FACTORS INFLUENCING REASONING ABILITY OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS

FACTORS INFLUENCING REASONING ABILITY OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN EZEAGU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ENUGU STATE

ABSTRACT

This study explored the factors influencing the reasoning ability of secondary school students in Ezeagu Local Government Area (LGA) of Enugu State, Nigeria. The general research objective was to analyse the effect of demographic, attitude, and environmental factors on students’ reasoning ability. As a result of the nature of the research objectives, a survey research method was adopted. A cross-sectional data was generated from a conveniently drawn sample of the students of Aguobu-Owa high school, Ezeagu LGA with a research questionnaire. The questionnaire was face and content validated prior to administering it to the respondents. A total of 255 out of 332 students in the school participated in the research. Out of the 225 questionnaires that were completed, only 137 were valid for further analyses. Descriptive statistics and correlation analysis were used as tools for data analysis. All the analyses were completed with SPSS version 15.0 software. Findings indicate that male respondents far outnumbered their female counterpart. It was also found that such demographic factors as gender and family economic status does not have a positive relationship with reasoning ability. Findings also show that apart from affect, every other attitude and belief factor (i.e cognitive competence, value, difficulty, interest and effort) correlated with reasoning ability. Finally, it was found that an ideal learning environment does positively relate to reasoning ability. Based on the above findings, it was recommended that both male and female children as well as children from both poor and rich homes should be given equal opportunity to acquire formal education. To bridge the gap between the opportunities afforded the rich and the poor, it was recommended that the government should better equip public schools and make the school fees affordable to the poor. It is also recommended that teachers should work hard to get students interested in science subjects by boosting students’ perception of the value of pursuing the science profession; measuring students’ cognitive competence on continuous basis to ascertain performance and taking a decision as to what whether a change teaching and instructional materials are necessary. It is equally important to boost students’ effort in science subjects by engaging them on series of formative assessments. The difficulty perception of science subjects can be relaxed by employing hardworking and qualified teachers who will teach science subjects in a manner that the students will understand. Finally, there is urgent need to create a good environment for learning science subjects in secondary schools. There is need for government to refurbish public schools and properly equip the science laboratories to support good learning and encourage logical and creative reasoning among students.

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background of the Study

Education is frequently concerned about the need to improve students’ academic achievements. The large number of research on student achievement bears testimony to this concern (Babalola, 1979; Fakunle, 1986; Okoye and Okecha, 2008). This is not only because a higher achievement especially in the field of science is the foundation for technical skills which is in short supply, but also because higher achievement is particularly valued in a society which sets high premium on academic success as the stepping stone for entrance into more prestigious occupation. However, to be able to perform well in science subjects, students must possess sound reasoning ability. According to Piraksa, Srisawasdi and Koul (2014), “as scientific literacy is currently considered the central goal for development of the 21st century citizens, scientific reasoning ability is determined as an important factor for fostering student performance in science learning” (p. 486). Scientific reasoning ability is therefore, a skill of critical importance to those students who seek to become professional scientists.

The acquisition of new knowledge and its innovative applications result in a continuous transformation of our cultural, social, and political environments. Existing knowledge is being rapidly revised and, in some cases, becoming obsolete. It is therefore clear that the methods and processes by which new knowledge is acquired are of major importance in successfully facing the abundance of knowledge and its consequent technological applications (Valanides, 1997). This perspective presupposes a broadening of learning objectives beyond those related to subject matter and discipline-specific concepts. He further argued that emphasizing the development of students’ reasoning abilities and the achievement of procedural/operative knowledge is the only appropriate reaction to the current exponential increase of knowledge. A central purpose of education is thus to provide the conditions which will foster the development of students’ reasoning abilities. Hence, schools should do more than teaching collections of discipline-specific facts and concepts.

The Ministry of Education in Nigeria generally and Enugu State Ministry of Education in particular has gradually introduced, among other innovations, a new science curriculum where emphasis is placed on laboratory work and on the processes of science. The new curriculum and the corresponding teaching approaches are expected to enhance students’ reasoning abilities. This expectation is in line with research studies related to interventions to accelerate students’ cognitive development.

Some researches on reasoning abilities identified demographic, attitude and belief, and environmental variables as the factors influencing reasoning abilities (see for example, Jindal-Snape, Davies, Collier, Howe, Digby and Hay, 2013;Hyde and Mertz, 2009; Okoye and Okecha, 2008; Tempelaar, Schim van der Loeff and Gijselaers, 2007; Valanides, 1997). However, despite the results of these research efforts and the consequent outcomes of accompanying theoretical debates, interest in the investigation of students’ reasoning abilities and the process of their development will continue. These efforts have the potential to accumulate evidence which will enhance our understanding of how reasoning ability develop and- how curricula and teaching interventions can foster their development especially in a grossly underdeveloped educational system such as the one found in most schools in Nigeria (especially in the rural areas). Studying the factors that influence the reasoning ability of science students from a very underdeveloped academic background such as Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State will therefore provide the Ministry of Education in the state as well as teachers with a blueprint of what to emphasize to enable the students improve their reasoning ability.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

“…'To know' science is a statement that one knows not only what a phenomenon is, but also how it relates to other events, why it is important, and how this particular view of the world came to be. Knowing any of these aspects in isolation misses the point. Therefore, in learning science, students, as well as having the opportunity to learn about the concepts of science, must also be given some insight into its epistemology, the practices and methods of science, and its nature as a social practice…” (Driver, Newton and Osborne, 2000, p. 297).

The field of science is rapidly expanding. As students choose a science major, they need and expect the course and laboratory work that will develop them into a scientist. This work includes the content knowledge and skills necessary to be able to design a solid experiment, analyse the results, and apply the findings to future work both within and across disciplines. However, without sound reasoning ability, it will be difficult for students to develop a successful career in science. Coletta, Philips and Steinert (2007) argued that student reasoning ability can be used to identify students who at risk of failing their exams. Furthermore, Lawson (2004) argued that scientific reasoning plays a central role in scientific literacy. Specifically, Okoye and Okechi (2008) also found that reasoning ability of Nigerian students correlate positively with their achievement in biology. Science students in secondary school are freshmen who are entering the career under-prepared both in content and cognitive abilities. In addition, the report by Ojerinde (1998) on the survey of the performance of candidates in science subjects in Nigeria over the years revealed a discernible decline. This perennial decline has remained a source of concern to science educators (Nnaka and Anaekwe, 2004). It is yet unclear whether demographic, attitude and belief and environmental factors influence the reasoning abilities of science students in secondary schools in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria.

An additional difficulty for science majors in secondary schools is simply staying with their declared major. One possible explanation for this ugly trend is that science is generally perceived as a difficult field of study. However, being deficient in one area does not necessarily imply that an individual is less intelligent (Pimsleur Approach, n.d). This therefore exposes the need to study the main factors influencing reasoning abilities.

Additionally, most science teachers believe that students need to be helped to understand how scientists make sense of problem situations and how they decide on the progress of the solution. As pointed out earlier also, students’ cognitive/reasoning ability need to be enhance in order to get them stay and continue their career in science. To achieve this end, the factors that influence reasoning ability needs to be thoroughly investigated. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, limited research has studied this key issue in Nigeria generally with no research project found to have explored this subject in Enugu State in particular. Hence, the need for this project. Furthermore, Solomon (2014) argued that due to the fact that reasoning skills have failed to take off in the majority of secondary schools students in Nigeria, fears are that development and recognition of the natural resources and the effective uses of these resources may be a pipe dream for the country. Given this scenario therefore, it is timely and necessary to explore the factors that influence the reasoning ability of secondary schools science students’ that interfere with their learning process especially in Ezeagu Local government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria.

1.3 Scope of the Study

This project work, factors influencing reasoning ability of students in Nigerian secondary schools: A study of Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State focuses on three key factors which include demographic factors, attitude and belief factors and environmental factors. With respect to the area to be covered, the research work concentrated in one secondary school in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria.

1.4 Significance of the Study

Scientific literacy is currently considered as a central goal and critical learning outcome for science education standard in several countries (Dani, 2009). This is because the teaching of science offers students the ability to access a wealth of knowledge and information which will contribute to an overall understanding of how and why things work like they do because science is able to explain the mechanics and reasons behind the daily functioning of complex systems, which range from the human body to sophisticated modern methods of transport (Centre for Education in Science and Technology, 2009). However, it may be very difficult to access the performance of science majors especially those in secondary schools without understanding the factors that influence their reasoning ability. Hence, the study of the factors that influence the reasoning ability of science majors in secondary schools in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State is significant in the following respects:

Firstly, the significant of this study would assess the factors needed to enhance the reasoning abilities of science majors in secondary schools in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State.

Secondly, solutions will be proffered to the problems facing the educational sectors in designing appropriate study curriculum that will enhance students’ reasoning abilities of science majors in secondary schools in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State.

Finally, this study will also provide a first-hand guide to science teachers on what to emphasis in their teaching techniques to enable the students improve their reasoning ability.

1.5 Purpose of the Study

The overall objective of this study to explore the factors that influence the reasoning abilities of secondary school students majoring in science subjects in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria. The specific purposes are:

1.     To discover whether demographic factors influence secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Enugu State.

2.     To evaluate the influence of attitude factors on secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Enugu State.

3.     To assess the influence of environmental factors on secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Enugu State.

1.6 Research Questions  

The overall research question to be answered by this study is: What factors influence the reasoning abilities of secondary school students majoring in science subjects in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria?

1.     What are the influence of demographic factors on secondary school students’ reasoning abilities in Enugu State?

2.     What are the influence of attitude factors on secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Enugu State?

3.     What are the influence of environmental factors on secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Enugu State?

1.7 Research Hypotheses

Below are the hypotheses which will be tested in this research. The hypotheses are tested at 0.05 level of significance.

HO1: There is no significant difference between demographic factors and secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Ezeagu

HA1: There is significant difference between demographic factors and secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Ezeagu

HO2: There is no significant difference between attitude factors and secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Ezeagu

HA2: There is significant difference between attitude factors and secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Ezeagu

HO3: There is no significant difference between environmental factors and secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Ezeagu

HA3: There is significant difference between environmental factors and secondary school students’ reasoning ability in Ezeagu

.

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How To Write Chapter Three Of Your Research Project (Research Methodology)

  • Methodology In Research Paper


    Chapter three of the research project or the research methodology is another significant part of the research project writing. In developing the chapter three of the research project, you state the purpose of research, research method you wish to adopt, the instruments to be used, where you will collect your data, types of data collection, and how you collected it.

    This chapter explains the different methods to be used in the research project. Here you mention the procedures and strategies you will employ in the study such as research design, study design in research, research area (area of the study), the population of the study, etc. You also tell the reader your research design methods, why you chose a particular method, method of analysis, how you planned to analyze your data.

    Your methodology should be written in a simple language such that other researchers can follow the method and arrive at the same conclusion or findings.

    You can choose a survey design when you want to survey a particular location or behavior by administering instruments such as structured questionnaires, interviews, or experimental; if you intend manipulating some variables.

    The purpose of chapter three (research methodology) is to give an experienced investigator enough information to replicate the study. Some supervisors do not understand this and require students to write what is in effect, a textbook.

    A research design is used to structure the research and to show how all of the major parts of the research project, including the sample, measures, and methods of assignment, work together to address the central research questions in the study. The chapter three should begin with a paragraph reiterating the purpose of research. It is very important that before choosing design methods try and ask yourself the following questions: Will I generate enough information that will help me to solve the research problem by adopting this method?

    Method vs Methodology

    I think the most appropriate in methods versus methodology is to think in terms of their inter-connectedness and relationship between both. You should not beging thinking so much about research methods without thinking of developing a research methodology.

    Metodologia or methodology is the consideration of your research objectives and the most effective method and approach to meet those objectives. That is to say that methodology in research paper is the first step in planning a research project work.

    Design Methodology: Methodological Approach

    Example of methodology in research paper, you are attempting to identify the influence of personality on a road accident, you may wish to look at different personality types, you may also look at accident records from the FRSC, you may also wish to look at the personality of drivers that are accident victims, once you adopt this method, you are already doing a survey, and that becomes your metodologia or methodology.

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    The following subjects may or may not be in the order required by a particular institution of higher education, but all of the subjects constitute a defensible in metodologia or methodology chapter.

    Click here to complete this article - How To Write Chapter Three Of Your Research Project (Research Methodology)

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