Factors Affecting Students Chemistry Performance In West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE)

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Factors Affecting Students Chemistry Performance In West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE)


The major objective of the study was to find out factors affecting chemistry performance in Ordinary Level National examinations from 2009 to 2012 with reference to selected schools in Ogun state City. From 2008 to 2012 the overall National chemistry pass rate in Ordinary Level secondary schools were below 50%. The study wanted to find the pattern of the SS3 studentā€™s performance in the WAEC examinations from 2009 to 2012, as well as, the studentsā€™ and teachersā€™ opinions on that poor performance. The study used cross sectional research design to collect data from the population samples. It employed two stage-sampling design to select the 100 respondents who were form three students studying chemistry from selected schools. The first stage used purposive sampling to select 5 schools in Ogun state. The second stage used simple random sampling to select 20 form three students, ten boys and ten girls from each of the five schools. Purposive sampling was also used to select key informants. Data collection was done by using questionnaires, interviews and documentary review. Data from questionnaires were collected, edited, coded and summarized and then analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences Version 12.0 (SPSS 12.0 for windows). Descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages were employed to show the patterns revealed from the findings. The major findings of the study show that insufficient facility distribution and accessibility in secondary schools, problems of enough qualified chemistry teachers in schools and poor studentsā€™ home support services were among the major challenges which led to poor performance in the WAEC examinations results. The study recommends to provide enough learning facilities, as well as, enough motivated chemistry teachers in secondary schools.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Science in the secondary schools is taught through two main categories; as Basic Science at the Basic secondary and the separate science subjects as Chemistry, Physics and Biology at the Senior Secondary. It is however worrisome to note that research studies and findings had pointed out that there is low achievement in secondary school science (Onwuakpa and Nweke, 2000).

One of the major issues that bothers students in Nigeria today is their academic performance (Ojukwu, 1994). Poor academic performance of students in internal and external examinations is a reflection of the problems and challenges facing the educational system in Nigeria today (Fehintola, 2009). Education helps individuals to adopt to a new environment. In Nigeria, education is seen as the only means of getting to the top hierarchy in any endeavor. Thus, poor academic performance usually brings about sadness and frustration to the individual concerned and to his/her parents as well as other members of the family. As a matter of fact, it gives parents and students feelings of satisfaction and joy when children excel academically (Fehintola, 2009). To this end, the importance attached to good academic success or performance by the students as well as their parents and the difficulty experienced by these students have resulted in wide-spread failures, low grades, examination malpractices, cheating, and so on. These are the cases with the students taking the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) (Ojukwu, 1994).

There has been wide cry each year when WAEC or NECO releases their annual results as a result of students poor performance especially in the Science subjects (Salami, Mohammed, & Ogunlade; 2012). Candidatesā€™ performance at the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by WAEC and NECO has consistently remained poor with Chemistry having one of the worst and poorest results over the years (Ibe & Madusnum, 2001). For example, a look at the five-year SSCE results in Chemistry from 2010 to 2014 shows that in 2010 out of 105,453 that sat for Chemistry in all the secondary schools in Abia State only 26,680 credited Chemistry.

Of all the science subjects, Chemistry is vital for preparing scientists and technologists both at middle and upper manpower levels. Chemistry is one of the basic sciences which are essentially the pre-requisites for technological breakthrough. Hence, the need for effective Chemistry education in Nigeria appears very crucial and therefore, demands considerable attention. For instance, Chemical Technologists and Technical workers are needed in all those Chemistry-related fields mentioned above. In the higher manpower requirement, 18 experts are needed in chemical engineering. These fields cannot be effectively studied without Chemistry as it serves as pre-requisite to them. This implies that Chemistry is an important science subject needed for higher education in virtually all the science related professions such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Engineering, food and nutrition. So these aspects of the importance of Chemistry explain why schools, governments, students and parents are worried over studentsā€™ poor achievement in Chemistry in senior school certificate examination.

Chemistry is one of the most important disciplines in the school curriculum; its importance in the general education has world-wide recognition. It is worth to emphasize that the field of chemistry, science and technology are related to the economic heart of every highly-developed, industrialized and technologically advanced society (Burmeister 2012). Teaching and learning of science have significant roles towards technological development in a developing nation since chemistry is embedded in our life and society, economical, ecologic and societal influences (Hofstein 2011). In Pakistan, studentsā€™ academic performance is measured by Graded Point Average (GPA) (Galiner, 2006). The performance is also measured through the result of a particular subject like Chemistry (Hijazi & Naqvi, 2006).

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Considerable attempts have been made at researching on some of the variables above but none has focused on what the students themselves perceived as factors that cause poor performance in chemistry. Researchers have so far focused on teacher-related problems in the teaching of science subjects. Other identified factors of poor academic performance are motivational orientation, self-esteem/self-efficacy, emotional problems, study habits, and poor interpersonal relationships, among others. The role of instructional material, methods, practicalā€™s, and the like on the academic performance were also studied by Nnaka and Anaekwe (2004).

Given the wide ranging effects of studentsā€™ poor academic performance and its concomitant social and destructive emotional effects on the students, parents, society and the nation, it is appropriate and should be a welcome development to explore what students actually perceive as factors or reasons for their poor performance at the external examinations conducted by WAEC and NECO. This will enable proffering of solutions for a better performance by students.

Following from the above and given the fact that the factors suspected to be some of the reasons why studentsā€™ performance in Chemistry continued to decline, this studyā€™s main motivation was to investigate what the students perceive to be the causes of their poor performance in Chemistry at both May/June and November/December examinations.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objectives of this study is to find out the factors affecting studentā€™s chemistry performance in WAEC, specifically the study intends to:

  1. Investigate the perceived causes of poor performance in Chemistry
  2. Find out if the teachers teaching methods/strategies have effect on the studentsā€™ academic performance in Chemistry
  3. Find out if the teachers use of instructional materials have any effect on the academic performance of the students in chemistry
  4. Find out if gender has effect on the perception of studentsā€™ poor performance in chemistry.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the perceived causes of poor performance in Chemistry?
  2. Does the teachers teaching methods/strategies have effect on the studentsā€™ academic performance in Chemistry?
  3. Does the teacherā€™s use of instructional materials have any effect on the academic performance of the students in chemistry?
  4. Does gender has effect on the perception of studentsā€™ poor performance in chemistry?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

Ho: there is no significant effect of teachers teaching methods/strategies have on the studentsā€™ academic performance in Chemistry

Hi: there is no significant effect of teachers teaching methods/strategies have on the studentsā€™ academic performance in Chemistry

1.6 Significance of the Study

The findings of this study would significantly form basis to explain some basic truth to the: Stateā€˜s government and officials of Ministry of Education on taking the right decision on the provision of infrastructural facilities to aid teaching and learning process which will help improve the academic performance of day and boarding senior secondary school students in Nigeria.

It will help the respective school authorities in the state to take corrective measures within their jurisdiction through adequate planning of resources to meet the demands and guide their actions on future projects on the education of day and boarding staff and students for successful teaching and learning process in the schools.

It will stimulate administrators to investigate and formulate constructive strategies with a view to reducing or eliminating studentā€™s poor performance through studentā€™s welfare support services in the Senior Secondary Schools, Nigeria.

Parents would give much attention and supervision to the studentā€˜s work and hence result in improvement of studentā€™s performance.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This research work on analysis of factors affecting studentā€™s chemistry performance in WAEC. The scope of the study is restricted to the schools within the urban areas in Ogun state that have presented students for WASSCE for at least ten years.

1.8 Delimitation of the Study

Finance for the general research work will be a challenge during the course of study. Correspondents also might not be able to complete or willing to submit the questionnaires given to them.

However, it is believed that these constraints will be worked on by making the best use of the available materials and spending more than the necessary time in the research work. Therefore, it is strongly believed that despite these constraint, its effect on this research report will be minimal, thus, making the objective and significance of the study achievable.

1.9 Definition of Terms


The extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their short or long-term educational goals.


West African Examinations Council is an examination board that conducts the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, for University and Jamb entry examination in West African countries.

Chapter Five

Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusions

The major objective of the research was to find out factors affecting chemistry performance in ordinary level secondary schools in Nigeria with reference to Ogun state city. The study showed that the pattern of chemistry performance in the WAEC exams in the last four years from 2009 to 2012 was declining. It also investigated how curriculum, individual students, inadequate resources i.e. teachers and learning facilities have contributed to the continuing poor chemistry performance in WAEC examinations.

The specific objectives were:

  1. To analyse performance in the SS3 WAEC examinations results from 2009 to 2012. This gave a foundational background in analysis of the problem.
  2. To describe teacher and students perceptions on poor chemistry WAEC examinations performance.
  3. To identify factors leading to poor performance of chemistry in ordinary secondary school students.

Moreover, performance was treated as dependent variable while factors affecting chemistry performance in WAEC examinations were treated as independent variables. These included individual/students related factors, curriculum related factors, human resources related factors, home based related factors, facility related factors, schoolsā€™ motivations and studentsā€™ perceptions on the chemistry performance.

The results show that there is a declining tendency in the general WAEC examination performance rates under the years of investigation. Performance on chemistry subject in WAEC exams had been below the general WAEC examinations result. Moreover, for the last three consecutive years from 2010 to 2012 chemistry pass rates were below 50%.

Furthermore, the factors affecting chemistry performances in secondary school are not only, insufficient facilities in schools such as libraries, laboratories and lack of qualified chemistry teachers, but also, the poor learning environment for many secondary schools do not support well the implementation of the competency based curriculum. In addition, home based factors such as economy as well as student interests affect the performance.

The following are conclusions provided in the light of the specific objectives of the study and findings:

  1. The competence based curriculum, which is very important in the development of natural science subjects like chemistry, is not supported well by the learning environment for most schools in Ogun state.
  2. Facility distribution and accessibility in secondary schools together with the problems of enough qualified chemistry teachers in schools remains to be among the major challenges which lead to poor performance in the WAEC examination results.
  3. Not only facility and human personnel oriented problems affect poor performance in secondary schools but also studentsā€™ home support influence the morale of students studying natural science subjects

5.2 Recommendations

On the basis of the results obtained the following are the key recommendations of the study:

  1. There is a need for urgent action on dealing with the issues of poor performances in WAEC examinations. Government and secondary school owners ought to increase the number of science subject teachers, provide adequate teaching and learning materials like laboratories, libraries and textbooks as well as laboratory technicians.
  2. Government and school owners should provide special incentives to natural science teachers and students especially those who are teaching in rural areas.
  3. Teachers should try their best to fulfil their teaching role regardless of the challenges of the teaching environments instead of just complaining.
  4. Government, NGOs, school owners, and all community should increase students and public awareness on the importance of natural science subjects for the development of our country.
  5. The issues of poor performing students ought to be given more emphasis on school inspections starting from the inspectorsā€™ annual guidelines.

The study recommends that similar research to be done in other regions so as to reveal the situations to a broader spectrum. Also there is a need for more research on how out-of-the school related factors such as studentsā€™ home support can affect Chemistry performance in secondary schools.

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