FACTORS INFLUENCING THE CHOICE OF CHEMISTRY EDUCATION AS A COURSE OF STUDY AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Chemistry is recognized widely as being of great importance internationally both for economic well-being of nations and because of the need for scientifically literate citizens (Fraser and Walberg, 1995). Knowledge of Chemistry and technology is therefore a requirement in all countries and all people globally due to the many challenges that are facing them. These challenges include emergences of new drug resistant diseases, effects of genetic experimentation and engineering, ecological impact of modern technology, dangers of nuclear war and explosions and global warming among others (Alsop & Hicks, 20011). As a result there are rapid changes taking place in industry, communication, agriculture, and medicine. Chemistry as an instrument of development plays a dominant role in bringing about these changes by advancing technological development, promoting national wealth, improving health and industrialization (Validya, 2003). Weham, Dorlin, Snell and Taylor (1984) emphasized that Chemistry are and will remain the fundamental subjects through the ages.
Statistics on international trends in Chemistry subjects selection in 46 countries shows that in the US, among fourth graders in 2007, males continued to prefer Chemistry subjects to females in where males scored significantly higher overall than females in Chemistry (Mullis, Martin and Foy, 2008).The 1986 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) carried out in the United States earlier had reported that boys had outperformed girls in Chemistrys achievement and the gender gap increased as students progressed in school. A later assessment by NAEP in 2005 revealed that males preferred Chemistrys subjects to females in grades 4, 8 and 12. Females at all levels made relatively little gains in their average Chemistry scores since 1996. In most cases by grade 11, the areas of largest male advantage were physics, chemistry, earth Chemistry and space Chemistry (Kahle and Meece, 1994). In the final year of secondary school, males had a significantly higher achievement in scientific literacy than females in all participating countries (European Union Report, 2009).
In Nigeria, in the SS1, are assessed at the end of the ss3. The choice of which Chemistry subject to study in SS1-SS3 has been an issue to many of students; an issue that have since received varied interpretation among the students themselves and the various stakeholders in the education fraternity. Studies have revealed that most students will prefer chemistry and biology when allowed to choose Chemistry subjects (Waititu, 2004). Moreover, female student have been noted to shy away from physics and chemistry citing the reason being the tedious mathematical calculations involved in such subjects (Murithi, 1996)
Implementing Vision 2030 will require more knowledge based skills. This calls for more training in Chemistry and technological related courses. If secondary school graduates are not realizing the required grades in order to enroll in such courses, the vision remains just a mirage. There must therefore be concerted effort among all stakeholders to address the problem of deplorable choice and performance in Chemistry subject.