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This research work studied the relationship between student’s gender and academic achievement in Computer Science in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. Part of its purpose was also to compare the achievements of private and public school students in Computer Studies. Two research questions were asked to give focus to the study. Two hypotheses were also developed to be tested at 0.05 level of significance. The research design adopted for the study was the expo-facto design since there was no special treatment given to the subjects and there was no control group. The population of the study comprised of all SS3 students in both private and public schools in Onicha Local Government Area. Simple random sampling was used to draw two co-educational schools from the study area - one private school and one public school. A total of 90 students composed the sample of the study. One instrument was used, Computer Studies Achievement Test (CSAT), a 30-item multiple choice test developed by the researcher for the purpose of data collection. CSAT was administered to the students in the private and public schools, after which their scores were recorded and used to answer the two research questions that guided the study using mean and standard deviation, as well as test the two hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance, using independent samples t-test. The results of the study showed that even though the female students had slightly better mean achievement than the male students (mean females = 20.02, mean males = 18.91), it was not significant (t=1.128, α = 0.263). The result of the study also showed that the private school students achieved better than their public school counterparts (mean private = 20.15, mean public = 18.98), although the difference between their mean achievements was not significant (t=1.150, α = 0.254). Based on the findings of this study, recommendations were made. Parents were encouraged to provide the right education they can afford for their children irrespective of gender. Also, there should be a deliberate Federal Government policy to encourage absorbance of female students into further study in computer science. Furthermore, it was recommended that stakeholders in the education industry should make use of these findings and try to research into ways of making gender sensitive policies.
1.1 Background to the Study
Computer science is the study of the theory, experimentation, and engineering that form the basis for the design and use of computers. This requires knowing the computer itself, how it is operated, what it can do, how it can do it and the reason it is doing it; these form the basis of computer studies curriculum in secondary schools(Adigun, 2015). Computer studies, a subject that is added newly to the senior secondary school curriculum in Nigeria which exposes students to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) needs to be accepted as a result of its comparable importance in this jet age.
The impediment to the low achievement of students in secondary schools in Nigeria has been a great debate in the issues of education. To overcome the impediment, it is important to know the root of such impediment. Many causes have been looked into as the origin for under-seeking the occurrence of failure or success in school. These causes are looked into from several views including the role of the students, teachers, parents or family, school environment, society, and government. Useful works among these are effects of: student’s study habits (Obasoro & Ayodele 2012; Ayodele & Adebiyi, 2013), school environment (Adesoji& Olatunbosun, 2008), teacher’s competencies (Akiri & Ugborugbo, 2009), parent’s economic status (Osonwa, 2013), continuous assessment (Okwu & Orum, 2012; Kolawole & Ala, 2014), educational funding (Ugwulashi, 2012). Though most authors has to be in harmony to elaborate failure from several causes view where the occurrence is resolved at several levels, and where multiple variables are involved.
Gender is one of such factors mentioned in literature to have considerable effects on student’s academic performance especially in science subjects. Gender is the range of physical, biological, mental and behavioural characteristics pertaining to and differentiating between the masculinity and femininity(male and female) population. The importance of examining performance in relation to gender is primarily based on the socio-cultural differences between boys and girls. Some vocations and professions such as engineering, arts and crafts, agriculture, etc. have been deemed as men’s exclusive reserve while others are considered women’s which include catering, typing, nursing etc. In fact, parents assign task like car washing, grass cutting, bulbs fixing, climbing ladders to fix or remove things to the boys. On the other hand, chores like dish washing, cooking, cleaning and the likes, are assigned to the girls. In summary, what are regarded as complex and difficult tasks are allocated to boys whereas girls are expected to handle the relatively easy and less demanding tasks. As a result of this way of thinking, the larger society has tended to see girls as the weaker sex. Consequently, an average Nigerian girl goes to school with these fixed exaggerated conception in mind.
Many reasons have been assign for low participation of girls in science. Some studies reported that females are deficient in science because they lack analytical and visual-spatial skills that are needed for abstract reasoning in science (Acker &Oatley, 2013). However, this argument has been proved wrong because emerging evidence shows that ability is not a determining factor in whether or not females would participate in science. Girls and boys are found to perform equally well if instructional context is fair and conducive (Erinosho, 2008; Campbell, Jolly, Hoey& Perlman, 2012).
Some researchers reported that girls performed better, in some others boys do. Okwo and Otunba (2007) reported that gender influence performance by 13.39% of the total influence factor. Aremu (2009) reported that boys are better than girls in Mathematics and other science subjects. Toh (2013) found that girls out performed boys in some other school subjects, while some other researchers found no difference in some cognitive tasks involving both boys and girls. Collis (2011) argued that secondary school policies requiring mathematics pre-requisites or co-requisites for work with computers always encourage greater participation of the male gender. If there is a single computing laboratory, it may be seen as a male territory. If computer resources are concentrated in the mathematics, science, and technology areas of the curriculum, many girls have no access to them.
Okwo and Otunba (2007) reported that boys performed better than girls in physics essay test. The joint influence of cognitive style and gender on the achievement of students in physics essay test was significant. Hedges and Nowell (2015) found no or slight gender differences in overall mathematics achievement, numerical ability, mathematics computation, concepts, and problem-solving.
While females used to lag behind males in a number of mathematics and science courses taken, in 2000, they now participated in the same or nearly the same number (Coley, 2011).
The importance of computer and ICT to nation building cannot be overstated. The significance of computer and ICT to nation building has led the federal government of Nigeria to make it a core subject offered to all students from primary to secondary education (FRN, 2008). In spite of the importance of computer studies among Nigerian students, differences in male and female performances have been noted, with males having slightly better performances than their female counterparts (WAEC Chief Examiner’s Report, 2012).
In view of the belief that student’s gender may have impact on the student’s academic achievement in science, this study will investigate the relationship between them in Computer Studies.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Gender gap in academic performance of students in schools is one among the problems that are attracting public concern and outcry in Nigeria today. This observable difference has been blamed on a number of factors including social, economic and cultural stereotyping. Observation had shown that there are differences between male and female in the pattern of education. These differences are causing disparity in gender participation and academic performance in Nigerian secondary schools. From the researcher’s point of view, it appears that not much research focusing on gender difference in academic performance in SSCE Computer Studies have been conducted especially in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Nigeria. In addition, among the few researches conducted on gender disparity in academic performance of secondary schools in Ebonyi State, none of the researchers gave a conclusive answer as to whether differences exist between the academic achievement of secondary school male and female students in science subjects.
Several studies have been conducted in the areas of gender-related differences in the academic achievement of students in science. It has been noted that males achieve better than females in Computer Studies. Males tend to achieve better in Computer Studies tests and examinations than females Okwo and Otumba (2007) and Aremu (2009). In some cases, females measure better achievement than males (Toh 2013). Consequent upon this, this study was conducted to compare the achievements of senior secondary male and female students in Computer Studies in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
Due to the significance of computer and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to nation building, the issue of gender differences in the academic achievement of the students in Computer Studies should be investigated. The purpose of this study is therefore to compare differences in mean achievement of male and female senior secondary school students in Computer Studies. Specifically, the study seeks to:
i. Compare the academic achievement of secondary school male and female students in Computer Studies.
ii. Compare the academic achievement of secondary school students in private and public schools in Computer Studies.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The result of this study would be helpful to Computer Studies teachers in secondary schools as well as the Ministry of Education in Nigeria.
Computer Studies teachers will benefit from this study as the result of the study will guide them to re-enforce or re-evaluate their methods of instruction, as well as instructional materials used, so as to bring about gender balance in student’s achievements in Computer Studies. The results of this study will guide teachers on whether to separate instructional techniques for males and females.
The study also examines the relationship between the achievement of students in private and public schools. The result of this study will be helpful to the Nigerian Ministry of Education to guide them in formulating the best policies regarding the teaching and learning of Computer Studies in secondary schools in both private and secondary schools. It will help the Ministry of Education to review the Computer Studies curriculum of secondary schools so as to improve its effectiveness.
1.5. Scope of the Study
This study compares the achievement of male and female students in Computer Studies in secondary schools in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. It is also directed at determining the relationship between students' achievement in private and public schools. The study is focused on determining the achievement between senior secondary school male and female students in Computer Studies, as well as the achievement between private and public secondary school students in Computer Studies.
1.6 Research Questions
The following research questions guided the study:
1. Is there any difference between the mean achievement of male and female students in Computer Studies?
2. Is there any difference between the mean achievement of students in private and public secondary schools in Computer Studies?
1.7 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance:
HO1: There is no significant difference between the mean achievement of male and female students in Computer Studies.
HO2: There is no significant difference between the mean achievement of students in private and public secondary schools in Computer Studies.
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