Influence of Teachers’ and Learners’ Characteristics on Enrolment and Academic Performance in Physics among Secondary Schools in Tharaka-Nithi County, Kenya
Abraham, Koome Shadrack
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The study was inspired by the fact that Physics is a vital subject in STEM courses in universities. Over the years, Physics has been characterised by low enrolment and dismal academic performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate teachers’ and learners’ characteristics influencing enrolment and academic performance in Physics among secondary schools in Maara Sub-County, Tharaka-Nithi County, Kenya. The study also wanted to establish the relationship between school categories, enrolment and academic performance in Physics. The study was guided by the objectives: To identify the Physics teacher characteristics influencing enrolment and academic performance in Physics; to establish the relationship between Physics teacher characteristics, and enrolment and academic performance in Physics; to determine the extent to which learner characteristics influence enrolment and academic performance in Physics and to establish the relationship between school categories, enrolment and academic performance in Physics. The study was guided by constructivism and behaviourism theories. The study employed descriptive survey designs. The research design was used to effectively investigate, describe and explain the existing relationships, practice and trends as compared to enrolment, academic performance in Physics and teacher and learners characteristics. Chi-square technique was used to establish and describe the existing relationships. The study was conducted in Maara Sub-County of Tharaka-Nithi County. The target population was all public secondary schools in Maara Sub-County consisting of 52 principals, 52 HODs sciences, Physics teachers and students. The study was carried out in sampled categories of secondary schools which were: one girls’ national school, four Extra-County schools, five County schools and four Sub-County schools. Stratified random sampling was used to come up with the research sample. Data was collected using principal’s interview guide, lesson observation guide and questionnaires for HOD sciences, Physics teachers and students. Data analysis was done by use of descriptive statistics through Statistical Package for Social sciences (SPSS) IBM version 2.0. Frequency tables, bar graphs and pie charts were used to present analyzed data. The findings of this study revealed that there is low enrolment and poor academic performances in Physics in schools within Maara Sub-County. Physics teacher characteristics such as; academic attainment, teaching experience, teaching methods, utilization of teaching resources, attitude towards teaching Physics and learners characteristics such as social-economic backgrounds, study habits career aspirations and peer influences influence enrolment and academic performance in Physics. Physics teachers, parents and students’ attitude towards Physics as well as the KCSE performance in the previous year(s) influence the enrolment and academic performance in Physics. The study concluded that teachers and learners characteristics are key to enrolment and academic performance in Physics and recommended that Physics teachers, school administrators, parents and other education stake holders should work together to provide modern facilities and infrastructure to improve teaching and learning of Physics so as to improve student enrolment and academic performance in Physics.