This study concerned itself with effective physics practical in secondary schools. It examined whether the way practical experiences were presented to the students and students’ engagement in them enhanced the attainment of goals of practical work. The procedure of conducting practical work in physics was of great concern and more specifically, the skills emphasised during practical work in physics lessons.
The study was conducted in Sokoto metropolis of Nigeria and adopted a descriptive survey design. The main population for the study comprised all the 47 public secondary schools in the province from which 9 sample schools were selected using a combination of stratified, purposive and systematic sampling procedures.
The study utilised questionnaires, lesson observation schedules and document analysis guide to collect data. Data collection was preceded by a pilot study mainly to determine the reliability of the instruments. On analysis of data from the pilot study, the instruments were found to be reliable. Data collected during the main study was analysed utilizing Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 10.0.
1.1 Background of the Study
Today we are living in the age of science and technology. Scientific inventions and discoveries have revolutionalised our lives. Science is nothing but knowledge so obtained by observations, readings, experimentation and realization.
Science subjects constitute a major part of the subjects being offered in most post primary institutions in Nigeria today. These subjects are so important that the Federal government National Policy on Education (2004) in specific terms states that “the secondary school Education shall provide trained manpower in the applied sciences and technology’’.
The importance attached to science by the Federal government could be due to the general belief that science is capable of improving and changing skills, attitudes, and cognition by increasing pupil’s store of knowledge about themselves, their environment and their world. The development of any nation which depends on science and technology, hinges on science Education, science has been viewed as an instrument that can aid development in many countries. It plays important and dominant roles in spear heading technological advancements, promoting national wealth, improving health, and accelerating industrialization (Validya, 2003).
Physics as one of the science subjects is basic for understanding the complexities of modern technology and essential for technological advancement of a nation. This aspect of science is making significant contributions to many of the inventions that are shaping modern day, and has helped to explain many of the events being encountered in everyday life. Physics is one of the pre-requisite subjects for the study of engineering technological, medical and other applied science courses, in the University. Physics provide training for a vast range of carriers where it is either employed directly or where the skills developed can be applied in innovative ways in other fields. Despite its importance, physics remain the least favored science subject among students generally, only a few students choose to study physics at O. Level and subsequently at higher degree. Students performs poorly in physics, lack of practical work may be an important reason for students for poor content knowledge and understanding of physics at secondary school level in Nigeria (Millar, 2004).
There is a serious shortage of students and teachers of physics in Nigerian secondary schools, this is generating concern among science educators, and researchers are increasingly exploring why students avoid the subject, over the years student of physics in secondary school have found it extremely difficult to perform well in the subject (Nelkon & Ogbon, 1988).
Studies have been carried out to find out the cause of such poor performance. Poor performance of students in physics could be linked to students practical ability (Olabanji, 1997), supported by Akanbi (2003) that poor performance in physics may be due to inadequate laboratory equipment, and facilities which make the present study imperative.
Physics as a course of study is perceived to be experimental, the understanding of practical aspect may help students to learn physics concepts. The educational objectives of physics education cannot be fully realized if student’s performance in both physics theory and practical are not balanced (Aina, 2011).
For the mere fact that physics has been severally labeled as the most conceptually difficult subject, particularly the practical aspect of the subject, it is important to explore the underlying difficulties that might impede quality learning in the subject, in the context of Nigerian school environment. The aim of this study is to identify problems associated with conducting effective physics practical in senior secondary schools in Sokoto metropolis.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The purpose of this study is to make a critical appraisal of the problems hindering the conduct of physics practical and advance suggestion that will enhance the effectiveness, and efficiency of the conduct of physics practical in senior secondary schools within Sokoto metropolis.
A close look at the ways physics practical is handled in most of our secondary schools indicate that probably students were made to merely see physics as a collection of rules. However, it is assumed that proper conduct and involvement of students in physics
practical has became less valued, physics students are likely to be passive listeners even in the laboratory, as they watch teachers carry out the teaching theoretically or carry out demonstration or experiments (Anele, 2011).
Other assumed problems may include that students are not encouraged to consider practical work useful for the development of scientific skills and attitudes. Another problem confronting the learning and conduct of physics practical in schools is the lack of equipment and facilities and their inadequacy (in some case) which hinder the effectiveness of learning physics in schools (Jegede & Okebukola, 1995; Nwaokolo, 1998; Anikweze, 2000; Anele, 2001).
Allocation of time to physics practical in school lesson time table is insufficient, activities to be undertaken therefore suffer. This constitutes an enormous problem to the proper conduct of physics practical in school (Mistler, Dackson & Butler, 2000; Polman, 2000).
Physics teachers stress is another problem confronting the conduct of physics practical in schools. A stress results when the teacher’s experience is unpleasant, given rise to tension, frustration, anger, anxiety, and depression, poor working conditions resulting from lack of practical equipments for conducting effective physics practical have been identified as the source of stress in some part of the world (Akpan, 2001). This is not a unique case in the Nigerian context. Physics teachers in Nigeria find these poor working condition stressful (Jegede & Okebukola, 1995).
Other problems encountered by students in conducting physics practical in senior schools include:
– Lack of good practical supervision
– Lack of practical manuals.
– Inadequate qualified physics teachers in secondary schools.
– Lack of motivation
– Poor laboratory condition
– Poor physics practical apparatus
– Problems in setting apparatus
– Problem in relating physics practical with physics theory.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To identify problems of students in conducting effective practical work in secondary school physics
- To describe the procedure of conducting practical work in secondary school physics
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the state of laboratories in secondary schools in Sokoto metropolis?
- What skills are emphasized by teachers in teaching practical work in secondary school physics?
- What are the attitudes of the students towards practical work in secondary school physics?
- What are the attitudes of the teachers towards teaching physics practical work in secondary schools?
1.5 Significance of the Study
provide a framework for teachers on which they could re-evaluate their instructional strategies during practical work in physics for the enhancement of effective teaching and learning provide insight for the curriculum designers into the kind of practical experiences in secondary school physics needed to aid sound understanding of scientific concepts and principles provide a framework for the NECO on which the council could re-evaluate their goals and objectives so that the practices during secondary school practical physics were in line with what the curriculum demanded of students.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
This study was carried out in Sokoto metropolis in the southern part of Nigeria.
It was conducted in few selected secondary schools and involved only physics teachers and few selected Form three students in Sokoto metropolis.
It focused only on the practical aspect of secondary school physics. It is however clear that the overall grade in NECO physics is a contribution of both theory and practical examination and given as a grade for performance in physics.
It was not possible to generalize the results to the whole country since the study was conducted only in a few selected secondary schools in Sokoto metropolis.
It was not possible to generalise the results to physics since only the practical aspect of secondary school physics was considered in this study.
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