Extent of Integration of Practical into Teaching of Chemistry in Secondary Schools

Extent of Integration of Practical into Teaching of Chemistry in Secondary Schools
Extent of Integration of Practical into Teaching of Chemistry in Secondary Schools

Extent of Integration of Practical into Teaching of Chemistry in Secondary Schools



The main purpose of this study was to examine the Extent of Integration of Practical into Teaching of Chemistry in Secondary Schools. Research questions and hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The research design selected for this study is survey research design. The study population consists of all SS1 and SS2 chemistry students in senior secondary school from government schools in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. A total of fifty (50) science students who offer chemistry will be used for the study. Simple random sampling technique will be used to enroll the participants. This selection will be done based on those that willingly give their consent to participate in the study. The researcher developed the Integration of Chemistry Practical Scale (ICPS) which will be the instrument for collecting data necessary to determine the opinion of students for this study. The data collected will be analysed using  mean and standard deviation in descriptive statistics , which will also be used to answer the research questions.

The findings of the study revealed that Integration of Practical into Teaching of Chemistry in Secondary Schools affects teaching and learning of chemistry significantly. From the findings of this study, the study concluded that the level laboratory facilities are available in senior secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area is low. Similarly, the analysis of research hypothesis one showed that some laboratory facilities are available in senior secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area. The analysis of research question two and hypothesis two showed that to a very low extent teacher integrate practical with teaching of chemistry in secondary schools


Extent of Integration of Practical into Teaching of Chemistry in Secondary Schools





1.1       Background to the Study

Chemistry is a systematic science subject that is based on observation and experimentation as well as changes in matter. It exposes students to skills which enable them to perform experiments and learn to observe, record, calculate precisely and make intelligent inferences. The Senior Secondary School chemistry curriculum, among others, aims at developing in the students the manipulative and experimental skills necessary to make them competent and confident in the investigation of matter around them, as well as inculcating in them scientific approach to problem-solving.

Education plays a crucial role in human development as the transfer of knowledge which it involves aids in the acquisition of necessary skills needed for societal development. According to UNESCO(2020) education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, morals, believes, habits and personal development. All these if acquired leads to sustainable development in every society. Being that a society which embraces education well survives but any which neglects education may suffer great set back. To this end, education seeks to offer firsthand knowledge of human understanding about life and nature, which revolve scientifically around matter and the changes it undergoes because all living and non living things are products of matter.

Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behaviour of matter (Brown,2018). Gordon (2021)defined chemistry as the study of matter which consists of, what its properties are, and how it changes. Also, Usselman and Rocke(2022) defined chemistry as the science that deals with the properties, composition,and structure of substances, the transformations they undergo, and the energy that is released or absorbed during these properties. However, Wikipedia (2021) defined chemistry in education as the study of teaching and learning chemistry. Topics in chemistry education include understanding how students learn chemistry and determining the most efficient methods to teach chemistry.

Therefore, chemistry is a branch of science which explains matter and its constituents, elements, compounds, mixtures and how they are applied to nature and our daily activities. Chemistry as a pure science subject is in one way or another applicable to our everyday life. All living and non-living things are products of chemistry as they are made up of matter. The air we breathe, the food we ingest, the drugs we administer, the natural resources around us and the various raw materials are all products of chemistry as they involve constituents and mixtures of chemical elements.

Chemistry is one of the major core science subjects in senior secondary school curriculum which is aimed at enabling students to understand the concept and theories involved in chemistry, develop the skills needed to observe, analyse, interpret and solve problems involved in chemistry, and also create awareness of the societal, economic, environmental and technological involvement of chemistry (Wikipedia, 2018). In addition to this, chemicals are essential constituent of every existing thing. These chemicals are needed in the production and preservation of food, in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, electronic devices, and energy resources as all these are evident to the existence of chemistry in our everyday life. Also, nuclear weapons, gunpowder in bullets, explosives, fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides are all products of chemistry. Everything in our environment is formed of matter; therefore chemistry is of great significance and influential to human and societal development.

Meanwhile, in spite of the importance of chemistry to individual and societal developments, students up to the present time do not possess the necessary skills which is needed to convert classroom instruction to real life situation. Evidence from WAEC result statistics between 2018,2019 and 2020, showed that out of a total of one hundred and fifteen thousand, three hundred and thirty-eight (115338) students who sat for chemistry examination  from one thousand, nine hundred and fifty-seven (1957) recognised secondary schools, only about hundred students (0.87%) scored between A1 to C6 and five thousand, six hundred and forty-seven(12.64%) students scored between D7 to E8.

By implication it shows that about 86.49% failed chemistry(WAEC e-learning, 2021).A review provided by the WAEC chief examiner in 2020,  on the weaknesses of students which  resulted in mass failure of chemistry within the specified years was identified to be problems arising from students’ inability to understand basic concepts in chemistry, apply theoretical approach to practical questions, solve calculation related questions, perform practical activities, identify laboratory apparatus, balance chemical equations, apply correct units to calculation questions, understand demands of questions before responding to them, deduce correct inferences from observations made from reactions, read and understand redox titration, write correct charge on ions, exhibit communication skill, write the correct formula of a compound, draw logical conclusions from observations made during tests, identify and name organic compounds, amongst many others.

There are several factors which hinder smooth teaching and learning of chemistry. According to Hassan et al. (2020) causes and factors that influence students’ academic performance in chemistry include: method of learning which involves only the cognitive learning style, the various characteristics of the learner and the effects this have on  students performance in chemistry. Likewise, Agoro (2018) ; Amoke (2020)  identified  poor methods of instruction, teacher attitude, laboratory inadequacy, poor science background and non availability of effective teaching and learning resources in classrooms  to be the factors responsible for poor performance of students in chemistry. Teachers are the single most important factor in improving classroom interaction which decides the performance of the students in chemistry.

The wide spread poor performance and the students’ negative attitude towards chemistry in secondary schools have been largely ascribed to teaching problems (Barineka, 2015). This is as a result of teacher incompetence or unqualified teachers who do not maximize the use of instructional method of teaching and cannot apply practical into teaching of chemistry as a result of unfamiliarity with ways to go about the practical class.

However, because scientific process skills like observation and prediction require “doing” , and doing entails practical action, the frequency of practical sessions is also an essential educational component. It is considered that teachers’ frequent use of the laboratory for practical instructions can help students learn scientific facts, laws and theories (Chikendu, 2022). To achieve the desired objective of effective time teaching of chemistry in secondary schools, operational chemistry laboratory equipment has to be provided bust it is saddening to note that most of our schools do not have functional laboratories (Okeke , 2015). With inadequate laboratory infrastructure, it is quite impossible for students to attain scientific concepts.

Poor Performance of students could also be attributed to a number of reasons including poor participation of students and poor level of exposure in the practical aspects of science especially chemistry (Amoke, 2020). In addition, students’ misconceptions about chemistry, their attitude towards the subject, increased rate of theoretical approach towards the subject, teachers’ frequent use of traditional lecture method and their inability to deliver effectively to the practical aspect of chemistry may be part of the factors limiting students’ performance in chemistry.

The traditional lecture method which is more teacher entered has caused students who are mere receptors of knowledge to show poor interest in chemistry as they avail themselves only for the purpose of getting information which will only be useful to them in assessments and examinations. Perhaps this method of teaching is often adopted by chemistry teachers as a result of poor time allocation to the subject due to its bulky nature which leads to the teachers’ eagerness to cover the specified syllables thereby limiting students’ understanding of the subject.

Amongst researchers who have defined practical work in their various fields of study are Ferreira and Morais (2020) who defined practical work as all teaching and learning activities in science in which the student is actively involved and that allow the mobilisation of science processes skills and scientific knowledge and that maybe materialised by paper and pencil activities or observing and, or manipulating materials .Kaur (2019) defined practical work in science as hands-on activities which support the development of practical skills, and help to shape students’ understanding of scientific concepts and phenomena.

Okorie and Ugwuanyi(2019) ; James et al. (2019) stated that practical activities in chemistry is composed of those learning experiences in which there are interactions with apparatus and instances of scientific principles or concepts. Practical work in chemistry can thus be defined as experimental activities which provides opportunities for students to understand better abstract concepts of chemistry thereby equipping them with the necessary skills needed to conduct scientific experiments through the appropriate use of scientific methods.

The importance of practical work in science according to Himanshu(2020) include; (i) Students gets an opportunity  to actively participate in the learning process. (ii) Helps in acquiring scientific knowledge , attitude  and scientific  outlook which are the main objectives of teaching science. (iii) Students  learn how to handle and operate apparatus. (iv) Students learn many good habits like resourcefulness, initiative, cooperation and so on. (v) Validity of the concepts learned by the students can be tested by experimentation, which satisfies basic human desire of knowledge of what, how and why of things.

The adoption of demonstration method may help promote students’ understanding of the subject. Since it is a practical method of teaching, the teacher or instructor performs the practical one step at a time using precise, easy and understandable approaches which gives room for students to practise themselves at the same pace as the teacher by carrying out the teacher’s instruction and repeating what the teacher has done. Conducting practicals in teaching and learning have been noted for bridging the gap between theory and practise, it controls the rate of breakages and accidents as students watch the teacher do it before attempting to do the same and enable the teacher to teach manipulative an operational skill (Amoke, 2020).

Research conducted by Ojelade (2015)revealed that practical helps for better assimilation of chemistry and lack of equipped laboratory inhibit practical chemistry in schools. However Ejidike and Oyadara (2015) discovered that the practical works in chemistry are handled negligently or based on chemistry teachers’ convenience. This non performance of duty by teachers have changed students’ perception on chemistry as they see it as a difficult subject which leaves them with no other option but to memorise the theoretical concepts in preparation for examinations with little or no opportunity provided to perform laboratory experiments.Sotiriou et al. (2017) ; Shana and Abulibdeh (2020)also mentioned that traditional lecture method focuses solely on scientific terminology and allows students to see only what is happening during experiments. This restricts students’ connection of science (chemistry) to real life thereby adding no value to the society.

The extent of integration of practical in senior secondary schools have a lot of impact on chemistry students, the use of practicals in teaching should not be limited only to preparations for  external and internal examinations. Research has it that the  Nigeria education system has  hindered students’ acquisition of necessary process skills that make them useful to themselves the government and the society. Observations of students in this 21st century has it that the students’ acquisition of scientific competences and their performance in chemistry keeps deteriorating. This  turns out to affect their results in their O’ level certificate examinations and their ability to apply scientific knowledge in the outside world due to this reason the research is carried out to further investigate the extent to which practical are integrated into teaching chemistry in senior secondary schools.

Extent of Integration of Practical into Teaching of Chemistry in Secondary Schools

1.2       Statement of the Problem

The study of chemistry has continued to suffer great setbacks. Evidence from chief examiners’ report on 2018, 2019, 2020 WAEC examination on practical chemistry has it that the students’ inability to draw logical conclusions from observations made during test and their application of theoretical approach to practical questions are amongst their major weaknesses. This is evident to their poor performance in chemistry in both internal and external examinations which is as a result of negligence to practicals.

Attempts have been made by other researchers to curb the issues of poor performance of students in chemistry but then their findings were limited to problems arising from incompetent teachers, inadequate instructional materials, poor laboratory and unconducive learning environment with negligence to the level of integration of practical approach to teaching of chemistry and the effects it has on students’ perception of the subject. Hence, the study seeks to investigate the extent of integration of practical into teaching of chemistry in secondary schools.

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Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of onlineproject.com.ng. A reputable researcher, Web Developer, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education.