IMPACT OF GENDER ON SUCCESSFUL LEARNING OF CHEMISTRY IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS

IMPACT OF GENDER ON SUCCESSFUL LEARNING OF CHEMISTRY IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Content                                                                                             Page
Title page                                                                                          i
Approval page                                                                                  ii
Certification                                                                                                iii
Dedication                                                                                         v
Acknowledgment                                                                              vi
Table of contents                                                                              vii
Abstract                                                                                            viii

CHAPTER I
Introduction                                                                                                1
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

CHAPTER II
Literature Review                                                                              12

CHAPTER III
Research Methodology                                                                     33
Design of the study                                                                           33
Location of the study                                                                        34
Study population                                                                              35
Sampling                                                                                           39
Research instrument                                                                         40
Variables                                                                                           44

CHAPTER IV
Data Analysis                                                                                   46
Presentation and Discussion                                                             50

CHAPTER V
Summary                                                                                          51
Conclusion                                                                                        52
Recommendation                                                                              53

REFERENCES                                                                                 54

APPENDICES                                                                                  56
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ABSTRACT
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.

CHAPTER ONE
Introduction
         
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.

Year Girls Boys
2000 26 28
2001 26 29
2002 30 33
2003 29 32
2004 30 34
2005 28 32
2006 23 27

         
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:

  1. To identify the differences between boys and girls in chemistry achievement
  2. To determine the main factors that are associated with gender differences in chemistry achievement
  3. To identify attitudinal and aspirational levels of students towards chemistry.

Research questions
          The study attempted to answer the following questions.

  1. Is there any ability differences between boys and girls in the chemistry achievements
  2. 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?

Research Hypothesis

  1. There is no ability differences between boys and girls in the chemistry achievement
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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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