CAUSES OF STUDENT'S DIFFICULTIES IN LEARNING BASIC SCIENCE IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ENUGU SOUTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ENUGU STATE
This is research into the causes of student’s difficulty in learning basic science in Junior Secondary School in Enugu South LGA, Nigeria. The study investigated 150 secondary school students, 70 parents, 60 teachers, and 20 government officials from the Enugu State Ministry of Education. Five (5) research questions and one hypothesis guided the study. Separate questionnaires were used to collate data from the respondents. Frequencies, percentages, bar chat, mean, standard deviation, variance, and analysis of variance were used to answer the research questions and to analyze the result from the hypothesis. The results revealed that there are insufficient qualified teachers teaching basic science-related subjects in the sampled school as the percentages of the unqualified teachers constituted about 32.86%. They are either Nigeria Certificates in Education (NCE), Higher National Diploma (HND), or engineers. Although, the result revealed that students have a positive attitude towards Basic science-related subjects but the classes are usually overcrowded as the students are always more than 35-40 in the classes. It is also observed that lack of school materials such as textbooks, poor scientific home, students poor study habits at home, and above all, there are inadequate funding and a significant difference in the influence of the stakeholders on students’ performance in basic science related subjects. Recommendations were made based on these findings.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Science is the knowledge about the structure and behavior of the natural and physical world based on facts that can be proved. Science is an attempt by human beings to organize their experiences about nature into a meaningful system of explanation (Isyaku, 2009). The major objective of science education as stated in the National Policy on Education is “to equip the students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology” (FRN, 2004). Science has been and would continue to be of tremendous importance because of its ability to explain many natural occurrences and the central role it plays in the world’s current technology development. In our century, it is the soul of the prosperity of nations and it is economic and technological development as well as improving the quality of life of the individuals and the society at large.
Science, as a school subject, has over the years gained prominence in the school curriculum worldwide. In the last five decades, the world has witnessed science curriculum innovations and several changes in the teaching of the content at different levels of education.
Trowbridge and Bybee (1996), Ajaja (2007) identified the objectives of teaching science to include:- Knowledge of science academic discipline; to acquire the skills of scientific method; having clear explanations for societal issues through an increasing interest in science literacy and societal goals; for personal needs and for career awareness.
In Nigeria, the sciences are taught in school subjects like Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. The National Policy on Education in the National Curriculum for secondary schools volume 3 science stated specific objectives to be achieved by each subject curriculum.
Some of the most distinct characteristics of science are experimentation, observation, and discovery. It provides the development of skills of students asking questions and making investigations, making a hypothesis, inference of results of experiments to students. (Acikgoz, Kaygusuz & Oncul, 2004) Laboratory method is often used in science and it is targeted that students do trial and error activities. Therefore, laboratory applications are an integral part of science (Orbay, Ozdogan, Oner, Kara, & Gumus, (2003). The success of science programmes depends largely on classroom teachers. They constitute the most important agent in the ongoing exercise to revolutionize the teaching and learning of science. According to (Awotua – Efebo, 1999) science Teachers have the potentials for enhancing the quality of education by bringing life to the curriculum and inspiring students to curiosity and self-directed learning. Some definite demands on the teaching of science were made by (STAN) Science Teacher Association
of Nigeria. This means that there are some demands made of the teacher if he or she is to teach his or her course effectively. So also are some demands made of the students if they are to benefit maximally from the programme. Some of these demands, according to (STAN) Science Teacher Association of Nigeria, are as follows:
The demand of the Teacher is the quality of the teacher-Skills and successfulness, a teacher seeking new information on new teaching techniques, regular in-service training, regular or frequent evaluation of the students, re-thinking of the teachers approach in the class to assess the class and be able to modify his teaching method if such an approach is not working adequately and how well equipped are the laboratories.
Demands made of the pupils are wrapped around the aims and objectives of the STAN. Some of these
demands are:- Students should be able to recall, should be able to relate their experience to other subjects, should be able to communicate effectively, should be active involvement in the learning, and should be able to apply their knowledge to new situations.
The above-listed demands constitute themselves into a number of definite problems in the classroom. Generally, the education of a nation is evaluated in part by the quality of its teachers. The quality of teachers itself depends largely on the kind of training they received both at the academic and professional levels.
The purpose of teaching and learning of Basic Science education is specifically to produce three kinds of intellectual capital: scientist and engineers who will continue the research and development that is central to the economic growth of our country; technological proficiency workers who are capable of dealing with the demand of a science-based high technology workforce and specifically literate citizens who make intelligent decisions about public policy and who understand the world around them (Obomanu,2011). Accordingly, effective Basic Science education is critical to enable students to acquire:
The deeper intrinsic value of Basic Science education to shape and define our common life history and culture among others. Appropriate skills, abilities and competences that will enable them contribute meaningfully to the development of the society. (Obomanu, 2011).
And so, there is need for basic standard of achievement in preparing students for occupations in a highly scientific and technological environment (Encarta, 2005).
The tool to achieve all these depends so much on high achievement of students in Basic Science education education. It is however, sad to note that Nigerian students do not achieve as high as expected in Basic Science education to meet the challenges of the nation in this era driven by the relentless necessity for scientific and technological advance.
The problem of underachievement in Basic Science education has been attributed to the attitude of students towards the subjects, the teachers, the school facilities and the laboratory equipment.
Akinsola (2000) discovered that the threshold time spent by teachers’ trainee in class on students learning activities is very minimal. Whereas students should participates fully because activities that go with each concept have been arranged alongside with the concepts.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
This study was carried out in an attempt to identify the problems hindering the effective teaching and learning of sciences in secondary schools. The teaching and learning of sciences have standards to be followed by science teachers if effective learning by students is to be acquired.
Despite the fact that Government has invested a lot on science education, there are some persistent problems in our secondary schools.
Agun & Imogie (1988) prompted out the shortage of qualified teachers in many of our secondary schools particularly in the rural community. This will invariably affect the use of instructional materials in the teaching – learning activities because (a) The students’ population may be much (b) The incompetent teacher
who lacks the pedagogical skills may not be able to utilize the materials effectively even when they are available.
Moa Dowell (1969) conducted a survey of science teaching in secondary schools in Nigeria. His study was confined to the nine states outside the war zones. The survey was designed to examine certain critical aspects of science teaching in secondary schools, teachers, support facilities and equipment text book, chemicals prepared slides, community resources and inventive to teachers. He arrived at the following conclusions: That a large number of science teachers are untrained and that there is alarming turn-out of teachers at individual schools for a “better job”.
Adesenuga (1981) also commented that if any science is to be taught well, it should be taught practically, hence the need for sufficient materials for effective teaching of science within and outside the laboratory.
In order to resolve these difficulties, this research is aimed at finding the factors related to underachievement in Basic Science education. The question however remains, what are the causes contributing to student difficulty in learning basic science education in Junior Secondary School?
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to investigate the major factors contributing to the underachievement in BASIC SCIENCE education in Nigeria. Specifically, the objectives are to:
1. Find out the major factors affecting teaching and learning of BASIC SCIENCE related subjects in Nigeria.
2. Estimate the influence of some major stakeholders on the teaching and learning of BASIC SCIENCE related subjects in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
To achieve the objectives of this study, the following research questions were posed:
1. Are basic science teachers in sampled schools qualified and adequate?
2. What are the student’s attitudes towards basic science related subjects?
3. To what extent do home factors contribute to student’s difficulty in learning basic science related subjects?
4. Does government provide adequate facilities for the teaching and learning of basic science related subjects?
5. What influence do the combined variables above have on the difficulty of students in learning basic science related subjects in Enugu South LGA?
Ho: There is no significant difference in the influence of the above mentioned stakeholders and the difficulty of students in learning basic science related subjects in Nigeria schools.
1.6 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The importance of this study is to reveal students characteristics (variables) such as students attitudes, qualifications of the teachers, home base factors and school facilities to which little or no attention has been paid but which combine to determine their achievement in basic science related subjects. The study would also form a basis for advising teachers and parents on how to increase student’s interest and achievement in basic science related subjects. The school counselor could also use the findings in advising the students concerning the learning of basic science related subjects.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research work is limited to Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State. There are 20 public secondary schools in this local government area. 5 schools which is equivalent to 25% of the total schools were selected randomly for this study. The subjects of this research are the SSS 2 science students, science teachers, the parents and the officials of zonal educational office in the local government area of the states.
1.8 DEFINITION OF SOME TERMS
1. Science: This is the research investigation or study of phenomena aimed at discovering enduring principles among elements of the phenomenal world by employing formal techniques such as the scientific method.
2. Technology: this is the making, modification, usage and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, system, methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a pre existing solution to a problem, achieve a good or perform a specific function.
3. Mathematics: It can be defined simply as the field of study, size, numeration and the relationship between them. It is simply the tool used by man to know “How much, how many, how large, and how fast, in what direction and with what chances”.
4. Basic Science: The acronyms for Basic Science Education.
5. Underachievement: This means to do less well than might be expected.
6. Basic Science Stakeholders: These are people that contribute to the achievement of students in Basic Science Education. They include: the teachers, the parents and the government official of the state ministry of Education..