The purpose of this study was to see how laboratory activities affected students’ academic performance in chemistry. The study looked into the availability and use of laboratory facilities in schools, the frequency of students participating in laboratory activities in schools, whether or not exposure to laboratory activities improves academic performance, and whether or not exposure to laboratory activities develops scientific attitudes in students toward chemistry learning.
The survey descriptive research design was used in this study. The survey yielded a total of 141 valid replies. The Cognitive Learning Theory was used in this investigation. The findings revealed that the availability of laboratories in secondary schools is relatively high, however most are not appropriately equipped, based on the replies gathered and analyzed. Furthermore, the findings revealed that students are regularly exposed to laboratory activities in schools. Students’ academic performance will increase if they are exposed to laboratory activities, according to the research. According to the findings, schools should strive to establish well-equipped library laboratories, and children should be exposed to laboratory activities on a regular basis. More importantly, schools’ laboratories should be open and accessible to both teachers and students.
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Chemistry is a discipline of science and a required subject for several fields of research, according to Agbai (2004). Agriculture, pharmacy, medicine, nursing, biochemistry, and chemical engineering are among these fields. It makes a significant contribution to the country’s technological advancement. As a result, every country wishing to advance scientifically and technologically must pay close attention to the quality of chemistry instruction provided in schools. In light of this, the Federal Government of Nigeria identified the following particular objectives to be met in the teaching of chemistry at the senior secondary school level in the National Policy on Education (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004), as mentioned in (Agbai, 2004):
Facilitating the transition from integrated science to chemistry to the application of scientific concepts and methodologies;
- Providing pupils with a foundational understanding of chemical ideas and principles through careful content selection and sequencing;
- demonstrating the link between chemistry and other topics;
- demonstrating chemistry’s relationship to industry, everyday life, benefits, and risks;
- Providing a course that is comprehensive for students who do not intend to pursue further education while yet providing a reasonable foundation for a post-secondary chemistry course.
Science teaching and learning should be activity-oriented and student-centered, according to the policy, so that students can gain useful laboratory experience. The teacher, the students, the resources, the laboratory, and how both students and teachers view them in connection to targeted learning outcomes will all play a role in achieving these goals (Agbi, 2004).
Chemistry is a core science subject, and a passing grade in it is necessary for admission to any higher institution for most scientific-based disciplines. Learning concepts, established principles, laws, and theories, as well as extensive activity-oriented laboratory work, are all part of the chemistry curriculum. The purpose of these laboratory experiments is to demonstrate in practice some of the theoretical ideas and to assess the validity of the theories.
Knowing chemistry entails not only memorizing facts and concepts that describe the physical world at the atomic level, but also learning how to investigate chemical principles’ physical proof in a laboratory setting. Because chemistry is a subject founded on experimentation, conducting experiments in a laboratory setting is critical in its teaching and learning. Only when theoretical explanations are supplemented with practical laboratory experiences can effective chemistry teaching and learning take place (Akalonu, 1998).
The teaching laboratory is the usual technique of instilling in pupils the skills and values necessary for scientific inquiry, as well as a favorable attitude toward chemistry. Students in the chemistry lab work together in small groups to examine phenomena.
This method of training has the ability to improve positive social relationships, attitudes, and academic performance. Despite the importance of chemistry knowledge to society, students’ performance in the subject as evaluated by their Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) scores is inadequate.
The poor performance in sciences in the SSCE, particularly in chemistry, demonstrates that chemistry instruction and learning, as well as the settings in which they occur, need to be re-examined. The laboratory learning environment and the availability of learning resources that can improve students’ performance in the topic should be among them.
The science laboratory, according to Akalonu (1998), is a unique learning environment in which students can work constructively in small groups to examine scientific phenomena. When opposed to a traditional classroom setting, the climate in a laboratory is meant to be less formal, allowing for greater interactions between students and with the teacher. More positive social contacts, which are perfect for generating a constructive and happy learning environment, are likely to result from increased encounters.
Several authors have defined the school laboratory in a variety of ways. A laboratory, according to Al-faleh and Hary (1993), is a facility where science teachers conduct scientific experiments for the benefit of the pupils (learners). Experiments, simulations, and other laboratory activities are included. Science laboratory, according to Amaefule (2001), is a workshop where science is done or where scientific activities are carried out in a favorable setting. She also sees the laboratory as a secure and safe location for science equipment, materials, and instruments. According to Igwe (2003), a laboratory can be either indoors, such as the adequately planned and equipped rooms found in most schools, or outdoors, such as a riverfront, workshop, field, or even market, for conducting scientific experiments. He also stated that regardless of the type of laboratory used in science education, students should have the same laboratory experience, which includes participating in a series of experimental, observational, and demonstrating activities that allow students to develop practical and theoretical understanding. Despite the fact that teachers and students share the same learning environment, their perspectives on it are likely to differ. The nature of the chemical laboratory learning environment might influence how motivated students are to meet their objectives. The laboratory’s physical environment, which includes facilities, space, lighting, ventilation, workbenches, and stools, has an impact on students’ safety and comfort, as well as their attitudes toward a particular subject and its learning (Amaefule, 2001).
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Anene (1997) remarked that in recent years, poor chemistry examination performance has caused major anxiety among science educators. As a result, researchers have focused on a variety of causal issues, including insufficient laboratory equipment, laboratory activities, teacher qualifications, and students’ incapacity to learn basic science process skills. Some research have been carried out in an attempt to address the problem mentioned above by using carefully prepared instructional strategies and models to improve the quality of chemistry teaching and learning. Despite these attempts, kids’ chemistry grades have remained consistently low. All of these solutions improved on the traditional teaching method employed in our secondary schools by a little margin. Other critical issues, however, appear to be overlooked. According to the foregoing, poor student performance in chemistry at the secondary school level may be due to both students’ perceptions of laboratory activities and teachers’ failure to conduct laboratory activities in a way that makes students more active participants in chemistry teaching and learning situations. The inadequacy of laboratory learning environments at the school level is reflected in poor performance in chemistry and other related courses (Aniodoh, 2000). According to the current literature, the impact of the laboratory learning environment on students’ learning outcomes in secondary school chemistry classes in Nigeria has not been well investigated. As a result, the purpose of this research is to fill the gap.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The overall goal of this research is to see how laboratory activities affect students’ academic performance in chemistry. Other aims of this study include, but are not limited to:
- Examine the availability of laboratory facilities in schools and how they are used.
- Examine how often kids participate in laboratory activities in schools.
- Examine whether exposing students to laboratory activities will help them perform better in class.
- Determine whether or how exposing students to laboratory activities fosters scientific attitudes about chemistry study.
This study will address the following research questions:
- To what extent are laboratory facilities available and used in schools?
- Are children commonly exposed to laboratory activities in school?
- Will exposing pupils to laboratory activities help them do better in class?
- Will students’ exposure to laboratory activities help them acquire scientific attitudes toward chemistry learning?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study’s findings will be useful to the government, teachers, parents, and academics. It will also encourage the government, through the ministry of education, to recognize the need for laboratory facilities, exposing students to laboratory activities through the placement of trained scientific instructors, technicians, and technologists in secondary schools. It will encourage parents to demand practical lessons for their children in secondary schools through the PTA, as well as persuade science teachers that practical lessons are vital for good instruction, particularly in Chemistry. Finally, the study would add to the corpus of empirical literature and serve as a reference source for students or other researchers who might want to conduct their own research.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The impact or effect of laboratory activities on students’ academic performance in chemistry will be the subject of this research. This research will look into the availability and use of laboratory facilities in schools, the frequency with which students are exposed to laboratory activities in schools, whether or not exposure to laboratory activities improves academic performance, and whether or not exposure to laboratory activities develops scientific attitudes in students toward chemistry learning.
As enrolled participants in this study, science students from two secondary schools in Ogbomosho will be used.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The researchers faced some limitations while conducting the study, as with any human endeavor. Because of the scarcity of literature on the subject and the nature of the discourse, the researcher incurred higher financial costs and spent more time sourcing for relevant materials, literature, or information, as well as in the data collection process, which is why the researcher chose a small sample size. In addition, the researcher will do this research while also working on other academic projects. Furthermore, the sample size was limited because only a few respondents were chosen to complete the research instrument, therefore it cannot be applied to other secondary schools outside of the state. Despite the difficulties experienced during the research.
DEFINITIONS OF TERMS
A laboratory is a building that allows scientists and engineers to conduct scientific or technological study, experiments, and measurements under controlled conditions.
a significant effect or influence
Academic achievement: Academic achievement refers to the extent to which a person has achieved specified goals that were the focus of activities in educational settings, such as school, college, and university.