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Chemistry being the branch of science which studies the nature and properties of substances which make up the environment, with the changes they undergo, is a very important course of study which does not only stand as a scientific study but also a very essential for the development of any nation which must be productive and be able to stand independently in the production of its inhabitants’ chemical consumables. However, as important as this course is, the students who are expected to be the carriers of the necessary skills needed for a productive application have been performing so poor persistently over some years ago. To curb this, this research work focused on investigating the factors responsible for this persistent poor performance at the Senior Secondary School level, using Ika North LGA, Nigeria, as study areas. Eight (8) Secondary Schools were randomly selected, where twenty-five students were randomly selected from six of the schools, sixteen and thirty from the other two schools respectively, making a total of one hundred and ninety six (196) students from SSS 1 to 3. One teacher out of the total Chemistry teachers present in each school was also selected, making a total of 8 teachers in all. Many related theses were reviewed to have a foresight of what the likely factors responsible for this effect could be, and the factors found out were out-listed under two broad headings called: The School-based Factors (7) and The Extrinsic Factors (5), making a total of twelve (12) factors in all. The method of data collection employed in this thesis is the teachers’ and students’ questionnaires. The former has a total of thirtythree (33), while the latter has a total of twenty-five (25) structured items respectively.

Chi-square and Correlation Coefficient were used in the analysis of the data collected. From the investigations conducted, sixteen (16) hypotheses were formulated to check the validity of the identified factors, and the following factors were found to be affecting the performance of students negatively: poor school background characteristics of students, wrong perception of students about chemistry, wrong attitudes of students toward chemistry, poor learning environment & facilities, poor/inadequate assessment of students and improper achievement test, inadequate evaluation, poor method of teaching on the part of teachers, poor English language comprehension ability and mathematical competence, the type of primary school attended, performance in JSSCE Basic/Integrated Science, and old age. Meanwhile, the following factors were speculated in the literatures reviewed, but were found to have no effect on students’ performance: gender difference, curriculum content, syllabus and workload of teachers, and students’ rudimentary understanding of chemistry. Also, parental background of students was found to have a very weak effect on the performance of students in chemistry. After all, reliable recommendations were made for the concerned bodies and individuals, including ministry of education, the school management/administration, chemistry teachers, parents, and other stakeholders. Recommendations were also made for further studies, with all of these focused on making positive changes to the performance of students in Chemistry right from the foundational education level, and to effect a transformation of the education sector of the country, Nigeria, at large.







1.1     Background of the Study

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.

Considering all these, this study was focused on getting reliable facts and figures of the factors affecting the students which therefore result in their poor performance in this so important subject, Chemistry, at the Senior Secondary School level.

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.

With all these previous theses, the focus of the study shall be to see into the genuineness of each of these factors, its effects, and how a profound, lasting and very reliable and proficient solution can be arrived at.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

This project work is intended to examine the causes of poor performance of senior secondary school students in chemistry based on the fact that there has been a consistent and re-occurring, and so baffling cases of such which is so much affecting the students’ academics/education during and after secondary school level, to the extent that chemistry as a subject has become a fearful masquerade in the minds of many students who offer it. As if that wasn’t enough, it has become a nightmare to so many other students in both secondary schools and tertiary institutions in the country and there have been cases of the students stating emphatically that they wouldn’t want their posterity to experience these problems.

1.3     Research Objectives

The objectives of this research work are as follow: To

  1. Find out the effects of students’ background characteristics on their performance in chemistry
  2. Establish the real attitudes of students and teachers toward Chemistry as they may affect students’ performance in the subject.
  3. Find out the school-based factors which might be responsible for students’ poor performance in Chemistry.
  4. Search out some extrinsic factors such as parental background in terms of profession, who the students live with, qualifications of teachers and their experience: all of which may affect students’ performance in Chemistry.
  5. Source out reliable strategies for curbing the persistence of students’ poor performance in chemistry.

1.3.1 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to determine and juxtapose the causes of poor performance of senior secondary school students in chemistry, using some selected secondary schools in Ika North LGA, Nigeria, as a case study (both private and public schools will be used). The researcher through findings also seeks to find solutions to the identified problems, test many hypotheses in order to establish a highly meaningful and perfectly working set of recommendations which can improve and facilitate a better performance in chemistry.

1.4     Research Questions

The following questions have been put forward for the purpose of this project work:

  1. What are the perceived causes of students’ poor performance in chemistry?
  2. How do extrinsic variables affect students’ performance in chemistry?
  3. What are the strategies or methods to improve senior secondary school students’ performance in chemistry?

1.5      Research Hypotheses

In the course of making investigations about the factors responsible for the persistent poor performance of students at the senior secondary school level in chemistry, the following null hypotheses were postulated:

  1. H0: “Gender of students does not affect their performance in Chemistry.”
  2. H0: “The age of students in a particular class does not affect their performance in Chemistry.”
  3. H0: “The type of primary school (private or public) attended by the students does not have any effect or contribution to the performance of students in Chemistry.”
  4. H0: “The performance of students in their JSSCE Basic or Integrated Science does not have any correlation with students’ performance in chemistry.”
  5. H0: “Students’ perception about chemistry does not affect their performance in Chemistry.”
  6. H0: “There is no direct relationship between students’ attitudes toward chemistry and their performance in the subject.”
  7. H0: The attitudes of chemistry teachers toward their students do not have anything to with students’ performance in chemistry.”
  8. H0: “Learning Environment of students and their school facilities for learning do not affect or influence the performance of students in chemistry.”
  9. H0: “The effectiveness of students’ assessment and achievements in their academics do not affect their performance in chemistry.”
  10. H0: “There is no significant level of relationship between students’ performance in chemistry and their evaluation frequency.”
  11. H0: “The level of students’ rudimentary understanding of chemistry is not really a determinant factor to their performance.”
  12. H0: “The relationship existing between parental background and students’ performance in Chemistry is not insignificant.”
  13. H0: “There is no positive association or direct proportionality between the availability of learning facilities and Chemistry students’ performance.”
  14. H0: “There is no significant effect on the performance of senior secondary school students in Chemistry when their learning facilities are poor.”
  15. H0: “English language comprehension capability and Mathematical competency of students do not affect students’ performance in Chemistry.”
  16. H0: “There is no significant negating effect of curriculum content, syllabus, and teachers’ workload on the performance of students in Chemistry”


  • Significance of the Study

This study would be significant to students, teachers, parents/guardians, school administrators, curriculum planners, the government, and the society at large, with the aim of helping improve; first, the students’ ability to perform brilliantly rather than otherwise; second, the teachers’ teaching efficiency and productivity; third, the parents’/guardians’ ideologies and understanding about their wards’ betterment and how they can help bring out the best in them; fourth, the administrative structural styles and format; fifth, curriculum planners’ curriculum content, set up, analysis, complexity ratio, simplicity measure; sixth, the government’s input, yielding maximization, and their expected discretion; seventh and finally, the society’s impacts, inputs and profits.

  • Limitation of the Study

The researcher’s limit of study is within the coverage of Ika North LGA, due to time & financial constraints alongside other factors such as the need for an in-depth study of the identified problems in those particular areas.

  • Scope of the Study

The following Secondary/High schools were selected for the purpose of this study within the specified area:

  1. Methodist High School, Ika North LGA
  2. Ogedengbe School of Science, Ika North LGA
  3. Saint Margaret High School, Ika North LGA
  4. Reality High School, Ika North LGA
  5. Ika North LGA Government High School, Ika North LGA
  6. Ijesha Muslim High School, Ika North LGA
  7. Christ the King High School, Ika North LGA
  8. Holy Vessels High School, Ika North LGA


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