An imbalance in the enrolment of students into the science subjects and science courses has been observed. Where there is an influx of student to Biology and Science, there is a steady decline of enrolment into Chemistry, Physics departments. This research work is carried out to find the causative factors responsible for students’ low enrolment in chemistry and implication of this in the area of man power production in science and technology and in the field of education. The chemistry students of Imo state college of education constitute the population of the study. Questionnaires were used for data collection. The factors identified in the course of study include: students’ negative perception of chemistry as a difficult and volatile subject which teaches things that cannot be seen or touched, teacher related factors e.t.c. the study concluded with recommendations to chemistry teachers.
1.1 Background to the Study
According to Hornby (2008), science is the knowledge about the structure and behavior of natural and physical world based on facts that can be proved. Science is the study of natural phenomena and is distinguished from other fields because it relies on the hypothetical, deductive and experimental approach.
Ali (2004), defined science as that which is concerned with nature with regards to developing, acquiring and controlling knowledge, skills, capacity and attitude about natural factors of the environment. According to Hyacinth (2004), Science in its broadest scene refers to all human activities involving organized knowledge of natural phenomena. It also refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. Here, system means using observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. According to Okon, (2003), Science education has a prime position in the development of any nation. This is because the whole universe revolves around Science. According to Odoh, (2013), science and technology have been seen as the surest way in the promotion of economic development, alleviation or eradication of poverty, and introduction of social welfare in any country. According to Ali (2004) stated that chemistry has been identified as one of the major branches of science physical science.
As a core science subject, a proper teaching of chemistry in secondary schools facilitate students enrollment into many disciplines like nursing, medicine, pharmacy, science, engineering, geology etc. Chemistry is a subject that deals with the composition, structure and properties of matter.
It is binded up with things around us either physically or chemically. Its combination in nature can be separated by the different methods of separation. They are often represented by symbols which are the chemical equations. Chemistry has many use to man. It is used in the industry like the petrochemical industry, pharmaceutical industry, paint and plastic industry etc. infact, it is widely and industrially used in our everyday life.
Yet, in spite of all the benefits derived from chemistry, students performance at the senior secondary school certificate examination in the last few decades is till low.
These poor performances in chemistry have made some researchers to study the problem with the hope of finding the causes and possible solutions.
According to Ali (2008), science education at all levels is played by very many kinds of problems which includes, under funding of science education, lack of adequate and appropriate instructional materials, lack of equipments, method of teaching, inadequate trained science and qualified teachers and dilapidated laboratories buildings. These problems lead to serious educational setbacks which invariably leads to low attitude rate of secondary schools science achievement in Nigeria.
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of current English edition, it defined attitude as the way of feeling, thinking of behaving towards something or somebody. Ifeakor (2014), expressed the importance of attitude, station that feeling is as real, important and a part of nature as much as knowing the further noted that how a person feel is almost more important to others than what he knows. Attitude therefore can be positive or negative towards stimuli.
Gardner, (2005), Munby (2014) Ormerod and Duckworth (2009), all opined that the development of a positive attitude to science and scientific process is among the major aims of science teaching. They are of the opinion that promotion of favorable attitude to science is an important aim of science education. In harmony with the above, Klopfer (2007), provide a comprehensive classification scheme or science education aims using six different categories of attitudinal aims. These he called Test Of Science Related Attitude (TOSRA).
Fraser (2010), said TOSRA is used for examining the performance of groups of classes of students to provides information about changes in attitude at a particular time.
However, most of the research works were done outside Nigeria. The little one done in Nigeria, lay much emphasis on geographical location, disease, culture, socio-economic status of parents especially in the rural areas, gender problem and home background environmental problems. Among all these factors identified, influence the students’ attitude to the study of chemistry. Therefore, some factors has been identified to influence student’s attitude to the study of chemistry.
Etesike and Nnamani, (2006) quoting from Ukungwu, (2003) defined Chemistry as a branch of physical Science that studies the composition, structure, properties and changes which matter undergo. Chemistry is chiefly concerned with atoms and molecules and their interactions and transformations, for example, the properties of the chemical bonds formed between atoms to create chemical compounds. As such, chemistry studies the involvement of electrons and various forms of energy in photochemical reactions, oxidation-reduction reactions, changes in phases of matter, and separation of mixtures. Preparation and properties of complex substances, such as alloys, polymers, biological molecules, and pharmaceutical agents are considered in specialized fields of chemistry. Fab (2014) opines that Chemistry has been identified to be one of the important subjects needed for the sustenance and transformation of the national economy, and hence should be accorded adequate attention.
According to Ezeudu(2012), a good Background knowledge in Chemistry Education will not only make the graduates teachers, Lecturers or Professors in Chemistry but will go a long way to make them self reliant through the acquisition of some basic entrepreneurial skills and pedagogical principles. The graduates of chemistry can go into soap production, fertilizer production, paint production, production of Germicides , production of perfumes, production of pomades , Herbicides to mention but a few. Oriaifo(2002) while stressing the importance of chemistry education noted that chemistry equips the learner with specific knowledge skills and attitude which enables him/her become useful to him/herself and the society at large. In Nigeria, chemistry as a subject occupies a prominent position in the nation’s secondary and tertiary curriculum. At the secondary level of education, a credit pass in chemistry is a pre-requisite for students to further their studies in fields like Medicine, Pharmacy, Science, Engineering, Home Economics, Biological Science and other science related fields of Endeavour.
Chemistry do not just start and end in the classroom or school as often perceived, phenomenon in chemistry are practiced in our day to day lives in and outside the school. Okon (2012), identified some of the home chemistry practices as the process of heating (cooking/warming) of our food, the process of washing our cloths with soap or detergents, addition of limestone when cooking (eg beans, unripe plantain etc), the process of boiling grinded fresh tomato to allow the liquid to get dried, addition of salt to perishable food stuffs in other to preserve them, boiling and filtering of impure water to make it clean for drinking, the process of putting stainless steel spoon into meat while boiling, the process of separation of kerosene or petrol from water, the process of preparation of pap from grounded maize (corn), the process of spraying insecticides in the house to kill insects, the act of melting ice block into liquid water for the purpose of drinking, preparation of our African delicacy fufu, through cassava, the burning of materials in the presence of air (oxygen), the process of rusting of clean nail when it has been exposed to air and water (chemical change) etc. this is just to mention but a few. This goes to show that principles in chemistry are applied in our day to day activities even in our various homes. These principles are not just applied in our urban areas, even in our local villages chemistry is been practiced. For example, in most villages local soap is made from ashes of burnt plantain peels and used (or bleached) palm oil, quality drinking water has long been a problem in our local villages so most often people in the rural areas use alum to purify there drinking water, virtually all the different cooking practices in the local villages are based on chemistry phenomenon. Also chemistry knowledge, principles, concepts and facts have also helped in the development of appropriate technologies in military, Food preservation, Building, Petroleum, road Construction, transportation to mention but a few. Also our country that is mostly dependent on oil for its Revenue can boast her economy through the encouragement of chemistry education because a background in chemistry know as Organic chemistry has a lot to say about the various ways which petroleum and it bye products could be utilized.
Contrary to these benefits which could be driven from chemistry education, many evidences have been put forward to illustrate the fact that there is a serious decline in student’s enrolment in chemistry education in colleges of Education in IMO State in comparison to other science courses. In support of this, evidence which the researcher obtained from the admission office of Federal college of Education Eha-amufu the following data to show as the admitted number of students between 2009 – 2017.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The underlying reason why chemistry is seen as being too hectic and stressful is lack of facilities to enable learning. Those who found themselves studying chemistry are usually found as accidental individuals or forced into the programme with only few willingly found into the programme (Abass, 2004). This may be due to lack of interest, familial influence, peer group, gender discrimination or other reasons that might have made the choice of chemistry difficult (Abdullah, Bakar and Othman, 2009). Furthermore, Record and observation have shown that teachers who teach chemistry in secondary schools are grossly scarce and those on ground lack the expertise to instill the right values of basic science into the prospective students.
In Nigeria today however, with the prosperity of opportunities in chemistry for gainful employment and currently faced with major problems of unemployment, science therefore has become a target to solving this unemployment saga both by government and private organizations.
However, it is not certain if these efforts could encourage students‘ enrollment into chemistry coupled with the fact that most secondary school leavers lack the productive skills as designed in the curriculum. As a result of this, these groups of students who are mostly youths full of energy roam the streets of our cities without doing anything meaningful. It is against this backdrop that the researcher decided to establish the student‘s perception of the factors causing low enrollment in chemistry in college of education in Imo state.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this work is to find out:
- The extent to which students perception of chemistry affects their enrolment into chemistry department.
- The extent to which the mathematics nature of the subject affect students’ interest.
- The extent to which teacher related factors affect students’ enrolment into chemistry department.
- The extent to which fear of unemployment in chemistry students enrolment in chemistry affects students’ enrolment.
1.4 Research Questions
To achieve the purpose of this work the following questions are addressed.
- To what extent does students’ perception of chemistry affect their enrolment?
- Does the mathematical nature of the subject affect students’ enrolment?
- To what extent does teacher related factors affect students’ enrolment into the chemistry department?
- Does fear of unemployment in chemistry affect students’ enrolment?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This research would be beneficial to educational curriculum planners, ministry of education, ministry of science and technology, teachers of chemistry, students and communities. It expected that this research work would serve as guide to curriculum planners in designing and reviewing chemistry programme that will encourage and foster students‘ enrollment to studying chemistry in higher institutions. This research work will be made available to the curriculum planners in National and state libraries. It enables the ministry of education to know the problem of low enrollment of students in chemistry programme in colleges with the aim of formulating policies that will gear towards motivating students to choose chemistry as a carrier. The research work will be accessible to ministry of education via workshops, seminar, symposium, and other public lectures. The findings of this work will also help teachers to understand that for students to enroll in chemistry class, they needed both extrinsic and intrinsic motivations hence, teachers handles the students well and appreciate and make corrections where they are wrong. This dissertation will be made available to teachers through their respective institutional libraries. The findings of this research work would also benefit students in their research studies and will accessible to them the school libraries. The community also stands a better chance to benefit from the study because it will make them appreciate the importance of chemistry for science development and encourage their children to enroll in chemistry programme in colleges
1.6 Basic Assumptions of the Study
The following basic assumptions were made that:
- Enrolment in chemistry programme is influenced by student‘s personal interest.
- Family influences students‘ enrolment in chemistry programme.
- The peer group influences students‘ enrolment in chemistry programme.
- Gender influences students‘ enrolment in chemistry education programme.
1.7 Delimitation of the Study
This research was delimited to the factors causing low enrollment in chemistry in college of education, Imo state.
It was also delimited to students of NCE three (3) in the Department of chemistry Education. The research was delimited to determinants of students‘ enrolment because they are the indices that control students‘ decision whether or not to chemistry. It was also delimited to students because they are the one that enroll and study the programme hence; they also stand a better chance to opine what determined their choice of chemistry education as a course of study.
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