themselves.
Furthermore, Prabha, (2016) has given the following reasons for failure of practical work at the school level: Overcrowded science classrooms, Lack of teachers having required skills and knowledge for practical work, The teachers have less time to plan for practical activities because they have some other job commitments. The reason for additional job is the poor salary structure for teachers in these countries., The examination system does not emphasize on the practical skills. The theoretical portion carries most of the weight age. There is a shortage of funds for science education besides the lack of science equipment in the science laboratory.
Faize (2011) and Annual report of ASER (2013) identify that the condition of laboratories are poor in Nigeria and lack basic facilities. The major issues relating to laboratory practical are lack of equipment, glassware and chemicals. In order to have detail, clear and comprehensive information, it would have be good to students’ difficulties in chemistry practical class.
1.3 Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study is to examine the difficulties encountered by students in chemistry practical in secondary schools Adamawa State. And also suggest ways in which the teaching of chemistry practical may be improved.
1.4 Significance of Study
Science has been recognized in the nation’s education. Hence the new system of education (6-3-3-4 system of education) lays much emphasis in science. Therefore, at the end of this research, teacher trainers should be able to equip the chemistry, teachers with a suitable solution to problems as well as ideas for teachings of chemistry practical in secondary schools. This study will be of great importance to the society as well as the nation at large because of its scientific, social, economic, and technological value particularly the students as their reasoning faculty and their creative skills may be improved through effective methods of teaching.
1.4 Research Question
- Is the time allocated for chemistry practical enough to complete experiment?
- How status of learning and learning facilities affect students’ academic performance in Adamawa state secondary schools?
- Is there the curriculum is developed in consideration with the level of the learners and the appropriateness of the language used?
- What are the difficulties faced by teachers and students in the teaching and learning of chemistry practical in secondary schools?
1.5 Objectives of the Study
The study intended to achieve the following specific objectives:
- To examine if there is enough time for chemistry practical in senior secondary schools in Adamawa State
- To evaluate the availability of teaching and learning materials in secondary schools in Adamawa State.
- To examine whether the teaching and learning environment is conducive for effective teaching and learning to take place.
- To identity the difficulties faced by teachers and students in the teaching and learning of chemistry practical in secondary schools.
- To examine whether the curriculum is developed in consideration with the level of the learners and the appropriateness of the language used.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
This study was restricted to only four secondary schools as being mentioned above in Yola Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
1.7 Definition of Terms
It is a place for experimental studies.
Poorly Equipped Laboratory:
This is laboratory with little or no equipment to carry out the necessary experiment for effective and efficient learning.
A laboratory that contains all the necessary equipment for experimental or practical learning.
Career which require advance education and special training
This refers to a process that uses the safety of a special relationship between the counsellor and the counselee together explore the thoughts, feelings and counsellor attitudes of the counselee with the objective of tapping the resources within the counselee to effect healing and change.
1.18 Organization of the Study
This paper is arranged in a way which sequentially answers the questions raised under the introductory part. Thus there would be five chapters in which Chapter One deals with introductory aspects namely, background of the study area, Objectives of the study Statement of the problem, Significance of the study, scope of the study and limitations throughout this paper. Chapter two would be dedicated to the review of related literature consisting scientific review and empirical review. Chapter three covers the methods used during data collection and data analysis. Chapter four includes finding and discussion part of the study. The last chapter incorporated the conclusion and recommendation part of the research.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Summary of the main findings
Chemistry is a high profile subject at secondary school level in Nigeria. At the ordinary level it is only biology which is compulsory while physics and chemistry are optional subjects. Despite the innumerable efforts geared towards improving the pedagogical approach and in shaping of the shaping of the chemistry practical curriculum, the failure rate in chemistry practical in the recent past has been dramatically high and among the many reasons put forward to explain the failure include:-
- Poor pedagogy in chemistry education
- Negative attitude towards chemistry practical among students
- Lack of resources such as books, and well equipped laboratories.
The remedies of these shortcomings include, among others ensuring that the required materials and resources are availed to all the schools, both public (ward and government) and private secondary schools. The chalk and talk method of teaching chemistry practical is still dominant in chemistry practical education in Nigeria. It’s also important to note that some chemistry practical is compulsory to all students including some with very poor background due to poorly trained chemistry practical teachers.
The performance is still poor and the teaching and learning process is still dominated by chalkboard teaching with most chemistry practical teachers exhibiting a lot of pedagogical limitations due to poor training. Recent researches findings indicate that most chemistry practical teachers still hold on to the instrumentalists’ view that: chemistry is looked upon as consisting of an unrelated collection of facts, rules, skills and processes to be memorized. This theory explains the underlying assumptions of most chemistry practical teachers and further gives us insights on why teachers treat chemistry practical learning as a passive reception of knowledge and the consequent unreasonable demands placed on learners to be submissive and compliant in the learning process.
Chemistry practical learning should be viewed as an active process of construction of knowledge as a meaningful whole. This implies that the teacher will engage in classroom behaviour that aims at developing autonomy and the learner’s own interest in chemistry practical. Several studies carried out in the recent past indicate that, for student to construct meaningful knowledge in chemistry practical, the teaching approach should be inquiry oriented. Designing of hands-on materials that are inquiry oriented have shown great potentials in assisting teachers change their attitudes, beliefs and classroom behaviour in the teaching learning process. This study focused on an assessment of the students’ difficulties in chemistry practical class. The study was based on the premise that the greater the knowledge of different learning resources and methodology, the more freedom the teacher had in the chosen teaching approach. Methodologies which involve use of computer aided instruction have a great potential in developing interactive teaching and learning.
5.3 Implications of the Findings
The findings of this investigative study imply that a lot has to be done in our secondary schools in order to raise the performance standards of the chemistry practical. To begin with, the government, parents and the society at large must ensure that schools are well equipped with the necessary materials that they require for effective implementation of the curriculum. The government should provide incentives to encourage more teachers to train as chemistry practical teachers. In-service training for teachers should also be carried out regularly throughout the country so as to equip the teachers with modern teaching methodologies and train them how to modify the locally available materials to be used as teaching aids.
Good and well equipped laboratories should be constructed in all secondary schools.
Some schools have opted for alternative to practical due to lack of these facilities. Chemistry practical students require knowledge in practical since they are a prerequisite for their future careers. Schools should also establish the office of guidance and counselling to advice the students in order for them to change their attitude towards chemistry practical. This should be done by a well-trained and qualified counsellor. The curriculum developers must incorporate the views of all the stakeholders in the whole process. The syllabi should be revised regularly instead the current span of five years in order to incorporate the current changes in technology.
The findings of this study indicate that there is significant effect of performance in chemistry practical due to lack of enough teaching and learning resources. The chemistry practical performance in our secondary schools can be improved if students are involved in practical lessons under the guidance of well trained and qualified personnel.
This will increase their motivation hence change their attitude towards chemistry practical hence raise the performance.
The main conclusions drawn from this study are:
(i) Availability of teaching and learning materials generally affects the performance of students. These materials should be made available and they should be of good quality in order for them to produce accurate results during a practical session. Other schools had no equipment at all and they opted for alternative to practical which is not applicable since these students require this knowledge for their future careers as scientists.
(ii) The teaching and learning environment in some of the secondary schools was found to be unfit for chemistry practical lessons. Some had no laboratories and the practical lessons were done in the classroom. Parents, the government and the society at large should ensure that the environment is conducive for learning to take place effectively.
(iii) The findings of this study indicated that one of the major difficulties that the teachers face while teaching chemistry practical is the students’ negative attitude towards chemistry practical. They have a perception that the chemistry practical are always very tough compared to other subjects which discourages them hence affecting their performance.
(iv) The curriculum developers must always involve the curriculum implementers in the process of revising the curriculum. The syllabus should be revised regularly despite the current trend of revising them after every five years. This will ensure that the views of the implementers and other stakeholders are incorporated well.
It is therefore recommended that in this study,
- The low achievement level in chemistry practical at secondary level demands for revolutionary ideas to motivate students in learning the chemistry practical. Teachers should use modern methods of teaching including use of computers in teaching chemistry practical in order to motivate and sustain students’ interest in chemistry practical as far as possible and in most chemistry practical topics.
- The government, parents, school administration and the society at large should work together to ensure that the teaching and learning environment is conducive to the teachers and students for effective learning to take place. They should give support by providing the necessary materials and equipment required which includes well equipped laboratories.
- Teachers should be more innovative in preparing teaching and learning materials to help them modify their teaching strategies in order to embrace the benefits of interactive teaching, including longer and increased students’ conceptual understanding.
- Comprehension, enhanced learning and easy remembering is enhanced by inquiry and interactive teaching approach. Therefore, chemistry practical educators should employ computer, modeling and animations through technological innovativeness while preparing educational materials. Curriculum material preparation principles should also be observed while preparing these materials.
5.6 Limitations of the Study
Knowledge on the importance of chemistry practicals in the society should be well disseminated in order to sensitize more students to study chemistry practicals in secondary schools. This requires more practical and theoretical knowledge, at this stage some schools had no laboratory facilities at all and they opted doing alternative to practical in their national examinations. Thus, the students in these schools had no idea on practical since they had never stepped or done any experiment in a chemistry practical laboratory. When responding to the questionnaires they had a definite answer since they had not had an experience to handle the equipment.
5.6 Suggested Areas for Further Studies
Following this study we suggest the following areas for further studies,
- Similar studies focusing on performance of chemistry practical topic wise in order to diagnose the specific areas that need to be given more attention and this will enable the educators to know the areas which are not well covered.
- The causes of failure apart from chemistry practical should also be investigated. This could be extended to non-chemistry practical like Geography, English, History or other arts subjects.
- Use of computer based materials should be developed and tried out in order to study their impact on modifying student motivation and attitude towards chemistry practical. We recommend the use of these materials if improvement on performance on chemistry practical and other subjects is needed.
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