Background of the Study
Testing has always been an integral part of the educational system since its inception. The concept (testing) can be viewed as a set of tasks presented to a person, the performance of which depends on the possession of a particular body of knowledge and skill. The emphasis being laid on continuous assessment in Nigeria’s educational system has therefore given a boost to the testing system in our educational institutions. The National Policy on Education (2004) emphasizes the importance of continuous assessment by stating that “Educational Assessment and Evaluation will be liberalized by basing them in whole or in part on continuous assessment of the progress of the individual”. This implies that teachers should assess both the entry and terminal behaviour of the students in the subject being taught as this will reveal the progress made by the individual student during the course. Continuous assessment has been presented as a revolutionary approach to assessment (Yoloye, 1984), (Firth and Macintosh, 1984) and (Ughanadu, 1994). They claim that, continuous assessment is a more valid form of assessment than conventional examination or traditional assessment method. The superiority of continuous assessment is based on the fact that, continuous assessment can sample a much wider range of skills and abilities inherent in a course of study. Continuous assessment in many respects offers a challenge to both the learner and the teacher of science.
A Federal Ministry of Education Handbook (1980) portrays continuous assessment as a method of finding out what the students have gained from the learning experiences with respect to knowledge, thinking, reasoning, character development, industry, etc. Science subjects and chemistry in particular, like many of the educational disciplines, provide unique opportunities for the application of continuous assessment. There are three major areas (components) of any science subject which lend themselves to assessment: cognitive (theoretical) aspects; psychomotor (manipulative) aspects and affective (attitude) aspects.
With the advent of continuous assessment, there has been an increasing need of classroom teachers to prepare and administer tests in order to obtain certain vital information about what has been done during the teaching – learning process. In this regard therefore, testing can be used as a teaching instrument and as an instrument of assessment. These purposes are essential in the teaching of chemistry. When used as a teaching instrument, the outcome of a testing exercise provides a quick feedback on what learning has taken place in the classroom. As an aid to teaching, testing finds out problems with teaching strategies adopted, or detects weaknesses and strengths of the students taught. In this instance, testing serves a diagnostic function.
As an instrument of assessment, a test measures achievement, predicts performances and aids in selection exercises. Testing therefore, provides useful information for decision making about students, teachers and the programme. For ascertaining the gains of the instruction process, achievement tests are administered by teachers. These according to Ughamadu, Onwuegbu and Osunde (1991) are tests that measure the extent to which a person has acquired certain information, mastered certain skills, usually as a result of specific instruction. In most of our schools, teachers set and administer most of these tests in the bid to find out how much their students have gained in the course of their instructions. These tests are in most cases not scrutinized for validity and reliability which are the most incompromisable requirements for a good test. According to Osunde (2000) “Teacher – made tests are generally deficient in numerous ways. The most common fault is related to ineffective communication”.
Another observation of interest concerning the characteristics of test and classroom questions asked by science teachers were revealed by some studies. Studies like those of Odor, Solanke and Azeke (1986); Williams and Buseri (1986) and Mani (1981) reveal that teacher-made tests or questions are heavily loaded with items in the lower levels of Bloom’s cognitive domain of educational objectives. These observed deficiencies in test construction among science teachers are a source of concern. It is imperative therefore, to remedy the situation by making available to chemistry teachers a guide for the construction of a good chemistry achievement test. This remedial help is a necessity as the existence of these deficiencies will greatly affect students’ performance and the vital function of a test as a teaching instrument as identified by Abodurin (1999) would not be realized.
Although, there is a high expectation from Nigerian teachers by the public, the poor condition of service and poor resource materials do not allow for an adequate realization of the aims of continuous assessment in the educational system. The continuous assessment places extra burden on the already poorly qualified teachers with regards to test construction. With no provision to help the teacher, he is likely to continue with his poorly constructed test. Invariably, this will culminate in poor assessment of pupils’ learning because test functions as a measuring instrument and their measuring ability is limited to the objectives they are set to test. Thus, tests which are structured to assess achievement at the knowledge level will be limited to their function at this level but will not measure achievement at the higher levels. Therefore, the provision of appropriate test instruments in chemistry deserves some attention as such instruments will assist the teacher in a more effective assessment of his pupils. The testing of pupils’ achievement in chemistry becomes much more susceptible to these inadequacies when one brings to mind the abstract and difficult nature of most chemistry topics. The condition becomes increasingly disturbing when one considers the advanced nature of the current senior secondary school curriculum in chemistry. This therefore, necessitates the assessment of teachers’ skill in test construction of teacher-made objective test in chemistry.
Statement of Problem
Over the years, there have been consistent complain by Government authorities and parents alike about the poor performance of students in both internal and external examination in Chemistry. Consequently, students’ enrolment in Chemistry in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) conducted by West African Examination Council (WAEC) and Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by National Examination Council (NECO) has been on the decline. According to Akinyemi (1997) “over the years there has been consistent awareness on the alarming declining rate of enrolment in chemistry as a subject”. In the same vein, Adeyegbe (1998) opined that examiners of nationally conducted examination like West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) and locally conducted examination like terminal and sectional examinations in our various secondary schools have been witnessing a consistent poor performance in chemistry.
Many reasons have been attributed to the low enrolment and poor performance in chemistry examinations. One of the major reasons being the unseasoned nature of test instruments employed by teachers. If the continuous assessment programme is to succeed, practicing teachers must improve on their skills in construction of achievement objective, chemistry test instruments they are currently making use of. In other words, there is the need to show practicing chemistry teachers the way out of the woods in the interest of the students and the success of the continuous assessment programme. This realization, inevitably calls for an improvement in teachers’ skills in the construction of teachers’ made objective chemistry achievement test. It is an observed fact that in the construction of test items (be it objective or essay) there are guidelines to be followed in order to come out with reasonable test items. Do teachers follow these guidelines? Thus, what we find is the usual practice of teachers leafing through pages of note or textbooks and set questions as they come to mind. The continuous assessment (CA) system which is currently being used in schools requires valid and or reliable test instruments to make the exercise worthwhile. Therefore, this study intends to find out the teachers’ skill in the construction of teachers made chemistry objective test in Edo Central Senatorial District.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is as follows:
1. To determine the level of competence of chemistry teachers as regards their knowledge and skills and constant utilization of sequential stages of test construction of teacher made achievement test.
2. To find out if the teacher made tests constructed by the chemistry teachers in Edo Central Senatorial District of Edo State as a tool for assessing students’ level of achievement, possess the basic psychometric properties.
3. Find out if gender difference in teacher has any significant relationship with their knowledge of test construction.
4. To ascertain if the educational qualification and experience of chemistry teachers has any significant relationship with their test construction skills.
This study intends assessing teachers’ knowledge of test construction procedure as an instrument of evaluating students’ performance. Thus, the following research questions were posed:
1. Is there any difference between male and female chemistry teachers in terms of their knowledge in test construction procedures?
2. Are the experienced chemistry teachers more knowledgeable in test construction procedure than the inexperienced teachers?
3. Does the professional qualification of chemistry teachers have any influence on their knowledge of test construction procedures?
4. Do chemistry teachers consider the preparation of test blue print important during test construction?
In order to advance statistically accepted answers to the research questions, the following null hypotheses were tested:
1. There is no significant difference in knowledge of test construction procedure exhibited by male and female chemistry teachers in teacher-made objective chemistry achievement test.
2. There is no significant difference between experience and inexperience chemistry teachers in knowledge of test construction procedure.
3. There is no significant difference between qualified and unqualified chemistry teachers in knowledge of test construction procedure of teacher made objective chemistry test.
Major Assumptions of the Study
In carrying out this study, the following assumptions have been made:
1. That male and female chemistry teachers are equally knowledgeable in skills in test construction.
2. That professionally qualified chemistry teachers are more sound and knowledgeable in test construction.
3. All the chemistry teachers used in the research work use teachers-made objective chemistry test as an instrument of assessing the level of their students’ performance.
4. Chemistry teachers in Edo Central Senatorial District are using the same chemistry syllabus and operate the same school calendar year.
Significance of the Study
This research is undertaken with the intention that the data and information gathered will be added to the pool of knowledge already available in the area of achievement testing in the sciences (especially chemistry). Its finding is expected to be of immense help to practicing teachers, measurement and evaluation lecturers in Colleges of Education and Faculty of Education in the universities.
Science teachers, especially chemistry teachers are expected to borrow a leaf from the steps involved in test construction to improve the methods, procedures and techniques in their mode of test construction. This study highlights the need to draw up a table of specification for any test in order for the teacher to ensure a judicious covering of the content of the subject matter that is to be examined. This study is therefore, to provoke the minds of our teachers towards the use of recommended and set down guidelines and strategies for test construction, especially in the writing of multiple choice items.
This study also intends to bring to focus the need for measurement and evaluation lecturers in our tertiary institutions to inculcate in their students appropriate test construction methods as this is the bedrock of an effective evaluation of students’ achievement by practicing teachers.
Summarily, it is hoped that the finding of this work will be useful for decision making by teachers, curriculum developers, educational administrators and guidance counselors. The chemistry teacher requires the use of skill fully constructed test to enable him offer diagnostic functions on his students, while curriculum designer use the test to assess the effectiveness of the curriculum. Furthermore, educational administrators use their results for placement. While test results will aid the counsellor in identifying students with strength and weakness in chemistry thereby offering appropriate and adequate guidance services for their present and future endeavours.
Scope/Delimitation of the Study
This study is focused on all chemistry teachers in all the government owned secondary schools in Edo Central Senatorial District, consisting of Esan South-East, Esan North-East, Esan Central, Esan West and Igueben Local Government Areas. The scope of the study is on all the 28 (twenty-eight) chemistry teachers throughout the above mentioned Local Government Areas. The chemistry teachers will respond to a questionnaire titled “Chemistry Teachers Questionnaire”. This questionnaire will primarily elicit demographic information from the respondents.
Limitations of the Study
This study was carried out amidst some constraining circumstances such as the remote nature of some of the schools that would have been used for the study. Some of such schools are not easily assessable during rainy season. A lot of money will be required to administer questionnaire to the teachers in such rural settlement.
Other factors that could militate against the study may include time and poor responses to the questionnaire administered and absence of co-operation from teachers in the selected schools. However, it is worth noting that the result of the study depends on the frank and honest response given by the teachers. As posited by Abirl (1966), “the procedure of questionnairing tends to be unreliable for it depends too much on the honest cooperation of the respondents who may just endorse opinions which they consider to be most acceptable in the society or may even take their response in other ways”.
Operational Definition of Terms
The following operational definitions are used in the work:
Achievement Test: This comprises of a set of questions (multiple choice items) based on the teaching syllabus for which the students are expected to respond to.
Professionally Qualified Teachers: Chemistry teacher holding a teaching qualification not less than NCE with chemistry as a subject area of specialization (B.Ed), B.Sc. Ed, P.G.D.E.).
Professionally Unqualified Teachers: Chemistry teachers without teaching qualifications minimum of NCE (HND, B.Sc, B.A.)
Experience Teacher: Any teacher who has taught chemistry for ten years and above.
Inexperience Teacher: Any teacher who has taught chemistry for less than ten years.
Public School: Schools owned by the government.
Senior Secondary Schools (SSS): These are schools with students undergoing studies in the second tier of the 3 – 3 secondary school programme.