Factors Associated With Mass Failure Of Student In Chemistry In Secondary Schools (Case Study Of Akwanga Local Government Area Of Nasarawa State)

Project and Seminar Material for Chemistry Education

Factors Associated With Mass Failure Of Student In Chemistry In Secondary Schools (Case Study Of Akwanga Local Government Area Of Nasarawa State)


This study was on the factors associated with mass failure of students in the Chemistry in secondary schools in Akwanga L.G.A of Nasarawa State. Using simple random sampling procedures, the researchers drew 128 students and 50 teachers from nine state owned secondary school of Nasarawa State.

Questionnaires were used to elicit information from the respondents- Teachers and students on the problems associated with mass failure of secondary school student in Chemistry in WAEC Examinations. The questionnaire items included qualification and experience of the Chemistry teachers, the methods they adopt in teaching the subject, the materials available to them foe use in teaching the subject, the influence of the vernacular language in student learning of the subject and home environment.

In analyzing the data collected, means scores were used to answer the research questions. The results showed among other things, that the teachers knowledge of teaching the subject is not updated often times and that there is absence of teaching facilities in most of the schools while vernacular language and home environment have negative impacts, towards the students’ the findings, recommendations were made and implications were highlighted. This was followed by suggestion for further studies, summary of the study and conclusion.

Table of Contents

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background to the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Research Questions
  • 1.4 Objectives of the Study
  • 1.5 Research Hypothesis
  • 1.6 Significance of the Study
  • 1.7 Scope of the Study
  • 1.8 Limitation of the Study
  • 1.9 Definition of Concepts

Chapter Two:

Literature Review

  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Conceptual Review
  • 2.2.1 Causes of Poor Performance in Chemistry among Senior Secondary Students
  • 2.2.2 Ways of Improving the Performance of Senior Secondary school Students in Chemistry
  • 2.2.3 Education in Nigeria
  • 2.2.4 Secondary Education
  • 2.3 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3.1 Plato and Socrates’ Perspectives on teaching and learning methods
  • 2.3.2 John Locke and Knowledge of Practice
  • 2.3.3 Paul Freire and the Learning Environment
  • 2.3.4 John Dewey
  • 2.4 Empirical Review

Chapter Three:


  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Scope of the Study
  • 3.3 Area of Study
  • 3.4 Population of the Study
  • 3.5 Sample and Sampling Test
  • 3.6 Instrument Development
  • 3.7 Method of Data Analysis

Chapter Four:

Data Analysis and Interpretation

  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Discussion

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusions
  • 5.3 Recommendations

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

The teacher of Chemistry has been facing a lot of problems especially in secondary school in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. The problems at this level had resulted into many other problems confronting the students of higher institutions of learning, with what has been experienced in the past and present about the side of seriousness of the students to Chemistry motivated me to focus attention on the problems encountered by the students and teachers alike as regards Chemistry.

Also, this will involve the enumeration and analysis of the problems facing the teaching of the subject, suggested solution will also be given. Many students count Chemistry as a difficult subject in secondary schools nowadays due to their negative attitude to it. Also, many students find it difficult to read Chemistry textbooks because they have no time to read. Many students have this to say about Chemistry, ‘I have interest in other subjects but not Chemistry’. The reason for this could be traced back to students’ poor foundation in the study of Chemistry.

Therefore, if students in higher institutions of learning can go on complaining that Chemistry is difficult to comprehend, what then will be the fate of secondary school students who depend so much on the students in the higher institutions.

In fact, many students fail their final year examinations both at junior and senior secondary schools in Chemistry due to one reason or the other such as parental responsibilities, students’ factor, schools’ factor, government factor, lack of motivation, lack of relevant materials as well as inadequate curriculum. This has therefore motivated me to investigate the problem encountered by Chemistry teachers in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. The negligence of Chemistry has driven many students in the past to mass failure in the final examination. Many people read Chemistry for examination purposes only.

Over the years, there have been growing concerns about the attitude of students towards the study of Chemistry in secondary schools. The need to adapt our education to the needs of the Nigerian society started before and after independence. Many educational elites began to recognize that the functional inadequacies of the educational system inherited from the colonial education failed to develop positive values, attitudes and habits in our society because the Chemistry they taught was British oriented and has nothing to offer to the Nigerian child.

Fafunwa (1974) observed that the present educational system instead of developing positive values in the society which the African child lives, tends to alienate him from his cultural environment. This was the reason behind the re-evaluation of the educational system and the curriculum of the school and objectives that are relevant to the society.

The major ideas and philosophies behind the curriculum innovation in the 1969 National Curriculum Conference according to Akinlaye (2001) were:

  1. The need to make education more relevant to the needs of the individuals and the society.
  2. The need to use education for national integration and socio-economic development.
  3. The need to develop the right societal value and;
  4. The need to make an individual responsible to the society in which he lives.

This has been the case; the National Policy on Education (2004) has in recognition the important role Chemistry will play towards the achievement of the country’s educational aims and objectives. Thus, Chemistry was made a core subject. Hence, there is a greater responsibility for Chemistry teachers in Nigeria today than the days before independence, this is because the Nigerian youths now live in an environment characterized by social ills and moral decadence which have to be curbed at all cost. The youths therefore need Chemistry education which focuses on the problems and issues of human beings in their changing environments and seeks to devlop desirable habits, values, attitudes and skills in order to solve them.

Researchers have concentrated much on the cognitive aspect of teaching in our secondary schools because of the importance attached to success in public examinations; however, there is interplay between the cognitive and affective areas of teaching. For example, Taylor (2001) and Gunsch (2005) have shown that there is a relationship between interest and developments in different school subjects, therefore, it is believed that favourable attitude towards Chemistry may influence to a considerable extent the uptake of knowledge in Chemistry.

Studies relating to specific aspects of students’ attitude towards Chemistry and other related subjects have been undertaken by several researchers. Jekayinfa (2007) has reported that high grade in Chemistry at lower forms is a factor that can pull students to history in the secondary schools in Nigeria. In the study of factors associated with interest in science, Ormerod and Dukworth (2000) have also identified a number of factors like personality, home and other environmental factors among American and British High School students.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

A lot of problems have contributed to students’ mass failure in Chemistry in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. Many parents blame the teachers’ negative attitude to work while many pupils’ negligence of their class work contributes to failure as well. This research work purposely assesses the causes of the problems confronting students in Akwanga Local Government Area. So many scholars have written a lot about the problem of Chemistry in our secondary schools but work is very scanty on that of Akwanga Local Government Area. So it gives me a great concern to look at these problems and suggest possible solution to them.

The need to motivate students to develop positive attitude towards the study of Chemistry in secondary school and to create a conducive environment for studying Chemistry is not disputable and cannot be over-emphasized.

The unfortunate thing is that students’ attitude towards the study of Chemistry in schools is fraught with a lot of problems. There is a general belief that whenever students perform poorly in their courses the teacher has not really taught them well. People hardly look at the problem from the point of view of the student’s attitude towards the courses; the problem of this study therefore is to ascertain why students have poor attitude towards the study of Chemistry in secondary schools.

1.3 Research Questions

  1. Does cultural background affect students’ performance in Chemistry?
  2. Does teacher – student’s relationship influence on students’ performance in Chemistry?
  3. Does the nature of school environment affect student’s performance in Chemistry?
  4. Does school management system influence teaching and learning process in Chemistry?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The general objective of this study is to know the factors associated with mass failure of students in Chemistry in primary schools.

The following specific objectives are to guide the study:

  1. To examine the influence of cultural backgrounds on students’ performance in Chemistry.
  2. To identify the influence of teacher – student’s relationship on students’ performance in Chemistry.
  3. To determine the nature of school environment where teaching is practiced in relation to student’s performance in Chemistry.
  4. To examine the influence of school management system on teaching and learning process in Chemistry.

1.5 Research Hypothesis

  • H01: There is no significant influence of cultural backgrounds on students’ performance in Chemistry.
  • H02: There is no significant influence of teacher – student’s relationship on students’ performance in Chemistry.
  • H03: There is no significant impact of the nature of school environment where teaching is practiced in relation to student’s performance in Chemistry.
  • H04: There is no significant influence of school management system on teaching and learning process in Chemistry.

1.6 Significance of the Study

As Nigeria is still a developing nation, it is hoped that the findings of this research will encourage various governments to provide conducive environment, teaching aids and qualified teachers for effective study of Chemistry in secondary schools.

This study is of educational importance because it is believed that if Chemistry teachers in secondary schools understand the factors which stimulate the growth of interest in Chemistry, such knowledge may provide bases not only to make Chemistry popular but also to make the teaching of Chemistry humanizing.

Re-orient students with negative attitude towards the study of Chemistry in secondary schools. Assist the government to identify students’ attitude towards the study of Chemistry in secondary schools. Serve as a basis for other researchers who are carrying out investigation on similar problems facing the development of education in Nigeria. Help teachers and educational planners to acquire knowledge of solving problems associated with the attitude of students towards the study of Chemistry in secondary schools.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The Local Government headquarter is at Ibona where the secretariat is situated. Secondary schools were from different areas of the Local Government. The study was conducted in Akwanga local government area of Nasarawa State with a total of 25 (older) secondary schools, The schools are composed of 4 (four) all females, 4 (four) all males, and 17 (seventeen) mixed schools.

1.8 Limitation of the Study

A research of this nature requires adequate time to ensure thorough work, but the time allowed for this study was limited.

Some respondents may not have provided accurate and sincere answers that represent the true situation required for some of the questions in the questionnaire.

The researcher experienced a lot of problems during the process of this study which are as follows:

  1. Delay in administration of questionnaire due to public holidays.
  2. Typing and administration of extra copies of questionnaire because some respondents did not return their copies.
  3. Appealing to the principals of some of the schools used for the study due to interruption of lectures.

1.9 Definition of Concepts

The following concepts were defined:


According to the Sun Mobile Dictionary, the term influence is the “power to affect another”. The Oxford Advanced learner’s dictionary defines influence as “the effect that somebody or something has on the way a person thinks or behaves or on the way that something works or develops”.


The Sun Mobile Dictionary defines Environment as “surrounding, things, conditions, etc.” The Oxford Advanced learner’s dictionary defines it as “the conditions that affects the behaviour and development of somebody or something; the physical conditions that somebody or something exists in”.


The Sun mobile dictionary refers to the concept academy as a “school”. A school on the other hand is a place of learning. A school is a place where children are thought (Oxford mini School Dictionary: 2007). A primary school can therefore be called an Academy.


The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines the term performance as “How well or badly you do something”. Performance as directly related to this study can also be defined as how well or badly students of Primary schools do in their academic work.

Academic Performance:

This can be defined as the score a child or individual obtain in test or examination based on his or her learning experiences.

Socio status:

This is the total state of an individual based on inequality in terms of occupation, level of education and other societal issues defined by the environment.


This is a formal instruction or training given to a child in school. According to the 6th edition of the Oxford dictionary, it is a process of teaching, training and learning, especially in schools or colleges to improve knowledge and develop skills.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

This chapter presents the summary of findings, conclusions and recommendations based on the result of this study. The study was done focusing on factors leading to poor performance in Chemistry subject. The study was done in Akwanga LGA involving four secondary schools as the sample of study among 14 schools in the district. Akwanga LGA was selected to represent other districts in Tanzania. It has schools located in rural and urban areas. The district had 14 secondary schools for which 4 schools were randomly selected. The participants of the study were the Chemistry teachers; head of schools as administrators and students from form one to form four.

Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. To examine the influence of cultural backgrounds on students’ performance in Chemistry.
  2. To identify the influence of teacher – student’s relationship on students’ performance in Chemistry.
  3. To determine the nature of school environment where teaching is practiced in relation to student’s performance in Chemistry.
  4. To examine the influence of school management system on teaching and learning process in Chemistry.

The study was done in Akwanga LGA. The research involved 4 secondary schools among 14 secondary schools. The respondents of the study consisted of 8 Chemistry teachers who were chosen through simple random sampling, 4 academic masters and 4 head of schools who were purposively selected. The other respondents were 60 students who were selected using simple random sampling technique as well.

Questionnaires were used in determining the teacher participants’ instructional strategy preferences and extent of use on various instructional strategies as well as the students’ instructional strategy preferences and perceived extent of use. Students’ performance was found to be related with the teacher participants’ instructional strategy preference specifically on demonstration, problem-solving, project and inquiry approach. When teaching methods does not make students understand the lesson they end up failing.

Results of the study also revealed that there was a significant difference between the teacher participants’ preference of instructional strategy and the student performance in Chemistry. Though teachers claimed to apply participatory and student centred methods, it was not there in actual practice. Teachers were exposed to number of workshops and attended many seminars, yet they didn’t bring any changes in students’ performance in Chemistry.

The researcher found that if each student could have his/her own books, other supplementary learning materials and practically learning they could perform to great grades in Chemistry.

5.2 Conclusions

Based on the findings of the study, it can be concluded that:

  1. Majority of the Chemistry teachers in selected secondary schools in Akwanga LGA mostly were female. As to educational attainment and length of teaching experience, highest educational attainments of majority of the teachers were bachelor degrees with a very good experienced in teaching Chemistry.
  2. Student centred methods, discussion, demonstration; problem solving, project, inquiry approach; cooperative and use of audio-visual instructional strategies were highly preferred by the teacher participants. But this was hindered by the background of the students, nature of school environments, students’ self-effort and family economic status of the students. It end up teachers applying teacher centred method due to that students have a poor background in Chemistry.
  3. Lecture methods, discussion, demonstration, problem-solving, project, inquiry approach, cooperative learning and use of audio-visual media instructional strategies were highly preferred by the student participants. They said that they understand when taught using such teaching methods. This means that students were missing something in their learning process depending on their background in Chemistry. The researcher had observed that such methods are not practiced as teachers are few, not well paid and time pressure as they have to teach many periods as one of the teacher said in an interview.
  4. There was no significant relationship between the instructional strategy preference of teacher participants and their teaching performance. The preference of teachers on particular instructional strategies does not affect the level of their teaching performance.
  5. There was a significant relationship between the teachers’ use of the different instructional strategies and their students’ performance in Chemistry. For example, students doing problem solving, self practice, teachers demonstrating and students contributing in the teaching session what they know about the topic under study.
  6. Teacher – student relationship has its motivation for both teachers and students. It motivates teachers to like attending classes as there is absence of hostility. Also it motivates students to like the subject as they don’t have negative attitude toward their teacher.
  7. Chemistry department has a lot to help in ensuring students perform well in Chemistry. But this was hindered and it was not well functioning as there was no actual practice in division of power among head of schools, academics masters and what head of Chemistry departments to do.

5.3 Recommendations

Based on the results of the study, the following recommendations were made:

5.3.1 Chemistry Teachers

The researcher recommends Chemistry teachers to consider students cultural and learning backgrounds in choosing instructional strategies. It is suggested that they align teaching methods with the assessed learning needs and capabilities of students. Teachers may attempt to find a balance of teaching strategies rather than teaching student hence few understand the subject and at last many fail the subject. They may be able to realize the importance of recognizing learning styles, identify students’ differences, and adjust the teaching methods accordingly. By doing that, teachers would be able to deliver content clearly, making every student understand Chemistry, motivate students leading better performance in Chemistry subject.

Lastly, it is also suggested for the teachers to learn to formulate their way of teaching especially if their school do not have available facilities to support their teaching activity. They may learn to develop their profession and innovativeness in teaching in order to maximize the use of available resources of the school to improve students’ performance in Chemistry subject.

5.3.2 Students

The study highly suggest that students take in hand their perception and feedback towards their teachers’ teaching methods in order for the teachers to effectively bring into line their way of teaching to the students’ way of learning. It is recommended that for students to learn effectively, they need to be flexible by using strategies outside their preferences in order to meet the demands of the challenging environment. Students must be ready to be guided in Chemistry using learner centred methods, which is the very effective way of teaching. Student must not be lazy by not doing self-practice daily. They are also encouraged to actively participate in classroom activities in order to have an enjoyable and satisfying learning outcome.

5.3.3 School Administrators

For school administrators, it is recommended to ensure availability of the instructional materials and facilities for the execution of different teaching methods that are aligned with the teaching methods and students’ learning in classrooms. Effective teaching and learning cannot be achieved in the absence of those instructional materials.
It is also highly recommended that school leaders provide more in-service seminars, trainings and workshops for the teachers focusing more on how the teachers would enable them to align their instructional strategies they prefer and use to the learning preferences and capacities of the students. Furthermore, teachers should also be encouraged by the head of schools to pursue post graduate studies in order to upgrade their instructional competencies even if they have degrees in teaching profession. Lastly head of Chemistry departments must be empowered to manage teaching and learning in Chemistry. They must be provided with all guides and teaching resources.

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