Influence of competence in practical skills on students’ performance in biology practicals in secondary schools in Kiambu County, Kenya.
Maina, Anastasia Wanjiru
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The overall performance in Biology practicals at Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) has been below average. Research on competence of students in specific skills utilized in the practical paper can explain the trend of performance. The study aimed at determining influence of competence in procedure, execution, observation and interpretation skills on performance in practical Biology and subsequently performance in Form Three students in Kiambu County as represented by sample drawn from Thika West Sub-County (TWSC). The Central Limit Theorem was applied to select a sample of 6 secondary schools; 37.5% of the targeted schools. Based on the same theorem, 10 Biology teachers; 25% of Biology teachers and 14% of the Biology students in TWSC were sampled. The sample sizes are within the acceptable 10% minimum limit. Stratified random sampling was used to create three strata of secondary schools that are national, county and sub-county schools. From each stratum, simple random sampling was applied to select national, county and sub-county schools. Purposive sampling was then applied to nominate Biology teachers from national, county and from sub-county schools. The study applied simple random sampling to select the class to be involved in the study in case of school that was multi-streamed. The study involved 49 students from national schools, 47 from county schools and 114 from sub-county schools. Frequency counts of the responses were obtained to generate information about the respondents and to illustrate the general trend of findings on the various variables that were under investigation. The separately, but concurrently, collected data was analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively and merged into one overall interpretation which related the quantitative results to the qualitative findings. Quantitative data was analyzed using Pearson’s product-Moment; Chi-square and Independent sample t-test using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The findings of the study unearthed a significant relationship between students’ competence in practical skills and performance that is ultimately reflected in KCSE results. The findings indicate that competence is highest in observation skills and low in execution, and interpretation skills. This study recommends teachers to use methodology that facilitates competence in these skills. From the findings procedure skill is rote learned.