A Study Of Gender Differences In The Attitude Of Students To Science Subjects In Secondary Schools In Osun State
This study investigated the gender differences in the attitude of students to science subject. A total of 200 secondary school staffs and students participated in this study that were selected randomly, from various schools of Osun State, Nigeria. Two hypotheses were raised to guide this study. Data on academic achievement was collected for this research through the classroom teachers’ records. Inferential statistical tool, i.e., t-test and correlation was employed in the analysis of the data. The result obtained revealed that there was a significant sex difference in the performance of students in science. A significant difference was also observed in the attitude of male and female students. A positive relationship was observed in the attitude and performance students in science. A positive relationship was also observed between attitude towards science and scientific attitudes of the respondents. Conclusively, sex of learners is an important factor that must be considered in the teaching and learning of science. Both male and female developmental input are required for the development of science and technology in the society. The researcher recommends that a gender sensitive approach must be employed to bridge up the gender gap in the attitudes and performance of secondary school students in public school.
1.1 Background to the Study
Sex differences in humans have been studied in a variety of fields. In humans, biological sex is determined by five factors present at birth: the presence or absence of a Y chromosome, the type of gonads, the sex hormones, the internal reproductive anatomy (such as the uterus in females), and the external genitalia. People with mixed sex factors are intersex. People whose gender identity (their internal sense of their own gender) differs from their biological sex are transgender, transsexual or genderqueer.
A distinction is sometimes made between sex and gender. Sex differences generally refer to traits that are sexually dimorphic. Such differences are hypothesized to be products of the evolutionary process of sexual selection.
By contrast, the term gender differences refers to average group differences between males and females that are presumably based on sexually monomorphic (the same between the sexes) biological adaptations—and these group differences are presumed to be due primarily to differential socialization.
Gender differences in education are a type of sex discrimination in the education system affecting both men and women during and after their educational experiences.
The introduction of the 6-3-3-4 system of education is one of the most important steps taken by the Nigerian government to ensure the country’s scientific and technological development.
Even the modified 9-3-4 system is modified landmark by the government to bring about scientific and technological development.
The awareness of the vital role of science and technology in national development has prompted both the developed and developing countries of the world to include science and technology subjects in their school curricula to carry out various educational reforms in such areas. In Africa, for example, the African Primary Science Program (APSP) was developed.
With more national consciousness and the continued pressure of modern scientific demands, the Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria, for example, started adopting a more science oriented policies and programmes in education. Through the help of such organs as the Nigeria Educational Research Council (NERC) and the Comparative Education Study and Adaptation Centre (CESAC), better-oriented curricula efforts began to emerge.
A number of the new curriculum projects initiated were; the Core Curriculum in Primary Science, the Nigeria Secondary School Science Project, the Primary Education Improvement Project, the Nigeria Integrated Science Project, and the Federal Ministry of Education Core Curriculum Project for both Primary and Secondary School Science.
In Nigeria, the National Policy on Education stipulates that secondary school education should equip students to live effectively in modern age of science and technology (Federal Ministry of Education – FME 2004). The proper teaching and handling of science and technology subjects in schools will result in the training of the minds of students in the understanding of the world around them in the acquisition of appropriate skills, capacities, competencies necessary for them to live and contribute to the development of their society.
In pursuance of this, governments of many nations have planned that science and technical subjects should be taught in such a way as to ensure that every secondary school student has access to science and technology irrespective of sex and creed.
In Nigeria for example, as a follow up of the Adebo commission, the 6-3-3-4 system of education was put in place.
The three year junior secondary school education took care of pre-vocational subjects while the three year senior secondary catered for sciences and vocational subjects (Oriaifo 2002)
The concept of science education is Science has been defined variously by different authors. Shapin (1996) defines science as the study of the physical and natural world and phenomena, especially by using systematic observation and experiment. In the view of
Aigbomian and Imhanlahimi (1997), an operational definition of science is that advanced by the National Science Teachers Association 1963, which states that “Science is an accumulated and systemized learning in general usage restricted to the natural phenomenon. What science does is to expose one to the knowledge of the natural phenomenon and to the use of practical efforts to transform it to reality.
A nation’s school is particularly suited for the education of the people through science because it is the only organized societal institution that holds the largest number of youth and anytime.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Until the latter half of the twentieth century, gender in society in the western world remained largely unquestioned, although since 1920 women gradually had gained the right to vote and general access to education at all levels. As many women claimed the right to be treated as equals alongside men in all aspects of social, political and cultural life, the demand for further societal changes was evident. Many of these legitimate claims of women began to be constitutionalized in numerous countries in the late 1960s (Kotte, 1992). Nonetheless, the masked imbalance between the sexes in many fields of employment was not overcome completely. There are relatively few female scientists and engineers at the professional level and even fewer technicians and tradeswomen at the skilled worker level (Kelly, 1978; Keeves and Kotte, 1991). The origins of such differences can be traced back to participation in studying science at school, from the earliest grades onwards. It cannot be ruled out that such differences are generated at an even earlier stage in the socialization process taking place at home. However, there seems to be little doubt that these differences between the sexes are established and consolidated during formal schooling (Keeves, 1991). In the economic competitive environment of the developing countries each educational system is expected to ‘produce’ an optimum number of technologically qualified personnel who are needed by the labour market. This has implications for the planning of the educational system of each country. Not only are more science trained students expected to graduate from high school, but there is also a proportionately higher demand for female students as societies become more responsive to women in Science careers. In the past, many of the more prestigious and more highly paid jobs have gone to men who have been trained in science-based programs, such as medicine, engineering and technology. Since girls have not studied science courses at school to the same extent, as have boys, such occupations have been filled by more men than women (Keeves and Kotte, 1991). Optimizing science (and by extension to Chemistry) achievement and at the same time reducing differences in performance levels between boys and girls may eventually lead to greater economic efficiency within a system. In this process, gender differences can be reduced as increased opportunities become available to girls (Duncan, 1989; Keeves and Kotte 1991). The theme of this research study is timely. Detailed information is needed on how to reduce gender differences in science subject’s achievement and how to improve the achievement level of all students in science classes. The study of science is important in all aspects of life. In Nigeria, maths, physics, English language and chemistry is among the key subjects used for selective advancement in the education system. However, the teaching and learning of science subjects in schools is not at its best. Practically, all students believe that science subjects is important for life after school and yet both boys and girls demonstrate some negativity towards the subject. They perceive the subject as difficult and uninteresting and thus are biased in the selections they make, often not considering the subject requirements needed for future careers.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main purposes of the study were;
- To investigate whether there are any significant difference in attitudes between the attitude of girls and boys towards learning of science subjects.
- To investigate whether students‟ perceptions of teachers‟ expectations influence their attitude towards learning of science subjects.
- To investigate whether students‟ perception of parental expectations influence their attitude towards learning of science subjects.
- To investigate whether students‟ perception of peers‟ expectations influence their attitude towards learning of science subjects.
- To make recommendations on strategies that could foster positive attitudes towards learning of science subjects irrespective of gender.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were raised and tested at the 0.05 level of significance:
- H0: There is no significant effect of gender on Students’ attitude in science subjects
H1: There is a significant effect of gender on Students’ attitude in science subjects
- H0: There is no significant difference between the attitude of male students and their female counterparts in science subjects.
H2: There is a significant difference between the attitude of male students and their female counterparts in science subjects.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The achievement in science is very much dependent upon scientific background and attitude towards science. According to NPE science should be visualized as a vehicle to train a student in thinking, reasoning, analyzing and articulating logically. One of the several universally recognized aims of teaching science is helping the students in developing scientific attitude to meet the demands of daily life, new scientific knowledge and work in related field of knowledge has special significance. It is reality that science is felt to be difficult to absorb. Many students find science very difficult and uninteresting and perform poorly in it. The study will be useful in locating the objectives of curricula of teaching of science. This may help of setting some issues and misbelieve. There is great effect of non-school factors like gender, locality and socio – economic status on the attitude of students towards science. The present attempt is in this direction only is to see the effect of some non-school factors on the attitude of students towards science.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
This study will be restricted to gender differences in the attitude of students to science subject in secondary school. The scope of the study will centre on Osun State, Nigeria.
However, there were some constraints that tend to interrupt the flow of the study which include;
Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex, sex-based social structures, or gender identity.
Such differences are hypothesized to be products of the evolutionary process of sexual selection. By contrast, the term gender differences refers to average group differences between males and females that are presumably based on sexually monomorphic (the same between the sexes) biological adaptations.
In psychology, attitude is a psychological construct, a mental and emotional entity that inheres in, or characterizes a person. They are complex and an acquired state through experiences. It is an individual’s predisposed state of mind regarding a value and it is precipitated through a responsive expression toward a person, place, thing, or event (the attitude object) which in turn influences the individual’s thought and action.
A secondary school is both an organization that provides secondary education and the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools can provide both lower secondary education and (upper) secondary education (levels 2 and 3 of the ISCED scale), but these can also be provided in separate schools, as in the American middle school- high school system.
1.8 Organization of the Study
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.
- Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (background of the study), statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study etc.
- Chapter two being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework, conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter.
- Chapter three is a research methodology covers deals on the research design and methods adopted in the study.
- Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
- Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
Summary Conclusion and Recommendation
It is pertinent to note that this research was aimed at cross examining the gender differences in the attitude of students towards science subject, thus the topic “a study of gender differences in the attitude of students to science subject in secondary school in Osun State”.
In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges associated with gender differences in the attitude of students to science subject in Nigeria.
The purpose of the present research was to determine the effect of gender differences in the attitude of students to science subject in secondary school. Data from a large contemporary sample of secondary schools students in Osun State were analyzed.
The results of the analysis of data shows that the effect of gender, attitude towards science, had significant effect on science subject’s achievement scores. There was significant difference in science subject’s achievement scores between boy and girls in the present study. The finding of this study in supported by linn C. Merle(1989) investigated that male have greater access to science subjects and technical fields and greater earning power than females. The national assessment of educational progress and ‘Every bad counts’: reports that male were found to show higher motivation levels than females.
In this study parental education is found to be an important factor of student’s achievement in science subjects. Children from highly educated parents are likely to have significantly higher science achievement scores as compared to the children of less educated parents. The study supported by Chatterji, Mukherji and Banerji (1971), the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of some important aspects of social class such as income, parental education, family size, general conditions of home etc. He found that parent’s education level was directly related to the achievement of their children. White (1982) studies the relationship between SES and academic achievement, the result shows that SES is correlated with academic achievement. Coldisand Bankstorne (1997) found that social status have significant and substantive independent effect in individual academic achievement. T.S Begum and Dr.(mrs) M. Phukan (2000) found that type of family,number of siblings, education of parents and family income had significant impact on academic achievement of the students.
It is generally believed that a student’s attitude towards a particular subjects determines their success in that subject. In other words, favorable attitude results to good achievement in a subject. A Students constant failure in a school subject and science in particular can make him to believe that he can never do well on the subjects, thus accepting defeat. On the other hand, his successful experience can make him to develop a positive attitude towards learning the subject. This suggests that students attitude towards science could be enhanced through effective teaching strategies. It has in fact been confirmed that effective teaching strategies can create positive attitude on the students towards school subjects.
The teachers‟ expectations determine the way in which they interact with the boys and girls and thus influence the boys and girls relationship with science subjects. Teachers have higher expectations on the boys than on the girls and hence interact more with the boys than with the girls. The parental expectations have a significant influence on students‟ attitudes towards learning of science subjects. Parental view about the importance of mathematics significantly influenced their attitudes.
Conclusively, sex of learners is an important factor that must be considered in the teaching and learning of science. Both males and females developmental input are required for the development of science and technology in the society. On the basis these findings, this study concludes that gender differences and attitudes towards learning of science subjects exists among secondary school students in Osun State.
Based on this conclusion, the following recommendations were made:
- The researcher recommends that a gender sensitive approach must be employed to bridge up the gender gap in the attitudes and performance of secondary school students in public schools.
- Since there is a positive relationship between gender and achievement in science subjects, steps should be taken to prevent achievement differences in science subjects as well as gender differences from being established at an early stage within the process of formal schooling.
- Educational planners, however should note that it would seem legitimate to recommend that students, parents, and teachers be made more aware that although boys and girls apparently held gender- typical attitudes towards science subjects there was no evidence for the assumption that boys and girls could not achieve equally well in science.
- Gender sensitivity should be abolished in the curriculum development
- Government should scrap all policies that favor one sex over the other.
- There should be no disparity in treating male and female in the classroom.
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