INFLUENCE OF SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDES ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN SENIOR SECONDARY PHYSICAL EDUCATION
The continued underperformance in practical physics necessitates additional research to understand which aspects have not been examined or have not received sufficient consideration in the ongoing reform attempts. It is established that students’ scientific attitudes influence their learning and success in the subject.
The goal of this study was to evaluate the relationship between students’ scientific attitudes and their performance in practical physics by determining their attitudes toward the topic and the elements that impact these attitudes. The study would assist learners build positive attitudes, which is a prescription for improved learning and performance in the topic.
Due to the implicit nature of the study, a descriptive survey methodology was chosen for this investigation. The study covered seven sampled public secondary schools in Lagos state, and the population of interest were students in form four who were preparing to take the NECO exams. Using student surveys as a means of data collection, schools and students from those schools were selected using both systematic and random sampling techniques.
The surveys were designed to elicit some of the students’ perceptions and opinions about the subject, which were categorized according to themes such as liking, difficulty, usefulness, and future expectations surrounding the subject, as well as the learners’ mathematical competence and performance. The data also indicate that students’ attitudes and beliefs, perceived learning abilities and competencies, and prior performance in practical physics affected their motivation, resulting in poor outcomes.
The study proposes that teachers employ diverse educational tactics that encourage discovery and pique student interest. Through comments and tasks, students should be encouraged to apply the taught knowledge and skills. Therefore, it is necessary to provide and expand on experiences and opportunities that motivate students to fully interact with material facts and gain the information and skills necessary to flourish in practical physics because they enjoy and appreciate it.
PRESENTATION AND CONTEXT
1.0 CONTEXT OF THE STUDY
In the formal school system, science as a subject encourages students to conduct unbiased and objective inquiries; if these practices are maintained, students are trained in scientific methodology, which is exploring something systematically and logically, and develop a scientific attitude, which is the behavioristic disposition of an individual to act in a particular way in a particular situation (s).
Achievement in science is a significant indicator of students’ overall academic performance in the formal school system (Mukhopadhyay, 2014) because it has scientific attitude as an operational dimension, which is the propensity to respond favorably/unfavorably to some classified stimuli and the ability to act/react with rationale, objectivity, and consistency in definite and precise ways to some context/situation. Scientific method is the capacity to conduct an experiment based on established principles (Olasehinde & Olatoye, 2014).
It regulates behavior directed toward or away from any given context/situation(s)/object (s).
In addition, it is distinguished by characteristics such as hostility to superstition, curiosity, suspended judgment, critical thinking, open-mindedness, the ability to verify, faith in the scientific process, etc. (Rao, 1996).
Respect for facts, the search for the truth, intellectual honesty, and the willingness to change one’s mind are additional qualities important to the development of a scientific mindset in the classroom (Rao et al., 1989). The character of science as a discipline is compatible enough with the scientific method for it to flourish in the personality of students, and it may serve as a substantial predictor of science accomplishment at the student level (Abell & Lederman, 2007).
Therefore, such qualitative features of science may, in the long term, promote both individual and national growth (Rao, 1996). Science is essentially a body of knowledge accumulated by experimentation and observation, and it is both a process and a product; that is, science as a body of knowledge entails science as a product, and the process approach to science refers to the means by which this product is obtained.
In the classroom and laboratories, the process aspects of science such as classification, observation, measurement, prediction, communication, hypothesis formulation, experimentation, etc. must be emphasized in order to develop scientific tendencies in students.
However, due to curricular constraints such as large content coverage in a short period of time and pressure to score well on theory-based examinations, which necessitate belching on the part of students, teachers must adhere to precluded practices. In the long run, these behaviors cause pupils to lose interest in science, as evidenced by the low enrollment rate of students in secondary school (Olasehinde, 2008) and the low test scores in science (Olagunju, 1998).
However, the plausible reasons for this trend may be the substandard teaching methods used for science at the primary school level, such as the chalk-and-talk method, which is ineffective in developing students’ conceptual understanding of science (Stofflet & Stoddart, 1994) and is also ineffective with average and slow learners.
To fulfill the global demands of the modern day, the education system must urgently prepare young minds with a solid foundation in scientific knowledge, proficiency in science process skills, and a scientific mentality.
Nonetheless, the assessment of some affective domains, such as scientific attitude, by instructors is not as straightforward as the evaluation of cognitive and psychomotor domain aspects, such as scientific knowledge and science process abilities, respectively.
Therefore, this aspect of scientific attitude is the focus area in science education that must be investigated in order to improve students’ science achievement, and the present study aims to investigate this aspect, namely the relationship between scientific attitude and science achievement scores among secondary school students.
Students’ performance in practical physics is a function of many interrelated variables that can be categorized as student factors, school factors, and home factors. However, many researchers believe that student attitudes are the most important factor to consider when attempting to understand and explain student performance in practical physics (Kogce et al, 2009).
Therefore, there is a need to explore how elements such as student attitudes influence their own learning and performance in the topic, as this would create a level playing field for comprehending some of the learner’s behaviors caused by attitudes.
This study examined the impact of attitudes that learners adopt or bring into a classroom environment, which may interfere with their learning processes and, ultimately, their learning results. There is a need to comprehend the learners themselves, as well as their attitudes and perspectives regarding the subject, in order to recommend techniques for enhancing the teaching and learning of the subject.
Attitude as a major factor influencing learning processes may be implicit; therefore, it has not received sufficient attention from all stakeholders in education; therefore, it is important to consider the fact that learners can primarily contribute to their learning outcomes as a result of their beliefs and perceptions about the subject matter, such as whether they like it or not and whether they find it valuable.
Attitudes are viewed as more or less positive and include emotions, beliefs, values, and conduct; consequently, they influence an individual’s way of thinking, acting, and behaving, which has significant consequences for teaching and learning (Mensah et al, 2013). They have a powerful effect on behavior, which facilitates the comprehension and prediction of people’s behavior in a variety of settings.
Although attitudes are not directly visible, they can be deduced from responses and behaviors that indicate a pattern of beliefs and feelings. They are activated by particular stimuli and become gradually entrenched as a pattern or propensity (Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia). When confronted with tasks, a person’s behavior and decisions are driven more by his beliefs and personal experiences than by his knowledge of those tasks (Pilippou & Christou, 1995).
Several research studies support the notion that a student’s performance in Practical physics is contingent on his or her attitude toward the topic, since this affects their aptitude, willingness to study, action choice, and response to problems. It influences one’s level of engagement, interest, and personal effort, without which performance is nearly impossible (Garden & Smith, 2001).
Negative dispositions produce tendencies of dread, anxiety, and tension, where one resorts to other non-productive practices, so preventing people from experiencing the richness of Practical physics and the various methods that could be employed to acquire subject-matter competence.
As a result, the student displays low motivation, decreased involvement, boredom, and behavioral issues, such as class or lesson avoidance. This is visible when the teacher is delivering his best presentation in class, yet the student may appear distant and uninterested (Furinghetti and Perkhonen, 2002).
The significance of the study was for both expository and reference purposes, as it would stimulate the development of more research that aims to comprehend the effect of student attitudes on learning. Therefore, altering an individual’s attitude necessitates identifying the factors responsible for the attitude and utilizing this knowledge to bring about the required change, i.e. assisting students to learn and realize their full potential.
These attempts may clarify the teacher’s role in shaping the attitudes of students and motivating them to understand the subject. Then, continued focus should be placed on generating, developing, and reinforcing favorable attitudes regarding the topic (Pintrich, 1999).
Therefore, student engagement and teaching approaches should be carefully chosen and supported by teachers who are concerned not only with academic success or cognitive capacities, but also with the emotional and behavioral components of learning.
1.1 DESCRIPTION OF THE PROBLEM
It has been discovered that a negative attitude toward practical physics contributes to poor performance in the discipline. The negative attitude towards the subject has caused a great deal of worry and anxiety among the pupils, who continue to perform poorly because they lack the passion, curiosity, and perseverance required for learning and doing tasks linked to the subject.
The majority of research on student performance in practical physics has indicated that student attitude is a crucial factor, yet it has gotten scant attention, if any. As attitudes and beliefs are a crucial aspect of sociocognitive learning, which influences learning outcomes, there is a need to investigate their influence (Burstein, 1992). This study would investigate a number of student beliefs that have the potential to influence their learning processes,
as well as their aptitude and willingness to learn. Students’ opinions and beliefs regarding practical physics, how much they like it, how important they believe it to be, how difficult they perceive it to be, and their future expectations can be viewed as aspects of their attitudes toward practical physics that influence their success in the subject (Aiken, 2002).
There has been no major increase in the overall performance of the subject as a result of the different reform efforts established to direct the teaching and learning of practical physics in schools, such as the SMASSE initiative. These reforms emphasize structural variables, leaving student factors as a contributor to the teaching and learning of the subject with little consideration.
This is a clear indicator that structural modifications alone are not adequate for achieving increased performance (Trends in international practical physics and science study, 1999). Therefore, it is necessary to comprehend the learners’ attitudes and perceptions regarding the subject in order to develop ways for enhancing the teaching and learning of the subject through attitude modification. Therefore, a balance must be achieved between educational objectives and student performance (Mullins et al, 2001).
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
This study aimed to examine the relationship between a student’s attitude toward learning and their success in practical physics education.
1.4 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
Determine the perspectives of students regarding practical physics in Lagos state public secondary schools.
To investigate the elements that influence student attitudes toward Practical physics.
To explore how scientific attitudes influence students’ learning and performance in practical physics
To solicit suggestions on how to enhance students’ attitudes and performance in practical physics.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
What was the students’ perspective of practical physics?
What factors affected the scientific attitudes of students toward practical physics?
How did students’ scientific attitudes influence their practical physics learning and performance?
In what ways should the attitudes of students towards learning and achievement in Practical physics be enhanced?
1.6 Importance of the Research
Practical physics education has been the focus of reform attempts aimed at enhancing performance, although this objective has never been achieved. This study’s findings would aid all interested parties in comprehending the components within the learners and how the learners might ultimately contribute to their own learning processes and subject performance.
The purpose of the study was to assist in revealing some of the views and beliefs that students acquire and bring into the classroom, which are of utmost relevance to all education stakeholders in their efforts to improve the teaching and learning of the topic in all schools. Therefore, the study would offer curriculum designers with essential data that will aid in the development of policies and initiatives to enhance subject performance.
The instructor would have a better understanding of the students in order to captivate their attention and alter their perceptions and attitudes towards the subject. Teachers’ motivation, encouragement, and pertinent instructional tactics may assist students in understanding what is expected of them.
Through this research, students will see that their performance in the subject is a result of their own behaviors, attitudes, and effort, which they can manage in order to successfully learn and improve in the subject.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The research was conducted in Lagos State, primarily in the Ikeja LGA. There are numerous public and private secondary schools in the region. Due to the fact that all public secondary schools get the same fee financing and subsidies from the government, only public secondary schools would be the focus of the study. The respondents may not have been willing to provide the desired authentic information.
Not all of the questionnaires utilized or disseminated were collected, while some were collected with unanswered sections. It is possible that the sample size was not typical of the overall school population in the area. The findings may have been unclear because they may not indicate that attitudes are the true cause of failure in the topic. Learners’ divergent perspectives were challenging to reconcile since they were inconsistent in certain portions.
1.8 DELIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The suggested research would focus on public secondary schools in Lagos State, where the subject always ranks bottom. The study would be limited to students in form four who were about to take their final exams since they already have set attitudes toward the subject and because the majority of them come from the same socioeconomic background. The selected schools had appropriate subject teachers, facilities, and an environment suitable to the research of other factors affecting topic performance.
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