A Critical Evaluation Of The Relevance Of Scientific Laboratory Experiments On Students Academic Performance In Chemistry

Project and Seminar Material for Chemistry Education

A Critical Evaluation Of The Relevance Of Scientific Laboratory Experiments On Students Academic Performance In Chemistry


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

The lab is the central focus for all scientific endeavors. It is provided primarily with instruments that promote successful teaching and learning of science. Science is experimental in nature, and the laboratory contributes to the improvement of scientific understanding via the process of science (inspecting, categorizing, quantifying, and engaging with things and events of scientific interest). Abdullahi (1982), underlines that science is not science unless it is supported with laboratory activities, i.e., putting concepts into practicals. The laboratory offers a perfect venue for developing skills, discovery learning, inquiry, and problem-solving activities. Laboratory work involves a spectrum of activities, from actual experimental study to validation exercises and skill building. Since science is experimental in nature, every course in science should mirror this by including laboratory practice. This is because students learn science in the laboratory via exact measurement, accurate observation, and clear communication(Muhammad, 2010).

Laboratory work is an established aspect of chemistry at all school levels. The fundamental motivations for its inception lie in the requirement to generate trained technicians for the industry and highly qualified personnel for research labs (Morrell, 1972). There is a need to prepare students realistically in the laboratory as well as establish some follow-up activities.

These may enrich and improve the complete laboratory experience and allow it to contribute more effectively to the overall learning of students in chemistry. It would be difficult to find any scientific course at any institution of education without a considerable component of laboratory activities. However, it is taken for granted that experimental activity is a key aspect of every scientific education, and this is particularly true for chemistry courses. Regularly, it is said that chemistry is a practical discipline. Thus, the development of experimental abilities among the learners is frequently offered as a basis.

One of the key reasons for challenging the use of labs in scientific instruction is that laboratory programmes are highly expensive in terms of facilities and material resources, but also, more crucially, in terms of staff time (Carnduff & Reid, 2003). Experimental works are used to characterize the practical tasks which students do utilizing chemicals and equipment in a chemistry lab. The term “practical” might incorporate additional experimental tasks undertaken in the laboratory by students. Laboratory classrooms are where science students develop and practice essential manipulation and process skills while learning to transition ideas from the abstract into a physical context (Brien & Cameron, 2008).

In other words, the chemistry laboratory provides students a chance to handle equipment and chemicals, to learn about safety protocols, to master specialized methods, to measure properly and to observe attentively. However, making chemistry tangible and subjecting ideas to actual testing is of significant value. Skills of observation, deduction, and interpretation are also highly significant. In addition, there are many other crucial practical skills to be cultivated, such as collaboration, reporting, presenting, and devising strategies to handle practical issues. Upon this backdrop, this research aims to analyze the importance of chemistry laboratory activities on students’ academic performance.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The performance of students in chemistry among secondary schools in Borno state fluctuate. This academic discrepancy has been attributed to inadequate laboratory practical. However, there are so many issues that restrict the successful use of laboratory activities in teaching chemistry in the state, such as teachers’ workload, a lack of apparatus and resources, a shortage of incentives, a lack of lab assistants, time consumption, and a lack of exposure of learners to lab activities that have a direct influence on their performance. 40 percent of the overall score, and students can scarcely execute these practicals because they lack the grounding and ability to conduct such practicals, which impacts their performance.

Furthermore, chemistry teachers may not always find it easy to make laboratory activity the focal point of their teaching, since many teachers’ working conditions do not inspire passion for utilizing the laboratory method of teaching chemistry, even when resources and equipment are accessible. The workload and class size may be discouraging (Ministry of Education, Kaduna State, 2014).


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main aim of this study is to evaluate the relevance of science laboratory experiments on students academic performance.

The specific objectives of the study is therefore identified blow;

  1. Identify the benefits of chemistry laboratory experiments to senior secondary students.
  2. Ascertain whether laboratory experiments facilitates the easy comprehension of chemistry theories.
  3. Find out the factors affecting chemistry laboratory experiments in among students.
  4. Ascertain the difference in the performance of students that are exposed to chemistry laboratory experiments and those that are not.

1.4 Research Questions

The study will be guided by the questions outlined below;

  1. How does chemistry laboratory experiments benefits senior secondary students?
  2. Does laboratory experiments facilitate easy comprehension of chemistry theories?
  3. What are the factors affecting chemistry laboratory experiments in among students?
  4. Is there any difference in the performance of students that are exposed to chemistry laboratory experiments and those that are not?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The findings in this study will be significant to all science educators and students, because it would help to remind them of the role accorded to practical work in science. It would also remind school administrators/teachers of the need to adhere to WAEC/NECO recommendations in their syllabi, by equipping students practically before their final exams. It would also show the effect of laboratory exercises on students performances in chemistry. A well designed science laboratory if prudently used would enable students to learn the product of science, posses skills of the scientists and develop scientific attitudes, hence this can enhance their performance.


1.6 Scope of the Study

The study evaluates the relevance of science laboratory experiments on students academic performance. However, the study boarders to the identification of the benefits of chemistry laboratory experiments to senior secondary students, ascertaining whether laboratory experiments facilitates the easy comprehension of chemistry theories, finding out the factors affecting chemistry laboratory experiments in among students, and ascertaining the difference in the performance of students that are exposed to chemistry laboratory experiments and those that are not.

The study will be carried out in some selected senior secondary schools in Mbaise, Imo State.


1.7 Limitation of the Study

Like in every human endeavour, the researcher encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. More so, the researcher simultaneously engaged in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.


1.8 Definition of Terms

Laboratory:

It is a place providing opportunities for experimentation observation or practice in a field of study.

Science Equipment:

In this context, it refers to all the necessary materials and supplies required for teaching and learning of biology in the secondary schools.

Experimentation:

The process through which an operation is carried out under controlled condition in order to discover an unknown effect of law, to test or establish a hypothesis or to illustrate a know law.

Inquiry:

The searching for scientific information.

Observation:

A systematic careful study of events based on measurement.


A Critical Evaluation Of The Relevance Of Scientific Laboratory Experiments On Students Academic Performance In Chemistry


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A Critical Evaluation Of The Relevance Of Scientific Laboratory Experiments On Students Academic Performance In Chemistry


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Frequently Asked Questions


How does the use of the laboratory help in teaching chemistry?

t-test was used in testing the hypotheses. The results showed that the use of the laboratory helps to: develop scientific attitudes in the students towards the learning of chemistry especially practicals, develop scientific skills for problem solving in students among others.

What is the importance of laboratory experience in education?

Research has shown that students who engage in well-designed laboratory experiences develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, as well as gain exposure to reactions, materials, and equipment in a lab setting. Sustained investments in hands-on experiences help inspire students to further their…

Do web-based and computer-simulated Chemistry activities improve student exposure to chemistry?

Web-based and computer-simulated activities may help increase student exposure to chemistry, reduce costs, and eliminate hazardous waste and safety concerns; however, these tools cannot be considered as equivalent replacements for hands-on laboratory experiences.

Why is assessing practical methods of Chemistry important?

Assessing practical methods and improving them is challenging, but essential if we want students to really think about the chemistry they’re doing. Emily Seeber recommends classroom activities that help embed the thought processes involved 

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