Extent of Utilization of Laboratories in Teaching and Learning Chemistry in Public Secondary Schools in Meru South District, Kenya
Njoka, Evaline Mukami
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Laboratories are of utmost importance in the teaching and learning of science subjects, Chemistry included. A Chemistry laboratory offers the environment and resources for teaching practical Chemistry skills which help students handle examination and the day to day affairs of their lives. This study was premised on establishing the extent of utilization of Chemistry laboratories in teaching and learning the subject. It was mainly concerned with availability of Chemistry laboratories in schools, the resources available in the laboratories, how teachers and students integrated the laboratories and its resources in the teaching and learning of the subject. The study also delved into the teacher and students attitude towards chemistry practical work. This was done with the aim of identifying the prevailing Chemistry practical learning situation in schools, with the specific focus on major problems encountered in secondary school Chemistry laboratories. The study aimed at giving recommendations that could be embraced to enhance effective utilization of Chemistry laboratories which would ultimately culminate in better students’ performance in Chemistry. The study which was a descriptive survey was conducted in Meru South District. It targeted a population of 40 public secondary schools, from which eight were sampled using a combination of simple random, stratified, purposive and systematic sampling procedures. The respondents were 13 Chemistry teachers, 8 heads of science departments, 180 form 3 Chemistry students and 6 laboratory technicians. Questionnaires, interview schedule and an observation schedule were used to collect data which was analyzed using descriptive statistics inform of percentages, means and frequencies with the aid of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences. The study established that some schools did not have a chemistry laboratory at all. In other instances where laboratories were available and were fairly equipped, it established they nonetheless lacked vital requirements such as a fume chamber, first aid kit, gas taps and running water. Further, it was established that the main activities in the laboratories were teacher demonstrations though when group practicals were used, the number of students per group were unusually big. It is recommended that all schools should have adequately equipped laboratories. Additionally, qualified technicians should be employed to ease the teachers’ work to enable proper utilization of the laboratories which will enhance good performance in practical work and ultimately the overall Chemistry grades in internal and national examinations.