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This study primarily investigated organizational factors as correlates of science students’ academic performance in senior secondary schools of Lagos state. Variables such as teachers’ qualification, availability of laboratory facilities, utilization of school facilities, teacher-students attitude toward the teaching and learning of chemistry, teacher/student relationship were specifically considered to ascertain whether or not they have any relationship with students’ academic performance in chemistry. A correlational survey design was adopted for the study. A total number of 22 public senior secondary schools constituted the population while 550 respondents (500 students and 50 teachers) from ten of the schools randomly selected from Oshodi/Isolo local government area of Lagos state made up the sample. Data were collected using the “Organizational factors and science student academic performance questionnaires (OFSSAP-A for the teachers and OFSSAP-B for the students) and analyzed with Pearson product moment correlation statistics. The study found a significant positive relationship between the five organizational factor variables and academic performance of chemistry students. The study concluded that when the right work force along with the laboratory facilities are in place, functional and utilized, effective teaching and learning occurs. Based on the findings it was recommended that the stakeholders in education industry should improve on the learning environment of students, ensure that facilities are provided and utilized in all the senior secondary schools and the curriculum implementers improves in their relationships and attitude, it is most likely that student’s achievement in chemistry will be highly enhanced.
1.1 Background to the Study
From the inception of the world, there has been a constant interaction between man and his environment towards goal realization and this interaction with both the human, physical and material resources gave rise to an organization. Oxford advanced learners dictionary defines an Organisation as a collection of people working together in a division of labour to achieve a common purpose like the families, banks, companies, schools and others. The school could be viewed as an organized environment where educational curricular are interpreted; it can also be described as a formal structured organisation which serves as a transitional stage in life between family and the society (Olabode, 2002; Musa, 2004; Tabir, 2004).
The school organization has the sole purpose of developing the intellectual, the emotional and skillful aspect of an individual for the individual to be useful to himself and his society; the objective of a school boils down to the performance of the students’ academically and all round development of the individual. In order to achieve the objectives of an organization some factors come in to play. Some of the organisational factors that affect students’ academic performance in science discipline include: teachers and students related variables like the qualification of the teachers, teacher-student relationship and teacher/students attitude towards chemistry teaching and learning respectively; school environment related variable like class size, availability of laboratory facilities, utilization of facilities, school location and so on.
School as a social organisation plays a great role in the education of the citizens of any country. The overall development of any nation to meet the technological demand of the globalized society is inextricably tied to its level of scientific knowledge acquisition (Yara P., 2009). Scientific knowledge is one of the dimensions of science. What is Science?
Science is a way of explaining nature and it originated from the natural philosophy in the 17th century. A comprehensive definition of science states:
“Science….is a human enterprise including the ongoing process of seeking explanations and understandings of the natural world, and also including that which the process produces-man’s storehouse of knowledge. Science is process and product” (NSTA, 1961).
Scientists confront nature in order to unravel its mysteries by asking questions and designing experiments to test their ideas or answer such questions; scientific knowledge is thereby created, which can then be applied for good or bad (Ajeyalemi, 2009). He further stated that Science has three dimensions: its knowledge, method and applicability and differ from other discipline in the tentativeness of its knowledge, testability of its tenets, the universality of its methods and non-obsolescence of its methods.
Science comprises the basic disciplines such as chemistry, physics, mathematics and biology. For science teaching, a major universally- accepted objective is to make students scientifically literate and it is the same for all science discipline. The objectives of chemistry teaching in Nigeria senior secondary schools are to:”
(i) Facilitate a transition in the use of scientific concepts and techniques acquired in integrated science with chemistry;
(ii) Provide the students with basic knowledge in chemical concepts and principles through efficient selection of content and sequencing;
(iii) Show chemistry in its inter-relationships with other subjects;
(iv) Show chemistry and its link with industry, everyday life, benefits and hazards;
(v) Provide a course which is complete for pupils not proceeding to higher education while it is at the same time a reasonably adequate foundation for a post-secondary course.”(Nigeria, 1985).
These objectives are closely related to the aims of secondary educations in Nigeria – preparation for useful living within the society, and for higher education (National policy of Education Nigeria, 2004).
The stated objectives are not being realized in the lives of many Nigerians who graduate from secondary schools every year. This may be accrued to certain school organizational factors which in turn influence the students’ academic performance. Many investigators have shown that students in senior Secondary Schools are not very much interested in science (Esiobu, 2005; Okonkwo, 2000) and also large numbers of students seem to learn very little science at school, learning tends to be by rote and students find learning of science to be difficult (Eyibe, 1990; Jegede, 1992; Salau, 1996) though Chemistry is a subject that is applicable in our homes (kitchen, laundry, bedroom) and industries, it is Fun filled if we have a good understanding of the concepts. As important as the subject is and in spite of the effort of both the federal and state government to encourage chemistry education, students still shun the subject (Jegede, 2003). This is also evident in a recent report by the Shelter Right Initiative (Olubusuyi, 2003) that for eight consecutive years, between 1992 and 1999, Nigerian candidates trailed behind their counterparts from other countries in the West African region based on performance in science subjects conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
From personal experience, chemistry as a science seems interesting but it is dreaded by most students, some see it as an abstract thing, something that cannot be grasped, seen or understood; a very difficult subjects filled with lots of calculations and if the teacher as well as the school is not qualified and equipped to counter-act these disposition it will only culminate in Poor Performances in the science disciplines in both the internal and external Examinations.
Academic performance according to Adu, Ojelabi and Adeyanju (2009) can simply be viewed as an outcome of all academic tasks or rigours of a person which could be poorly or successfully stated. As noted by Ijaduola (2008d), academic performance cannot be gingered in students if they are discouraged so Teachers and other machineries are expected to meaningfully contribute to student's academic performance.
The quality of science teaching and learning has also been questioned over time by parents, science educators, and the general public and even by the government (Adepoju, 1991; Ivowi, Okebukola, Oludotun & Akpan, 1992; Okebukola, 1997). Science teaching in Nigerian schools has been criticised because of the Poor Performance of Nigerian students in science subjects relative to their counterparts in other countries. This is evident from the Second International Science Study in which Nigerian students came last in primary science and second to last in secondary science among the participating countries of the world (STAN, 1992).
For many years, educators and researchers have debated which school variable influence science students’ academic performance; as policy makers become more involved in school reform, this question takes a new importance since their initiative rely on presumed relationship between various education related factors and learning outcomes(Darling – Hammond L., 1999). At the seventeenth Lagos State Congress of All Nigerian Conference of Principals of secondary Schools (ANCOPSS) held in December, 2002 an ad hoc committee was set up to identify the causes of poor performance in the WASSCE. The committee was also asked to suggest ways of improving the quality of education in order to enhance better performance in both internal and external examinations in the state and obtained information on students’ population as well as infrastructural facilities; they identified possible factors militating against the enhancement of quality education and better performance of students in both internal and external examinations. Such factors include criteria for transition from primary to secondary schools, unplanned school plant, inadequate provision and maintenance of infrastructure, rapid student population growth, teachers’ qualification and experience, teaching-learning process, student-teachers relationship, student-teacher ratio, school authority- teacher relationship, student progression, among others (Adeogun and Osifila 2008)
A study by Jegede, Okota & Eniayeju (1992) revealed some of the factors responsible for students general poor performance in science, technology and mathematics, these factors include: poor laboratory facilities, inability of teachers to put across ideas clearly to the students and inadequate number of learning facilities in school as against consistent increase in the number of students.
Most of the schools in Nigeria do not have adequate facilities to produce competent scientists; some of the teachers are not properly trained and in turn they are not helpful and resourceful to the students; the knowledge they transmit to the students are mostly the cognitive aspect of learning, they learn the theories without the actual application of the theories to real life situation. Some schools that are provided with the facilities do not utilize the facilities in teaching and learning processes but only arrange it for students to use during external examinations. Olakoya (2004), Uya (2004), and Ijaduola (2007) contended that in an educational environment like secondary school, it is indisputable that facilities such as furniture, laboratory equipment and material have great influence in the teaching and learning process because without them the empty buildings and structures no matter how attractive they are cannot be used for educational purpose. Hence their availability and utilization are no doubt an essential part of educational planning without which students’ academic performance cannot be enhanced.
It was against the foregoing background that this study was embarked upon to: establish the relationship between the following school organizational factors - teacher qualification, availability of science laboratory, utilization of school facilities, teacher/students attitude towards chemistry learning, teacher-student relationship and academic performance of senior secondary school students in chemistry.
1.2. Theoretical Framework.
This study underlies the following theories:
1. Systems thinking theory
2. Human resources management approach.
3. Guided discovery theory
The system thinking theory: this theory was originally proposed by Hungarian biologist Ludwig Von Bertalanffy in 1982 is relevant to this study. The theory hinges on the concepts of a system being a series of interrelated and interdependent parts such that the interaction of any part affects the whole system. The study adopted this theory because academic performance is viewed in relation to several organizational factors like teacher qualification, availability of facilities, utilization of facilities, teacher/students attitude and teacher-student relationship; each of these factors is an interrelated part who fulfill specific role that invariably influence students’ academic performance which is a whole system.
The human resource approaches: they maintain that people are social and self actualizing. Hawthorne studies of 1962 showed that people’s feelings, attitude and relationships with co- workers should be important to the management and they recognized the importance of work group. They also identified Hawthorne effect- the tendency of persons singled out for special attention to perform as anticipated merely because of expectations created by the situation. His studies led to the emergence of human relations movement which suggests that managers using good human relationship will achieve productivity (Schermerhorn Jr. 1999); these are in line with the fact that when teachers and students attitude are in order and a good relationship exist among them, it will definitely lead to achievement in their academics.
Guided discovery approach: this is an instructional approach recommended for the secondary school chemistry curriculum which is derived from both theories of Jerome Brunner (1962; 1968) and Gagne.
Gagne advocates guided-learning, which can take place either in the classroom, laboratory or on field trip. Guided learning emphasizes a careful sequencing of instruction “with maximum guidance in order to stress the importance of basic association and facts in the eventual acquisition of principle and problem solving skills (Kahle, 1979). Evidence from many researchers has indicated the positive effect of hierarchically structuring knowledge, as recommended by Gagne, on students’ achievement in many subjects, particularly chemistry (Ajeyalemi, 1987). After properly sequencing of the learning experiences, it is then presented to the students by the teacher acting only as a guide and not as a repository of knowledge. It is related, but still different from Brunner’s discovery learning, which emphasizes learning through minimum teacher guidance and maximum trial and error exploration by the learner. He concluded that “any ideal or problem or body of knowledge can be presented in a form simple enough that any learner can understand it in a recognizable form”(Brunner 1966). The two approaches are distinguished by Shulman (1968) as follows:
Thus for Gagne, instruction is a smoothly guided tour up a carefully constructed hierarchy of objectives; for Bruner, instruction is a roller coaster ride of successive disequilibria and equilibria until the desired cognitive state is reached or discovered.
Gagne was not only interested in learning of theory but also in learning by doing. Accordingly experimental activities in science specifically should be based on students’ prior knowledge, and that “they should have some novelty in them, so that they do not become simple exercises in “following a procedure”, or in “performing routines” This implies that in the course of chemistry teaching, facilities should be provided for the students and they should be allowed to utilize the facilities, carry out activities with the teacher acting as a guide.
1.3. Statement of the Problem
The current situation of high failure rate in the science discipline in our senior secondary schools in Nigeria is a concern to all including the government and the society at large. Research indicates that many students found science to be boring, difficult and not interesting to them (Salau, 1995, 1996) Students participation in laboratory work, students’ attitude to chemistry teaching, availability of chemistry laboratory materials among other factors futher limits the academic performance of students in Chemistry (Okebukola, 1988).
Poor academic performance of students in chemistry due to some organizational factors is a problem because the goal of equipping students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology, as formulated in the Nigerian National Policy on Education (FGN, 1998) will become a daydream if it is not controlled and the citizens will not be able to develop scientific literacy useful for coping in the modern scientific and technological world.
Most chemistry educators regard practical chemistry as being very important for various reasons which include motivation, concept learning, development of skills and appropriate scientific attitudes; this is in line with the objectives of chemistry education (Bradley 1999; National Education Council, 2002) which is not being achieved due to some organizational factors. Chemistry as a science subject is activity oriented and the suggested method for teaching it which is guided discovery is resource based (NTI, 2007). This suggests that the mastery of chemistry concepts cannot be fully achieved without the use of instructional learning materials. Chemistry teaching demands proper utilization of laboratory facilities, though students are rarely exposed to practical work. Lee and Fraser (2001) reported that some science teachers usually do not place much value on laboratory activities since they feel this takes time away from teaching to cover the prescribed examination driven curriculum. Akpan (1999) observed that lack of practical activities by chemistry students has resulted in poor communication and observational skills; which in turn resulted to students’ poor performance in chemistry and high failure rate among the students in both external and internal examination
Morgil,Seçken & Yϋcel.(2007) submit that activities in many laboratories centered on verification of what is already known rather than helping students to develop process skills that could motivate them to stay longer on the task thereby leaving the mastery of skills to chance. Experientially, this suggests why many students just work to already given answers without concentrating on what the teacher teaches and finally end up with Poor Performance in external examination.
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