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FACTORS AFFECTING STUDENTS CHEMISTRY PERFORMANCE IN WEST AFRICAN SENIOR SCHOOL CERTIFICATE EXAMINATION
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). Candidates’ 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 students’ 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, students’ 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, practical’s, and the like on the academic performance were also studied by Nnaka and Anaekwe (2004). Given the wide ranging effects of students’ 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 students’ performance in Chemistry continued to decline, this study’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 student’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 students’ 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 students’ 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 students’ academic performance in Chemistry?
3. Does the teacher’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 students’ poor performance in chemistry?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Ho: there is no significant effect of teachers teaching methods/strategies have on the students’ academic performance in Chemistry
Hi: there is no significant effect of teachers teaching methods/strategies have on the students’ 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: State‘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 student’s poor performance through student’s welfare support services in the Senior Secondary Schools, Nigeria.