Students' algebraic skills in calculating reacting masses in chemical equations: a case of public secondary schools in Nyandarua County, Kenya
Kiiru, Joseph Waruingi
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The performance of students in chemistry at the KCSE level has for many years remained a matter of national concern. The purpose of this study was to investigate relationship between secondary school students' algebraic skills and their competencies in calculating reacting masses from chemical equations (in the mole concept). Specific objectives that guided the study were to: establish mastery of the students’ algebraic skills involving ratios and proportions; determine relationship between students’ algebraic skills and competencies in calculating reacting masses in the mole concept; investigate gender difference in using algebraic skills to calculate reacting masses in the mole concept and; investigate effect of enhanced program of Ratio and Proportion (RAP) on students’ competencies in calculating reacting masses in chemical equations. The study employed quasi-experimental research design where a mathematics test and chemistry pretest were administered. Chemistry post-test was administered after experimental group was taken through enhanced program of RAP. The study found out that the students’ mastery of algebraic skills was strong for those in county schools but weak for those in sub county schools. Besides, the study established that mastery of algebraic skills is positively correlated to success in calculating reacting masses in the mole concept. In addition, the study established that there is no significant difference between boys’ and girls’ ability in calculating reacting masses in the mole concept. Finally, the study established that enhance program of RAP improved students’ competencies in calculating reacting masses in the mole concept. The implications of these findings is that students of chemistry, both boys and girls can improve their competencies in calculating reacting masses in the mole concept, and as a result their performance in chemistry if the enhanced program of RAP is emphasized in their learning.