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                                                   CHAPTER ONE


1.1 Background to the study

Globally, a number of students are pursuing university education. The need to raise their status in society, need for belonging, security at their work places, masterly of their teaching subjects and self actualisation among others, motivate  students to enrol for university education (Mc Innis, 2001).

 (Krause et al. 2005).

Taniguchi & Kaufman (2005) note that, although the number of students pursuing university education is increasing, his is not the same with mathematics and science related programmes. In addition, not many students perform well in Science Education programmes. In 2002, the population of students between 40 and 49 years, enrolled in Australian universities was 4,975 (Lukic, Broadbent and Maclachlan, 2004). Their academic performance measured by class attendance, course work, and examination scores fell below the pass grade. As a result, at the end of the first semester, approximately 27% of them withdrew from their course. Research in this area by Krause et al. (2005) at University of Melbourne indicates that, a number of factors affect the academic performance of students. Some of these are; student demographic characteristics, student psychological characteristics student prior academic performance, social factors, institutional factors, and outcomes of the learning process.

Concerning demographic characteristics, age and gender were found to have an effect on academic performance (Krause et al, 2005). Similarly, Clarke and Ramsey (1991) found age to correlate with performance in most institutions and courses. The general finding was that older university students perform better than younger students. However, in some courses such as Mathematics and Science, students were adversely affected because their learning speed tended to decrease with age, while the depth of learning increased. As regards student psychological characteristics, academic preparedness and motivation in any learning situation is very cardinal as it determines the outcome of the learning process. Krause et al. (2005) report that significant numbers of students who voluntarily withdrew from full-time study cited unsatisfactory study skills and inadequate pre-requisite knowledge as reasons for withdrawing. Studying and learning approaches at tertiary level appear to be strongly influenced by practices at secondary school level and the miss-match may create problems. It is evident, therefore that, from the relevant literature available, students’ performance is clearly related to their own concepts of their academic ability (Murray-Harvey, 1993).

Consequently, student prior performance, admission to university on the basis of academic performance is determined according to one index or some combination of indices, such as secondary school results or ranking (overall or in specific subjects). Using student prior performance to rank them indicates that secondary school subject results invariably are strong direct predictor of tertiary performance. McKenzie and Schweitzer (2001) note that students’ domain-specific knowledge

relates to their intrinsic motivation to study a subject.

On social factors, family and peer support influence students’ commitment of the institution and course satisfaction. West et al. (2012) in their study at Monash University report that a few students withdraw from university study because of the difficulty of combining study with family commitments and needs. Whatever is going on in a student’s personal life, will inevitably affect what is going on in school, and vice versa. A student needs time to be in class, and appropriate time for study. In addition, there must be time for family, friends, social activities, and time to just be alone.

As rightly put by Dale and Jennings (1986) in their study on factors affecting the performance of students in undergraduate physics in Australia, institutional factors generally negatively influence academic performance of students. This happens when the environment is not providing the necessary facilities that enhance effective teaching and learning. The methods of delivering concepts to the students also have an impact on their academic performance. Additionally, financial difficulties generally appear to have significant negative effect of academic performance either directly or indirectly (West et al.1986).

Concerning the outcomes of the learning process, Murray-Harvey (1993) in a study in Australian university reports that the outcome of the learning process measures relates to students’ intellectual, personal or social development. Intellectual development has been shown to have both a direct and indirect effect on academic performance of students (Pascarella and Terenzini, 1983). For instance, the study revealed that the positive outcomes act as motivators while negative outcomes may induce hard work to avoid failing.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

It is common practice in Science Education at the University of Benin for some school leavers and students to be excluded from school, repeat courses or change to non-science programmes due to poor academic performance. The situation raised concern in the researcher. Particular interest was in students in Science Education programmes because these students are believed to enrol into university education with clear purposes (Spence, 1983). Among the purposes are the need to raise their status and self-actualisation. It was therefore, necessary to conduct a study of this nature to determine the problem affecting the learning of Science Education at the University of Benin, Benin.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The study sought to establish the problems that affect academic performance of  students in the Science Education Programme at the University of Benin. In addition, the study sought to recommend measures to address the identified factors in order to ameliorate the situation.

1.4 Study Objectives

The study was guided by the following objectives:

1.   To establish factors that motivate students to choose Science  

Education Programmes at University of Benin

2.   To establish factors that affect academic performance of students pursuing Science Education at University of Benin

3.   To determine measures to address challenges if any, faced by students in Science Education at the University of Benin.

1.5 Research Questions

The study sought to answer the following question:                                                                              

1.   What factors motivate students to choose Science Education programmes at the University of Benin?

2.   What factors affect the academic performance of Students pursuing Science Education at the University of Benin?

3.   How can the challenges, if any, that affect academic performance of students in Science Education at the University of Benin be addressed?

1.6 Significance of the Study

At the time when there is so much need for science teachers in high schools and few students are graduating in the Science Education at the University of Benin due to poor academic performance, findings of a study of this nature may be significant. It was hoped therefore, that the findings of this study would provide insight on the factors affecting academic performance of students in Science Education. In addition, lecturers and tutors in the Science Education programmes

would find ways of helping the students in order to ameliorate the situation. It was also hoped that the findings of this study would stimulate interest for further research in the subject.

1.7 Scope of Study

The study was aim at determining the problem of learning science education which has led to the poor performance of science education graduate in tertiary institutions in Nigeria with particular reference to University of Benin(UNIBEN) in Edo state.

1.8 Operational Definitions of Key Terms

Performance: This refers to one’s level of ability in a particular area. In this study, examination and continuous assessment results were used as the basis for gauging performance.

Motivation: the psychological feature that arouses students to act towards a desired goal.

School leaver: a student that enters university not later than two years after completing grade twelve (12) of education. A student below 25 years of age is considered a school leaver at University of Benin.

Undergraduate: two, three or four year programme leading to bachelor’s degree in the University of Benin, School of Education.

In-service student: a student who is already trained as a teacher undertaking a course of study to upgrade his/her professional skills and knowledge. The term is used interchangeably with Mature-age student.

1.9 Limitationsof the study

The use of self-rating questionnaires to collect data from students themselves on factors affecting their academic performance was limiting because it was difficult for them to be honest in situations that demanded talking about themselves truthfully. Despite this limitation, the findings of the study were consistent with the reviewed literature. In addition, the sample was representative enough such that the findings of this study can still be gene alized.

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