Factors Responsible for Poor Performance in Chemistry Students


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The purpose of this study was to investigate factors responsible for poor performance in chemistry students in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. To achieve the purpose of the study, three research questions were posed; subsequent three null hypotheses were formulated from the research questions to direct the study. Literature was reviewed on the hypotheses directing the study- survey research design was adopted for the study. A total sample of one hundred and fifty (150) respondents were randomly selected for the study. The selection was done through the sample random sample random sampling techniques. As a rentable tool for data collection four point questionnaire was the instrument used. It was constructed by the researcher under the supervisors guide that gave it face and content validity.

The questionnaire was successfully administered by the researcher and collected upon completing to test the hypotheses and to ascertain whether to accept or reject them, the independent t test analysis, and Pearson product moment correlation analysis were considered the most appropriate statistical technique employed to test the hypotheses, because of one nature of analysis involved in the hypotheses directing the study. All hypotheses were subjected to testing at 0.05 level of significance with critical values and degree of freedom. The result of the analysis indicates that students related factors, home related factors and school related factors are responsible for poor academic performance in Chemistry. Based on the findings of the study, recommendations and suggestions for further studies were made.


Factors Responsible for Poor Performance in Chemistry Students




1.1     Background to the study

The factors affecting academic performance of students in Chemistry include the student’s attitude, classrooms, libraries, technical workshops, laboratories, teachers’ quality, school management, teaching methods, peers, etc are factors that has role to play when it comes to students’ academic performance. (Ajayi, 2001 and Oluchukwu, 2000).  Hansen (2000) said that: Student’s performance depends on many factors such as learning facilities, gender and age differences etc that can affect student’s performance. A study effort from student and the proper use of the facilities provided by the institution to the student, a good match between student’s learning styles and are positively affect the student’s performance.

Chemistry as one of the science disciplines is indispensable to the scientific and technological development of any nation. The study of Chemistry has been and will remain of enormous benefit to man-kind because of the vivid explanation it gives on natural phenomena and everyday life occurrences. The role of Chemistry in technological and national development has been acknowledged the world-over. (Udofia & Udo, 2006). The teaching of Chemistry helps the students to comprehend the world around them and also better prepare them to improve on it.

Chemistry has been a very important science subject whose role in the development of a nation like Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. However, as important and significant as this subject is among its other likes of science subjects including Physics, Mathematics and Biology in the senior secondary school level of the nation, students have persistently, like in the aforementioned courses or subjects above, continued to perform poorly, considering the evaluations carried out by both internal and external examination bodies like WAEC and NECO.

“There has been wild cry each year when WAEC or NECO releases their annual results as a result of students poor performance, especially in Science subjects” [(Salami, Mohammed, & Ogunlade; (2012) in Ojukwu,  M.O. (2016)]. “Candidates’  performance  at the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by WAEC  and NECO has consistently remained poor, with chemistry having one of the worst and poorest results over the years” (Ibe & Madusnum; 2001 in Ojukwu, M.O; 2016)

Meanwhile, the poor performance of students in any course of study, be it Sciences, Social Sciences, or even Commercial studies would lead to a poor development of the country since they make up the content (major) of the education sector of the country, which indeed is the bedrock of the nation’s development, both economically, technologically, politically and generally in the aspect of sciences.

Aside the fact that the nation as a whole is being negatively affected when there is poor performance of students with their output in the society, it haphazardly embitters individual student and their guardians/parents badly because education is believed and known to be the major medium through which individuals adapt to a new environment and attain high levels in the hierarchy of any endeavor. Thus, poor academic performance in the general education, regardless of whichever course of study such as chemistry or  any other, usually brings about sadness and frustrations to the individual  concerned  and to his/her parents, as well as the entire family. As a matter of fact, it gives parents and students a feeling of satisfaction and enthusiasm when children excel academically (Fehintola; 2009 in Ojukwu, M.O; 2016).

Parents and students aspiring and endeavoring to become so fulfilled in life in various careers such as Medicine & Surgery; Dentistry; Petrochemical Engineering; Agricultural Practices; Food Engineering; Nursing; Geology, and many more to mention but a few, find it so difficult to have their aspirations and endeavors realized simply because of their poor and unsatisfying performance in Chemistry which is a compulsory subject needed for any of these courses especially in the Health Sciences.

At the senior secondary school level, no student without at least a credit pass in Chemistry would be allowed to progress for his/her University education, and this alone can kill the dream of many potential students to become practitioners of any of the above mentioned noble courses. This in turn affects the Educational Sector of the country, resulting in poor socio– economic growth as it  limits or restricts such victimized students to a lower hierarchy  in the economic strata if care is not taken with enough supply of courage and a never – giving – up attitude in such students.

Udongwo (2013) observed that the child should be given first hand familiarity with the variety of natural, physical and man-made phenomena in the world around him. For effective Chemistry teaching, the use of available natural resources to enrich instructional delivery and concretized learning is vital.  The teaching of Chemistry without learning materials will certainly result poor performance in the subject. Franker et al (2006) stressed that professionally qualified teachers no matter how well trained would be unable to their ideas into practice if the school setting lacks equipment and materials necessary for them to translate their competence into reality.

Instructional spaces planning, administrative places planning, circulation spaces planning, spaces for conveniences planning, accessories planning, the teachers as well as the students themselves are essential in teaching-learning process especially Chemistry.  The extent to which student learning could be enhanced depends on their location within the school compound, the structure of their classroom, availability of instructional facilities and accessories. It is believed that a well planned school will gear up expected outcomes of education that will facilitate good social, political and economic emancipation, effective teaching and learning process and academic performance of the students.

        The physical characteristics of the school have a variety of effects on teachers, students, and the learning process. Poor lighting, noise, high levels of carbon dioxide in classrooms, and inconsistent temperatures make teaching and learning difficult. Poor maintenance and ineffective ventilation systems lead to poor health among students as well as teachers, which leads to poor performance and higher absentee rates (Frazier, 2002 Lyons, 2001; and Ostendorf, 2001). These factors can adversely affect student behavior and lead to higher levels of frustration among teachers, and poor learning attitude among student.

Beyond the direct effects that poor facilities have on students’ ability to learn, the combination of poor facilities, which create an uncomfortable and uninviting workplace for teachers, combined with frustrating behavior by students including poor concentration and hyperactivity, lethargy, or apathy, creates a stressful set of working conditions for teachers. Because stress and job dissatisfaction are common pre-cursors to lowered teacher enthusiasm, it is possible that the aforementioned characteristics of school facilities have an effect upon the academic performance of students.

Meanwhile, Saage (2009) in Nbina, J.B. (2012) identified specific variables  causing this poor performance, such as poor primary school background in Science, lack of incentives for test, lack of interest on the part of students, students’ laziness, incompetent teachers in the primary school, large class sizes, psychological fear of the subject, etc. Also, Korau (2006) in Nbina, J.B (2012) reported that such factors include students’ factors, teachers’ factors, societal factors, governmental infrastructural problems, language-barrier problems, examination body related-factors, curriculum related variables, and evaluation related variables, textbook availability, and home factors.

According to Nakpodia and Urien (2011), the teacher stands out as one the most important factors determining the quality of education and its contributions to national development. At every level, people who go to school look on the teacher for the acquisition of the necessary skills to enable them become what they want to be. Thus, students often look on the personal qualities, their educational qualities and professional competence which are rewarding to the learners. It is on this note that the role of educational administrators in assisting teachers to help students achieve the objective of instructions in their various fields of endeavor stands paramount and a challenge in the 21st century.

Previous studies have investigated the relationship of poor school environment including problems with student-teacher ratio, school location, school population, classroom ventilation, poor lighting in classrooms, and inconsistent temperatures in the classroom with student health problems, student behavior, and student achievement (Crandell & Smaldino, 2000; Davis, 2001; Johnson, 2001; Lyons, 2001; Moore, 2002; Stricherz, 2000; Tanner, 2000). To complement these studies, the present research will examine the factors responsible for poor performance in chemistry students in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.


Factors Responsible for Poor Performance in Chemistry Students

1.2     Statement of the Problem

The performance of Chemistry in secondary schools in Wamba Local Government Area in recent decades has been rapidly dropping; the trend shows there is speed downfall of performance in chemistry and other science subjects especially in secondary schools. And the failures in science subjects may results into shortage of science experts like doctors, engineers, and teachers. Therefore there is a need to investigate on what are the root factors responsible for poor performance in chemistry students, and how to eradicate the problem. Hence this study will investigate on the factors responsible for poor performance in chemistry students in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

1.3     Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to examine the factors responsible for poor performance in chemistry students in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. Specifically, this study seeks to examine:

  1. The relationship between students related factors and the student academic performance
  2. The impact of home related factors on the academic performance of  students  in the secondary school
  3. How school related factors affects the academic performance of  students  in the secondary school


1.4     Research Questions

  1. Is there any relationship between students related factors and the student academic performance in chemistry?
  2. To what extent does home related factors affects student performance in secondary school in chemistry?
  3. What effect does school related factors has on the academic performance of students in chemistry in secondary school?

1.5     Research Hypothesis

  1. There is no significant relationship between students related factors and the student academic performance in chemistry.
  2. There is no significant relationship between home related factors and academic performance  of students in chemistry.
  3. There is no significant relationship between school related factors and academic performance of chemistry students.

1.6     Significance of the Study

It is hoped that this study will provide information for parents, students, educators and school administrators to reflect upon various factors responsible for poor performance in Chemistry and as well enlightened on measures that could help students in achieving their academic goals in chemistry. In so doing, they can investigate the possibility of introducing those factors to their school, which may consequently lead to enhancing students’ educational outcomes in school.

In addition, the fact that this study is conducted in public schools, it shares quite a lot of similarities with many other counterparts. In this connection, this study provides a valuable reference for other schools to reflect upon the factors under investigation as it affect the academic performance in chemistry in secondary schools.


1.7     Scope of the Study

This research work focuses on factors affecting academic performance of chemistry students in secondary schools in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. This research work covers all public secondary schools students in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

Factors Responsible for Poor Performance in Chemistry Students

1.8 Limitation of the Study

Apart  from  time-frame  and  shortage  of  finance,  the  major  limitation to  this  research  is  the  inability  of  the  researcher  to  cover  the  whole public secondary school in Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State as the title suggest.


Factors Responsible for Poor Performance in Chemistry Students

1.10   Definition of Terms

Chemistry: This is a branch of physical science that studies the composition, structure, properties and change of matter.

Factor: Factor can be defined as a circumstance, fact, or influence that contributes to a result.

Students related factors: Factors such as individual motivation and interest, mental concentration, participation in extracurricular activities, and self-directedness in learning, as well as students’ sense of satisfaction with learning

Home related factors: The home environment means the family background of the child, which includes all the human and material resources present in the home, that affect child’s living such as the parent’s level of education, occupation, social-economic status and the socializing facilities available in the house.

School related factors: These factors refer to observable instructional behaviour of teachers in the classroom rather than on factors that may explain such behaviour (e.g. teacher beliefs and knowledge and interpersonal competences)

Student: A student can be defined primarily as a person enrolled in a school or other educational institution and who is under learning with goals of acquiring knowledge, developing professions and achieving employment at desired field.

Academic performance: Academic performance is the measurement of student achievement across various academic subjects

Secondary school (also” high school”) is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place. It follows elementary or primary education, and may be followed by university (tertiary) education.

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