Background to the Study

According to Hornby(2008), science is the knowledge about the structure and behavior of natural and physical world based on facts that can be proved. Science is the study of natural phenomena and is distinguished from other fields because it relies on the hypothetical, deductive and experimental approach.

Ali(2004), defined science as that which is concerned with nature with regards to developing, acquiring and controlling knowledge, skills, capacity and attitude about natural factors of the environment.  According to Hyacinth(2004), Science in its broadest scene refers to all human activities involving organized knowledge of natural phenomena. It also refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. Here, system means using observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. According to Okon, (2003), Science education has a prime position in the development of any nation. This is because the whole universe revolves around Science. According to Odoh, (2013), science and technology have been seen as the surest way in the promotion of economic development, alleviation or eradication of poverty, and introduction of social welfare in any country. According to Ali (2004) stated that chemistry has been identified as one of the major branches of science physical science.

As a core science subject, a proper teaching of chemistry in secondary schools facilitate students enrollment into many disciplines like nursing, medicine, pharmacy, agriculture, engineering, geology etc. Chemistry is a subject that deals with the composition, structure and properties of matter.

It is binded up with things around us either physically or chemically. Its combination in nature can be separated by the different methods o separation. They are often represented by symbols which are the chemical equations. Chemistry has many use to man. It is used in the industry like the petrochemical industry, phamacitical industry, paint and plastic industry etc. infact, it is widely and industrially used in our everyday life.

Yet, inspite of all the benefits derived from chemistry, students performance at the senior secondary school certificate examination in the last few decades is till low.

These poor performances in chemistry have made some researchers to study the problem with the hope of finding the causes and possible solutions.

According to Ali (2008), science education at all levels is played by very many kinds of problems which includes, under funding of science education, lack of adequate and appropriate instructional materials, lack of equipments, method of teaching, inadequate trained science and qualified teachers and dilapidated laboratories buildings. These problems lead to serious educational setbacks which invariably leads to low attitude rate of secondary schools science achievement in Nigeria.

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of current English edition, it defined attitude as the way of feeling, thinking of behaving towards something or somebody. Ifeakor (2014), expressed the importance of attitude, station that feeling is as real, important and a part of nature as much as knowing the further noted that how a person feel is almost more important to others than what he knows. Attitude therefore can be positive or negative towards stimuli.

Gardner, (2005), Munby (2014) Ormerod and Duckworth (2009), all opined that the development of a positive attitude to science and scientific process is among the major aims of science teaching. They are of the opinion that promotion of favorable attitude to science is an important aim of science education. In harmony with the above, Klopfer (2007), provide a comprehensive classification scheme or science education aims using six different categories of attitudinal aims. These he called Test Of Science Related Attitude (TOSRA).

Fraser (2010), said TOSRA is used for examining the performance of groups of classes of students to provides information about changes in attitude at a particular time.

However, most of the research works were done outside Nigeria. The little one done in Nigeria, lay much emphasis on geographical location, disease, culture, socio-economic status of parents especially in the rural areas, gender problem and home background environmental problems. Among all these factors identified, influence the students’ attitude to the study of chemistry.

Therefore, some factors has been identified to influence student’s attitude to the study of chemistry.

Etesike and Nnamani, (2006) quoting from Ukungwu, (2003) defined Chemistry as a branch of physical Science that studies the composition, structure, properties and changes which matter undergo. Chemistry is chiefly concerned with atoms and molecules and their interactions and transformations, for example, the properties of the chemical bonds formed between atoms to create chemical compounds. As such, chemistry studies the involvement of electrons and various forms of energy in photochemical reactions, oxidation-reduction reactions, changes in phases of matter, and separation of mixtures. Preparation and properties of complex substances, such as alloys, polymers, biological molecules, and pharmaceutical agents are considered in specialized fields of chemistry. Fab (2014) opines that Chemistry has been identified to be one of the important subjects needed for the sustenance and transformation of the national economy, and hence should be accorded adequate attention

According to Ezeudu(2012), a good Background knowledge in Chemistry Education will not only make the graduates teachers, Lecturers or Professors in Chemistry but will go a long way to make them self reliant through the acquisition of some basic entrepreneurial skills and pedagogical principles. The graduates of chemistry can go into soap production, fertilizer production, paint production, production of Germicides , production of perfumes, production of pomades , Herbicides  to mention but  a few. Oriaifo(2002) while stressing the importance of chemistry education noted that chemistry equips the learner with specific knowledge skills and attitude which enables him/her become useful to him/herself and the society at large. In Nigeria, chemistry as a subject occupies a prominent position in the nation’s secondary and tertiary curriculum. At the secondary level of education, a credit pass in chemistry is a pre-requisite for students to further their studies in fields like Medicine, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Engineering, Home Economics, Biological Science and other science related fields of Endeavour.

Chemistry do not just start and end in the classroom or school as often perceived, phenomenon in chemistry are practiced in our day to day lives in and outside the school. Okon (2012), identified some of the home chemistry practices as the process of heating (cooking/warming) of our food, the process of washing our cloths with soap or detergents, addition of limestone when cooking (eg beans, unripe plantain etc), the process of boiling grinded fresh tomato to allow the  liquid to get dried, addition of salt to perishable food stuffs in other to preserve them, boiling and filtering of impure water to make it clean for drinking, the process of putting stainless steel spoon into meat while boiling, the process of separation of kerosene or petrol from water, the process of preparation of pap from grounded maize (corn), the process of spraying insecticides in the house to kill insects, the act of melting ice block into liquid water for the purpose of drinking, preparation of our African delicacy fufu, through cassava, the burning of materials in the presence of air (oxygen), the process of rusting of clean nail when it has been exposed to air and water (chemical change) etc. this is just to mention but a few. This goes to show that principles in chemistry are applied in our day to day activities even in our various homes. These principles are not just applied in our urban areas, even in our local villages chemistry is been practiced. For example, in most villages local soap is made from ashes of burnt plantain peels and used (or bleached) palm oil, quality drinking water has long been a problem in our local villages so most often people in the rural areas use alum to purify there drinking water, virtually all the different cooking practices in the local villages are based on chemistry phenomenon. Also chemistry knowledge,  principles, concepts and facts have also helped in the development of appropriate technologies in military, Food preservation, Building, Petroleum, road Construction, transportation to mention but a few. Also our country that is mostly dependent on oil for its Revenue can  boast her economy through the encouragement of chemistry education because a background in chemistry know as Organic chemistry  has a lot to say about the various ways which petroleum and it bye products could be utilized.

Contrary to these benefits which could be driven from chemistry education, many evidences have been put forward to illustrate the fact that there is a serious decline in student’s enrolment in chemistry education in colleges of Education in IMO State in comparison to other science courses. In support of this, evidence which the researcher obtained from the admission office of Federal college of Education Eha-amufu the following data to show as the admitted number of students between 2009 – 2017.

SessionBiologyIntegrated scienceComputerChemistry

Source: admission office FCE Eha- Amufu

From the above sample it can be observed that between 2009-2010 the enrolment in Biology education has increased from 102 to 186 that of Integrated science from 175-410, that of Computer increased from 30 to 150 while that of Chemistry has only increased from 42-95 which shows a very slow increase on the side of chemistry education or could be said to be stagnant over the years. Also from the table it can be observed that unlike other departments, the enrolment have been dwindling over the years for instance from 2009-2011 it decreased from 42 to 18 from 2009 to 2012 it dwindled from 42- 36 between 2013 to 2014 it dwindled from 58 to 48 and between 2015-2016 it decreased from 70-66 which shows that instead of inclining like other departments that of chemistry department has been suffering a serious dwindling over the years.

Eze,(2011) was of the opinion that the greatest factor that is responsible low enrolment of students in chemistry education in colleges of education is parental influence. According to Dubey (2008) parents attitude help to condition their parent attitude. Morish (2009) reported that a child whose parents have positive attitude to chemistry is bound to have positive attitude towards chemistry and students whose parents have negative attitude towards chemistry will also be influenced by their parents attitude. That is to say that parents prefer registering their children to other courses like law, mass communication and even if it is education they prefer courses like English as of the case of federal college of Education Eha-Amufu where students in other art related courses far larger in number than those offering chemistry education. Azigba (2012) listed some factors which account for low enrolment in chemistry education Nigeria, most of which are students perception of the subject matter of chemistry which he strongly believes that it is a common place fact that students perceive chemistry education as being so abstract, rigid, diverse, calculative, and brain storming. He went further to state that students’ low enrolment in chemistry education should be traced back to secondary schools where the foundations of chemistry education are being laid. He emphasized that in secondary schools we have shortage of chemistry teachers, lack of proper supply of laboratory facilities, the use of unsuitable method of teaching chemistry and low qualification of most chemistry teachers in secondary schools. Still on the factor responsible for low enrolment in various chemistry education Kalu (2014) opines that gender disparity is one of the greatest factors which affects students enrolment in chemistry education. He went further to state that  people perceive chemistry education as being masculine in nature therefore this suggest the reasons while most people in various chemistry education are male while thousands of female enroll annually into other courses like English. He also suggests that another treat to students’ low enrolment in chemistry education is due to mirage and poor background knowledge of the students at the secondary level. Still on the factor that accounts for low enrolment of students in chemistry education, Ugwu: 2014, states that peer group has a great deal of influence on students’ choice of chemistry career. He went further to explain that most people enroll in other causes as a result of the kinds of friend they keep who prefer other causes which they regard as being non calculative in nature. He also stated that the most important factor leading to low enrolment of students in chemistry education is societal value accorded to chemistry education. Speaking on this, he stated that chemistry teachers are accorded no more value than a trader in the market. Thereby treating him with scorn and disdain and also he is given no place at the gathering of doctors, lawyers, and other stakeholders. Therefore such values are transcended down to the growing generation their by developing a big negative side towards chemistry education.

Statement of the Problem

It is felt that the low enrolment in chemistry education option in college of education in Nigeria today is something we should worry about because it poses a great threat to teachers’ education in Nigeria and consequently, the lack of chemistry teachers in our secondary schools. Okoro (2009) opines that if poor enrolment of students in chemistry educations is allowed to continue, it will reach a stage where no students will enroll in chemistry education in Nigeria colleges of education. Okon (2004) in his research findings indicated that students shy away from chemistry education as a result of a number of factors which does not augur well for a developing nation like ours and so many sectors of our economy will be severely affected.  Could this low enrolment be as a result of parental influence that needs them away to other courses which they see as more lucrative?  Or could it be from the poor background students’ knowledge of chemistry at the secondary level, or just due to the negative perception of the students towards chemistry? it is on this background that this research is being carried out to know if  these factors among others like peer group influence and environmental influence are responsible for low enrolment in chemistry education in colleges of Education in IMO state.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to find out the various factors that are responsible for low students’ enrolment in chemistry education in colleges of education in IMO State Nigeria. Specifically, the study aims at finding out:

  1. whether parental factor influence students enrolment in chemistry education
  2. whether peer group influence affect students enrolment in chemistry education
  3. whether  students perception of chemistry influence students enrolment in chemistry education
  4. If the background knowledge of student in chemistry affect their enrolment in chemistry education
  5. If the social value attached to the subject matter of chemistry affects students enrolment in chemistry education

Significance of the Study

The study will be very useful to the students who are still contemplating whether to take chemistry as a career course. It will also encourage chemistry teachers to adopt the various method of teaching chemistry it will also be useful to counselors and parents in directing their wards towards making a rightful course career and finally encourage the government to supply adequate laboratory materials to Chemistry Department in colleges of education and to secondary schools chemistry laboratories to enable her achieve her educational objectives.

Scope of study

The research will be limited to three prominent Colleges of Education in IMO State one Federal, one state and one private which are Federal College of Education Eha-Amufu, Technical College of education, IMO, and The College of Education Nsukka. This area of study will be used to predict the factors responsible for low enrolment of students in colleges of education in IMO State.

Research Questions

  1. Do parental factors influence students’ enrolment in chemistry education?
  2. Does peer group influence affect students’ enrolment in chemistry education?
  3. Does students’ perception of the subject matter of chemistry influence students enrolment in chemistry education?
  4. How does the background knowledge of student in chemistry affect their enrolment in chemistry education?
  5. Does social value attached to the subject matter of chemistry affect students’ enrolment in chemistry education?


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