THE EFFECT OF LABORATORY EXPOSURE ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN PRACTICALLY BASED SUBJECTS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
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
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. 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
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.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
188.8.131.52 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
APPENDIX I 53
APPENDIX II 57
APPENDIX III 60
APPENDIX IV 62
APPENDIX VI 64
APPENDIX VII 65
> 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.
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
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)
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.
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
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
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
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
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?
o To what extent does the frequency of exposure to laboratory facilities affects students’
performance in both adequately equipped laboratories and those in inadequately
o How is students’ attitude change towards practically based subjects in adequately
equipped laboratories and those in inadequately equipped laboratories affect their
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.
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
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..