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Gender Test Anxiety, Students Interest and Academic Performance in Chemistry Among SS3 Students

Chapter one


1.1Background of the study

Over the years, it is unfortunate that statistics and observation have shown that students have not performed well in mathematics. This poor state of affair has troubled the hearts of parents, administrators, government, teachers, and even the students themselves. This is because outside it being a requirement for admission into the tertiary institutions, it involves knowledge and skills that are needed for daily living

Chemistry as a subject matter area, affects to a varying degree, all aspects of human endeavor (Maliki et al., 2009; Owan, 2012). It, therefore, becomes a national problem since the performance of students in school affects the larger society. Efforts made by the government, non-governmental organizations and even researchers seem not to be meaningful or affecting changes in the performance status of the students.

Chemistry occupies a central position amongst the science subjects. It is a core subject for the medical sciences, textile technology agricultural science, synthetic Industry, printing technology, pharmacy, chemical engineering, to mention just a few. As important as the subject is and in spite of the effort of both the federal and state governments to encourage chemistry education, students still shun the subject (Jegede, 2003). In spite of the age long fear and its effects on the subject, researchers had done little or nothing on the basic psychological factors that could generate such anxiety.

Gender is the state of being either a male or female. Test anxiety is simply the combination of psychological over-arousal, tension, and somatic symptoms, along with worry, dread, fear of failure, that occur in a person before or during test situations. Item sequencing, on the other hand, refers to the determination of order or arrangement in a set of test questions taking into considering the difficulty level associated with each specific question, while following a specific pattern. Studies related to these areas have revealed a form of association with the dependent variable (students’ academic performance). Munz and Smouse (1968) found that there is a significant F-ratio (p< .01) for reaction type and interaction indicating that item difficult sequencing, achievement anxiety reacts significantly on the academic performance of students

The study of Ojediran and Oludipe (2016) examined the impact of test anxiety and gender on Nigerian preservice science education students, and disclosed that at low test anxiety, pre-service science students performed better with CGPAs than their high-test anxiety colleagues; female pre-service science students exhibited lower test anxiety than male pre-service students. It was shown in another study that the females had a higher mean score on test anxiety than the males but the mean difference was not statistically significant. The study showed further that females participants had a higher and significant mean achievement score than males (Timoty, 2015). Sideeg (2015) also found that test anxiety is significantly higher than the critical value that was set. It was discovered further that test anxiety significantly correlates with students’ academic achievement. The negative correlation uncovered in the study showed that there is a strong association between these psychological constructs. Further findings indicate a statistically significant effect of gender differences and type of study on the levels of test anxiety.

Josiah and Adejoke (2014) revealed an average performance of students in chemistry. The differences in achievement across gender, age, and chemistry anxiety groupings (low, medium & high) were all non-significant. Another study carried out by Iroegbu (2013) showed that the subjects with low anxiety and female gender performed better than the male gender. In addition, there is a significant interaction between anxiety and gender as well as anxiety self-concept, and gender on academic performance. Barrows et al. (2013) provided evidence that showed a strong relationship between each of test anxiety, selfconcept, and exam grades. The multiple regression analysis indicated that exam grade could be predicted by test anxiety and self-efficiency level, and that self-efficiency moderates the effects of test anxiety. Farooqi et al. (2012) reported that female students demonstrated higher test anxiety level as compared to males. Males students achieved statistically significant higher GPAs as compared to the females, the study also found a significant negative relationship between test anxiety and academic performance. Syokwaa et al. (2014) revealed that there is a significant correlation between anxiety levels and academic achievement and that high anxiety levels had a negative impact on the quality of academic result recorded by students. The study also established that students encountered some high anxiety causing challenges which affect their ability to perform effectively. Karjanto and Yong (2015) also established that students who had a lower score expectation were more anxious than those who had higher score expectations, but that they obtained a better score than the expected score.

Statement of the study

Abiam & Odok (2006) in their research work found that there was no significant gender difference in the achievement of students in number; numeration statistics and chemistry process. In a similar vein Josiah & EtukIren (2014) found a non significant relationship between gender, age, mathematics anxiety and college students’ achievement in chemistry. In another research by Mari and Shauba (1997), they revealed that female students had a better understanding of science process skills when compared to the male students. They suggested that the view that seems to have established itself that boys are better than girls in science education needs to be approached and interpreted with great caution. Similarly, Godpower-Echie and Amadi (2013) in a research work involving four hundred (400) senior secondary (SS) 2 chemistry students found out that there was a positive correlation between gender and students’ achievement in chemistry. Females tend to perform better in areas of standardized science assessment that address the human application of science such as life science, (Ingels and Dalton, 2008). Contrary to the findings above, Babalola and Fayombo (2009), found out that there was no statistically significant difference in the students’ science achievement based on gender. Fredrick (2008) opines that there was no statistical difference between boys and girls in the ability to manipulate the apparatus/equipment take observations, report/record results correctly, and compute/interpret/analyse result during chemistry practicals and that both male and female students perceived interpreting/analysing results to be most difficult skill to perform during chemistry practical. Ikenna (2009), found out that gender alone has no effect on academic achievement but could act in conjunction with other variables to affect learning outcomes

Objective of the study

The objectives of the study are;

  1. To find out the influence gender have on students’ interest in chemistry
  2. To find out the influence gender have on students’ achievement in chemistry
  3. To find out the interactive effect of gender and test anxiety on the academic performance of students in chemistry.

Research Hypotheses

The following research hypotheses are formulated

H1: there is no interactive effect of gender and test anxiety on the academic performance of students in chemistry

H2: there is no influence gender have on students’ achievement in chemistry

Significance of the study

The study will be very significant to students, lecturers, ministry of education and policy makers. The study will give a clear insight on the gender test anxiety, students interest and academic performance in chemistry among SS 3 students. The study will also serve as a reference to other researcher that will embark on the related topic

Scope and limitation of the study

The scope of the study covers Gender test anxiety, students interest and academic performance in chemistry among SS 3 students in M M C educational zone,  Borno state Nigeria

Limitations/constraints are inevitable in carrying out a research work of this nature. However, in the course of this research, the following constraints were encountered thus:

  1. Non-availability of enough resources (finance): A work of this nature is very tasking financially, money had to be spent at various stages of the research such resources which may aid proper carrying out of the study were not adequately available.

Time factor: The time used in carrying out the research work is relatively not enough to bring the best information out of it. However, I hope that the little that is contained in this study will go a long way in solving many greater problems


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