IMPACT OF GENDER ON SUCCESSFUL LEARNING OF CHEMISTRY IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page i
Approval page ii
Table of contents vii
Background to the study 1
Objectives of the study 7
Research questions 8
Research Hypothesis 8
Significance of the study 9
Scope of the study 9
Definition of terms 9
Literature Review 12
Research Methodology 33
Design of the study 33
Location of the study 34
Study population 35
Research instrument 40
Data Analysis 46
Presentation and Discussion 50
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In developing countries education is being called upon, to play an even more important role in the future. More students are needed to become competent in the key science subjects most especially chemistry. This study focused on the impact of gender on successful learning of chemistry in secondary school. In addition to the main purpose the study sought to identify the factors that contribute to the impact made by the genders on the successful learning of chemistry and to provide more equal opportunities for studying chemistry and science in general to both gender. The research instrument employed for this study was questionnaires, the data collected were analysed using simple percentage. The analysis carried out showed that boys make more impact in successful learning of chemistry than the girls. A number of recommendation were made in the area of ensuring the girls to have interest in learning chemistry as boys and this can only be achieved by motivating them so as not to live on the general views that chemistry is too difficult to understand.
This chapter introduces the problem that was investigated by discussing the following background of the study, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, assumptions of the study, scope and limitations and definition of the terms used in the study.
Background to the study
The role of science education in the lives of individuals and in the advancement of science and technology for the development of mankind and the society in general is very crucial. Scientific literacy, which is the gateway to achieve scientific and technological advancement and economic survival, is achievable through science education. The influence of science on a nation and its citizens could be seen from the production of basic human needs to social, political, educational, technological and economic advancement. The steps scientists take during scientific investigation (Science Processes) and scientific products draw the attention of the society to the fact that science makes life comfortable (Saha, 2000).
Chemistry is very important science subject in senior secondary schools curricular worldwide. It is a core subject for the medical science, textile technology, agricultural science, synthetic industry, printing technology, pharmacy, chemical engineering. As important as the subject is and inspite of the efforts of both the federal and state governments to encourage chemistry education, students still shun the subject Kelly, (2008). It has been observed that most students fear chemistry and hence they see chemistry as difficult to understand, which may be as a result of the abstract nature of chemistry and the method (lecture method) being used by most of the chemistry teachers. Students’ anxiety for chemistry learning can also be attributed to students’ perception about the difficult nature of chemistry, involvement of multitude of facts and its disconnection from reality (3) Abiodun (2005). Students anxiety for Chemistry leads to loss of interest in the sciences Keeves, 2002. Inspite of the long existing fear and its effects on the subjects, in Nigerian researchers had done little or nothing on the basic psychological factors that could generate such anxiety.
Until the latter half of the twentieth century, the different roles of men and women in society in the western world remained largely unquestioned, although since 1920 women gradually had gained the right to vote and the general access to education at all levels. As many women claimed the right to be treated as equal alongside men in all aspects of social, political and cultural life, the demand for further social changes was evident. Many of these legitimate claims of women began to be constitutionalized in numerous countries in the late 1960s (Kotte, 2002).
Nonetheless, the masked imbalance between the sexes in many fields of employment was not overcome completely. There are relatively female scientists and engineers at the professional level and even fewer technicians and trade women at the skilled worker level (Kelly, 2008 and Kotte 2001). 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 even earlier stages in the socialization process taking place at hand. However there seems to be little doubt that these differences between the sexes are established and consolidated during formal schooling (Keeves, 2001).
In economic competition environment of the developing countries each educational system is expected to ‘produce’ an optimum member of technological qualified personnel who are needed by the labour market. This has implication for the planning of the educational system of each country. Not only are more science trained students expected to graduate from higher school, but there is also a proportionately higher demand for female students as societies become more responsible to women in science careers. In the pasts 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 boys, such occupations have been filled by more men than women (Keeves and Kotte, 2001). 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 with a system. In this process, gender differences can be reduced as increased opportunities become available to girls (Kotte and Keeves, 2001). The theme of this research study is timely. Detailed information is needed on how to reduce gender differences in chemistry achievement and how to improve the achievement level of all students in Chemistry.
The study of chemistry is important in all aspects of life. In Nigeria chemistry is among the key subjects used for selective advancement in the education system. However the teaching and learning of chemistry in schools is not at its best. Practically, all students believe that chemistry 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 based in the selections they make, often not considering the subject requirement needed for future careers.
While most people in our society recognize and appreciate the essential role of chemistry in everyday life, it remains one of the poorly performed subjects in the NECO national examination council (NECO, 2005). In addition, gender disparity in performance does exist. The gravity of the problem in performance is shown in table 1.1 below.
Table 1.1 NECO percentage mean scores in chemistry from 2000 to 2006 at national level by gender.
Chemistry is an important branch of science taught in the senior secondary schools. It enables students to understand what happens in the world they live in and how it contributes to the quality of life on our Planet (Ware, 2001). Chemistry curricular commonly incorporate many abstract concepts, which are central to further learning in both chemistry and other sciences (Taber, 2002). Chemistry topics are generally related to or based on the structure of matter, and proved to be a difficult subject for many students (Sirhan, 2007).
Attitude, motivation, and genuine interest are the most important student characteristics with successful studies (Dalgety et al, 2003, (Berg, 2005).
Attitude towards chemistry is essential, it denotes interests or feelings towards studying chemistry. Attitude and academic achievement are important outcomes of science education in secondary schools students’ attitude and interests could play substantial role in students decision to study science (Abiodun, 2009).
Objectives of the study
The study was guided by the following objectives:
- To identify the differences between boys and girls in chemistry achievement
- To determine the main factors that are associated with gender differences in chemistry achievement
- To identify attitudinal and aspirational levels of students towards chemistry.
The study attempted to answer the following questions.
- Is there any ability differences between boys and girls in the chemistry achievements
- Is there any significant teacher factors associated with gender differences in school chemistry achievement?
- What differences are there in attitudinal and aspirational expressions by boys and girls towards learning school chemistry?
- There is no ability differences between boys and girls in the chemistry achievement
- There are no significant teacher factors associated with gender differences in school chemistry achievement
- There are no differences in the attitudinal and inspirational expressions by boys and girls towards learning school chemistry
Significance of the study
The findings of the study will be hopefully beneficial to the following
- Chemistry teachers: Teachers are the implementers of any school chemistry curriculum. The research findings will sensitize them on the intervention strategies suggested to help to improve achievements of boys and girls in chemistry and in particular close the gender gap in chemistry achievements.
- Chemistry learners: The researcher findings would help secondary school students to identify the particular areas that give them problems in chemistry. They will therefore benefit from the suggestions given on how to improve performance in the different ability areas
- Chemistry teacher trainers: The results of the research will be sued to sensitize teacher trainers on how teacher’s characteristics affect performance in chemistry and how they can be avoided to help bridge the gender gap
- Text book authors: The findings will enable textbooks authors to prepare materials for chemistry learning and teaching devoid of any gender bias.
Scope of study
The study dealt with students and their teachers in stratified randomly selected public secondary schools in Ikere Local Government area of Ekiti State.
Definitions of terms
In this study, the following terms were used for the purpose and with the intention as explained below:
Achievement test: Is a test developed and used primarily to find out how much students have learnt in a given domain or area of the curriculum
Attitude scale: Instrument purporting to measure emotions, values and feelings related to a particular discipline or subject.
Chemistry: Is a branch of science that deals with study of nature and properties of all forms of matter and the various changes that these substances undergo in different conditions.
Gender: Refers to social and cultural construction and representative of being ‘male’ and ‘female’
Science: Is a vast body of connected knowledge of theories and facts developed by scientists through scientific methods.
Spatial ability: The capacity to visualize objects in three-dimensional space. It is a measure of student’s ability to think and reason using imagery.
Organization of the thesis
This thesis has been divided into five chapters, chapter one outlines the context of the study including the background, statement of the problem, student objects, research questions, significance of the study, scope and limitations and definition of terms. Chapter two reviews literature with regard to the study. This is reviewed under four subsections factors that influence the learning of science, gender differences in learning science, Biological and socio-psychological theory. Chapter three provides the methodology. It includes the design and location of the study, sampling methods, research instruments and data collection procedures and the rationale for choosing them. Chapter four presents, analyses, the data collected and discusses the results, the discussions are based on the research questions touching on all variables related to gender differences in chemistry achievements as mentioned in the study.
Finally chapter five summarizes the findings and gives conclusion of the study. Also suggestions for additional research are given. A bibliography and appendices are presented at the end of the thesis.
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