Kenya has been recording poor student performance in Physics for a long period of time. There has been some revision of the Physics syllabus to reduce the level of difficulty and overloading of the students. Projects like Strengthening Mathematics and Science in Secondary Education (SMASSE) and other in-service workshops and seminars, integration of information communication and technology, employment of more teachers and Government subsidized tuition have been introduced but all these efforts have not significantly improved student performance in Physics. It is believed that the manner in which a teacher interacts with his/her students can either encourage the students to participate in the learning activities or inhibit such participation. This may affect their concept development and hence academic performance. The research topic was classroom verbal interaction patterns in relation to student performance in Physics in Baringo Central Sub-County, Kenya. The objectives of this study were: to investigate the relationship between the various types of verbal interaction patterns and the learners participation in learning activities; to establish the ratio of teachers direct to indirect behaviour based on verbal interactions in Physics classrooms and finally to investigate the relationship between various verbal classroom interaction patterns and student performance in Physics. A total of six Physics teachers from six stratified randomly selected schools were involved in the research. A modified version of Flanders‟ Interaction Analysis Category (FIAC) was used in Form Three classes. Form three students responded to an eight- item Physics achievement test (SPAT) in addition to an attitude scale (AS) while the Physics teachers filled  a  Physics  teachers‟  questionnaire  (PTQ)  indicating  their  views  on  interactions  in Physics classrooms. The data collected were analysed using SPSS computer software. Data collected through FIAC were tabulated and coded. Each table was analysed and interpreted using percentages. All categories from 1 to 10 were added and the mean of 10 categories for the six secondary classes calculated. Talk time was calculated by adding frequencies from categories 1 to 9 and converted into percentages by dividing the frequencies with total time of interaction. Teacher‟s talk time was calculated by adding frequencies from categories 1 to 7 and converted into percentages by dividing the frequencies with total talk time. Teacher‟s direct talk time was calculated by adding frequencies from categories 5 to 7 and converted into percentages by dividing the frequencies with teacher‟s total talk time. Teachers indirect talk time was calculated by adding frequencies from categories 1 to 4 and converted into percentages by dividing the frequencies with teacher‟s total talk time. Inferential statistics of Pearson correlation was used to determine the relationship between classroom interaction pattern and student performance in Physics. T-test was used to compare means in students‟ performance in SPAT. Qualitative data from the Likert scale was analysed by tallying the numbers of similar responses. The findings showed that verbal interaction had some influence on the learner‟s participation. It was also found that the Teachers ratio of indirect to direct verbal

interaction is 1:2.The study also established that schools which used indirect verbal interaction performed better than those using direct verbal interaction.


1.1 Background of the Study.

Physics is a branch of science which deals with the study of matter in relation to energy (Minishi, Muni and Okumu, (2008)). It consists of basic concepts used to explain real life situations, for example: why objects always fall towards the centre of the Earth which is explained by the concept of Force of Gravity as discovered by Sir Isaac Newton; Why large ships made of steel can float on water despite steel being about ten times denser than water is explained by the concept of Up thrust; Law of Floatation and Archimedes Principle which are associated with the great Greek scientist called Archimedes; and the Crackling sound produced when removing a nylon cloth from the body is explained by the concept of static charges (Minishi et al., (2008)). Through the study of Physics, the various forms of Energy available can be harnessed for a more easily manageable and fulfilling life. Thus, a waterfall or a hot spring is seen as a source of electrical energy. On the other hand, Radio waves and Microwaves as means of energy propagation have been put into use in the working of the radio, television, satellites, computers and telephone. As a subject, the study of Physics involves measurement of quantities and collection of data. Through experimentation and observations, hypothesis are drawn, tested and consequently laws and principles established.

Rabari (2003) considers that Physics as a study may be split into six branches, namely: mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics, geometrical optics, waves and atomic Physics.

The field of Mechanics involves the study of motion of bodies under the influence of forces. In mechanics, the characteristics of linear, circular and oscillatory motion are explained. The equilibrium of forces for bodies and fluids at rest and when in motion are also explored. The Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo brought together the ideas of other great thinkers of his time and began to analyze motion in terms of distance travelled from some starting position and the time taken. He showed that falling objects accelerate steadily during the time of their fall. This acceleration is the same for both heavy and light objects, provided air friction (air resistance) is discounted. The English mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton improved this analysis by defining force and mass and relating them to acceleration. For objects travelling at speeds close to the speed of light, Newton‟s laws were superseded by Albert Einstein‟s theory of relativity. For atomic and subatomic particles, Newton‟s laws were superseded by quantum theory. For everyday phenomena, however, Newton‟s three laws of motion remain the cornerstone of dynamics, which is the study of what causes motion.

Electricity and Magnetism deals with the relationship between electric currents magnetic fields and their extensive applications when operating Electric motor, Magnetic relay, Telephone receiver, Electric bell, Circuit breakers among others.

On the other hand thermodynamics is the study of transformation of heat to and from other forms of energy (Onah, (2010)). A major reference is made to gas behaviour in which thermal exchanges and the accompanying changes of pressure and volume are explained in line with the kinetic theory of matter.

Geometrical optics focuses on the behaviour of light as it traverses various media. Optical instruments such as telescopes, microscopes, periscopes and laws governing their working form a major part of this branch of Physics.

Waves deal with the propagation of energy through space. In addition, effects such as reflection, refraction, diffraction and polarisation of sound and light are easily explained using wave theory.

Last but not least, atomic Physics involves the study of the behaviour of particles constituting the nucleus and the accompanying energy changes. It is within this area that radioactivity, nuclear fusion and fission are studied. Atomic Physics also studies atoms as an isolated system of electrons and an atomic nucleus. It is primarily concerned with the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus and the processes by which these arrangements change. This includes ions as well as neutral atoms unless otherwise stated, for the purposes of this discussion it should be assumed that the term atom includes ions. Atomic model consists of a single nucleus that may be surrounded by one or more bound electrons (Minishi et al., (2008)). It is not concerned with the formation of molecules (although much of the Physics is identical) nor does it examine atoms in a solid state as condensed matter. It is concerned with processes such as ionization and excitation by photons or collisions with atomic particles, by this consideration atomic Physics provides the underlying theory in plasma Physics and atmospheric Physics even though both deal with huge numbers of atoms.

The secondary school Physics course pays special attention to the needs of the majority of the learners who may terminate their Physics studies at the end of secondary school level and become general citizens with Physics general knowledge for example; environmental

conservation, road safety measures among others. It also caters for the needs of learners who may pursue their studies in the subject and the related disciplines hence using Physics for vocational and career needs. Secondary school Physics course also caters for those  who want to advance their knowledge in Physics in higher institutions of learning like universities hence becoming practising physicists. Emphasis is laid on the understanding of the Physics basic and integrated process skills requiring application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. This necessitates a great variety of learning experiences in contrast to the talk and chalk methods.