Attitudes Towards Physics In Secondary Schools In Imenti South Constituency Of Meru County, Kenya
Kiruki, Edith Mugito
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In secondary schools in Kenya, science curriculum is organized as three distinct subjects: Biology, Physics and Chemistry. With Physics being optional, very few students are opting to choose it. This trend is worrying because Kenya as a growing economy needs physicists for technological advancement. The study analysed attitudes towards Physics in secondary schools in Imenti South constituency of Meru County. The study was guided by the following objectivesrto find out the teachers' attitudes towards Physics curriculum; to investigate factors that influence the teachers' attitudes towards the teaching of Physics; to find out the students' attitudes towards Physics curriculum; to investigate factors that influence the students' attitudes towards the learning of Physics; and to determine the school principals' attitudes towards offering of Physics in their schools. The study may be of significance in that it may help students to visualize the role their attitudes play in selecting Physics and what influence that has on their career choices. The curriculum developers would also find the results of the research useful as they structure the learning content and learning resources to make them more learners friendly. This study was guided by component theory of attitudes and self-efficacy theory. The study adopted a descriptive survey design and target 138 physics teachers 1,864 students and 61 principals from 61 public secondary schools in Imenti South Constituency. Purposive sampling method was used to select the six principals who participated in the study whereas simple random sampling was used to select 14 Physics teachers and 220 students, yielding a total of 240 respondents. The instruments used in this research were questionnaires for students, Physics teachers and principals in the selected schools. Data collected was both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics such as frequency counts, percentages, means and standard deviation. On the other hand, qualitative data was thematically presented in line with the research objectives. Results of the analysis were presented using tables, pie charts and bar graphs. The study established that principals and teachers had a positive attitude towards Physics curriculum. Majority of the teachers felt that both female and male students were capable of performing well in physics and therefore, physics was not a male domain subject. With regard to students' attitude, the study found out that physics students' had a positive attitude towards the subject while most of the Biology students had a negative attitude towards physics. However, the two groups perceived Physics as a difficult subject and therefore stated that the teachers' role had a great impact towards their attitudes to the subject. The major factors which influenced teachers' attitude were: students' interest towards the subject, availability of teaching and learning materials and also students' attitude towards the subject. Moreover, students mentioned the following as the major factors which influenced their attitudes: peer group influence, career interest, teachers' delivery of the subject content and availability of teaching and learning resources. The study recommends that: (1) the government, through the Ministry of Education, should ensure that Physics teachers are provided with constant workshops and seminars. This would help them to be conversant with the changing curriculum and also improve their teaching methodologies; (2) the school administrators should ensure that students have a conducive environment to express themselves without fear so that their concerns are understood and attended to promptly and adequately.