CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY Education helps individuals to adopt to a new environment. In Nigeria, education is seen as the only means of getting to the top hierarchy in any endeavor. In reality, when children achieve academic success, it provides parents and pupils a sense of fulfillment and delight (Fehintola, 2009). On the other hand, low academic achievement frequently causes grief and dissatisfaction in the student concerned, as well as his or her parents and other family members.). However, students' poor academic performance in internal and external tests reflects the issues and challenges confronting Nigeria's educational system today (Fehintola, 2009). Examination, according to Ndifon & Ndifon (2012), is a procedure in which students are assessed or tested to determine the quality of information they have gained in a given period of time. Internal or external examinations are possible. It might be verbal, written, or a combination of the two. An internal examination is one in which a school evaluates a student's ongoing assessment tests, terminal, semester, yearly, or promotional examinations. On the contrary, WAEC, NECO, GCE, JAMB, and other agencies authorized by legislation to conduct entrance tests are examples of external examinations. External examinations are those that are open and available to anybody who is competent to appear for them since they have all completed the same curriculum in preparation for the examination. Science is taught in secondary schools in two ways: basic science at the elementary level and specific science topics like chemistry, physics, and biology at the secondary level. However, it is concerning to note that research investigations and conclusions have revealed that secondary school scientific achievement is low (Onwuakpa and Nweke, 2000). Howbeit the significance placed by students and their parents on academic achievement or performance in chemistry, as well as the difficulty these students face in external examinations, have resulted in widespread failures, low grades, examination malpractices, cheating, and so on. This is the situation with student sitting the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) (Ojukwu, 1994). Every year when WAEC or NECO reveals their yearly results, there has been a widespread outcry as a consequence of pupils' low performance, particularly in science disciplines (Salami, Mohammed, & Ogunlade; 2012). Bizarrely, candidates' performance in WAEC and NECO's Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) has remained dismal throughout the years, with Chemistry having one of the weakest and worst scores (Ibe & Madusnum, 2001). For example, a review of the five-year SSCE Chemistry results from 2010 to 2014 reveals that only 26,680 of the 105,453 students who sat for Chemistry in all of Abia State's secondary schools credited Chemistry in 2010. As a result, chemistry is one of the most significant science courses in the school curriculum; its value in general education is recognized all over the world. It's worth noting that chemistry, science, and technology are all intertwined with the economic core of every highly developed, industrialized, and technologically sophisticated civilization (Burmeister 2012). The importance of excellent Chemistry education in Nigeria looks to be critical, and it so requires special attention. Chemical technologists and technical professionals, for example, are required in all of the chemistry-related disciplines listed above. Chemical engineering specialists are required to meet the increased workforce demand. Chemistry is a pre-requisite for many areas, thus they can't be studied well without it. This means that chemistry is a crucial scientific subject for practically all science-related professions, including medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, engineering, food, and nutrition. As a result of these features of Chemistry's relevance, schools, governments, students, and parents are concerned about students' low performance in Chemistry in senior high school diploma examinations. 1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Given the wide-ranging implications of low academic performance on students, parents, society, and the nation, it is reasonable and should be a positive development to investigate what students view as determinants or explanations for their bad performance on WAEC and NECO external tests. This will allow for the provision of solutions to improve student performance. Given the foregoing, and the fact that the factors suspected to be some of the reasons for students' poor performance in Chemistry continued to decline, the primary goal of this study was to find out what the students thought were the causes of their poor performance in Chemistry during both the May/June and November/December examinations. So far, research has concentrated on teacher-related issues in the teaching of science topics. Motivational orientation, self-esteem/self-efficacy, emotional difficulties, study habits, and bad interpersonal interactions are among the additional characteristics linked to low academic achievement. Nnaka and Anaekwe looked at the impact of teaching materials, methodologies, and practicals on academic achievement (2004). Although there have been significant efforts to examine some of the variables in other scientific topics, none has focused on what the students themselves see as reasons that drive poor chemistry performance. Therefore is upon this premise that this study seeks to asses factors affecting chemistry students performance in external examination. 1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY The main objectives of this study is to assess the factors affecting student’s chemistry performance in WAEC, specifically the study intends to: i. Ascertain whether poor teaching methods/strategies contributes to students’ poor academic performance in Chemistry ii. Investigate if the teachers utilization of instructional materials have any effect on the academic performance of the students in chemistry iii. Determine if gender differences of instructor has impact on students’ learning achievement in in chemistry.
iv. Establish strategies on how student performace in chemistry can be improved in secondary schools.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research is guided by the following question constructed in line with the research objectives:
i. Does poor teaching methods/strategies contributes to students’ poor academic performance in Chemistry? ii. Does teachers utilization of instructional materials have any effect on the academic performance of the students in chemistry? iii. Does gender differences of instructor has any impact on students’ learning achievement in in chemistry?
iv. What strategies can be adopted to improve secondary schools student performance in chemistry in secondary schools.