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INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENT IN PHYSICS
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Physics is one of the most important branches of science and a core subject in science which plays important role in the day-to-day activities of man. It occupies a very sensitive position in all science-oriented courses such as engineering, mining, medicine and many others. Students who will pick up careers in sciences and engineering must have undergone training in physics in their secondary school level and must not only be good in physics but must have passed the subject at least at credit level in the senior secondary school examination (SSCE). Besides, physics enables learners to understand the world around them, what happens around them. It helps them to solve simple problems they encounter daily. Fahmy (2000) stated that the most physics aspect of physics is that it applies to our daily lives. The importance of physics in making the world worth living are too numerous to mention. However, it is disheartening to know that despite its key role, it is plagued by persistent low enrolment and under-achievement by students. This has elicited a lot of concern and generated researches to establish the causes of repeated failures. Some of these had been ascribed to poor teaching methods, limited number of professionally trained teachers, lack of instructional facilities, unavailability of suitable practical equipment, inadequate funding among others (simon, 2000; stokking, 2000; ogunniyi, 2009; owolabi and oginni, 2013; bello, 2012). Attempts have been made by educational stakeholders to find ways of improving students’ performance in the subject some of which have focused on identifying appropriate teaching methodology (bello, 2011; orora, wachanga and keraro, 2005, kibett and kathuri, 2005), improving on teachers’ mastery of content and provision of instructional materials (omosewo, 2009; adeyemo, 2011; akinfe, olofinniyi and fashiku, 2012. Despite all these efforts, the performance of students in physics is still below expectation; it is therefore pertinent to consider other factors that could be responsible for under-achievement in the subject. A major cause of under-achievement has been traced to the influence of misconceptions which students bring to science classroom especially physics class (samba, 2003; ivowi, 2010). Research had shown that students’ explanations of scientific phenomena are controlled by what they perceived from their cultural beliefs (okebukola, 2008 and yip, 2009). Learning is known to be culture dependent (mwamwenda, 2007). As noted by okoye and okeke (2007), it has been very difficult to explain most natural occurrences and issues in african life using scientific knowledge; this is because most of the people’s beliefs have been crowded with mythology and superstitions. It is mostly based on power of witchcraft and evil spirits which is a departure from scientific explanations. This has resulted to divergence between students’ daily experience in the classroom and the scientific world with most of the students having significant difficulties in describing, understanding, physicspreting and predicting natural phenomena (driver et. Al., 2011, engelhardt et al, 2004, osborne and freyberg, 2011). Science educators are now conscious of the need to relate science more closely to the students’ cultural environment in order to minimize the possible conflicts that might arise from their view of the world and that of science. This could be done by carefully considering the traditional point of view that has appropriate relation to scientific concepts. Considerable research on how mental development proceeds in humans has been reported in the literature, over the last five decades. For instance, it is now known that as the child develops biologically, he becomes more aware of the social pressures and environmental stimuli surrounding him. This observation is supported’ by nwachukwu (2013). A child ordinarily adapts to the society in which he finds himself, prior to his starting school. This is perhaps why sawyerr (2007) informed that most students come to school with mental ideas and beliefs, which were learnt from families, friends and the community, at the earlier stage of their mental development. This conclusion is also true of students when they come to science classes, for the first time. In this connection, ameh (2010) observed that students do not come to science classes with what she calls "clean slate". This is because children usually bring earlier experiences from families, friends and their communities to their science lessons. Such experiences form part of the cultural practices which they imbibed and which they fall back on in their attempt to make sense of their physics lesson in school. Physics according to bajah (2013)
Ausubel (2010) have argued that the construction of new knowledge in science is strongly influenced by prior knowledge that is conceptions gained prior to the new learning. Since physics is an important science subject taught in secondary schools which relates with physical phenomena and how they are connected to man’s daily lives, there is therefore the likelihood of cultural beliefs exerting influence on learning and manipulation of concepts. It is therefore pertinent that physics teachers assist their students to use their knowledge in ways that draw on their cultural experiences for meaningful learning to take place. This study therefore aimed at investigating the influence of cultural believes and practice on secondary school students’ understanding of atmospheric-related physics concepts.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Students who study physics come to this class with certain cultural values, experiences and expectations. Sometimes, the physics teacher may not be aware of the nature and scope of these cultural values, practices, experiences and expectations which the students bring into the physics class, and which may invariably affect the students' academic achievement the subject. A content analysis of the current Nigerian physics curriculum shows that adequate provision may not have been given to 10 enable students integrate well their cultural values, practices, experiences and expectations with physics. This implies that the physics curriculum may be considered by some as being deficient with respect to addressing the issues of cultural values, experiences and practices that tend to conflict with its teaching and learning. This incidentally, will affect students' achievements in the subject. There is therefore, the need to identify, empirically, the cultural practices which may possibly influence students' learning of physics concepts.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to identify cultural practices and its influence on academic performance of secondary school students in physics. Specifically, the study is designed to:
1. Identify different cultural concepts that secondary school students’ have heard and believe in;
2. Investigate students’ sources of information about the cultural concepts
3. Examine the influence of cultural belief on students’ academic performance in Physics.
4. Find out if there is any relationship between cultural practice and believe and academic performance of students
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions were raised to guide the study.
1. What are the different cultural concepts that secondary school student have heard and believe in?
2. What are the students’ sources of information about the cultural concept? iv.
3. What is the influence of students’ believe in the cultural concepts on their academic performance in Physics?
4. Is there any relationship between cultural practice and believe and academic performance of students?
Ho: there is no significant relationship between cultural practice and believe and academic performance of students
H1: there is significant relationship between cultural practice and believe and academic performance of students
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The findings of this study are considered significant for physics students, the physics teachers and curriculum experts in physics. For instance, the study is considered significant because it provides empirical evidence on the need to reform the physics curriculum so that it can positively address the identified cultural practices that negatively affect physics learning. By doing this, the study would provide a basis, which will ensure that the objectives of the physics curriculum are locally harmonized with the contents and methods of physics teaching. Asaru (2007) affirmed this stance when he said that in designing a curriculum, the societal needs and its culture need to be vitally considered. The implication is that physics curriculum designers according to him (Asaru, 2007) ought to draw from cultural experiences and practices of the intended learners. By doing this, students are exposed to familiar contents and learning experiences which do not pose any culture threat to them. This invariably will make positive impact on students' achievements in physics, there is therefore the need to find out what the students of physics know and believe so as to enable the teacher structure his teaching to take Care of obvious cultural factors that may affect the physics learning. The implication here is that, the attitude of the students towards physics learning is very important. For instance, according to Ali (2009: 40), "improving science work and activity requires that the attitudes of science students towards school and science must be improved". Under achievement might result from the teaching-learning transactions that precipitate or sustain unresolved crisis between the learners and their environment. The physics teacher should be better informed about the cultural practices of the students he teaches, so that he would direct his teaching to enhance the students' learning. It will also affect the teachers' choice of teaching method in mixed cultural classes, and will also enhance his diagnosis of students' special learning difficulties, and of course, his general practices. The theoretical significance of this study is based on the works of David Au'subel's meaningful learning David Ausubel in his work revealed -that learning is only meaningful to the extent the learner (students) can integrate new knowledge with the existing knowledge (the cultural ideas, values, customs, experiences, expectations and beliefs, which constitute the cultural practices of the people), which the learner brings to the class (Akpan, 2009). Ausubel's theory emphasized that learning should be related to the learners' socio-cultural environment to stimulate the interest and engender learning. This means relating the new knowledge being taught to the learners1 previous (existing) knowledge for proper knowledge anchorage.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study influence of culture on academic performance of secondary school student in physics initially was aimed to cover at least five local government area in Ogun state but due to time and some other unforeseen constraint, samples was taken only from Abeokuta north local government area, Ogun state.
1.8 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The major constraint that affected this research is limited time and insufficient fund to finance the project, due to this the research is limited to one local government area.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Influence: ability to have effect on someone or something
Culture: the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society
Academic performance: the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their short or long-term educational goals.
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