Background of the Study
Science consists of an organized body of knowledge, an attitudinal disposition, as well as a process and activity. According to Yanpar (2007) science deals with practical application of ideas through manipulation of materials in such a manner leading to discoveries. The contributions of science to overall development of all nations cannot be over emphasized. This is the reason science holds an important position in the curriculum of Nigerian educational system (Federal Republic of Nigeria, (FRN), 2004). Therefore, the teaching and learning of science would require the acquisition of the science process skills.
Science process skills (SPS) are transferable skills that are applicable to many sciences and reflect the behaviours of scientists. According to Ozgelen (2012), science process skills are thinking skills that scientists use to construct knowledge in order to solve problems and formulate results. Sevilay (2011), posits that the mastery of science process skills enable students to conceptualize at a much deeper level, the content they do know and equips them for acquiring content knowledge in the future. The skills facilitate learning in physical sciences and ensure active participation of students in practical situations.
The science process skills form the foundation for scientific methods. According to Ibe (2004), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) came up with fifteen (15) science process skills. These include: observing, communicating, classifying, measuring, inferring, controlling variables, formulating models, questioning, designing experiment, hypothesizing, interpreting data, defining operationally, using number, using space/time relationship and predicting. However, this study will be concerned with five science process skills out of the fifteen proposed by AAAS. The reason for this choice is in line with Ajunwa (2000) who argued that science process skills, such as measuring, observing, experimenting, communicating and classifying are crucial for the development of a meaningful understanding of scientific concepts, propositions and for a meaningful use of scientific procedures for problem solving. Therefore, these skills seem to be very important individually as well as when they are integrated together.
Furthermore, it has been maintained that the basis of learning how to recognize, define and to some extent, solve individual and social problems is learning how to gain the science process skills (Aktamış and Ergin, 2007). This means that science process skills are inseparable in practice from the conceptual understanding that is involved in learning and applying science. In practical terms, according to Ogunniyi (2000) students’ low acquisition of science process skills could result in their failures. This affirms why Omajuwa (2011) reported that out of the 15 science process skills recommended for science curricula, about 70% of the students still experience difficulties in acquiring them. Therefore, students seem to experience some difficulties in science process skill acquisition.
In this context, acquisition of these science process skills could help the learner to develop self confidence and self reliance about the understanding of the world around him /her. Also, the acquired science process skills would help the learner in the meaningful exploration of the environment and place the learner at a position of solving world problems. Koray (2006) opined that more scientific process skills featured in chemistry curriculum help students grasp concepts, adopt attitudes, and improve skills related to chemistry class. For this reason, the acquisition of science process skills are the basis for scientific inquiry and the development of intellectual skills that are needed to learn chemistry concepts.
Chemistry is the scientific study of the interaction of chemical substances that constituted atoms or the subatomic particles: protons, electrons and neutrons (Adesoji and Ogini, 2012). Chemistry as a subject offered at senior secondary schools in Nigeria, takes a central position in science, technology and industry (Ajah, 2004). Corroborating this, Eke (2008), asserts that any nation aspiring to be scientifically and technologically developed must have adequate level of chemistry education. The key role of chemistry in equipping the individual and developing the entire society is made clear in the chemistry curriculum at the senior secondary school level which include: to show chemistry and its link with industry, everyday life benefits, hazards and to provide a course which is complete for individuals not proceeding to higher institution(FRN,2004). Chemistry has been a pre-requisite subject for most science oriented courses in tertiary institution and this makes it necessary that its teaching should be very effective for easy mastery of its various concepts such as volumetric analysis.
However, a close look at the objectives of chemistry education in Nigerian senior secondary schools reveal the emphasis on acquisition of science process skills in chemistry (Ajah, 2004). In spite of this, it has been revealed that poor acquisition of science process skills in secondary schools seem to make it difficult for students to learn. In view of this, Irez (2009) opines that identification and definition of the science process skills are not simple task, let alone their application to chemistry concept like volumetric analysis. Tajudeen (2005) reported that senior secondary school students perceived volumetric analysis as a difficult concept to experiment. Therefore, poor performance in volumetric analysis could be attributed to lack of acquisition of the appropriate skills by the students.
In practical terms, Ajewole (2005) observed that students’ performance in volumetric analysis often fall below international standard; implying that their knowledge and understanding of science do not meet the standard for competence in the global market. There has also been a persistent report about the poor performance of students in science particularly in chemistry over the years (Oyedokun, 2002). According to Adeyemi (2013) in 2011, of the total number of 43 students who sat for chemistry practical (volumetric analysis), 504 or 90.05% failed. Although 9.95% passed, only 24 candidates or 0.05% passed at credit level and above. In 2012 of the 97,595 students that sat for the paper, only 8,109 or 7.57% passed at credit level and above, while 70.48% failed. Moreover, in 2013, out of the 44,950 students that sat for the paper, 2,577 0r 5.32% had credit and above, 3,432 or 7. 09% had passed, while 37, 973 or 70. 39% failed respectively (WAEC Chief Examiners Reports, 2013). This is manifested in the low percentage of students who make the required credits at the school certificate examination. By implication, students’ poor performance in volumetric analysis could be as a result of inadequate laboratory materials required in chemistry practical.
Consequently, Ogunleye and Babajide (2011) reported that lack of adequate laboratory materials could be seen as factor that contributes to students’ poor performance in volumetric analysis. Laboratory materials, according to Demide, (2007) refer to apparatus or equipments which are used in the laboratory for a particular activity or purpose. Oloyede (2012) listed laboratory materials to include apparatus, reagents in the laboratory, laboratory equipments and chemical samples, among others. Therefore, because of the abstract nature of chemistry, and unavailability of the needed materials in the school location, students may find it difficult to grasp the said chemistry concept of volumetric analysis.
Location is a particular place in relation to other areas (Yusuf, 2010). According to Burgeson, Fulton and Spain (2006), location is where a people or person resides in the world. It means a position or site occupied or available for occupancy or marked for some distinguishing feature. Location in this study means places or areas where schools are situated; this could be urban or rural. Urban schools are those schools located in city or township areas. Rural schools are those located in hinterlands. Owoeye and Yara (2011) reported that schools in urban locations had better academic performance than their rural counterpart in volumetric analysis. This depicts why Wehmeier (2005) opines that schools in rural areas lack quality and experienced teachers who can withstand the difficulties encountered in such areas irrespective of students’ gender.
Gender, according to Oludipe (2003), is an ascribed attributes that differentiates feminine from masculine socially. The difference in academic interest and performance due to gender is a crucial matter to educationists (Duyilemi, 2005). Kissau (2006) and Bosede (2010) assert that gender of the students could be among the factors influencing students’ academic achievement in some subject areas. In order to buttress this, Okeke (2008) gave a broad analytical concept which draws out women’s role and responsibilities in relation to those of men. That means that women and girls grapple with a lot of discriminations and difficulties (Ezeano, 2002). This may be the reason why Bosede (2010) stated that gender influences students’ academic achievement in volumetric analysis. Therefore, gender seems to contribute to differences in students’ performance in science subjects such as chemistry.
In addition to this, the issue of gender differentiation seems to be a strong issue in Nigerian culture. There is a general belief among Nigerians, that boys are superior to girls in terms of physical physique, cognition and logical reasoning (Duyilemi, 2005). Okeke (2007) asserted that gender stereotyping permeate every aspect of human endeavor and come to mould and colour our thoughts and expectations of the capabilities of individuals. The author insists that the consequences of gender stereotyping cut across social, economical, political and education development, especially in the area of science and technology. At the secondary and higher institutions of learning, the system tends to prepare girls for what Oludipe (2003) called soft profession and domestic work. This affirmed why Umoh (2003) stated that more difficult works are usually reserved for males while the females are considered feminine in a natural setting. Thus, in schools, males are more likely involve in difficult subject areas like volumetric analysis (Okeke, 2008). Owning to these views, gender seems to be a factor in chemistry teaching and students assessment.
Assessment involves act of observing behaviours, performance or project. Assessment is the process of collecting useful information about an activity, programme, project and performance so as to make valid judgment. Jatto (2001) viewed assessment as a process of obtaining information about programme, student, project and person that could be useful for making decision. Operationally, assessment is the process of obtaining information about chemistry students’ performance in secondary schools. As such, the assessment of students’ acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis remains in doubt. It is against this background that this study seeks to assess the senior secondary school students’ acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis in Ondo Education Zone of Ondo State.
Statement of the Problem
The teaching and learning of science requires the acquisition of science process skills, which enhance student performance in science generally, but chemistry in particular. At the secondary school level, academic performance and students’ acquisition of science process skills in Nigerian senior secondary schools has been a subject of concern to stakeholders such as educators, parents, administrators and researchers. Reports indicate that chemistry students perform poorly in aspects of chemistry, especially volumetric analysis, as a result of poor acquisition of science process skills, necessary for understanding of the concept. Moreover, out of the 15 science process skills recommended for chemistry teaching, about 70% of the students still experience difficulties in acquiring them.
Likewise, it has been argued that location is among the major factors that influence students’ performance in acquisition of science process skills with respect to volumetric analysis. Reports indicate that schools in urban areas are better equipped with apparatus than schools in the rural areas. Likewise, there is no common consensus as to whether gender is another factor that affects the acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis and this tends to suggest that the science process skills of male and female chemistry students may vary. The problem of this study put in form of a question is: what is the extent of acquisition of science process skills in senior secondary school III students in Ondo Education Zone of Ondo State?
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study is to assess the level of Senior Secondary School Students Acquisition of Science Process Skills in Volumetric analysis. Specifically, the study sought to:
- determine the level of senior secondary school students’ acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis;
- ascertain male and female senior secondary school students’ level of acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis;
- ascertain rural and urban senior secondary school students’ level of acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis.
Significance of the Study
This study has both theoretical and practical significance. The theoretical aspect hinges on hierarchical theory of learning. The theory holds that student can obtain the prerequisite knowledge only if they have acquired the underlying principles, which show that students need to acquire the science process skills for them to understand and practice science effectively. Thus, there is need to assess the acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis. This study will contribute to the world of knowledge by further affirming the assumption of the Gagne’s hierarchical theory of learning, because a concept is better learned in a hierarchical order.
In the aspect of practical significance, the result of this finding (i.e assessment of senior secondary school students’ acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis) would be of use to the students, teachers, curriculum planners, science educators and parents.
The findings will be of immense benefit to students opting to study professional courses in the Universities. It is expected that science process skills acquired in volumetric analysis will enhance performance of science students, meaning that more students will be available for enrolment in science professional courses in the universities.
The finding of this study will also help the teachers in minimizing rote learning by the students, so that science can be seen as productive oriented venture. Moreover, what the teacher will impart on the students will be more meaningful and the teacher’s work will also be more appreciated and more easily understood. In addition, the findings will inform classroom teachers on the need to ensure that students have the required knowledge on different chemistry concepts. The findings of this study will help to improve teachers’ mode of assessing learning outcomes by exposing them to the factors that could mar or make the assessment processes in the school for decision making. It will also help teachers to know the strengths and weakness of the students in the teaching learning process. It will be useful for them in detecting differences in skills attainment as a result of students learning science.
Additionally, these research findings will help the curriculum planners to obtain information necessary for assessing the effectiveness of the secondary school chemistry curriculum. It will also provide the curriculum planners with the strategies for improving the secondary school chemistry curriculum.
Furthermore, the findings of this study will help Science Educators in training of the science teachers in secondary schools in line with the competencies required for inculcating these science process skills in students. Moreover, these results will enable the science educators to find the needed solution to the problems involved in the acquisition of science process skills as well as creating awareness of necessary factors that could promote the acquisition of these science process skills.
Scope of the Study
The study is limited to five science process skills out of the fifteen identified by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) that is, observing, communicating, measuring, experimenting and classifying. These are preferred because they will enhance the acquisition of science process skills in the concept (volumetric analysis) selected to guide the study. While the content scope addresses acid-base titration. The choice of this concept is because it is contained in SS3 chemistry curriculum of the Federal Ministry of Education and the choice of SS3 students is because the researcher believes that students in SS3 should have been exposed to chemistry as a subject and the content to be covered is in their scheme of work.
The following research questions guided the study:
- What is the level of senior secondary school students’ acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis?
- What is the difference between senior secondary school male and female students’ level of acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis?
- What is the difference between rural and urban senior secondary school students’ level of acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis?
The following null hypotheses were formulated and were tested at an alpha of 0.05.
Ho1: There is no significant difference between the mean level of male and female senior secondary school students’ acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis
Ho2: There is no significant difference between urban and rural senior secondary school students’ mean level of acquisition of science process skills in volumetric analysis.