Factors Influencing the Poor Performance of Students in Integrated Science
The main objective of this study was to investigate the causes of poor performance in integrated science in Junior secondary school in Nigeria, a case of schools in Lugbe, Abuja. Specifically, the study aims:
- To evaluate the availability of teaching and learning materials in Junior secondary school in
- To examine whether the teaching and learning environment is conducive for effective teaching and learning to take
- To identity the difficulties faced by teachers and students in the teaching and learning of Integrated science in Junior secondary school.
- To examine whether the curriculum is developed in consideration with the level of the learners and the appropriateness of the language used.
In this chapter an attempt is made to review Literature on Integrated science, Literature on teaching and learning Integrated science, performance, choice and selection of science students in the ordinary level. The Literature focuses on student motivation, attitude, and student level of achievement, availability of teaching and learning resources as related to the students’ level of performance in Integrated science.
The word science comes from Latin word Scientia, which means knowledge; It is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in a form of testable explanations and predictions. In modern usage science often refers to a way of pursuing knowledge itself. Science also refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied. A practitioner of science is known as a scientist, (Butts, D.P 1977).
The learning environment includes all the facilities, infrastructure available at the place where the school is located and all that can be found within the school surroundings. For the case of this study, the learning environment refers to the physical location, teaching delivery as well as approaches to learning whereas the term infrastructure is used to refer to things such as classrooms, furniture, laboratory and the library, (Chonjo et al, 1996).
These are instructional materials used to support students and teachers in the whole process of teaching and learning. They include text books, schemes of work, lesson plans and other related resources responsible in facilitating the teaching and learning process, (Chonjo et al, 1996).
Performance is the accomplishment of a given task measured against preset standards of accuracy, completeness, cost and speed. Education performance is deemed to be the fulfillment of an objective in a manner that ensures that the performer has attained the set goals in the given level of education. Performance in education is always accompanied by an academic certificate to show that the performer has successfully completed the grade or course and has attained the stated grades, (Butts, 1977).
Theoretical literature review
Several projects have been working in trying to provide solutions to the causes of poor performance in Integrated science in Junior secondary school, including the work by female education in mathematics and science (FEMSA) in Africa. FEMSA was a project under the forum for African women educationalists (FAWE). The project was designed to attract more women into science, mathematics and Technology (SMT).
This targeted girl’s schools in special pilot areas, which included schools in Bagamoyo, karagwe, Bukoba, Ilala, Morogoro and Muleba districts .A number of publications have been produced and have presented success and recommended the following; Government should improve equity of distribution educational facilities throughout the country, it should design subject and examination syllabi taking into account the resources and facilities available in the country so that no school remain disadvantaged by having difficulties following set syllabi that call for use of materials and resources that are unavailable in their school. The drawbacks of these projects are due to the fact that they only concentrated on girl’s performance whereby the conclusion was not applicable to all cases.
In his study (Siwel, 2008) revealed that there is a close relationship between subject preference and performance. On one side, preference was found to be a factor of performance while on the other hand subject performance influenced preference, so the two variables were found to be independent, each being pre disposed to become dependent or independent variable of the other. The researcher concluded that, preference and poor performance in Integrated science were linked to the following factors: students characteristics, subjects being optional, teachers’ characteristics, and lack of proper guidance and counseling for students and shortage of teaching and learning materials.
It is evident that the performance of Integrated science in Junior secondary school in Nigeria has been on the decline, as reported by the ministry of Education and Vocational training in the recent years.
The percentage of the students who scored grade A-C has been very low in Integrated science compared to non-Integrated science. The performance has been on the decline since 2008 onwards especially in Integrated science. This study will seek to establish the possible root causes of this poor performance in our Junior secondary school as well as propose solutions to this problem based on the findings. It is widely acknowledged that children’s academic achievement is influenced by their home and family background. Family income, parental education and occupation, basic home amenities as well as cultural and psychological factors have all been studied for their influence on children’s academic performance (Kibga , 2004).
Performance measures in school authority and school plans and results reports provide information on achievement of outcomes on key aspects of the education system. This information is an essential part of accountability that enables the organization to: (i) Assess and report on progress, what is working well and what needs improvement. (ii) Determine priorities for improvement and set improvement targets. (iii) Make program and budget decisions to maintain good performance and improve performance in areas requiring improvement.
Measures typically provide quantifiable information on key aspects of education. This information is generated quantitatively through tests, surveys, and data analysis or through qualitative means, such as observation, interviews and portfolio reviews. Whether quantitative or qualitative, measures demonstrate observable change. To be meaningful, measures information is obtained regularly (e.g. annually) and is normally expressed in percentages, ratios or numbers in relation to a total, (Kibga, 2004).
This chapter discusses the methodology and procedure that will be deployed in sampling, collecting and analyzing data. It also focuses on how the sample size was selected and the instruments used in data collection as well as the data analysis procedure.
This study used both primary and secondary data. Primary data was obtained through the questionnaires while secondary data was obtained from other sources like NEC which is the National examinations body and the ministry of education and vocational training.
The study was designed with the objective of establishing the causes of poor performance in Integrated science with Nigerian Junior secondary school as a reference. The study involved designing of students questionnaires which were answered by the science students in the selected Junior secondary school. Teachers were also given questionnaires and interviews were conducted with the heads of science departments of the sample schools. The same questionnaires were given to other three selected schools outside the study area and were filled by science students of the same level and their teachers and interviews were conducted with the heads of the science departments of the selected schools. The interview notes and questionnaires were analyzed and the results are shown in chapter four.
Investigative research approach (an inquisitive method of knowledge generation) was adopted where science students and science teachers were involved. The strength of investigative research in this study lies on its applicability in curriculum implementation in a Junior secondary school context. In addition, investigative research will give the researcher an opportunity to realize the appropriate structuring and organization of effective teaching and learning of Integrated science in Junior secondary school. This approach will therefore go a great length in improving the teachers’ methodologies in teaching and learning process of acquiring skills in science. Findings in an investigative research act as guidelines for future development of teaching materials based on similar settings, (Frank, 2003).
The Participant schools were drawn from five schools in Lugbe Abuja. Junior secondary school which were selected through random sampling taking into consideration the availability of science laboratories and other learning materials in these schools. The population included the ordinary level students following the Nigeria national curriculum. Cluster sampling was used to provide the researcher with a cross sectional population study which might have influenced the findings due to availability of extra learning materials like text books at home.
DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF THE FINDINGS
This chapter presents the data analysis and discussion of the findings of the study on investigation of the factors that contribute to poor performance in Integrated science among students in Junior secondary school in Nigeria.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
This study set out to investigate the factors that contribute to poor performance in Integrated science in Junior secondary school in Nigeria. This chapter presents a summary, conclusion and recommendations of the researcher. The summary of the main findings are discussed in section 5.2, section 5.3 presents implications of the findings while 5.4 presents the conclusion. Section 5.5 presents the recommendations, 5.6 presents the limitations of the study.
Summary of the main findings
Sciences are high profile subjects at Junior secondary school level in Nigeria. At the ordinary level it is only biology which is compulsory while physics and chemistry are optional subjects. Despite the innumerable efforts geared towards improving the pedagogical approach and in shaping of the shaping of the science curriculum, the failure rate in Integrated science in the recent past has been dramatically high and among the many reasons put forward to explain the failure include :-
- Poor pedagogy in science education
- Negative attitude towards Integrated science among students
- Lack of resources such as books, and well equipped
The remedies of these shortcomings include, among others ensuring that the required materials and resources are availed to all the schools, both public (ward and government) and private Junior secondary school. The chalk and talk method of teaching science is still dominant in science education in Nigeria. It’s also important to note that some Integrated science are compulsory to all students including some with very poor background due to poorly trained science teachers.
The performance is still poor and the teaching and learning process is still dominated by chalkboard teaching with most science teachers exhibiting a lot of pedagogical limitations due to poor training. Recent researches findings indicate that most science teachers still hold on to the instrumentalists view that: Science is looked upon as consisting of an unrelated collection of facts, rules, skills and processes to be memorized. This theory explains the underlying assumptions of most science teachers and further gives us insights on why teachers treat science learning as a passive reception of knowledge and the consequent unreasonable demands placed on learners to be submissive and compliant in the learning process.
Science learning should be viewed as an active process of construction of knowledge as a meaningful whole. This implies that the teacher will engage in classroom behaviour that aims at developing autonomy and the learner’s own interest in science. Several studies carried out in the recent past indicate that, for student to construct meaningful knowledge in sciences, the teaching approach should be inquiry oriented. Designing of hands-on materials that are inquiry oriented have shown great potentials in assisting teachers change their attitudes, beliefs and classroom behaviour in the teaching learning process. This study focused on investigating the causes of poor performance in Integrated science in Junior secondary school with a view of investigating from teachers and students whether the teaching methods used are appropriate or not. The study was based on the premise that the greater the knowledge of different learning resources and methodology, the more freedom the teacher had in the chosen teaching approach. Methodologies which involve use of computer aided instruction have a great potential in developing interactive teaching and learning. Example of such studies includes the use of MBL in activity based teaching in physics by Tilya, ( 2003).
The findings of this study indicate that there is significant effect of performance in Integrated science due to lack of enough teaching and learning resources. The science performance in our Junior secondary school can be improved if students are involved in practical lessons under the guidance of well trained and qualified personnel. This will increase their motivation hence change their attitude towards Integrated science hence raise the performance.
The main conclusions drawn from this study are:
- Availability of teaching and learning materials generally affects the performance of students. These materials should be made available and they should be of good quality in order for them to produce accurate results during a practical session. Other schools had no equipment at all and they opted for alternative to practical which is not applicable since these students require this knowledge for their future careers as
- The teaching and learning environment in some of the Junior secondary school was found to be unfit for science lessons. Some had no laboratories and the practical lessons were done in the classroom. Parents, the government and the society at large should ensure that the environment is conducive for learning to take place effectively.
- The findings of this study indicated that one of the major difficulties that the teachers face while teaching Integrated science is the students’ negative attitude towards Integrated science. They have a perception that the sciences are always very tough compared to other subjects which discourages them hence affecting their performance.
- The curriculum developers must always involve the curriculum implementers in the process of revising the curriculum. The syllabus should be revised regularly despite the current trend of revising them after every five years. This will ensure that the views of the implementers and other stakeholders are incorporated
It is therefore recommended that in this study,
- The low achievement level in Integrated science at Primary level demands for revolutionary ideas to motivate students in learning the Integrated science. Teachers should use modern methods of teaching including use of computers in teaching Integrated science in order to motivate and sustain students’ interest in sciences as far as possible and in most science
- The government, parents, school administration and the society at large should work together to ensure that the teaching and learning environment is conducive to the teachers and students for effective learning to take place. They should give support by providing the necessary materials and equipment required which includes well equipped
- Teachers should be more innovative in preparing teaching and learning materials to help them modify their teaching strategies in order to embrace the benefits of interactive teaching, including longer and increased students’ conceptual understanding.
- Comprehension, enhanced learning and easy remembering is enhanced by inquiry and interactive teaching approach. Therefore, science educators should employ computer, modeling and animations through technological innovativeness while preparing educational materials. Curriculum material preparation principles should also be observed while preparing these materials.
Limitations of the study
Knowledge on the importance of sciences in the society should be well disseminated in order to sensitize more students to study sciences in Junior secondary school. This requires more practical and theoretical knowledge, at this stage some schools had no laboratory facilities at all and they opted doing alternative to practical in their national examinations. Thus, the students in these schools had no idea on practical since they had never stepped or done any experiment in a science laboratory. When responding to the questionnaires they had a definite answer since they had not had an experience to handle the equipment.
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