Gender differences in students' achievement in chemistry in secondary schools of Kakamega district, Kenya
Busolo, Akala Janet
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In all developing countries sciences education is being called upon !o play an even more important role in the future. More students are needed to become competent in the key science subjects of physics, chemistry, and biology. For an all round contribution, there is need to involve both men and women. This study focused on ,.Tender differences in students' achievement in Secondary School chemistry. In addition to the main purpose, the study sought to identify the factors that contribute to gender differences in chemistry achievement levels of students and to provide more and more equal opportunities for studying chemistry and science in general to both boys and girls. The study was a cross-sectional descriptive survey employing correlational methods investigate gender differences in chemistry achievement levels of girls and boys. The study comprised twelve (12) stratified selected public secondary schools in Kakamega district. A total of 386 students responded to a five-item, chemistry Achievement test (CHAT) comprising descriptive, mathematical and spatial ability items. The students also responded to the Attitude Sale (AS). The teachers filled the Chemistry Teachers' Questionnaire (CTQ) on the reasons for poor performance of students in Chemistry and their possible solutions. The validity and reliability of the instruments were enhanced by a pilot study and the adoption of some already validated items. A reliability coefficient of at least 0.8 was acceptable for the study. Quantitative data obtained from the CHAT were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS).The statistics derived included percentages, mean, Pearson r, standard deviation, students't' - Test scores and Analysis of variance (ANOVA) values. Pearson product - moment for correlation coefficient was used to determine the relationship between attitude and chemistry achievement. The study revealed the following findings; Gender was strongly associated with Chemistry achievement (r= 0.9880, a > 0.001). As a result, boys' schools performed better than girls schools. Boys had a stronger affinity and interest towards Chemistry. Teacher and school factors were of little effect on Chemistry achievement with respect to gender. The key recommendation was that measures are needed to be taken as early as possible, probably already in primary education, which aim at the suppression of socialization factors known to lead to the establishment of gender differences in Chemistry achievement. It would be desirable to implement strategies in the curriculum as well as in the pre and in-service training which would help to reduce gender differences in students' achievement in Chemistry.