The Effect of Instructional Strategy in Incorporating Local Practices on Secondary School Students’ Interest and Achievement in Chemistry
Chemistry is the branch of science that deals with the study of the structure and composition of matter. Chemistry has often being described as the central science, being that effective study of chemistry lays a solid foundation for the scientific and technological development of an early learner in the sciences. Oriaifo (2002) while stressing the importance of chemistry education noted that chemistry equips the learner with specific knowledge skills and attitude which enables him/her become useful to him/her and the society at large.In Nigeria, chemistry as a subject occupies a prominent position in the nation’s secondary and tertiary curriculum. At the secondary level of education, a credit pass in chemistry is a pre-requisite for students to further their studies in fields like Medicine, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Engineering, Home Economics, Biological Science and other science related fields of endeavour.
Chemistry do not just start and end in the classroom or school as often perceived, phenomenon in chemistry are practiced in our day to day lives in and outside the school. Some of the home chemistry practices are the process of heating (cooking/warming) of our food, the process of washing our cloths with soap or detergents, addition of limestone when cooking (eg beans, unripe plantain etc), the process of boiling grinded fresh tomato to allow the liquid to get dried, addition of salt to perishable food stuffs in other to preserve them, boiling and filtering of impure water to make it clean for drinking, the process of putting stainless steel spoon into meat while boiling, the process of separation of kerosene or petrol from water, the process of preparation of pap from grounded maize (corn), the process of spraying insecticides in the house to kill insects, the act of melting ice block into liquid water for the purpose of drinking, preparation of our African delicacy fufu through cassava, the burning of materials in the presence of air (oxygen), the process of rusting of clean nail when it has been exposed to air and water (chemical change) etc. this is just to mention but a few. This goes to show that principles in chemistry are applied in our day to day activities even in our various homes. These principles are not just applied in our urban areas, even in our local villages chemistry is been practiced. For example, in most villages local soap is made from ashes of burnt plantain peels and used (or bleached) palm oil, qualitydrinking water has long been a problem in our local villages so most often people in the rural areas use alum to purify there drinking water, virtually all the different cooking practices in the local villages are based on chemistry phenomenon.
As important as the subject isand in spite of its day to day applications students’ achievement has long been poor and unsatisfactory year after year (Inomiesa and Unuero, 2003; Udo, 2008; WAEC Chief Examiners report 2007,2008, 2009 and 2010; Ogbu, 2012; Omoifo 2012). WAEC,2009 revealed that weaknesses associated with the performance of candidates in chemistry were attributed to lack of relevant textbooks, inadequate preparation for examination and non-familiarization with examination syllabus which was in essence attributed to wrong wayand manner teachers teachchemistry, that the teachings did not stimulate and sustain students’ interest in chemistry (Njoku 2007).The continuous record of students’ poor performance has attracted a lot of assertions (Nwagbo, 2002&Njoku, 2007). The steady decline in students’ performance in chemistry and its related subjects has remained a source of worry to the students, parents, teachers, government and even Non-Governmental Organizations in Nigeria. According to Asiyai (2005) teachers on their part haveused different teaching methods such asdiscussion, questioning, guided discovery, expository etc. to enhance the standard of achievement of students in external examinations like West African Examination Council(WAEC),National Examination Council (NECO) etc. notwithstanding these methods had not yielded expected results. These teaching methods include the conventional lecture method which is predominantly used in most Nigerian secondary schools due to the fact that most of the schools are over populated and the chemistry classes are over crowed, the chemistry syllabus is wide and the teaching time is often too short compared to the chemistry scheme, have not been able to salvage the poor performance in chemistry.(Adesida,Agbaji, Atere-Roberts, Bello, Dakare, Ihuoma, Kashim, Okonkwo, Otegbeye & Yabaya, 2002).
Interest has a lot to do, if there is going to be a meaningful improvement in the teaching and learning process of chemistry. According to Graber (2011), Piaget in 1974 considers interest a decisive factor in the learning process, he defines interest as the dynamics of assimilation, and every process of equilibration is based on interest. Together with many other authors it is believed that developing interest in a topic is an important pre-condition for self-directed learning as well as an important goal for school learning with regard to life-long learning, out-of-school behaviour and choice of profession. Since 1965, Herbart’s modern pedagogy has emphasized the value of interest not only as a means, but as an educational end in itself. Modern interest research has confirmed Herbart’s conception, and that interest-based motivation to learn has positive effect both on the studying process and on the quantity and quality of learning outcomes (Hidi, Renninger & Krapp, 2004).Due to the steady decline on interest in chemistry and in the sciences there is a decrease in enrolment in sciences in general and chemistry in particular. Omoifo (2012), indicated poor enrolment in sciences and technology education.
The question now is, why is there high rate of poor performance in chemistry? Why do students have low rate of interest in chemistry? Is it true that chemistry phenomenon are also practiced at home? Do chemistry go beyond the four walls of the schools? Do the students know that the process of heating (cooking/warming) of our popular bean cake (i.emoi-moi, a common African delicacy) is called water-bath in chemistry? Dothe students know that the warm feelings they get when they add detergents to small quantity of water is an illustration of exothermic reaction taking place between the water molecules and the detergent? Do the students know that addition of limestone when cooking (eg beans, unripe plantain etc) act as a method of increasing the rate of the chemical reaction taking place?Do the students know that the process of boiling grinded fresh tomato to allow the liquid to get dried leaving only the tomato is an example of separation technique in chemistry called evaporation process? Do the students know that the process of putting stainless steel spoon or nail into meat while boiling increases the rate of reaction and the stainless steel spoon or nail acts as a catalyst? Do the students know that the process of preparation of our African delicacy fufu through cassava is a chemical process called fermentation? Do the students know that the burning of materials in the presence of air (oxygen) is also a chemical phenomenon called combustion? Do the students know that the process of rusting of clean nail when it has been exposed to air and water is an example of a chemical change? This is just to mention but a few common cases whereby students’ home chemistry(i.e. local practice) is related to their school chemistry. This goes to show that principles in chemistry are applied in our day to day activities even in our various homes. Therefore, will incorporating local practices enhance students’ interest and achievement in chemistry?
Statement of Problem
A look through science education literatures in the past two decades and summaries of chief examiners’ reports of results by external examination bodies for exampleWest African Examination Council (WAEC), indicate that all is not well in the teaching and learning process of chemistry.
Poor performance of students in chemistry as a subject is on the rise. On an average scale,more than 40% of students who sat for chemistry in the senior secondary school examinations fail. Poor performance as recorded by WACE is also collaborated by results from National Examination Council (NECO), (Omoifo, 2012).
Poor enrolment in chemistry and its related courses is a clear indication that there is a great problem of lack of interest. For the fact that chemistry principles are used in our day to day human activities and its peculiarity in the field of sciences students ought tobe very much interested in chemistry and the level of enrolment ought to be high. But over the years enrolment in the subject has been poor, indicating that the level of interest has significantly dropped. The inability of students to relate chemistry lessons to local practices in their day to day home environment is also worrisome. Will incorporating local practices enhance students’ interest and achievement in chemistry?
To this effect, this study therefore, is an attempt to incorporate local practices (chemistry at home) in the teaching of chemistry at school.
The following research questions will guide the study:
- Will there be a difference in achievement of students taught chemistry by incorporating local practices (experimental group) and students taught chemistry without local practices (control group)?
- Will there be a difference in interest of students taught chemistry by incorporating local practices (experimental group) and students taught chemistry without local practices (control group)?
- Will there be gender difference in achievement in incorporating local practices?
- Will there be gender difference in interest in incorporating local practices?
The following hypotheses will be tested at 0.05level of significance.
Ho1: There is no significant difference in achievements between students taught chemistry by incorporating local practices (experimental group) and students taught chemistry without local practices (control group).
Ho2: There is no significant difference in interest between students taught chemistry by incorporating local practices (experimental group) and students taught chemistry without local practices (control group).
Ho3: There is no significant difference in achievementin gender amongst students taught chemistry by incorporating local practices
Ho4: There is no significant difference in interest in gender amongst students taught chemistry by incorporating local practices.
Purpose of the Study
This paper is aimed at finding outthe effect of instructional strategy in cooperating local practises on interest and achievement in chemistry. To achieve this stated goal, the paper will especially examine the need to ignite, stimulate and sustain students’ interest towards the learning of the subject. It will also assess the impact of gender and students’ home environment on the achievement of the students in relation to their disposition and perception of the subject.
Significance of the Study
The findings of the study will be significant in the following ways:
- To the chemistry teacher, this study will generally help in guiding and directing the teacher in the preparation of the lesson plan in ensuring to add instructional skills/materials that will relate to students’ local practice in their home environment to ignite, stimulate, sustain and develop student’s interest thereby improving the achievement of the students in chemistry in particular and sciences in general.
- It will demonstrate to the teachers the need to improvise on instructional techniques that will relate chemistry to students’ local practices in their home environment.
- To the chemistry students, the study will be of immense value to them since it will bring to their notice that chemistry phenomena in their lessons are what they are locally used to in their environment, this will develop genuine interest in chemistry classes if effective and efficient learning is going to take place, for them to retain what is learnt better and improve on their achievements.
- To the curriculum planner, the findings of this study will make it necessary now than before to specify appropriate instructional strategies for enhancing students’ interest and making the subject students centered. This will in turn help teachers/students develop interest in chemistry classes.
- To the Government and Non-Governmental Organizations, the findings of this study will provide a different point of view if the issue of poor performance of students in chemistry and sciences in general is to be tackled holistically. It will emphasize the need for organizing policies, seminars, lectures, workshops, etc. that will be aimed at developing/improving students interest in chemistry for the nation to advance to a higher level in science and technology
- To future researchers, the findings of this study will be a source of method, materials and reference for studies on similar topics.
Scope and Delimitation
The term “class” as used in this research refers to both theory classes and laboratory classes in secondary school. Thus, the scope of the present study will be limited to chemistry as experienced by students in secondary school chemistry classes.
This study will be carried out in Yenagoa Local Government Area, one out of the Eight Local Government Areas in Bayelsa State. This local government is chosen because it comprises more secondary schools in the state being the capital of the state. The class of interest is Senior Secondary II (SSII) chemistry classes.
The content area to be covered in this study will be delimited to chemistry S.S.II. Scheme of work from week II to week V topics.