This study investigated the parental influence and cultural beliefs as correlate of secondary school attitude and achievement in chemistry The study employed a Correlational research method. An instrument titled: Parental Influence and Cultural Beliefs as Correlate of Secondary School Girls Attitude and Achievement in Chemistry (PICBCSSGATAC) was used to collect relevant data for the study. The ten secondary schools involved were selected based on stratified random sampling technique and the statistical package of social sciences (SPSS) using descriptive statistics were used to determine the rural community challenges as correlates of senior secondary school achievement and attitude towards chemistry. 100 sample sizes were used for the study. 3 research questions were designed and formulated for the purpose of the study. The study revealed that there is a significant relationship between parental socio economic status and academic achievement of girls in secondary school. It also revealed: Parental influence may not affects secondary school girls’ attitude towards chemistry, it also revealed that Cultural biases impede girls’ learning and pursuit of chemistry as well as other sciences, the study further revealed that science, particularly chemistry is seen as the domain of males and not for females; and girl’s choice to study science is seen as weakening her identity as a girl and as making her appear less feminine, it further revealed that girls do not see the relevance of studying chemistry as its impact on their life career pursuit and it finally revealed that girls tend to perceive science as difficult, uninteresting or unappealing in the future prospect it offers. Based on the findings of this study, recommendations and suggestions were made for students, parents, teachers and school administrators and relevant agencies for further research.
1.1 Background of Study
Chemistry is a scientific study of structures, substances, how they react and behave under different conditions. (Advanced Learners Dictionary 2006). Chemistry is one of the core science subjects in secondary school curriculum.
It is a subject with wide knowledge area. This position makes aspiring students to embrace it early but often, parental perceptions as being difficult to learn, projects negative attitude in the minds of their children who have interest in the subject. As a result, males are more favoured than females. Girl’s low participation in chemistry and sciences in general has been an issue of great concern to science educators and researchers alike (Onyene, 2004). Recognizing the role of science (chemistry) in contemporary society, with the potential to improve lives in a multitude of ways and advance national development the task of redressing the shortfall in human resources in the area of science (chemistry) and technology in order not to leave woman of the process is considered important and necessary. A country’s ability to create, apply and diffuse scientific and technological knowledge is now a major determinant of its socio-economic development and national competitive. This potential, however, cannot be fully realized without making the best use of the entire population of a nation-including girls and women. It is noted, however that most African countries lag behind in the generation of the human technological capacity on which further economic development is heavily dependent (Salome, 2013). Studies have shown that a student’s performance in science (chemistry) and mathematics is a strong indicator of later earnings (Ekine and Abey, 2014). This is the case even within the education system where teachers and lecturers in science (chemistry) are often paid more or have a competitive advantage over their colleagues in other fields. It is also in science (chemistry] and mathematics subjects that many of the cognitive and non-cognitive skills necessary for individual and national development, such as higher order thinking and problem solving, are expected to be learned. For science to largely remain the domain of men is a sure means to perpetuate existing inequalities on the basis of gender in society.
However, the low participation of girls in chemistry as well as other science in school has led to many research efforts to identify factors responsible for such observation (Udeani; 2004: Onyene, 2004; Masanja, 2010; Ekine and Abey, 2014 just to mention but a few). Findings reveal that there are conventional interplay of factors like parents illiteracy, gender relation and cultural beliefs (Ekine and Abey, 2014). Concerning these girls’ impediments to learning chemistry as well as other science subjects. Ekine and Abey (2014) identified socio-cultural beliefs and classroom practices as influential factors that favour males and discourage girls in their pursuit of science. They also noted that societal beliefs about females’ innate abilities and social role biases in the curriculum, teacher-student and peer interactions and the methods of pedagogy and assessment also conspire and militate against girls in participation in science. At this junction, let us examine how parental influence, gender and cultural beliefs impart greatly on girls attitude and achievement towards chemistry.
1.1.1 Parental Influence on Girls Participation in Chemistry
Early exposure of girls to chemistry as well as other science subjects when their interests and attitudes about learning are formed is necessary. But this seems not to be the case with the girl child in Nigeria where socio-cultural belief system inhibits parents from any investment on girl-child education (Udeani, 2004). In rural communities, late school entry is a particular problem among poor children and girls. It has been noted that less than 50 percent of the poorest girls are enrolled in school at age six (Ekine, 2014). In essence, girls face greater constraints in pursuing their studies due to household demands on their labour, threats to their physical safety and a lack of necessary sanitation facilities at school and societal beliefs that privilege investments in boys education, Thus, girls lack access to school remains a fundamental barrier to their participation in science, both as children and adults (Salome, 2013). All illiterate parents may directly dissuade girls from pursuing science or indirectly convey their differing expectations by insisting that boys take science subjects and leaving girls to choose what they want to study (Salome, 2013). Such family questions the relevance of science to girl’s own lives.
1.1.2 Gender Relation and its Influence on Girl Child Learning of Chemistry
Gender relations are accordingly defined as the specific mechanisms whereby different cultures determine the functions and responsibilities of each sex. They also determine access to material resources such as land, credit and training, and more ephemeral resources such as power (Wikipedia Contributors, 2015), Esiobu (2004) asserts that girls are affected by sex role, stereotyping, attitude and financial strength.
In many countries, studies have shown that girls, on average, tend to perceive science (chemistry) as difficult, uninteresting or unappealing in the future prospect it offers (Salome, 2013). There is a prevalent view in Nigeria that women’s and men’s traditional roles in society should be preserved, and therefore girls should not compete with boys in class (Salome, 2013). Those who do pursue science can be stigmatized as aberrant or, at best, deemed “exceptional.” whereas boys are presumed to have a “natural ability.” Views about the proper conduct for girls – as submissive, reserved and unquestioning – shape student – teacher and peer interactions in schools and thus have implications for girls learning.
In most societies, a girl’s choice to study science is also seen as weakening her identity as a girl and as making her appears less feminine (Esiobu, 2004). In contexts where a girl’s worth and material circumstances, as well as those of her family, are intimately tied to her marriage prospers, the implications of challenging the dominant construction of female identity are not easily dismissed. In many African countries, girl’s exclusion from science (chemistry) can be attributed largely to the construction of feminine identities, ideologies of domesticity and gender stereotypes (Esiobu, 2014). Formal and informal socio- cultural norms and expectations about the role of females in society have tremendous effects on girl’s educational opportunities, learning outcomes and decisions about study and work (Ekine and Abey, 2014). At the most basic level, obstacles to school access and retention remain fundamental barriers to girls’ participation in science (chemistry) both as children and adults.
1.1.3 Influence of Cultural Beliefs on Girls Achievement and Attitude towards science Chemistry
Gender discrimination in sciences particularly physical science, engineering and mathematics will continue to be seen as males preserved. Educations, in general, and science education, in particular, are often viewed as being of less value to girls, given the cultural expectations about their primary roles as wives and mothers. Nigerian women lack of recognition in the sciences (chemistry) play a part in their low self-esteem. These different forms of cultural belief and discrimination against girls in relation to their participation in science (chemistry) greatly affect their aspiration which leads them to drop out of science (chemistry) classes (Udeani, 2004). As girls get older, they aspire less even if they are performing at the same levels as their male peers, and thus they often show science (chemistry) and mathematics related anxieties and come to believe that science ( chemistry) is not for them (Masanja, 2010).
1.1.4 Girls Achievement and Attitude towards Chemistry
However, girls themselves (as well as their families, teachers and school peers) question the relevance of science (chemistry) to their own lives. People may even doubt that a woman can be trusted to fly a plane or supervise a road’s construction, which are viewed as entirely a man’s domain (Salome, 2013). Such beliefs have a negative impact on girls’ practical and academic interest and learning in science (chemistry) (Ekine and Abey, 2014). In many countries, studies have shown that girls, on average, tend to perceive science (chemistry) as difficult, uninteresting or unappealing in the future prospects it offers (Salome, 2013). Girls may be further discouraged by the prevalent perception that they lack the ability and, in some contexts, the “toughness” to succeed in the science (chemistry). This is of great consequence to learning, given that there is a strong correlation in science (chemistry) between positive attitudes and high performance (U deani, 2004). Such gendered stereotypes are often ingrained early in life and are difficult to overcome. This area pertaining to the attitudes towards sciences ( chemistry) needs more research because the performance in chemistry and other sciences is still low.
Furthermore, chemistry as a science subject is a pivot in the Nigerian secondary school curriculum since other subjects, e.g. Physics and Biology, depend on it. Despite the prime position chemistry occupy in Nigeria, women in some parts of Nigeria and rural communities are affected by socio-cultural factors. It is important to note that at the primary school level, participation is not an issue, it is at this level that gender disparities interest and in some cases performance begin to emerge in Nigeria and in other countries. At this earliest ages (below seven years), few differences in children’s engagement in science are documented. A review of existing literature on science teaching and learning in Nigeria has proved that disparities in interest in favour of boys and could be tied to performance right from upper primary school level. The available literature also traced the constant decline of girls’ interest, and in some cases performance, in higher education and secondary school science (chemistry) to the experiences that girls had in their primary science classrooms. In essence, a gender equity approach, which goes beyond trying to treat girls and boys the same, recognizes the prevailing gender inequality in the field of science (chemistry) and in society. It advocates for a strategic focus on girls in order to promote their participation, higher achievement and interest m science (chemistry). This does not, however, disadvantage boys. What is good for girls is also good for boys. Equity and high quality very clearly work together in the case of science (chemistry) education. On a final note, it is noted that there are 69 million women and girls in Nigeria: represents a tremendous waste of human potential. Nonetheless, women also undertake 60 to 90 percent of agricultural production activities in the developing world, and they carry the primary responsibility for providing for the water, energy, sanitation and health care needs of their family and communities (Udeani, 2004). In any case, their exclusion from participation and high achievement in science (chemistry) education means that they have limited access to jobs in these fields, which are among the fastest growing and highest paying. Study by Salome, (2013) lends support to this assertion.
For science ( chemistry) to largely remain the domain of men is a sure means to perpetuate existing inequalities on the basis of gender in society. It should be borne in mind that after decade of Science and Technology (S & T) interventions in development, women’s overall position actually declined relative to men’s and women have become disproportionately poor in comparison with men in their communities. Given this situation, this study seeks to assess the conventional interplay of factors like parental/influence, gender and cultural beliefs as imparting greatly on girls’ achievement and attitude towards chemistry in school.
1.1.5 Theoretical Framework
The theory of reasoned action as propounded by Ajzen and Fishbein’s (1975) as cited in Salome (2013) is seen relevant for the study. The theory explains that the beliefs represent the information that is known by an individual about the subject. Thus, an individual’s attitude towards any subject is a function of that person’s belief about that object as well as the implicit evaluates response associated with those beliefs. It could therefore be argued that beliefs affect attitudes and these attitudes affect the intentions and behaviour. The enhancement of positive self concept on student’s ability in science (chemistry) will possibly in turn foster development of favourable attitudes towards science (chemistry).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Nigerian women lack of recognition in the sciences (chemistry) play a part in their low self-esteem. The low level of women participation in the study of science ( chemistry) at local and national levels stem from deep seated trends encouraged by the parents. These influences include; fear of being molested or raped in pursuit of seemingly male dominated area; parental insecurity and worry over exposure of the girl who goes through menstrual pains and related feminine private issues in area they thought boys could perform easily; and parental perception that it is a waste of fund training women in the area.
In the same vein, family chores, early marriage and socialization presents a cultural hurdle against women participation and performance in science (chemistry). So, this proposed study will assess the relationship between parental influence as well as cultural challenges as they affect secondary school girls achievement and attitude towards chemistry.
1. 3 Purpose of the Study
The proposed study is to assess the Parental Influence and Cultural beliefs on Secondary School girls’ achievement and attitude towards Chemistry.
The Study Specifically:
1.) Examined the Parental influence (fear of being raped, inadequate fund and inadequate sanitary facility) on secondary school girls (a) achievement and (b) attitude towards Chemistry.
2.) Determine the influence of cultural beliefs (family chores and early marriages) on Secondary School girls (a) achievement (b) attitude towards Chemistry.
3.) Show the extent of influence which gender have on Secondary School girls (a) Achievement and (b) Attitude towards Chemistry.
1.4 Research Questions’
1.) To what extent do parents influence Secondary School girls (a) achievement and (b) attitude towards Chemistry?
2.) How have cultural beliefs influenced secondary school girls (a) achievement and (b) attitude towards Chemistry.
3.) To what extent have gender influenced secondary school girls’ (a) achievement and (b) attitude towards Chemistry.