A STUDY OF GENDER DIFFERENCES IN THE ATTITUDEOF STUDENTS TO SCIENCE SUBJECTS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN OSUN STATE
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Sex differences in humans have been studied in a variety of fields. In humans,
biological sex is determined by five factors present at birth: the presence or
absence of a Y chromosome, the type of gonads, the sex hormones, the internal
reproductive anatomy (such as the uterus in females), and the external
genitalia. People with mixed sex factors are intersex. People whose gender
identity (their internal sense of their own gender) differs from their
biological sex are transgender, transsexual or genderqueer.
A distinction is sometimes made between sex and gender. Sex differences
generally refer to traits that are sexually dimorphic. Such differences are
hypothesized to be products of the evolutionary process of sexual selection.
By contrast, the term gender differences refers to average group differences
between males and females that are presumably based on sexually monomorphic
(the same between the sexes) biological adaptations—and these group differences
are presumed to be due primarily to differential socialization.
Gender differences in education are a type of sex discrimination in the
education system affecting both men and women during and after their
The introduction of the 6-3-3-4 system of education is one of the most
important steps taken by the Nigerian government to ensure the country’s
scientific and technological development.
Even the modified 9-3-4 system is modified landmark by the government to bring
about scientific and technological development.
The awareness of the vital role of science and technology in national
development has prompted both the developed and developing countries of the
world to include science and technology subjects in their school curricula to
carry out various educational reforms in such areas. In Africa, for example,
the African Primary Science Program (APSP) was developed.
With more national consciousness and the continued pressure of modern
scientific demands, the Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria, for example,
started adopting a more science oriented policies and programmes in education.
Through the help of such organs as the Nigeria Educational Research Council
(NERC) and the Comparative Education Study and Adaptation Centre (CESAC),
better-oriented curricula efforts began to emerge.
A number of the new curriculum projects initiated were; the Core Curriculum in
Primary Science, the Nigeria Secondary School Science Project, the Primary
Education Improvement Project, the Nigeria Integrated Science Project, and the
Federal Ministry of Education Core Curriculum Project for both Primary and
Secondary School Science.
In Nigeria, the National Policy on Education stipulates that secondary school
education should equip students to live effectively in modern age of science
and technology (Federal Ministry of Education - FME 2004). The proper teaching
and handling of science and technology subjects in schools will result in the
training of the minds of students in the understanding of the world around them
in the acquisition of appropriate skills, capacities, competencies necessary
for them to live and contribute to the development of their society.
In pursuance of this, governments of many nations have planned that science and
technical subjects should be taught in such a way as to ensure that every
secondary school student has access to science and technology irrespective of
sex and creed.
In Nigeria for example, as a follow up of the Adebo commission, the 6-3-3-4
system of education was put in place.
The three year junior secondary school education took care of pre-vocational
subjects while the three year senior secondary catered for sciences and vocational
subjects (Oriaifo 2002)
The concept of science education is Science has been defined variously by
different authors. Shapin (1996) defines science as the study of the physical
and natural world and phenomena, especially by using systematic observation and
experiment. In the view of
Aigbomian and Imhanlahimi (1997), an operational definition of science is that
advanced by the National Science Teachers Association 1963, which states that
“Science is an accumulated and systemized learning in general usage restricted
to the natural phenomenon. What science does is to expose one to the knowledge
of the natural phenomenon and to the use of practical efforts to transform it
A nation’s school is particularly suited for the education of the people
through science because it is the only organized societal institution that
holds the largest number of youth and anytime.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Until the latter half of
the twentieth century, gender in society in the western world remained largely
unquestioned, although since 1920 women gradually had gained the right to vote
and general access to education at all levels. As many women claimed the right
to be treated as equals alongside men in all aspects of social, political and
cultural life, the demand for further societal changes was evident. Many of
these legitimate claims of women began to be constitutionalized in numerous
countries in the late 1960s (Kotte, 1992). Nonetheless, the masked imbalance
between the sexes in many fields of employment was not overcome completely.
There are relatively few female scientists and engineers at the professional
level and even fewer technicians and tradeswomen at the skilled worker level
(Kelly, 1978; Keeves and Kotte, 1991). The origins of such differences can be
traced back to participation in studying science at school, from the earliest
grades onwards. It cannot be ruled out that such differences are generated at
an even earlier stage in the socialization process taking place at home.
However, there seems to be little doubt that these differences between the
sexes are established and consolidated during formal schooling (Keeves, 1991).
In the economic competitive environment of the developing countries each educational
system is expected to ‘produce’ an optimum number of technologically qualified
personnel who are needed by the labour market. This has implications for the
planning of the educational system of each country. Not only are more science
trained students expected to graduate from high school, but there is also a
proportionately higher demand for female students as societies become more
responsive to women in Science careers. In the past, many of the more
prestigious and more highly paid jobs have gone to men who have been trained in
science-based programs, such as medicine, engineering and technology. Since
girls have not studied science courses at school to the same extent, as have
boys, such occupations have been filled by more men than women (Keeves and
Kotte, 1991). Optimizing science (and by extension to Chemistry) achievement
and at the same time reducing differences in performance levels between boys
and girls may eventually lead to greater economic efficiency within a system.
In this process, gender differences can be reduced as increased opportunities
become available to girls (Duncan, 1989; Keeves and Kotte 1991). The theme of
this research study is timely. Detailed information is needed on how to reduce
gender differences in science subject’s achievement and how to improve the
achievement level of all students in science classes. The study of science is
important in all aspects of life. In Nigeria, maths, physics, English language
and chemistry is among the key subjects used for selective advancement in
theeducation system. However, the teaching and learning of science subjects in
schools is not at its best. Practically, all students believe that science
subjects is important for life after school and yet both boys and girls
demonstrate some negativity towards the subject. They perceive the subject as
difficult and uninteresting and thus are biased in the selections they make,
often not considering the subject requirements needed for future careers.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main purposes of the
To investigate whether there are any
significant difference in attitudes between the attitude of girls and boys towards
learning of science subjects.
To investigate whether students‟ perceptions
of teachers‟ expectations influence their attitude towards learning of science
To investigate whether students‟ perception
of parental expectations influence their attitude towards learning of science
To investigate whether students‟ perception
of peers‟ expectations influence their attitude towards learning of science
make recommendations on strategies that could foster positive attitudes towards
learning of science subjects irrespective of gender.
The following hypotheses
were raised and tested at the 0.05 level of significance:
There is no significant effect of gender on Students’ attitude in science
There is a significant effect of gender on Students’ attitude in science
There is no significant difference between the attitude of male students and
their female counterparts in science subjects.
There is a significant difference between the attitude of male students and
their female counterparts in science subjects.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The achievement in science
is very much dependent upon scientific background and attitude towards science.
According to NPE science should be visualized as a vehicle to train a student
in thinking, reasoning, analyzing and articulating logically. One of the
several universally recognized aims of teaching science is helping the students
in developing scientific attitude to meet the demands of daily life, new
scientific knowledge and work in related field of knowledge has special
significance. It is reality that science is felt to be difficult to absorb.
Many students find science very difficult and uninteresting and perform poorly
in it. The study will be useful in locating the objectives of curricula of
teaching of science. This may help of setting some issues and misbelieve. There
is great effect of non-school factors like gender, locality and socio –
economic status on the attitude of students towards science. The present
attempt is in this direction only is to see the effect of some non-school
factors on the attitude of students towards science.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study will be
restricted to gender differences in the attitude of students to science subject
in secondary school. The scope of the study will centre on Osun State, Nigeria.
However, there were some
constraints that tend to interrupt the flow of the study which include;
Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing
for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of
data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic
work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research
DEFINITION OF TERMS
is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between,
masculinity and femininity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may
include biological sex, sex-based social structures, or gender identity.
differences:Such differences are hypothesized to be products of the
evolutionary process of sexual selection. By contrast, the term gender differences refers to
average group differences between
males and females that are presumably based on sexually monomorphic (the same
between the sexes) biological adaptations.
Attitude:In psychology, attitude is a psychological
construct, a mental and emotional entity that inheres in, or characterizes a
person. They are complex and an acquired state through experiences. It is
an individual's predisposed state of mind regarding a value and it is
precipitated through a responsive expression toward a person, place, thing, or
event (the attitude object)
which in turn influences the individual's thought and action.
school is both an organization that provides secondary education and the
where this takes place. Some secondary schools can provide both lower
secondary education and (upper) secondary education (levels
2 and 3 of the ISCED scale),
but these can also be provided in separate schools, as in the American
school- high school system.
ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is
organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows. Chapter one is
concern with the introduction, which consist of the (background of the study),
statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, research
hypotheses, significance of the study, scope of the study etc. Chapter two
being the review of the related literature presents the theoretical framework,
conceptual framework and other areas concerning the subject matter. Chapter three is a research methodology
covers deals on the research design and methods adopted in the study. Chapter
four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of
finding. Chapter five gives summary,
conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.