Students perform very poorly in Chemistry in the last few decades, many reasons have been induced to explain these poor performances. Attitudes of chemistry students are correlated to their achievement. Attitudes can be influenced by the learning environment. Therefore, thestudy examined how students’ perceptions of Chemistry classroom environment influence their achievement and attitudes in Chemistry. The population of the study comprised all the SSII Chemistry students in Senior Secondary Schools in Obollo Education Zone. The sample for the study constituted 496 SSII 2009-2010 session of Chemistry students in twenty five Senior Secondary Schools purposively selected in the area of the study. The design of the study was expost factor. Three research questions and two hypotheses guided the study. Three instruments for data collection were developed and used for the study. Students’ perceptions of Chemistry Classroom Environment Questionnaire, Chemistry Students Attitude Scale and A Check list for tabulating students’ achievement in Chemistry for three terms. The students’ perception of Chemistry Classroom Environment Questionnaire is a 24- items questionnaire while the Chemistry Students’ Attitude Scale is a 25- items questionnaire. In addition, a Check list was used for tabulating students’ achievement in chemistry for three terms. The data were analysized using different statistics namely, Mean Scores, Standard Deviation Scores and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) which was used to test the hypotheses. The results of the study revealed that the students have different perceptions of their chemistry classroom environment. Students’ perceptions of their Chemistry classroom environment have no significant influence on their achievement in Chemistry, but have significant influence on students’ attitudes towards Chemistry. Based on these findings in students’ attitudes in Chemistry, a Scheffe`s Test was carried out to locate the groups that indicate significant difference in their attitudes towards Chemistry. The result shows that the 3 groups were statistically significant with each other. This shows that most of the students do not have positive perceptions of their Chemistry Classroom Environment because it is not conducive for teaching and learning of Chemistry. The results have significant influence on students’ Attitudes to Chemistry, though it has no significant influence on students’ Achievement but it does not give the students ability for meaningful performance in Chemistry. Finally recommendations were made.
Background to the Study
Chemistry as a science subject plays a vital role in transforming the environment and improving the general quality of life. It is essentially needed for a nation’s technological development. As a core science subject, the proper teaching and learning of chemistry in secondary schools facilitates student’s enrollment in many professional disciplines like Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Engineering and Geology etc. Hence, there is the need for effective teaching and learning of Chemistry in Nigerian secondary schools. For teaching and learning of Chemistry to be effective, the classroom environment has to be conducive to both teachers and students. Chemistry as an important science subject is taught in many secondary schools in Nigeria as a single subject at senior secondary school level. Yet, in spite of all the benefits derived from Chemistry, students’ performance in Chemistry at the senior secondary school certificate examination in the last few decades is still low. Ogu (1995), Balogun (1995), and Akinyele (1997), all noted poor academic achievement in Science and Chemistry in particular. Ugwu (2004), noted that in 2000 and in 2001, of all the candidates who sat for senior secondary school chemistry examination, more than half of the students performed very poor in Chemistry that they could not use their result in Chemistry for further studies. Also WAEC annual report (2006, 2007 and 2008), noted poor academic achievement in Chemistry which manifested in constant poor grades and repetition of classes. Thus, one tends to question why the general unsatisfactory academic performance in Chemistry among the secondary school students. These poor performances in Chemistry have made some researchers to study the problem with the hope of finding the causes and possible solutions.
According to Ali (1998), science education at all levels is plagued by very many kinds of problems which include, under funding of science education; lack of adequate and appropriate instructional materials; lack of functional equipments; poor method of teaching; inadequate trained science teachers and laboratories that exist in dilapidated buildings. Chemistry as a core science subject is not counted out from the under listed problems. These problems lead to serious educational setbacks which invariably lead to low rate of secondary schools science achievement in Nigeria.