THE EFFECT OF LABORATORY EXPOSURE ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN PRACTICALLY BASED SUBJECTS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS


THE EFFECT OF LABORATORY EXPOSURE ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN PRACTICALLY BASED SUBJECTS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS   

ABSTRACT

The study on the effect of laboratory exposure on students’ academic achievement in practically

based subjects in secondary schools in Wakiso district. The research is guided by four objectives:

First to examine the influence of exposure to laboratory facilities on students’ performance in

adequately equipped laboratories and to those in inadequately equipped laboratories, Second to

investigate students’ attitude change towards practically based subjects in adequately equipped

laboratories and in to those inadequately equipped laboratories. Third to Examine the frequency

of exposure to laboratory facilities on students on students in adequately equipped laboratories

and those in inadequately equipped laboratories and their performance fourth to Investigate the

efficiency of utilization of existing laboratory facilities by science teachers to enhance teaching

of science subjects. The study was conducted in four secondary schools in Wakiso district. The

study examined the availability of laboratories, examine the use of laboratories, and assess the

availability of science teachers, and science teachers ‘perceptions how laboratories availability

influence students’ performance in science subjects. The problem was that students’ performance

in science subjects is appalling in secondary schools, Survey research design was used and the

study employed quantitative approaches where observation, checklist, school records and likert

scales were used for data collection. In that essence, a sample of 140 students from the classes of

senior three and four students of sound mind were considered from the four schools randomly to

provide the data which was used. The data were analyzed using frequency, percentages and ratio.

Findings revealed that schools did not have laboratories; instead they had science rooms which

lacked laboratory space. It was noted that apparatus and chemicals were either insufficient or

absent in all sampled schools; instead schools improvised those equipment by using locally

available materials in their environment. Experiments were done in large groups with little

students. There was an acute shortage of science teachers. It was recommended that, policy

makers need to ensure that students enrolment should match with the availability of laboratory

facilities, more laboratories need to be built in schools and more science teachers be trained

TABLE OF CONTENTS

DECLARATION

APPROVAL ii

DEDICTION iii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT vii

ACRONYM viii

ABSTRACT ix

CHAPTER ONE

1.O INTRODUCTION 1

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH STUDY 3

1.3 PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH STUDY 4

1.4 SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE OF THE RESEARCH STUDY 4

1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS 4

1.6 SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH STUDY 5

1.6.1 GEOGRAPHICAL SCOPE 5

1.6.2 CONTENT SCOPE 5

1.6.3 TIME SCOPE 5

1.6.4 THEORETICAL SCOPE 6

1.7 SINGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY 6

1.8 DELIMITATION OF THE RESEARCH STUDY 7

CHAPTER TWO 8

LITERATURE REVIEW 8

2.OINTRODUCTION 8

2. 1THEORETICAL REVIEW 8

2.2 RELATED LITERATURE 9

2.2.1 STUDENTS’ ATTITUDE CHANGE TOWARDS SCIENCE SUBJECTS 9

2.2.2 TNFLUENCE OF EXPOSURE TO LABORATORY FACILITIES ON STUDENTS’ PERFORMANCE IN BOTH ADEQUATELY AND INADEQUATELY EQUIPPED LABORATORIES ii

2.2.3 EFFECIENT UTILIZATION OF EXISTING LABORATORY FACILITIES BY SCiENCE TEACHERS FOR EFFECTIVE TEACHING OF SCIENCE SUBJECTS 13

2.2.4 FREQUENCY OF PRACTICAL EXPOSURETO STUDENTS IN ADEQUATELY AND INADEQUATELY EQUIPPED LABORATORIES 18

2.2 CONCEPTION FRAME WORK .20

CHAPTER THREE 22

METHODOLOGY 22

3.OINTRODUCTION 22

3.1 RESEARCH DESIGN 22

3.2 STUDY AREA 22

3.3 STUDY POPULATION 22

3.4 SELECTION CRITERIA 22

3.5 SAMPLING SIZE 22

3.6 SAMPLING STRATEGY 23

3.7 DATA COLLECTION 23

3.8 DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENT 23

3.9 DATA QUALITY CONTROL 24

3.10 PROCEDURE 24

CHAPTER FOUR 25

DATA PERSENTATION, ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION 25

4.Olntroduction 25

4.lDescription of Respondents 25

4.2 Influence of exposure to laboratory facilities on students’ performance in adequately and inadequately equipped laboratories 27

4.2.2 Laboratory Rules and Safety Measures 33

4.2.3 Laboratories Apparatus, Chemicals, Models and Specimen 33

4.2.3.1 Laboratory Apparatus 33

4.2.4 Availability of Chemicals in the four Sampled Schools 35

4.2.6 Specimen for Biology Subject Teaching 37

4.3 Frequency of exposure to laboratory facility on students in adequately and inadequately equipped laboratories 38

4.3.1 Timetable on use of Laboratories 39

4.4 Student attitude change towards practically based subjects in adequately and inadequately equipped laboratories 39

4.4.1 Availability of Human Resources, Laboratory and Use of Laboratory on Students Performance 39

4.5 Efficient utilization ofexisting laboratory facilities by science teachers to enhance teaching of the science subjects 40

4.6 Summary .40

CHAPTER FIVE 41

DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 41

5.1 Introduction 41

5.2 Influence of exposure to laboratory facilities on students’ performance in adequately and inadequately equipped laboratories 41

5.3 Frequency of exposure to laboratory facilities on students in adequately and inadequately equipped laboratories 42

5.4 Students attitude change towards practically based subjects in adequately and inadequately equipped laboratories 44

5.5 Efficient utilization ofexisting laboratory facilities by science teachers to enhance teaching of science subjects 45

5.6 Conclusion Based on the Finding 45

5.6.1 Availability of Laboratories in secondary schools in Wakiso District 45

5.6.2 Use of Laboratories in Secondary schools in Wakiso District 45

5.6.3 Availability of Human Resources 46

5.6.4 Teachers’ Opinions 46

5.7 limitation ofthe research study 46

5.8 Recommendations 46

5.8.1 Practical Recommendations 47

5.8.2 Policy Recommendation 47

5.8.3 Recommendations for Further Studies 47

REFERENCES 48

APPENDIX I 53

APPENDIX II 57

APPENDIX III 60

APPENDIX IV 62

APPENDIX VI 64

APPENDIX VII 65

ACRONYM

> Lab—Laboratory

> NESTA — National Endowment for Science, Technology and Arts.

> STAN — Science Teachers Association ofNigeria.

~ UNEB — Uganda National Examinations Board

> UNESCO — United Nation for Education,science and Communication.

> FGN — Federation ofthe Government ofNigeria.

> SCORE —Science Community representation Education.

CHAPTER ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

In this chapter, the research explores the background ofthe study, research statement, purpose of

the research study, specific objectives of the study, research question, scope of the study and

significance ofthe study.

1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

We live in the world of science and technology as of to date and of which human beings

encounter issues and problems that have their root in science. Science and technology have

become critical factors of economic and social development. Through science, nature has been

well utilized and transformed into meaningful resources for a better living in the world. The

tremendous emerging trends in science education has assured to man a comfortable living within

the society.(FGN,2004).

Uganda has since independence nurtured an education system premised on the model of colonial

master, Britain which emphases academic and theoretical learning rather than practical education

but the government is trying to reverse this trend by promoting and teachers of science coupled

with both technical and vocational education (Daily Monitor Monday, 2Othh/August,2012)

Fundamental research among science education and cognitive scientists focuses on how the

people learn science and how they apply knowledge in their daily life. As science subjects,

scientific inquiry is the primary process by which scientific knowledge is gained. One of the

most reliance by which the process of inquiry can be learnt is the laboratory where students’

experiences first-hand the inquiry process.(National Association of Biology Teachers,2005)

The emphasis on teaching and learning of science is on ensuring that teachers not only teach the

process of science but also are able tosubject scientific concepts to the sensory experience of the

learner. Bythis, the “hands” and “mind” of the learners must be on scientific activities such that

the learner will be able to learn actively and thereby participate in knowledge construction

learning. (Ausubel, 1963)

1

In essence, thefocus is on activity based science lessons which entails both lesson classrooms

and laboratory practices. This direction of teaching and learning of sciences subjects in schools

viewed to lead students to acquiring science process skills, life skills and competence. It is

therefore necessary to provide students with a strong broad back ground in areas of science

education when laboratory facilities are adequate in school. Students should be offered

opportunities to enable them grow in their problem solving abilities, think critically and acquire

scientific and technological literacy (William and Maureen, 2012)

Academic achievement of students in practically based subjects(physics, chemistry, biology and

agriculture) generally is witnessed a deplorable trend in the past decade at all levels in Ugandan

secondary schools and tertiary institution due to inadequate science facilities in the laboratories

for which has contributed to students’ academic performance in these subjects. Nevertheless,

other factors of teaching and learning sciences include inadequate classrooms, laboratories, use

ofteacher centered approach to teaching among others.

The laboratory is the center of scientific studies so long as science remains both a product and

process. The availability of laboratory equipment, facilities and materials pay a vital role in

determining the extent of best laboratory practices that will ensure acquisition of science process

skills and competence in science concepts by the learners. The laboratory in school has been

defined by several authors in different ways.

Maduaban (1998) sees a laboratory as a place where scientific exercises are conducted by

science teachers for the benefit of the learners. Laboratory exercises include experiments and

other activities which help the students acquire scientific skills.

Ezeliora (2001) observed a science laboratory as a workshop where science is done or where

scientific activities are carried out under conducive environment.

English dictionary (1999),a laboratory is a place where scientific practicals are conducted.

According to Ambibola (200 1),one major aspect of science education that is of great concern is

in the areas of availability and effectiveness of use specialized and relevant science equipments,

facilities and instructional materials.

2

School laboratories that are well designed, stocked and safe for teaching and learning science

ensure active practical exercises (Katcha,2005)

Laboratory work is indispensible part of science instruction and no effective science education

exists without practical work (Udo,2010).

Laboratory practicals are dependent on the level of equipping the laboratory with relevant

instructional materials and ability of the teacher to effectively and efficiently utilize them.

However, the challenges often faced in doing practical in inadequately equipped laboratories

have led teachers to separate science lessons into practical and theory classes and or shifting

practical work until second term or third term.

According to Epo(1999).any effort to separate science into practical and theory lessons accounts

to perpetuating the dichotomy and this is antithesis of what science is. Therefore, adequacy of

laboratory facilities and exposure may affect the students’ achievement in practically based

science subjects.

Jeske(1990) and Ogunleye(2002) have also found that a laboratory is a primary vehicle for

promoting reasoning skills and students’ understanding thereby enhancing desired learning

outcomes in students.

Jones(1990)examined teacher provision in sciences in many countries and found that 45% ofthe

schools surveyed indicated insufficient laboratories. His findings agreed with Barrow’s (1991)

findings in Saudi Arabia which indicated inadequacy in provision of laboratory facilities in

schools. The findings were also consistent with those of Black at al (1998) who found out in

Uganda that science education is facing with the problem of lack of resources with half of the

schools having no real laboratory.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH STUDY

The laboratory has been identified as the heart of a good scientific programme which allows

students in schools to have experience which are consistent with the goals of scientific literacy.

Practically based subjects of physics, chemistry, biology and agriculture constitutes of a major

part of hands on and if not taught properly, the education of the students will be affected

3

negatively hence poor performance, low quality of understanding of subject matter and this

brings low half-baked students in science subjects which more leads to imaginative perception of

students that science subjects are difficult to attain.

When students are taught science subjects theoretically without the practical aspects inculcated

and done in the laboratory, the students will not learn properly. The implication of this means

that the role of the laboratory and its facilities on academic achievement of students in science

subjects is ignored. Therefore, secondary schools require properly equipped and functional

laboratories.

1.3 PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH STUDY.

The study was aimed at investigating the impact of laboratory exposure on students’ academic

achievement in practically based subjects in secondary schools.

1.4 SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE OF THE RESEARCH STUDY.

The research objectives were to;

o Examine the influence of exposure to laboratory facilities on students’ performance in

adequately equipped laboratories and to those in inadequately equipped laboratories.

o Examine the frequency of exposure to laboratory facilities on students on students in

adequately equipped laboratories and those in inadequately equipped laboratories and

their performance.

o Investigate students’ attitude change towards practically based subjects in adequately

equipped laboratories and in to those inadequately equipped laboratories.

o Investigate the efficiency of utilization of existing laboratory facilities by science

teachers to enhance teaching of science subjects.

1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

o What is the influence of exposure to laboratory facilities on students’ performance in

adequately equipped laboratories and to those in inadequately equipped laboratories?

4

o To what extent does the frequency of exposure to laboratory facilities affects students’

performance in both adequately equipped laboratories and those in inadequately

equipped laboratories?

o How is students’ attitude change towards practically based subjects in adequately

equipped laboratories and those in inadequately equipped laboratories affect their

performance?

o To what extent do teachers make use of the available laboratory facilities to enhance

teaching of science subjects?

1.6 SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH STUDY.

1.6.1 GEOGRAPHICAL SCOPE

The research was carried out in Wakiso districts. Wakiso district is located in the central region

of Uganda which partly encircles Kampala, Uganda’s capital city and bordered by Nakaseke and

Luweero to north, Mukono to the east, Kalangala district in lake Victoria to the south-west and

Mityana to the north-west.The district headquarters are located 20Km (l2miles) by road north

west of Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Schools under research study would selected from

Nansana, Entebbe municipality, Gombe, and Makindye municipality which are some of the

municipalities that make up Wakiso districts.

1.6.2 CONTENT SCOPE

Wakiso district is one ofthe districts with good performing schools both at lower secondary level

and upper secondary level in both arts and sciences. However, a problem is still at hand of poor

performance in most schools in practically based science subjects due to absence of adequately

equipped laboratories with facilities and also how many times the facilities are exposed to the

learners in science experiments. Performance had been observed to be affected by inadequacy of

laboratory facilities, teacher centered teaching and learning and less frequency to exposure ofthe

laboratory facilities to the students in otherwise which hinders teaching and learning of the

application of scientific skills.

1.6.3 TIME SCOPE

The research study was conducted by the researcher in six weeks’ time to obtain data and

analyzing the data obtained.

5

1.6.4 THEORETICAL SCOPE

The Watson’s theory of learning was considered. In accordance to the theorist, the explanation of

learning, understanding of brain and its function is very essential. This theory holds that people’s

behavior is learned by interaction with external environmental stimuli. Emphasis is laid on

providing a conducive and adequacy of facilities for efficient and permanent learning. Sufficient

practice and exercises are necessary to make the bondage between stimulus responses

permanent. The theory had a relationship with the current study because academic achievements

ofthe students in the practically based subjects are affected by exposure of laboratory facilities.

1.7 SINGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY.

The research work will benefit the researcher himself towards the fulfillment of the award of

Bachelor’s degree of science in education at Kampala International University. Nevertheless,

parents, teachers, government and the entire society will benefit in the research work. If the

results ofthis research work is properly utilized, it promote the idea that science is both a product

and process in students by arousing interest in practical work and generally in the practically

based science subjects in secondary schools hence increasing and improving in academic

achievement in these subjects.

On the other hand, to motivate parents to provide basic requirements of practical lesson(s) for

their children in secondary schools and also this convince the science teachers that practical

lessons are mostly essential for effective teaching and learning of science subjects like biology,

chemistry, physics, agriculture and to say mathematics.

It would also make the government through the ministry of education to realize the need for

provision of science equipment to schools and posting of qualified science teachers, technicians

and technologists to secondary schools. This is not an issue ofjack-off all-trades master of non,

because practical has attained professionalism and specialization for which therefore would help

Ugandan society in the quest for improved technology and industrialization and economic

development.

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1.8 DELIMITATION OF THE RESEARCH STUDY.

According to Mugenda (1999), there are boundaries to any study. The study confined itself to

few schools and it was not the entire schools’ population and schools that were involved did not

adequately have the laboratory facilities as required in accordance to the Uganda National

Examination Board (UNEB) of the 23’~’ meeting of the Secondary School Examination

Committee, reference number CF/UNEB/20,held on 21st August,2007 which resolved that

UNEB sends updated lists of chemicals and apparatuses required for effective and efficient

teaching and examining ofthe science subjects.

.

THE EFFECT OF LABORATORY EXPOSURE ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN PRACTICALLY BASED SUBJECTS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS



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