1.1 Background of the study
The need and demand of science and technology in today’s world is well established; therefore, in order to meet the growing challenges, the education system has to gear itself to provide the required training in scientific skills. Khitab, Ghaffar, and Zaman (2013) reiterate that it is the application of science and technology that transformed the world through dramatic advances in every field including medicine, engineering, electronics, aeronautics and others and in more recent times dramatic leaps in computer technology have revolutionized information and communications sector.The quality of science education has a crucial role in acquiring the leading character among the nations of the world. The development and turn down of any nation depends on the advancement and decline in science respectively. A country that progresses in the discipline of science, industry and technology is more urbanized than the one that lacks progression in the field of science.
Chemistry as a science subject is a field of study in which a lot of experimentation is involving. An experiment is a test carried out under controlled conditions to demonstrate a known truth, to examine validity of a hypothesis and to determine the efficacy of something new. Laboratory experience also gives students an opportunity to observe chemical systems and to gather data useful for the development of principles subsequently discussed in the textbook and in class. However, experimental work is a fundamental part of any science course and this is especially true for chemistry courses. It is vital to know that any one in chemistry should be able to conduct practical work effectively.
Practical work in science plays a vital role in developing scientific knowledge by enhancing scientific skills, attitude and inquiry based learning. Hofstein and Luneta (2003) describe science practical activities as learning experiences where students work together with materials or with models in order to observe and understand the natural world. According to Duschl, Schweingruber, and Shouse (2007), “Students who are proficient in science know, use, and interpret scientific explanations of the natural world, generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanations, understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge, and participate productively in scientific practices and discourse”. Hofstein (2003) believes that laboratory work is the core of science education. While performing laboratory work, the students get an opportunity to develop their own abilities to design, conduct, interpret and report scientific investigations. Tobin (1990) opines that, “Laboratory activities appeal as a way to learn with understanding and, at the same time, engage in a process of constructing knowledge by doing science.
Hofstein and Mamlok-Naaman (2007) elucidate that the aim of laboratory experiences are to promote goals of science education including the enhancement of students’ understanding of concepts in science and its applications; scientific practical skills and problem solving abilities; scientific ‘habits of mind’; understanding of how science and scientists work; interest; and motivation.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Practical work has had a central and distinct role in chemistry education (from school to university) for more than a century. Science is practical in nature and psychologists have found that learning by doing is the most effective method for science. It is obvious that the terms, principles their applications and the materials of science become more meaningful by actual use in daily life (Millar and Abrahams, 2019) .
Research in chemistry education has continued to seek better approaches for teaching practical chemistry in order to bring about meaningful learning and to identify factors responsible for persistent problems of low interest and understanding among students. Regrettably, The situation of laboratories in general and chemistry laboratories in particular is not satisfactory in public sector schools. Lack of equipment and chemicals are the major issues faced by chemistry teacher and students in the chemistry laboratory. Because of these barriers students only get one chance to perform practicals in the chemistry laboratory. In chemistry laboratory, students perform practicals usually in groups; therefore, sometimes they do not get the opportunity to perform the practicals by themselves.
Furthermore, Prabha, (2016) has given the following reasons for failure of practical work at the school level: Overcrowded science classrooms, Lack of teachers having required skills and knowledge for practical work, The teachers have less time to plan for practical activities because they have some other job commitments. The reason for additional job is the poor salary structure for teachers in these countries., The examination system does not emphasize on the practical skills. The theoretical portion carries most of the weight age, There is a shortage of funds for science education besides the lack of science equipment in the science laboratory.
Faize (2011) and Annual report of ASER (2013) identify that the condition of laboratories are poor in Nigeria and lack basic facilities. The major issues relating to laboratory practical are lack of equipment, glassware and chemicals. In order to have detail, clear and comprehensive information, it would have be good to students’ difficulties in chemistry practical class.
1.3 Objective of the study
The broad objective of this study is to examine students’ difficulties in chemistry practical class using selected schools in Borno State as case study. Specifically the study seeks to:
- To examine if the time allocated for chemistry practical enough to complete experiment
- Ascertain ifshortage and lack of qualified chemistry teachers contributes to the difficulty of effective chemistry practical session.
- Determine if inadequate laboratory facilities and overcrowded experiment space are contributory factor sto students’ difficulties in chemistry practical class.
- To suggest ways to ameliorate student challenges to effective chemistry practical
1.4 Research Question
The research is guided by the following research question:
- Is the time allocated for chemistry practical enough to complete experiment?
- Does shortage and lack of qualified chemistry teachers contributes to the difficulty of effective chemistry practical session?
- Will inadequate laboratory facilities and overcrowded experiment space are contributory factor sto students’ difficulties in chemistry practical class?
- What are the ways to ameliorate student challenges to effective chemistry practical?
1.5 Significance Of Study
Findings of this study will lays much emphasis on effective teaching and learning chemistry as science subject . Therefore at the end of this research, teacher trainers should be able to equip the chemistry, teachers with a suitable solution to problems as well as ideas for teachings of chemistry practical in secondary schools. This study will be of great importance to the society as well as the nation at large because of its scientific, social, economic, and technological value particularly the students as their reasoning faculty and their creative skills may be improved through effective methods of teaching. Empirically, the study will contribute to the general body of knowledge and serve as a reference material to both scholars and student who wishes to conduct further studies in related field.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study is to examine the difficulties encountered by students in chemistry practical in secondary schools in Borno State with preference to overcrowded classroom, inadequate facilities and chemical, unqualified chemistry teachers and limited time allocated for practical sessions. And also suggest ways in which the teaching of chemistry practical may be improved.
1.7 Limitation of the study
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing to the nature of the discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. More so, the choice of the sample size was limited as few respondent were selected to answer the research instrument hence cannot be generalize to other secondary schools. However, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.
- Tafa, (2012) “Laboratory Activities and Students Practical Performance: The Case of Practical Organic Chemistry I Course of Haramaya University,” Ajce, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 2227– 5835, .
- Prabha, (2016). “Laboratory Experiences for Prospective Science Teachers: A Meta-analytic Review of Issues and Concerns,” Eur. Sci. J., vol. 12, no. 34, pp. 235–250,
- Hofstein and Mamlok-Naaman (2007) “The role of laboratory work in university chemistry,” Chem. Educ. Res. Pr., vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 172–185, .
- Millar and I. Abrahams, (2019) “Practical work: making it more effective,” vol. 91, no. 334, pp. 59–64.
Khitab, Ghaffar, and Zaman (2013) “Chemistry Teachers’ Role in Changing Practical Work from Simple ‘Hands On’ Activities to More of ‘Minds on’ Activities,” Int. J. Humanit. Soc. Sci., vol. 5, no. 10, pp. 110–118, .