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1.1 Background to the study
Examinations and assessment are an integral component of our educational structure. They are conducted both formally and informally, at practically all levels of education and serve a variety of different functions. In the narrow sense, examinations and assessments may be thought of as having predominantly educational purposes. They may be used in order to:-
Ø Assess students' attainment at the end of a course or study programme.
Ø Evaluate diagnostically students' academic achievement, progress
and/or learning difficulties.
Ø Evaluate students' aptitude, possibly for the purpose of assigning them to different courses or teaching set.
Ø Evaluate the effectiveness of an educational programme or
Most of the examinations and assessments regularly conducted by teachers and schools on an 'internal' basis tend to fulfill one or more of these educational functions. Other examinations for example, those conducted 'externally' by the recognized examining boards and certain professional associations, likewise have a primary educational purpose: to assess the attainment of a student at the end of a course of study. The primary assignment of any school is to ensure effective teaching and learning of which assessment and examination a form of evaluation, plays a significant role especially in decision making about school programme
(Ijaya, 2002). Assessment in education in general is essential and is an on going process. It is the basis for all educational activities. Assessment information is a vital tool in the hands of the professional teacher. It directs guides and protects both the teacher and the learner at every stage of academics (Okwudire, 2005).
Continuous Assessment process is an important component of the National Policy on Education (FME, 2004). This system of assessment and evaluation is an innovation in the Nigerian educational system which has its genesis from the first national curriculum conference held in Ibadan in 1969. The outcome of that historic conference were published, a high powered committee consisting of educationist, university academics, civil servants, industrialist and intellectuals from various works of life was set up to study the report in depth and present recommendations based on its formulation into a new National Policy on Education (FME, 1977).
In 1977, an implementation task force was set up to prepare a blue print for the implementation of the new policy. Input into the Federal Task came from various state task forces set up for the purpose. The Federal Government White Paper on the implementation task force came out in 1979 and constitutes the basis of what is now the new National Policy on Education (FME, 1998). One of the distinct features of the new National Policy on Education is its emphasis on Continuous Assessment.
According to an extract from the National Policy on Education (FME, 1998) "Educational assessment and evaluation will be liberalized by basing them in whole or in parts on Continuous Assessment of the progress of the individual." The clearest statement as to how the desired 'liberalization' was to be achieved was stated in the National Policy on Education. And the type of education that will bring about self realization, better human relationship, national consciousness and technological progress in Nigeria (FME, 1998).
The new National Policy on Education in Nigeria has directed that Continuous Assessment should be used at all educational levels for the evaluation of student achievement. This means that every teacher from primary school to university should understand and practice it. Before the implementation of Continuous Assessment, the summative system of assessment was used where students will be assessed at the end of the term without including any other form of assessment, and this form of assessment is used to evaluate students achievement for placement and promotions to upper class. Mock examination was conducted prior to WAEC examinations. This result was often used to determine those students that qualify to write the final examination (WAEC) and also to secure provisional admission into higher institution before the release of WAEC result (Ango,1997). Carew(1985), stated that irrespective of how well a student's performance is during his/her years of schooling, if his/her performance in the summative type of examination is not good, he/she is considered incapable of advancing further in education.
Dodo (1985) maintained that "there are even few cases of suicide from failure in final examination". In view of the above reasons, schools and colleges adopted the Continuous Assessment system. The Federal Government of Nigeria stressed the need and importance of Continuous Assessment in relation to examination. It was stated in the National Policy on Education (FME, 1998) that there is the need for Continuous Assessment for the integration of all types of evaluations. Continuous Assessment therefore, represents a continuing awareness of the development of the pupil over a period of time and the general building of cumulative judgment. Continuous Assessment also referred to as "process evaluation" does not only measure advancement but also indicates the progress towards it. In science, especially chemistry, assessments should seek to measure the particular qualities that a curriculum or course seeks to foster in students. In the context of science (chemistry), such qualities may be divided into three broad categories outlined below according to Richard (1999):-
1. Intellectual abilities and skills that include the student's ability to recall, apply,
evaluate scientific information and to plan and device experimental
investigations for the solution of scientific problems frequently. Abilities of this nature are referred to as cognitive abilities.
2. Manipulative skills and abilities that include skills in the handling and manipulation of materials and apparatus in the context of scientific investigations, as well as ability to follow instructions and to make accurate observations. Generally these and related skills are referred to as psychomotor
3. Qualities that concerns students attitude and interest in science and the study of science and science related beliefs and values, as well as ethical judgments and interpersonal relationships. Qualities of this nature are generally referred to as affective characteristics: The influence of gender on the learning ability, interest and achievement of students cannot be overemphasized. Results of several researches conducted over the years revealed that there is significant difference in students’ choice of subject as well as their performance in science and non-science subjects. Olarewaju (2004) reported a significant difference between boys and girls achievement in the knowledge of biology concepts. Boys in this report were found to achieve better than girls. Dahiru (2004) also conducted a research to determine if gender is a factor in the selection of science subjects in Katsina Local Government Area. His result revealed that gender is not a factor in the selection of science subject in Katsina local government.
Adeqive (2000) attributes difference in learning ability of boys and girls to socialization process as girls are denied out of school and pre-school experience in problem solving especially those involving visual activity behaviour that inhibits the development of mathematics and science capability in girls. This research therefore, intends to provide equal opportunities for both boys and girls in the teaching and conduct of Continuous Assessment.
Academic achievement in science (Chemistry) is viewed in different ways by different authors; depending on the context in which it is viewed. Generally, achievements means accomplishment or exhibition of proficiency in a given skill or body of knowledge. Amuset (1994) viewed academic achievement as the knowledge obtained or skill developed in the school subject usually designated by test score or by means assigned by the teacher.
However, Okebukola and Jegede (1986) subdivided achievement into three categories. These are:
a. High achievers (top 75%)
b. Medium achievers (middle 55%)
c. Low achievers (bottom 25%)
Academic achievement, according to Musa (2000), refers to the quality of results produced by students as reflected in the quality of their examination scores. If more C.A is given, it means more motivation on the part of the students and it is hoped that the achievement will increase. Continuous Assessment is often used to motivate students to learn. According to Beard and Seniour (1980), motivation is understood by the teacher as "the urge to work independently either applying one self to his work, interest in ones task or course he has chosen, the desire for a good qualification and good employment, determination to pass examination or a defined goal which one has set for himself and sustenance of enthusiasm".
This study therefore, intends to find out if students given more number of Continuous Assessment per semester will perform better in the final examination than those who are not given. The study also investigates whether there is any difference in the achievements of male and female students exposed to Continuous Assessment. And finally, the study intends to finds out if there is any relationship between Continuous Assessment scores and final examination scores of NCE chemistry
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Science educators have advocated the need for Continuous Assessment as an integral part of science evaluation programme (Hambury, 1995). However, there is no empirical data to support the effectiveness of the Continuous Assessment system in promoting learning and to show whether or not the performance of students will increase on exposure to more C.A. As C.A has potency to motivate learners to learn. Vroom (1984) defined achievement as a product of motivation and ability. According to him behaviour is not only just influenced by ability but also by how much the individual wants to do certain events and by how much they expect they will do it. So when students are being examined they are motivated to work hard. Therefore, the problem of this study is to find out if exposure of students to many Continuous Assessments has significant effect on the final examination. More assessment means more motivation and thus better achievement, but sometimes human behaviour may change. Many assessments may mean more stress on the part of the student.
In some studies it is shown that there are gender-related differences in learning (Jegede, 1989 Mari, 1991 and Ajagun, 1998). This research uses the two gender and gave them same teaching and assessment techniques, so adequate step is taken to remove any gender difference in the administration of the treatments. This research work also tries to find out if gender has any effects in the administration of Continuous Assessment to students.
What is not known conclusively is the consistency of Continuous Assessment scores to examination scores. Odili(1995), in his study, asserts that some Continuous Assessment scores are not consistent with examination scores since they show little or no significant correlations. Ihiegbulem(1994), however, found out that a substantially high and significant degree of positive relationship exists between Continuous Assessment and examination scores. One of the purposes of this study therefore, is to determine whether there exists a relationship between Continuous Assessment and examination scores. There is the problem of correlating Continuous Assessment with actual examination scores for instance; it is not uncommon to find a student having very high score in continuous assessment and extremely low score in the final examination (Hassan, 1987). It is hoped that the results from this study will clarify all the stated problems.
1.3 Research Questions
In view of the above, the following research questions were formulated to guide the conduct of the study.
(1) What is the effect of frequent administration of Continuous Assessment on academic achievement of N.C.E chemistry students?
(2) To what extent do male and female students exposed to two sets of Continuous Assessment differ in performance in the first experimental group?
(3) To what extent do male and female students exposed to four sets of Continuous Assessment differ in performance in the second experimental group.
(4) Is there any relationship between Continuous Assessment and final examination scores of Economics student exposed to two sets of Continuous Assessment in the first experimental group?
(5) Is there any relationship between Continuous Assessment and final examination scores of Economics student exposed to four sets of Continuous Assessment in the second experimental group?
1.4 Null Hypothesis
The null hypotheses formulated for the study are:
HO: 1 There is no significant difference in the mean academic achievement scores of students exposed to Continuous Assessment and those assessed using final examination only in chemistry.
HO: 2 There is no significant difference between the mean academic achievement scores of male and female students exposed to two sets of Continuous Assessments in chemistry (that is the first experimental group E1).
HO: 3 There is no significant difference between the mean academic achievement scores of male and female students exposed to four sets of Continuous Assessments in chemistry (that is the second experimental group E2).
HO:4 There is no significant relationship between the mean Continuous Assessment scores of N. C.E. students exposed to two sets of Continuous Assessment in chemistry (that is the first experimental group E1).
HO: 5 There is no significant relationship between the mean Continuous Assessment scores and final examination scores of N.C.E. students exposed to four sets of Continuous Assessment in chemistry (that is the second experimental group 2).
1.5 Objectives of the Study
In view of the above, the study is geared towards achieving the following objectives:
1. To determine the effect Continuous Assessment has on final examination scores of N. C. E
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