1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Chemistry as a science subject plays a vital role in transforming the environment and improving the general quality of life. It is essentially needed for a nation’s technological development. As a core science subject, the proper teaching and learning of chemistry in secondary schools facilitates student’s enrollment in many professional disciplines like Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Engineering and Geology etc. Hence, there is the need for effective teaching and learning of Chemistry in Nigerian secondary schools. For teaching and learning of Chemistry to be effective, the classroom environment has to be conducive to both teachers and students. Chemistry as an important science subject is taught in many secondary schools in Nigeria as a single subject at senior secondary school level. Yet, in spite of all the benefits derived from Chemistry, students’ performance in Chemistry at the senior secondary school certificate examination in the last few decades is still low. Abrabam(1982), noted poor academic achievement in Science and Chemistry in particular. Ugwu (2004), noted that in 2000 and in 2001, of all the candidates who sat for senior secondary school chemistry examination, more than half of the students performed very poor in Chemistry that they could not use their result in Chemistry for further studies. Also WAEC annual report (2006, 2007 and 2008), noted poor academic achievement in Chemistry which manifested in constant poor grades and repetition of classes. Thus, one tends to question why the general unsatisfactory academic performance in Chemistry among the secondary school students. These poor performances in Chemistry have made some researchers to study the problem with the hope of finding the causes and possible solutions.
According to Ali (1986), science education at all levels is plagued by very many kinds of problems which include, under funding of science education; lack of adequate and appropriate instructional materials; lack of functional equipment; poor method of teaching; inadequate trained science teachers and laboratories that exist in dilapidated buildings. Chemistry as a core science subject is not counted out from the under listed problems. These problems lead to serious educational setbacks which invariably lead to low rate of secondary schools science achievement in Nigeria.
Ukeje (1984), said that geographical location is one of the most important differences between the educational conditions in the urban as against the rural areas. This shows that geographical location influences academic achievement. Onainor and Obiora (2001), maintained that gender is another major factor that influences the performance of students. He also states that boys out performed their female counterparts in the different school subjects. Haertel, Walberg and Haertel (1981), Anderson (1982), and (Fraser 1981a, 1986a) traced the problem of poor academic achievement to psychological, sociological, psychosocial and physical problems. Ukeje (1984), considering what should be the environmental factors affecting the performance of students, identified the factors as malnutrition which causes poor physical growth and mental development, diseases, injury, home background, culture and socio economic status of parents. It is a clear assertion that a students` home background influences his/her behaviour and school performance. This is because some students are from broken home where parents are separated, while others are from home where the marriage is stable and happy, and parents live together happily to see to their children’s educational needs and school work.. Children develop good learning habits and scientific thinking through practical and manipulative approach while at home. This is because of availability of ready materials like Newspapers, Textbook, Maps, Science journal and Toys. In such homes, children devote more time to studies which is not done in broken homes where quarrel are all the time. Educational psychologists recognize that home environment is among the factors that handicap a child in school and in life or may be a source of strong special advantage. Skinner (1963), points out that in order to understand and improve our standard of education, learning is not done only in the school. It is with the co-operation of the home and school environment that learning will be more affective. If one of them fails there will be a gap and the child will suffer.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The factors affecting academic achievement in science especially in chemistry has continued to be a major concern to educational authorities in Nigeria and other education stake holders. The trend achievement has been more pronounced in rural areas such as Dawakin tofa in Kano State(Rutter,1979). The students perception on academic achievement in chemistry have led to low mean grade for most candidates and thus jeopardize their chances for upward social mobility. At the national level the academic achievement s has led to low uptake of career in science and technology in an effort to reverse the trend, various measures are adopted targeting students, teachers and the overall teaching and learning environment(Schmuck,1992). Despite these measures, the academic achievement in chemistry in Dawakin Tofa Kano State continues with lower mean than the national averages being recorded year after year. The continued poor achievement in chemistry have been perceived by students to be as a result of a number of factors including student’s attitude towards chemistry, students resources for learning, students inter-personal relationship and students regularity to class(Okonkwo,1989). However, it is not clear which of the factors are responsible for the poor achievement of chemistry in Dawakin Tofa local government area of Kano State.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The general objective of the study is an evaluation on students perception and academic achievement in chemistry a case study of some selected secondary school in Dawakin tofa local government area of kano state.
The specific objectives is as follows:
1. To examine student perception on if lack of qualified teachers to teach is the reason for poor academic achievement in chemistry.
2. To evaluate students perception on if attitude of students towards chemistry affect their academic achievement.
3. To find out students perception on the availability of resources and student academic performance in chemistry.
4. To investigate students’ levels of perceptions of their Chemistry classroom environment and how it affect their academic achievement.