Students’ Perception Of Difficult Concept And Its Influence On Their Performance In Basic Science In Abak LGA
The study identifies the difficult and non – difficult concepts in Basic Science as perceived by the junior secondary school two students and their influence on their academic performance in Basic Science in Abak LGA of Akwa Ibom state. An ex – post facto research design and a simple random sampling procedure were used in this study. A total of 750 out of 1867 JSSII students selected from 15 secondary schools in Abak LGA constituted the sample. Basic Science Achievement Test (BSAT) and a rating scale on students’ perceived difficult concepts in Basic Science (RSSPDCBS) were used to collect data for the study. Analysis was done using mean and t – test. The findings reveal that JSS II students perceived some concepts difficult and that some of these concepts were not taught to them. The research also reveals that there was no significant difference in mean performance between those who perceived the concepts as not difficult and those who perceived them difficult. For effective Basic Science teaching this study holds implications for Basic Teacher production. Training should go beyond impacting just cognitive knowledge to applying the psychological theories that could help learners at that age and level. Secondly it is recommended that Pre service teachers should be well grounded in ability to identify difficult topics in Basic Science and determination of which method is most fit for which topic.
1.1 Background of the study
The development of any nation depends on the quality of science teachers produced and how science is practiced within the school system. This therefore results in the quality of students produced who are expected to understand the scientific concepts and apply them in nature. The proper understanding of these scientific concepts as stated in the core curriculum for basic science for junior secondary schools (FRN, 2007) can be achieved by teaching the students what science is and how scientists work. Efforts to attain this therefore led to the introduction of Integrated/Basic science in the primary and junior secondary schools. Integrated science being a unique approach to science education has some concepts which are in themselves difficult for students to understand (Ivowi, 1999) to Basic Science and this equally applies as the difference between the two is slim. Ivowi (1999) also expressed doubt concerning the suitability of the curriculum content with respect to the cognitive level of our students.
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of explanations and predictions about the universe. Science education on its own is the field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community. The target individual may be children, college students or adult within the general public. The field of science education comprises science content, some social sciences and some teaching Pedagogy (Berube, 2008). The standard for science education provides exceptions for the development of understanding for students throughout their entire course of the study.
Ncharam (2008) has established that students’ inability to comprehend difficult concepts in integrated science results in poor performance of the students at the junior secondary school certificate examination (JSSCE) and general backwardness in scientific and technological advancement. Akpan (2007) rightly documented that proper understanding of concepts whether in integrated science or any other science subject contribute in no small measure to better the academic achievements and performance of students. He went further to say that, to such students there is therefore no nature of manipulated questions that might be posed to them in that particular concept that they would not be able to provide solution to, since they have had a mastery of the concepts involved in the questions. This would give students the opportunity to think critically, manage and use available resources within their environment effectively to develop the nation. On the other hand, students who do not understand certain concepts have problem as they cannot learn anything and therefore will be unable to solve any problem. This can lead students’ to unquenchable appetite for examination malpractice of any form in order to succeed academically (Akpan, 2007).
Several studies by Njoku (2004) as cited in Nworgu (2005) and Isa (2005) revealed that there exist gender differences in science achievement in our schools. They discovered that male students performed significantly better than female students but this may not be the case all times. This study considers it necessary to examine male and female students’ perception of topic difficulty and how their performances vary across gender.
Over the years Nigeria has consistently produced science teachers at all levels but the policy stipulates those holders of Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) shall teach at the Junior Secondary School and Primary school levels. By implication this category of teachers ought to be knowledgeable enough to cause effective study of science to take place at the basic education level. Recent reports show to the contrary that students do not perform well in integrated/basic science (Duguryil, 2012). The corollary is that if nothing is done at the basic education science teacher production level which is basically colleges of education, the likelihood that the goals for introducing basic education may be a mirage. Akwa Ibom State is in the middle belt of Nigeria and previously regarded as part of the North. This alone signals that they have a lot to do to build their teachers at the basic education level to meet up with the teaming population especially in the science. It is therefore obvious that the more grounded the teachers are, the more likely they are able to impact positively on the science learners. At the moment this has not been reconciled with what topics, themes or areas students find difficult so that they could be helped while in school. The problem of this study put in question therefore is, what implication do students’ perceived difficult concepts and its influence on their academic achievement in basic science in Abak Local Government Area holds for basic science teacher production? To accomplish this task four research questions and three hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 alpha level of significance.
1.2 Statement of the problem
This study intends to make known the various abstract concepts in basic science and how they affect the academic achievement of students in senior secondary schools. It also stresses the abstract and highly conceptual nature of basic science which makes students perceive basic science as a difficult subject. The study will also look into the general slow pace of the effects and affective characteristic of students and the academic achievement in basic science and how it’s likely to affect the production of teaching profession competency in basic science.
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objective of the study is to examine the students’ perception of difficult concept and its influence on their performance in Basic science in Abak L.G.A.
- To examine the difficult and non-difficult concepts in JSS II basic science curriculum as perceived by the students.
- To examine the difference in mean academic performance of the students in JSS II basic science between those who consider the concepts difficult and those who consider them not difficult.
- To find out if male and female students that perceived the concepts as not difficult differ in their mean performance in basic science.
- To what extent do male and female students who perceived the concepts difficult differ in their mean performance in basic science?
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions guided the study:
- What are the difficult and non-difficult concepts in JSS II basic science curriculum as perceived by the students?
- To what extent is there a difference in mean academic performance of the students in JSS II basic science between those who consider the concepts difficult and those who consider them not difficult?
- To what extent do male and female students who perceived the concepts not difficult differ in their mean performance in basic science?
- To what extent do male and female students who perceived the concepts difficult differ in their mean performance in basic science?
The following hypotheses were tested at 0.5 alpha level:
H01: There is no significant difference in the mean performance between students who perceived the concepts difficult and those who perceived the concepts not difficult in Basic Science.
HO2: There is no significant difference in the mean performance between male and female students who perceived basic science concepts not difficult.
HO3: There is no significant difference in the mean performance between male and female students who perceived basic science concepts difficult.
1.6 Significance of the study
Over a number of years, many of the difficult areas in basic science were subjected to systematic study to identify the point of difficult and to seek common factors among the nature of these difficulties.
The present study however generates data on come concepts perceived as difficult in basic science and their effect on academic achievements of students.
The study also generates information on whether or not the difficult concepts perceived by students improved their achievements and ability to solve higher order question in basic science. Curriculum designed will utilize this information to enrich the curriculum for teachers’ preparation at secondary level of our educational system.
1.7 Scope and limitation of the study
This study was carried out on students’ perception of difficult concept and its influence on their performance in Basic science in Abak LGA. The outcome of this study may not be hundred percent (100%) valid for generalization because some inhibiting factors that serves as limitation to this study. However, the study has been designed to cover large proportion of students in junior secondary schools, but the timeframe and resources requires were hindrances. To make for a manageable representative sample, the study was limited to the students of some selected secondary schools in Abak LGA, Akwa Ibom state.
In view of the possible limitations arising from response and non-response errors, the researcher may not be able to guarantee 100% accuracy of the response.
Conclusion and Recommendations
It can be concluded from the study that JSS II students perceived some concepts as difficult and some as not difficult in Basic Science. However, there was no significant difference in mean performance of students who perceive the concepts difficult and those who do not. Similarly, gender was not a factor in students’ performance in topics considered difficult and those considered not difficult.
It is the believe of the researcher that the teaching of basic science through inquiry and discovery method in which students come to understand and develop science concepts by investigating and experimenting on their own might enable them to overcome those concepts they once perceived as difficult. This can only be possible if the teachers are well grounded in their use.
5.2 Implications for Basic Science Teacher Production
One of the philosophies of basic science is to produce a course, which is relevant to the child’s needs and experience. Hence the teaching of basic science is therefore, based on the philosophy of active learner participation in the process whereby students are encouraged to learn by inquiry and self- discovery guided by the teacher. That is why the Nigeria Integrated Science Project (NISP) introduces the teaching of science through activities in which students study science by investigative approach in order to develop concepts and generalization.
Obviously, what the teacher is able to do or is not able to do with his/her students at the basic education level depends strongly on the training. With the understanding from this study teacher training institutions need to have a paradigm shift to what could arm the teachers practically in the discharge of their duties especially teaching aspect. Also pre-service teachers should be well orientated in the area of difficult and non difficult concepts in Basic Science while in training so as to make them familiar with problem ahead on the field.
The current teaching practice period for pre-service teachers appears insufficient. The move to make it a full term (12 weeks) which its implementation has commenced is a welcome development. However, like Pharmacists, Doctors and Lawyers, teachers need to spend one year internship. As it is unique with education, it should be a period of mentoring whereby the pre-service teachers serve under more experienced teachers for one. They are likely to gain in methodology, maturity, and most importantly in how to handle difficult topics rather than dodging it or cover it haphazardly as is the case presently. Beyond this, rather force teachers to teach all aspects of basic science whereas they are not comfortable on some topics, introduction of area of specialization may help. People need to teach topics they can and are prepared to handle well.
For effective Basic Science teaching this study holds implications for Basic Teacher production. Training should go beyond impacting just cognitive knowledge to applying the psychological theories that could help learners at that age and level. Secondly, it is recommended that Pre service teachers should be well grounded in ability to identify difficult topics in Basic Science and determination of which method is most fit for which topic. Basic science teachers in training should be exposed to a number of innovative methods especially those that could present abstract concepts in concrete from to allow for easy understanding.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Does the students’ perception in learning matter towards the academic performance?
The finding shows that there was no significant relationship on the students’ perception in learning (interesting and challenging) towards the academic performance. However, there was significant relationship between lecture deliveries in learning towards the academic performance.
Do students’ perceptions of their learning environment differ by semester?
There is a significant difference in students’ perception of their learning environment according to their study year. The overall mean DREEM scores were 109.94 (SD=21.2) for Semester 2 students, 122.91 (SD=20.29) for Semester 6 students and 116.53 (SD=20.12) for Semester 10 students.
Do students’ academic self-perception and perception of atmosphere differ between semesters?
The mean scores for students’ academic self-perception (SASP) (M=24.99, SD=5.21) and students’ perception of atmosphere (SPA) (M=33.66, SD=6.21) were significantly higher for students in Semester 10 than for those in Semesters 2 and 6 (F(2,2455)= 13.14, p <0.001).
Is there a relationship between challenging and interesting in learning and performance?
H1: There is significant relation ship between challenging in learning and academic performance. H 2: There is significant relation ship between interesting in learning and academic performance.