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The Relationship between Curriculum Demands and Physics Achievement of Senior Secondary School Students in Kogi State

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The study examined the relationship between curriculum demands and Physics achievement of some Nigeria Senior Secondary Students, which it considers as a prerequisite for revitalizing physics education in Nigeria. Purposive and stratified random
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  NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR SCIENCE, HUMANITIES & EDUCATION RESEARCH JOURNAL (NASHERJ) VOL. 2 NO. 1 (JULY, 2004): 20-26 20 The RelationshipbetweenCurriculum Demands and Physics Achievement of SeniorSecondary School Students in Kogi StateEmmanuel E. Achor, PhDDepartment of Physics,Kogi State College of Education,Ankpa. Abstract The study examined the relationshipbetween curriculum demands and Physics achievement of someNigeria Senior Secondary Students, whichit considers as a prerequisite for revitalizing physics educationin Nigeria. Purposive and stratified random sampling techniques were employed to obtain asample of 524 Senior Secondary 2 students from six education zones in Kogi State. Three instruments were used.They are Curriculum Analysis Taxonomy (CAT) for analysis of Senior Secondary physics curriculum,Physics Achievement Test(PAT) for the determination of students achievement in physics and ScienceReasoning Task (SRT) fordetermining the level of reasoning of the students. Data analysis carried out using percentage, mean and correlation statistics show that about 67% of the objectives inthe current SS physicscurriculum are at formal or higher cognitive demand level.Only 26.5% of SS 2 physics students of average age of 16.8 years are formal operators. There was a significantrelationship betweenstudents’ achievement in 2A demand level questionsand in each of 2A, 2B, 3A&3Bdemand level questions in physics. However,students’achievement in PAT deceases with increase in demand level of questions.There was a significant relationship betweenstudents’achievement in lower order PAT and in higher orderPAT Recommendationswere made based on these findings. Key words: Curriculum demand; cognitive demand; physics achievement; higher orderquestions; lower order questions; formal operators; concrete operators Introduction The persistent poor achievement of students in physics in Senior Secondary CertificateExamination (Achor, 1997, 2001;Akinmade, 1998)has also persistently remained a majorsourceof worry to physics educatorsVis-à-vis the need torevitalizephysics education inNigeria.Attemptsto find ways out had proved difficult because of the identified numeroussourcesof difficulty to the students. On the one hand is the over loaded nature of the sciencecurriculum at the senior secondary level and whose content too are at variancewith thecognitive level of development of students (Shayer & Adey, 1981, Ivowi, Okebukola, Oludotun& Akpan 1992; Akpan, 1996;Akinmade, 1998). On the other hand, are students, teachers andschool-relatedfactors?One of the student-related problems thatappearinsoluble is how they reason andapproach physics tasks. For instance, recent studies (Ayogu & Nworgu, 1999; Okwo &Anekeagbo, 2001)found that there is a general and persistently poor performance of seniorsecondary students in physics. Similarly, otherstudies have shown that only 25 to 30% of seniorsecondary students are formal operators (Shayer& Adey, 198; Bomide, 1986). There istherefore the likelihood that physics students who are concrete operators are made to face  NASHERJ VOL. 2 NO. 1 JULY, 2004  task that are at formal operational level (with higher cognitive demands). However,Achor(2002) in his analysis of previous studies said that most of the studies reviewed point tothe factthat (1) science curriculum development of the future should proceed with at least having amethodavailable for matching the demand level of the proposed material to the targetpopulation (2)that Collegeor University professors of science can no longer assume thatentering student are reasoning at formal level. This appears to be a threat to the continuityof physics at both secondary and tertiary levels in the near future.The current SS physics curriculum came into existence in 1985 in a reaction to theproposal of the National Policy on Education of 1977. One wonders whether the physicscurriculum that is about two decades old is still relevant tothe present day learners in terms of the match between the demand levelsof its objectives and the cognitive developmentlevel of the students. Secondly, could there bea match between SSphysics students reasoning leveland that predicted by piaget in his developmental psychology as well as their achievement inphysics? Though there are calls for review (and reduction) of physics curriculum in use,thereappears to be clear report as to how to go aboutit. This study therefore examined thecurriculum demand of the current SS physics curriculum and how it relates with the studentsreasoning andachievement in physics. Research Questions The study was guided by the following research questions:1.What is the pattern of Nigeria SS physics curriculum demands?2.What percentageof the SS physics students are concrete and formal operators?3.Are there close match in SS Physics students mean achievement among the 2A, 2B, 3Aand 3B cognitive demand level questions inphysics? Hypotheses Thefollowingnull hypotheses were tested at 01 level of significance.1.There is no significant relationship between students achievement in physics question(i.e. PAT) for 2A demand level and in each of the four cognitive demand levels(of 2A,2B, 3A & 3B) of SS physics curriculum.2.Lower order PAT scores of SS physics students do not have significant relationship withtheir higher order PAT scores. Design of the study The design of the study was a survey type. Thus it was possible to involve a reasonablylarge number of the subjects in the study. Population of the study The population of the study comprises all Senior Secondary 2 students that offeredphysics as a school subject in Kogi state of Nigeria for the 2000/2001 academic sessions.  Emmanuel E. Achor22 Sample and sampling techniques Only schools that were certified to have qualified physics teachers, basic teaching andlaboratory materials, covered SS 1 aspect of physics curriculum by inspection of scheme,records of work and students note booksas well as using the national core curriculum for SSphysics were considered suitable for the study.Thus some secondary schools were eliminatedfrom the outset based on the aforementioned criteria. Five schools were randomly sampledusing balloting techniquesfrom each of the six education zones. Accordingly, 30 schools with524 SS2students participated in the study. Thus purposive and stratified random samplingtechniqueswere used to obtain the sample. For each of the schools sampled, intact physicsclasses were used. Instruments for Data Collection Three instruments were used in this study. They are Curriculum Analysis Taxonomy(CAT), Physics Achievement Test (PAT)and Science Reasoning Task (SRT).The CAT was used to estimate the cognitive demandsof the SS physics curriculum. Thetaxonomy arranges and classifies objectives into group according to (a)the schema orreasoning paterns employed and (b) the stage of cognitive development of which they arecharacteristic (Shayer & Adey, 1981). A hypothetical taxonomy was adapted for physics by theresearcher,which concentrates on the intellectual elements or schema specific to differenttypes of physics activity. The analysis of SS physics curriculumwas limited to SS 1and 3 works.These twoyears’workforms two third of the entirecurriculum and as a spiral curriculum, theuse ofSS1 and 3 was expectedto present a balance of its demand levels.A copy of the guide and CAT developed by the researcher were-validated by 14 physicseducators. They also rated the appropriateness of theanalysis done by the researcher, Inter-rater reliability coefficient of CAT was 89 and mean inter-rater scale of 3. 4(out of 4).The PAT consists of 40 multiple choice questions of option A to E based on SS physicscurriculum with 2A, 2B, 3A & 3B cognitivedemand levels having 10 questions each. Tworeliability coefficients were determined. The firstwas to ensure that the items are in line withthe demand level given to them. The rating by 14 experts showinter-rater reliabilitycoefficientof 91 and men inter-rater scale of 3.4. Thesecond aspect was based on the trialtesting of theinstrument on subjects outside the sample. The reliability coefficient was found to be 83.The SRT developed by the team ‘concepts in secondary mathematics and science’ inLondonin 1977 was adopted in this study to assess the level of cognitivedevelopment of thesubjects. Specifically, task3 (the pendulum) that covers the range from mid-concrete to lateformal operational level (i.e., 2A/2Bto 3B) was used.It has internal consistency of 83 and test-retest reliability coefficient of 79. There are 13items altogether and it is a culture-free test.Scoreof 7and above are grouped as formal operational level while scores between 3 and 6 aregrouped as concrete operational level. Maximum score is 13. Method of Data Analysis Percentage was used toanalyze data for answeringresearch questions 1 & 2. Whilemeans was used to answerquestion 3. Hypotheses 1 and 2 were analyzed using correlationstatistics and were both tested at .01 significant levels.  NASHERJ VOL. 2 NO. 1 JULY, 2004  Presentation of Results Research question 1: what is the pattern of Nigeria seniorsecondary school physicscurriculum demands? In answer to question 1, percentages of the objectives of the SS physicscurriculum rated as 2A, 2B, 3A & 3B were compiled and centered in Table 1.Table 1:Percentages of the SS physics curriculum objectives onthe basis of the demand levelsDemand levelFrequency of objectivePercentage (%)Percentage (%)Early concrete (2A)Late concrete (2B)Early formal(3A)Late formal (3B) Total 11294636 122 9.023.837.729.5 100.0 } 32.8}67.2 100.0 Table 1 shows that 32.8% and 67.2% of SS physics curriculum objectives are at the concrete andformal cognitive demand levels respectively. Research question 2: what percentage of SS physics students are concrete and formaloperators? Answer to question 2 can be located in Table 2.Table 2: percentage of SS 2 physics students that are concrete and formal operatorsReasoninglevelFrequencyPercentage (%)Concrete reasoningFormal reasoning Total 382138 520 73.526.5 100.0 Table 2 reveals that 73.5% and 26.5% of the SS 2 physics studentsin Kogi State are concrete andformal operators respectively. Research question 3:Are there close match in SS physicsstudentsmean achievement amongthe 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B cognitive demand level questions in physics?Answer to question 3 can belocated in Table 3.Table 3: Means, standard deviation of PAT for 2A, 2B, 3A & 3B cognitivedemand level questionsCognitive level of questions2A level PAT2B level PAT3A level PAT3B level PATCases524“““Mean4.443.582.942.39Standard dev.2.041.861.851.60  Emmanuel E. Achor24 Table 3 indicates that the mean of the various demand levels as measuredby PAT decrease inthe order of early concrete (4.44) late concrete (3.58) early formal (2.94) late formal(2.39)operators respectively. Hypothesis 1 : there is no significant relationship between SS 2 students’ physics achievement in2A demand level and in each of the four cognitive demand levelsof (2A, 2B, 3A and 3B)of SSphysics curriculum Result of correlation analysis carried out for students’ in 2A PAT and in eachof 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B demand levels PAT are presented in Table 4.Table 4: correlationbetween PAT for 2A and 2A, 2B, 3A & 3B cognitive demand levelsLevels correlated2A/2A PAT2A/2B PAT2A/3A PAT2A/3B PATCorrelations1.0000**0.5220**0.4620**0.3769**Cases=524*0.001**0.001 (one tailed)Table 4 shows the result of the correlation between students’ achievement in 2A demand levelPAT and in each of 2A, 2B, 3A and 3B PAT. All the correlations are significant at 0.001levels.Accordingly, there is a significantrelationship between students’ achievement in 2A PAT and ineach of 2A,2B, 3A and 3B PAT. Hypothesis 3: lower order PAT scores of SS physics students do not have significant relationshipwith their higher order PAT score. Data for testing hypothesis 2 are contained in table 5.Table 5:Meanstandard deviations for lower order and higher order PAT score and correlation PAT order CasesMeanStandard dev.Correlation Lower order PAT 5244.011.92} Higher order PAT 5242.521.73}0.3200****Significant at 0.0001 (one tailed)Table 5 shows the means, standard deviations for lower and higher order PAT and correlationbetween students PAT score in the lower and higher order cognitive demand questions. Discussion The findings basedon research question 1 and 2showsclearly a complete reversalof situations. Accordingly, about 67% of the SSphysics curriculumobjectives require formalreasoning the learners to understand them while only about 33% ofthe objectives are makingdemands at the concrete level. This result agrees with earlier findings of Ivowi, Okebukola,Oludotun and Akpan (1992), Akpan (1996), Ogunleye (1999) and Achor (2002)that sciencecurricula currently in use in Nigeria are overloaded with contents that favourhigher cognitivedomain or demand. Conversely, 73.5% of SS physics students were found to be operating atconcrete reasoning level whileonly 36.5% are formal operators. These findings are inagreement with those of Shayer and Adey (1981)and Bomide (1986) that only about 30% of secondary school students are formal operators.
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