Master's Thesis, 2016
59 Pages, Grade: B (3.0)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF TABLES
1.1 Background of the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Objective of the Study
1.3.1 General Objectives
1.3.2 Specific Objectives of the Study
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Theoretical Framework
1.6 Conceptual Framework
1.7 Significance of the Study
1.8 Limitation of the Study
1.9 Delimitation/Scope of the Study
1.10 Operational Definition of Terms
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
2.2 Theoretical Literature Review
2.3 Empirical Literature Review
2.3.1 Trend of Poor Performance in Science Subjects
2.3.2 Factors Influencing Poor Performance in Science Subjects
2.3.3 Measures to Improve Performance in Science Subjects
3.2 Research Design
3.3 Data Collection Method
3.4 Population and Sampling Procedures
3.5 Sampling Method
3.6 Sample Size
3.7 Data Analysis
3.8 Validity and Reliability
3.9 Ethical Consideration
DATA ANALYSIS INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION
4.2 Demographic Information of Respondents
4.2.1 Students Respondents
4.3 Trend of Academic Performances on Science Subjects for the Five Past Years in Selected Secondary Schools in Shinyanga Municipality
4.4 Factors Influencing Poor Performance in Science Subjects in Selected Secondary Schools in Shinyanga Municipality
4.5 Suggested measures to improve performance in science subjects in selected secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.2 Summary of the Study
5.3 Conclusion of the study
5.4 Recommendation of the study
I would like to thank God Almighty for granting me with opportunity to start and finish my studies. Much thanks to my Supervisor Dr. Philip Eric Akech for his instructions; guidance and even his time devotion towards completion of this study, May almighty bless him. I would like to give thanks to my lovely Wife Rahel Gakome for her prayers, support, and encouragement from the beginning to the end, be blessed. I also like to give thanks to my father Mr John Majo for his wise advices, and financial supports for my studies, May God bless you abundantly am blessed to have you as my father.
I also give May I also give thanks to my classmates “Masters class of 2015/16” for their support; it was an amazing class I will always remember you all.
Gratitude to my friends Nelson Xavier “Apii”, Julius Marandu, and Kalist Pamfil for their support and encouragement. Also warmly thanks to Mr Cosmas Nyalusanda for his support, assistance and instructions.
I dedicate this academic work to my Family; my mother Mwl: Martha K. Majo (R.I.P), My father Mr John Majo, my lovely wife Rahel Gakome, My daughter Marta S. Majo and my sisters Debora and Suzana Majo.
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The study aimed at investigating on the factors influencing poor performance in science subjects in secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipal Council.
The study used survey research design by applying quantitative technique. Six public secondary schools out of eighteen public secondary schools were sampled for the study; it involved 415 respondents. The form four National Examination results for the past five years in selected secondary schools were used to show trend of performance in science subjects. Structured questionnaires were used to obtain information, and the criterion used in sampling was simple random method.
The study found out that the factors influences poor performance were; Inadequate number of teachers, Lack of teaching and learning materials, Poor teaching methods (theory) and students’ attitudes towards science subjects. Also the study found out that the suggested solutions to the problem of poor performance in science subjects in secondary schools in Shinyanga municipal council were; presence of adequate teachers, availability of science teaching and learning materials.
The study conclude that Scarcity of qualified Science subjects’ teachers and inadequate availability of teaching and learning materials are the major factors influencing poor performance in science subjects in secondary schools in Shinyanga municipality. The study recommends the following; the ministry should ensure enough availability of qualified science subjects’ teachers in secondary schools, and to make sure there is availability of adequate teaching and learning materials like books, teaching aids, specimens, chemicals and laboratory apparatuses, with conducive learning and friendly environment at schools.
Figure 1.1 Conceptual Framework
Table 4.1 Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Students’ Respondents as Per Sex and Class Level
Table 4.2 Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Teachers’ Respondents as Per Teaching Experience, Teaching Subject, and Level of Education.
Table 4.3 Trend of Academic Performance for Science Subjects for Past Five Years in Shinyanga Municipality
Table 4.4 Descriptive for Factors Influencing Poor Performance in Science Subjects in Shinyanga Municipality
Table 4.5 Descriptive for Measures to Improve Performance in Science Subjects in Shinyanga Municipality
Poor performance in science subjects is increasing from time to time among secondary schools students in Tanzania, East Africa as well as in Africa and the globe at large in recent years. (Jidamwa, 2012)
According to Science Education in Europe (2011) International student assessment surveys carried out under agreed conceptual and methodological frameworks with a view to providing policy-oriented indicators, in Europe indicates that there is decrease of relative standings in the performance of science subjects among European members.
Ajaja (2008) found out that poor performance in science subjects in secondary schools has been a serious concern to educationists, business organizations and government at large. This problem has been due to a lot of factors which include the absence of incentives and motivation on teachers so as to increase their efficiency and effectiveness in order to bring about improved performance of students.
According to Kiyaga (2013) science subjects remain burden of Uganda’s education even as more efforts are put into promotion of the academic field. Results for the 2012 Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) exposed the continued poor performance of science subjects compared to arts subjects.
Poor performance in science subjects is increasing from time to time in many secondary schools in Tanzania in recent years; the poor performance in science subjects is seen in national examination results. According to data collected from the National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA), the pass rates (grade A to D) for the National Form Four Examination results in Mathematics were about 31%, 24% and 18% in 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively, as well as the pass rates for Chemistry were 33%, 31% and 28%, Biology pass rates were 46%, 41 and 43% while physics pass rates were 29% 26% and 27% respectively for the year 2007, 2008 and 2009 (Hamilton et al., 2010).
According to Osaki (2007) despite significant achievements in improving access to quality education over the past two decades in Tanzania, there is continuation of poor performance in mathematics and science subjects at the primary and secondary school level which raises concerns over whether, or not the education system can supply graduates who possess the competencies required of them within the emerging technology sector. The failed rates in both mathematics and the sciences remain high, with little improvement at either the primary or the secondary school level, mathematics scores have dropped drastically from 20% to 40% for the past three years.
As explained by (Tema & Mlawa, 2010) at MKUKUTA annual assessment meeting report, it was observed from the recent statistics released by the National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) that there was a trend of massive failures in science subjects in secondary schools in Tanzania. It is in actual fact getting worse year after year. There is 12% increase of poor performance in science subjects higher than the proportion of failures five years ago.
Education sector stakeholders have called on the government to see the need to arrest the rising incidence of students doing poorly in science subjects, warning that failure to take immediate action would make Tanzania run dangerously short of scientists (Shekighenda, 2010).
The increase of poor performance and failures in science subjects in secondary schools may lead to a big loss for both individual students whose aim was to continue with higher education and pursue a carrier, but all of that may be compromised as a results of poor performance in science subjects, and this may affect the nation, whose aim is to have professionals in various science fields like medicine, communication, industries, building, and construction in order to achieve its technological developmental goals (Rogers & Ford 2007).
In the study of Mabula (2012), it was shown that there is a continuation of failure, and poor performance in science subjects in secondary schools National Examinations, and there is a continuous dropout from science subjects, the drop out is more serious in Physics and chemistry subjects as compared to mathematics and biology which are compulsory to all students.
In recent statistics given out by the National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) shows that the trend of massive failure is in actual fact getting worse day by day. In 2009 about 82 percent of students who sat for CSEE failed in Mathematics; this is 12 percent higher than the proportion of failures five years ago (Chief Inspection Officer, 2010).
Science and technology are keys to socio-economic development in an increasingly interconnected world. It is therefore imperative that developing countries like Tanzania to embrace science and technology as a vital tool for accelerating the country’s socio-economic development. Science and technology education are thus important to national development in Tanzania, in different perspectives like the use and application of knowledge, skills, modern tools and materials of science and technology which add value to human life everywhere in the world, as in medical, environmental and engineering sciences. (URT, 1996).
There are various studies conducted on the issue of poor performance in science subjects, and trend of performance in science subjects, some of the studies includes; the study looking on the contributory factors to poor learner performance in physical sciences in KwaZulu-Natal Province with special reference to schools in the Pinetown District which was done by (Dhurumraj, 2013) whereby he found out that lack of resources, language of learning and teaching (LoLT), the socio-economic status of learners, parent involvement, large classes, the developmental level of learners, and the curriculum are among the factors for the poor performance in science.
In the study on the factors influencing academic performance of ward secondary schools case study in Moshi municipality, the study done by (Komba et al., 2013) it was found out that; there is poor performance in ward secondary schools, and the factors influencing their bad performance are lack of teachers, un-conducive teaching and learning environments, and poor teaching and learning materials.
The study on the causes and solutions for dismal performance of science subjects in secondary schools in Tanzania, the study was done by (COSTECH, 2007) the studies found out that poor infrastructure, and lack of teachers are the factors led to the poor performance in science subjects.
There is poor trend of performance in secondary schools especially in science subjects. As elaborated in the research on the performance the Audit Report on School Inspection Programme for Secondary Schools in Tanzania, (2008) found out that Tanzanian education system is facing a major challenge in ensuring quality education to create a competent human resource base in science. This can be seen from the poor performance of students in examinations, and especially in mathematics and science subjects. With reference to school inspectorate programme by the CAG report, 70 percent of students who sat for their Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (CSEE) in 2007 failed the subject of mathematics, and a significant number of failures were also present in other science subjects.
The researcher therefore sees there is a need to investigate on the factors influencing poor performance of science subjects in secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality, since there is no similar study done on the factors influencing poor performance of science subjects in secondary school in Shinyanga municipality, the researcher sees the research gap and decides to conduct the study in order to investigate, and provide information on what are the factors influencing poor performance of science subjects in secondary schools in Shinyanga municipality, also to give out recommendations on what are the possible solutions to the problem of poor performance in science subjects among secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipal Council.
The performance of science subjects in secondary schools in recent two decades has been rapidly dropping in Tanzania; the trend shows there is speed downfall of performance in science subjects especially in secondary schools. And the failures in science subjects may results into shortage of science experts like doctors, engineers, and teachers. Therefore there is a need to investigate on what are the root causes and factors influences poor performance in science subjects, and how to eradicate the problem. Hence this study will investigate on the factors influencing poor performance in science subjects in selected secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality.
The general objective of the study is to investigate on the factors influencing poor performance in science subjects in selected secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality.
The following are specific objectives of this study:
(i) To show trend of academic performance of science subjects in selected secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality for the past five years
(ii) To determine the factors influencing poor performance in science subjects in selected secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality.
(iii) To propose possible suggested measures to improve performance in science subjects in selected secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality.
The research questions in this study are listed below:-
(i) What is the trend of academic performance of science subjects in selected secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality for the past five years?
(ii) What are the factors influencing poor performance in science subjects in selected secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality?
(iii) What are the proposed possible suggested measures to improve performance in science subjects in selected secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality?
The study is based on the theory of Constructivism which was propounded by Jean Piaget. The theory of Constructivism states that “people construct their own understanding and knowledge of different things, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences.” Constructivism learning theory by Jean Piaget generally explains that; when a person or learner encounters with something new, first they have to reconcile it with their previous ideas and experiences, maybe to change what they were believed, or maybe discarding the new information as irrelevant. In many cases, people are the active creators of their own knowledge (Rovai, 2004)
Janssen (2000) elaborates about nine principles that guiding constructivism learning theory such principles are; Learning is an active process whereby learner uses sensory input and constructs meaning out of it, The crucial action of constructing meaning is mental (cognitive) hence it happens in the mind, and People learn to learn as they learn. Other principles includes Learning is a social activity so learning is intimately associated with learners interactions with other human beings and environment around him, Learning uses language hence the language used influences learning, and Learning is contextual people learn in relation to what is known, believed or observable. The remaining principles of constructivism are; it takes time to learn because learning is not instantaneous, one needs knowledge to learn, and Motivation is a key component in learning.
The theory has relevance to this study because the theory is particularly applicable to the teaching and learning of various things including science subjects. A performance is an outcome of learning; hence ways of learning determines outcome or performance. The academic performance in science subjects is an outcome of how the subjects were learnt. The process of teaching and learning science subjects involves asking of questions, experiment, observation, exploration, and assessment and all those activities are elaborated as main principles of Constructivism learning theory.
Piaget (1950) suggested that knowledge is internalized through accommodation and assimilation, and learners construct new knowledge and ideas from their experiences. Constructivism views learning as a process in which students actively construct or build new ideas and concepts based upon prior knowledge and new information. And all these processes elaborated by the theory are required for effective teaching and learning of science subjects since teaching and learning of science require practical’s, experiment observation and retention so the learning theory of constructivism comply with the teaching and learning of science, and the performance either good or poor performance is determined by the whole process of teaching and learning, hence this theory has relevance to this study.
Constructivism learning theory has also been challenged by various scholars among the challenges posed on reality of the theory are, as elaborated by (Merril, 1991) said the biggest disadvantage of constructivism is that learner may be hindered by contextualizing learning and become unable to form abstractions and transfer knowledge and skills in new situations. Also constructivism may lead to "group or individual think." Whereby the collaborative aspects of constructivist classrooms tend to produce a group of individuals or individual whose voices or interpretations may dominate the group's conclusions, and dissenting students are forced to believe on others thought or it may lead to confusion, (Atherton, 2013).
The study’s conceptual framework in figure 1.1 shows its basis on the assumption that learning is constructing of ideas, knowledge and understanding through experience, observation and reflection, and there are Independent variables which are the influencing factors in the process of learning science subjects, and has relation to dependent variables which are academic performances in grades. There are also some factors which, when come across may reverse the influencing factors in independent variables and hence alter academic performances in dependent variables, these are referred to as extraneous variables.
INDEPENT VARIABLE S DEPENDANT VARIABLES
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The findings obtained from this study may be of great usefulness to the Ministry of Education, in the preparation of various programs and strategies of teaching and learning science subjects in secondary schools and some recommendations may be useful in improving performance of science subjects is secondary schools. The study findings might also be useful when curriculum of science subjects’ assessment is conducted by the ministry and its bodies. The study findings are also be beneficial to National Examination Council of Tanzania (NECTA) when they are evaluating their ways in the preparation of the examinations, how examinations are conducted and marking of examinations. To the school owners, managers, administrators and teachers the research findings are useful to them since they provide highlight on what are the factors influencing poor performance in science subjects in secondary schools. Also the findings of this research are also useful to individuals, learners, researchers, and in various organizations and institutions, since it provides information on what are the possible factors which influences poor performance of science subjects in secondary schools and give out recommendations for the said problem.
The findings of this study relied much on the information given out by the respondents; hence the validity of the information depended on them. There occurred some circumstances like perception, attitude, ignorance or any other reasons, respondents distorts information by either hiding information, giving wrong information or refuse to respond and cooperate. To encounter this problem the researcher conducted a discussion in order to give elaboration to the respondents on the purpose of the study and its importance in development of education, and improvement of performance in science subjects in secondary schools and hence it may help in producing more science experts for the industrial development of the country. Also the researcher ensured the respondents of the confidentiality of the information they were going to give that their identity would be kept confidential, the also researcher sought permission of collecting information from all required authorities in order to collect information smoothly and to secure security of the respondents.
Improper filling and failure or returning questionnaires was also among the factors hindering smooth collection of data. For example, in this study 275 questionnaires were distributed to student respondents but only 264 questionnaires were returned and 11 questionnaires were not collected.
The study focused on the factors influencing poor performance of science subjects in selected secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality; hence the study confined itself to the factors influencing poor performances in science subjects only without looking into other subjects whose performance may also be not satisfactory. The study was, restricted itself to selected public secondary schools in Shinyanga Municipality hence information which was gathered from secondary schools teachers and students exclude other respondents from other levels of education institutions like primary schools, college, and universities which may also experience the same problem.
Academic Performance is the outcome of education to the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational grades.
Extraneous Variables are variables which may cause alteration or changes in the academic performance. These are variables which may change/alter dependent variables, when comes in between independent and dependent variables. Extraneous variables are like Improve infrastructure and building of laboratory in secondary schools, provision of enough teaching and learning materials, having qualified and well trained teachers and motivation to science students.
Influencing Factors are factors or causes which lead for something to occur or to happen like lack of teachers, lack of teaching materials, and lack of motivation, traditions and customs and difficulty of science subjects.
Secondary School Education is an educational level after primary school education. It’s divided into two parts. Ordinary level (o-level) consists of four academic year’s form 1-4, and advanced level (a-level) consists of two academic year’s form 5-6.
Science Subjects are studies deal with structure and behavior of natural and physical world based on facts learned through experiment, observation and development of theories. Science subjects in Tanzania include Physics, Chemistry which are optional subjects, while Biology and Mathematics are compulsory subjects.
Poor Performance it is unsatisfactory outcome results of examinations, which is failure and cannot help a candidate in any way. Poor performance denotes by letter F which ranges from 21 to 0
This chapter contains reviewed literature on theoretical framework of the study, and the empirical study which reviewed various written literature on the Factors influencing poor performance in science subjects and literature about preventive measures to prevent poor academic performance in science subjects.
As explained by Howe and Berv (2000) Constructivism is basically a learning theory based on observation and scientific study about how people learn. It says that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. When we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experience, maybe changing what we believe, or maybe discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge.
The concept of constructivism has roots in classical antiquity, going back to Socrates's dialogues with his followers, in which he asked directed questions that led his students to realize for themselves the weaknesses in their thinking. The Socratic dialogue is still an important tool in the way constructivist educators assess their students' learning and plan new learning experiences. (Elby, 2000)
Dewey (1966) explains constructivism as the process by which students would engage in real-world, practical workshops in which they would demonstrate their knowledge through creativity and collaboration. Students should be provided with opportunities to think from themselves and articulate their thoughts.
Brooks (1993) said constructivism is an active, contextualized process of constructing knowledge rather than acquiring it. Knowledge is constructed based on personal experience and hypotheses of the environment. Learners continuously test these hypotheses through social negotiation. Each person has a different interpretation and construction of knowledge process.
According to Mathews (1998) the constructivism learning theory argues that people produce knowledge and form meaning based upon their experiences. Two of the key concepts within the constructivism learning theory which create the construction of an individual's new knowledge are accommodation and assimilation. Whereas assimilating causes an individual to incorporate new experiences into the old experiences, and hence causes the individual to develop new outlooks, rethink what were once misunderstandings, and evaluate what is important, ultimately altering their perceptions. Accommodation, on the other hand, is reframing the world and new experiences into the mental capacity already present. Individuals conceive a particular fashion in which the world operates. When things do not operate within that context, they must accommodate and reframe the expectations with the outcomes.
As elaborated by Educational Broadcasting Corporation (2004) in the classroom, the constructivist view of learning can point towards a number of different teaching practices. In the most general sense, it usually means encouraging students to use active techniques (experiments, real-world problem solving) to create more knowledge and then to reflect on and talk about what they are doing and how their understanding is changing. The teacher makes sure he or she understands the students' pre-existing conceptions, and guides the activity to address them and then build on them.
The constructivism learning theory refers to the idea that learners construct knowledge for themselves (each learner individually) and socially constructs meaning (as they learn, and interact with the environment. The theory explains that an individual can acquire knowledge through cognitive constructivism which deals with how the individual learner understands the developmental stages and learning styles, and social constructivism which deals with how meanings and understanding grow out of interactions. (Boud, & Feletti, 1997)
Principles of Constructivism learning theory
There are about nine principles of constructivism learning theory; such of those principles as elaborated by (Lebow, 1993) are as follows;-
(i) Learning is an active process, in which the learner uses sensory input and constructs meaning out of it. The more traditional formulation of this idea involves the terminology of the active learner, stressing that the learner needs to do something; that learning is not the passive acceptance of knowledge which exists "out there" but that learning involves the learner’s engaging with the world.
(ii) People learn to learn as they learn; learning consists both of constructing meaning and constructing systems of meaning. Each meaning they construct makes them better able to give meaning to other sensations which can fit a similar pattern.
(iii) The crucial action of constructing meaning is mental, it happens in the mind. Physical actions, hands-on experience may be necessary for learning, especially for children, but it is not sufficient; learners need to be provided with activities that will engage the mind as well as the hands.
(iv) Learning involves language, the language learners use influences learning. Language and learning are different sides of the same coin. Without language there is no learning.
(v) Learning is a social activity; individual learning is intimately associated with connection and interaction with other human beings, and environments. Social interactions are one of the major factors which facilitate learning.
(vi) Learning is contextual, learners don’t learn from isolated facts and theories in some abstract objects of the mind. Individuals learn in relationship to what they know, and believe.
(vii) One needs knowledge to learn, it is not possible to assimilate new knowledge without having some structure developed from previous knowledge to build on. The more learners know, the more they can learn. Therefore any effort to teach must be connected to the state of the learner and must provide a path into the subject for the learner based on that learner's previous knowledge.
(viii) It takes time to learn, learning is not instantaneous. For significant learning, learners need to revisit ideas, ponder them try them, out, play with them and use them.
(ix) Motivation is a key component in learning, Not only is it the case that motivation helps learning, it is essential for learning.
Advantages of Constructivism learning theory.
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