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Difficulties Faced by Nigerian Senior School Chemistry Students In

Difficulties Faced by Nigerian Senior School Chemistry Students In

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Journal of Education and PracticeISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288Vol 3, No 12, 2012
Difficulties faced bysolv
J1. Chapel Secondar 2. Department of ScienE-mail of t
The paper investigated the difficult problems. The data were collectedschools in Nigeria. A problem solresults revealed that only 1.3 % of analyzed showed that students codifficulties identified were in relamemory for critical reasoning throu problem solving strategies are given
Key words
: stoichiometric probledifficulties.
1. Introduction
According to Johnstone (2006)
capabilities of human learning as“Chemistry is a world filled with int  for understanding the natural and m
complex nature of chemistry and aschool curriculum, it is of major imthe subject.The concepts and principles in chcertain concepts difficult to compr chemistry is traceable to inadequatthese are used to explain macrosc1988)Stoichiometry (pronounced “stoy-k is the study of the quantitative aspereaction is known, then, stoichiometo the number of chemical entities (analysis into a chemical formula; anA review of the literature revealed(Hackling & Garnett, 1985). Besid1999; Goering-Boone & Rayner-Cstoichiometric coefficients, limitin percent yields (Perera & Wijeratne,their abstractness. For solving stochemical reactions, the student mustIn order to actually calculate the qdependent on first writing a correct2002; Tóth & Sebestye´n, 2009) rereagent which is a sub-topic of stoic by one (Perera & Wijeratne, 2006). part of a reaction in preference to aBarakat, 2003).
In a previous study conducted by Bexplanations when solving eight problems using algorithmic strategiSimilar findings have also been doc
igerian Senior School Chemistng Stoichiometric Problems
. E. Upahi
* and A.S. Olorundare
, Ph. D.School, P. M. B. 1572, Tanke, Ilorin, Kwara State,e Education, University of Ilorin, P. M. B. 1515, Ilorie corresponding author: johnsonenero@yahoo.com
es faced by senior school students’ (age 16 – 18) in
from twelve Science, Technology and Technical Eduing model that is due to Ashmore, Frazer & Caseythe students solved the problems correctly, 59.6 %ld not relate the known with the unknown variabling the known with unknown variables and retriegh the problem. Recommendations for teachers on ho.ms, difficulties faced, problem solving, students’
hemistry is a
 subject for students. The diwell as in the intrinsic nature of the subject.”
resting phenomena, appealing experimental activities,anufactured world. However, it is
As a relso the fact that it is one of the most conceptuallyortance that anyone teaching chemistry is aware of tmistry range from concrete to abstract. Many studhend. The root of many of these difficulties that ste understanding of the underlying concepts of the a pic properties and laws of chemistry (Ben-Zvi,y-AHM-uh-tree”; Greek 
“element or partt of chemical formulas and reactions. For example, if try tells us how much. It basically involves relating tatoms, molecules, or formula units); converting the red applying the quantitative information held within thhat the mole and reaction stoichiometry concepts pos, it is a task of problem solving for most studentsanham, 2001). It also involves writing and balancireagents, mole ratios of reactants and products,2006). The major reason why students have problemichiometry problems, in addition to demonstratin be able to apply the principles involved in ratio and puantities of substances consumed or produced in aand balanced chemical equation for the reaction(s). ported that students have difficulties to distinguishhiometry. They are frustrated when a simple proporti. Some students might also think that the limiting refunction of the amounts of reagent available for a r ouJaoude & Barakat (2000), forty Year 11 studentsstoichiometry problems. These students successf es, but lacked conceptual understanding when solvinmented with introductory college chemistry students
y Students in
igeria.n, Nigeria.solving stoichiometriccation Board (STTEB)(1979) was used. Theof the students’ scriptses. The most commonving information fromw to improve students’erformance, nature of 
iculties may lie in the
(2005) believes that
and fruitful knowledge
ult of the difficult andifficult subjects on thee areas of difficulty inents of chemistry finddents have in learningtomic model, and howEylon and Silberstein,,” +
“measure”)what is in a formula or he mass of a substancesult of the compositionem.e difficulty to studentsof chemistry (Olmsted,g chemical equations,theoretical yields andwith these concepts isan understanding of roportion calculationschemical reaction, it is(Mulford & Robinson,or identify the limitingon of moles are not oneagent is a fundamentalaction (Boujaoude andere required to providelly solved traditionalg unfamiliar problems.(Chandrasegaran,
et al.
Journal of Education and PracticeISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288Vol 3, No 12, 2012
2011). One reason for the over-relunderstanding of the chemical concinvolving situations different fromBodner & Herron, 2002). In Thaileast amount of reactant presentedThai students thought that the limiti2007).In Nigeria the story is not differentWAEC (2010, 2011) has it that, mchemical formulas and to balancechemical equation had been previowho reported that stoichiometry posinvolved in solving stoichiometric balance chemical equations, (Olmrequired for solving stoichiometricin stoichiometry.From the ongoing discussions, it irecurrent. Therefore, it is as a resulwith the help of a problem solvinghelp us to decide on a more organiz
2. Participants
The target population for this studyfor the research consisted of 300 seTechnical Education Board (STTEsampling i.e. four randomly selecteof 25 students was selected from eaThe schools were selected based on(i) a minimum number of five years(ii) students must have been taughtsolving stoichiometric problems. Th(b) chemical laws (c) gas laws and,(iii) the school must have at leastExperienced chemistry teachers arenot less than five (5) years.
3. Research instrument
The Problem Solving Test in Stoic past examinations questions of thewere scrutinized for the questions r selected from these papers and so prevent students from spotting thesstoichiometric problems of approxidata and apply the appropriate relatian insight into individual student pr The test covered specific areas in st(i) Empirical and molecular formula percentage composition and vice vechemical equation, mole calculation
4. Validation of research instrum
To ensure the face and content valideducation experts in the Departmeschool chemistry teachers who arecomments by moderators on the lanthe validity of the instrument. In part of the test sample so as to verithe right duration for the paper suchThe reliability of the instrument wobtained from the first and seconMoment Correlation Coefficient Fo
182iance on algorithmic procedures suggested by the r epts that was further supported by their inability tothe ones that were used during instruction (BouJaand, it was found that some students considered thein terms of mass, not mole (Boujaoude & Barakat,g reagent was the reactant presented in excess in a reas the Chief Examiners’ Report on the West Africast of the chemistry candidates displayed inability tochemical equations. The report of students’ inabilisly highlighted by Adeyegbe, (1989); Bello, (1990)ed a threat of difficulty to students because of the for  problems. Beside students’ inability to write cheted, 1999) reported that, poor understanding of stroblems is another factor that is responsible for studs obvious that students; difficulties in solving stoit of this that this research work focuses on identifyimodel that is due to Ashmore, Frazer and Casey (1d framework for teaching purposes.was all the senior school two chemistry students inior school two chemistry students selected from 12 S) Schools in Kogi State. These schools were selectschools from each of the three senatorial districts inh of the schools.the following criteria:of experience in entering candidates for public examithe relevant chemistry topics as prerequisite knowlese prerequisite skills involve: (a) chemical symbols,d) the mole concept;an experienced university graduate teaching chemisthose with teaching qualifications, who have taught iiometry (PSTS) that was constructed and administer WAEC Chemistry Paper 1 and Paper 2 from the yelating to mole concept and stoichiometry. Items for te alterations were made in wording, numbers andas past examination paper questions. The test instruately O’ level standard where the questions requiredonships relating to the content area of study (stoichio blem-solving processes.ichiometry which the teachers indicated that they ha; (ii) Chemical formula and percentage composition,rsa); (iii) Mass relationship in chemical reactions (ms); (iv) Limiting reagent concepts and percentage yiel
ity of the instrument, the test items or papers were mnt of Science Education, University of Ilorin and tWAEC and NECO examiners for their commentsguage, content and constructs were used to fine-tune tddition, the instrument was also be given to 30 studey the clarity of questions, appropriateness of languagthat time would not be a constraint in the measuremeas determined using the test-retest method of threeadministrations of the instrument were correlatedmula to obtain reliability indices for the instrument.
esearchers was lack of olve transfer problemsude & Barakat, 2000;limiting reagent as the000). Moreover, someaction (Dahsah & Coll,Examination Council;accurately write down
ty to write a balancedand Eniayeju, (1990),ulas, and the numeralsical formulas and tooichiometric principlesents’ poor performancehiometric problems isng students difficulties979). The analysis willogi State. The sampleience Technology, andd by stratified randomKogi State. An averageations in chemistry;edge skills required for formulas and equationstry at the senior class.n the school system for ed to the students werer 2005 to 2010. Theseis test instrument werethe structure so as toment consisted of eightstudents to manipulateetry), and to also gaintaught. Areas such as:chemical formula fromole ratio from balanced.derated by two sciencewo experienced senior and suggestions. Thehe instrument to ensurents who were not to bee and to also determinet.weeks interval. Scoresusing Pearson-Product
Journal of Education and PracticeISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288Vol 3, No 12, 2012
5. Procedure for data collection
The researcher visited the participappropriate authorities. The Probleschools during the normal classrooteachers in these schools.The PSTS was administered to theschools. Respondents were given s beginning to write down all their could seek clarification if they so wi
6. Data analysis technique
After the research was conducted, tTest in Stoichiometry (PSTS) weomissions and difficulties respondeof the conceptual framework of Asthat was used.These stages are:
Defining the goal of the pr 
Selecting information from
Selecting information from
Reasoning; and
Error in computation.Descriptive statistics such as the fr obtained from the administration of The study on the difficulties facedundertaken to answer three researcfrom twelve selected schools randoSchools in Kogi State.
7. Summary of the major findings
1. Generally, students foundsolve the questions correctl2. Selecting relevant informmajor source of difficulty3. Many students did not reahave adequately developmathematical operations inobtained results in the pr reasoning, probably becaus4. About 8.8% of the attempted s5. More females (28.7%) tConsequently, more femalhad difficulty in selectingthan males (20.7%) studenthan females’ (0.7%) soluti
8. Discussion
8.1 Difficulties in defining the probl 
In this stage of the model, the problto solve it. It involves writing dowdata. In this study, difficulties of res1. Failure to identify and write d2. Lack of clarity on what to find3. Starting off by rushing intat the expense of the problIn most cases, the scripts showed ththus, could easily be manipulatedand tried to progress from there.appeared to capture their attention a
Question 1 is a good example awas evident. “20 g of copper(ii) o
183ating schools to obtain permission for the use of 
m Solving Test in Stoichiometry (PSTS) was admi periods by the researcher with the consent and cooprespondents who were randomly selected from twufficient time to attempt all the questions and wer orking, including their thinking in the space providshed, but only on the instructions.e attempted solutions and the respondents’ scores froe obtained. The data were analyzed by locatingts faced (when solving the stoichiometric problemsmore, Casey and Frazer (1979) model for solving blem;the problem statement;memory;quency count, mean, and standard deviation were uthe tests. The hypothesis was put to test using t-test sty senior school chemistry students’ in solving stoich questions and one research hypothesis. Twelve ily selected Science, Technology and Technical Ed
 problem solving difficult, only 31(1.3%) of the resy.tion from memory and relating the known to unk s 59.7% of the total number of scripts analyzed.h the reasoning stage (Ref. Table 7 and 8), becaused proportional reasoning, but they follow the alsolving the stoichiometric problems. They do not thioblem solving process. 526 (21.9%) scripts or sole of careless omissions and lack of critical and logicallutions had errors in computation.an males (25.3%) students had difficulty definies tend to start without finishing. More females (7.appropriate information from the questions, and alsos had difficulty in reasoning. However, a greater percons were correct.
m goal 
m solver is expected to know what is required in thein a systematic presentation all the given data toge pondents were as a result of misuse of this stage whicown all the necessary data, including the unknown;out i.e. the problem goal;calculations involving data that seemed familiar, asm goal.t only data or pieces of information that seemed famiere written down and worked on. In other words, thonsequently, these salient but sometimes redundand drew them away from the problem goal.
ong others, where respondents’ difficulty in defiide was warmed with 0.050 mole of tetraoxosulph
the schools from theistered in each of theration of the chemistrylve (12) science-basedalso instructed at thed in the booklet. Theym the Problem Solvingrrors, misconceptions,in the different stages problems in chemistrysed to analyze the dataatistical tool.iometric problems wastact classes were usedcation Board (STTEB) pondents were able toown data was another tudents do not seem togorithms learnt, usingk chemically about theutions had difficultiesreasoning.ng the problem goal.%) than males (5.3%)more females (23.3%)entage of males’ (2.0%)question before startingther with the unknowninvolves:evident in their scripts,liar to respondents, andy started with the data pieces of information
ing the problem goalte (vi) acid. Calculate

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