Determinants of Students Achievement in Chemistry and Proposed Strategies in Public Secondary Schools in Mwala District, Machakos County, Kenya
Musyoki, Lazarus Mwanza
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Educational reforms and development have been the objectives of the government since independence. This includes provision of quality education which lead to both economic and social development. This study was carried out to investigate determinants of students' achievement in chemistry and the proposed strategies used to improve its achievement. The statement of the problem was to establish determinants of student achievement in chemistry and the strategies used to enhance its achievement in Mwala District. The study was based on Production-function theory where combination of inputs like students' factors, teachers' factors and school environment interact through teaching and learning process to produce output in form of learners' achievement. The researcher used Descriptive survey design and also ex-post factor design. The study was located at Mwala District, Machakos County, Kenya where students' achievement in Chemistry has been low for number of years. Mwala District currently has 61 public secondary schools categorized as boys, girls and mixed day and boarding. The targeted population was school principals, chemistry teachers and forms 3 students and where 25 principals (38%), 25 chemistry teachers and 250 form 3 students constituted the sample size. A total of 300 respondents were used to derive the findings and conclusion of the study. The researcher adopted stratified sampling to select public schools and students per school were randomly selected while one chemistry teacher and the principal in the sampled school automatically became respondents in the study. Questionnaires for principals, chemistry teachers and students were used to collect data and the results obtained were presented using both descriptive statistics for quantitative data by SPSS program while qualitative data was presented thematically in line with the study objectives. The findings of the study indicate that the perception of students towards chemistry was negative as observed by 64% of the chemistry teachers and 64% of the principals. Teaching experience was found to be significant in determining students' achievement in chemistry in secondary schools as agreed by 60% of teachers and 72% of the principals but academic qualification was insignificant. ICT materials and facilities were found to be available but were not used during teaching and learning of chemistry. Failure to use ICT facilities was due to majority of teachers not being trained to use them in addition to many having not attended ICT seminars and workshops. Based on the findings the study concluded that students' perception in chemistry determines its achievement in examinations and that most students do not have positive attitude in chemistry. ICT materials and facilities are available but not used during teaching and learning of chemistry. Also various teaching and learning resources are not adequate in many schools. The study recommends that the Government and school authorities should through the allocation of funds, materials and apparatus for sciences teaching make school laboratories more adequate for effective implementation for Chemistry curriculum so as to enhance students' performance. Students should be exposed to more laboratory applications and activities so that they can recognize laboratory materials and equipment.