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1.1 Background to the study

Because chemistry is such an essential topic in science, it is included in the Nigerian secondary school curriculum. Almost all fundamental and applied scientific disciplines at postsecondary institutions require a credit pass in the senior secondary certificate test.

According to research, Nigerian students consistently do badly in chemistry due to inadequate stoichiometry problem-solving skills (Opara, 2013; Udosoro, 2011; Badru, 2004). Chief Examiners of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) have reported on students’ inadequacies in chemical arithmetic, low mathematical abilities, and inability to derive mole ratio from stoichiometric equations on a consistent basis from 2007 to 2017. Stoichiometry is a field that encompasses all types of measurements and computations that are related to one another. Stoichiometry is at the core of chemistry since it describes the link between the measured quantities in a chemical reaction as well as the calculations that are based on the rules of definite proportions and the conservation of matter and energy. The amount of atoms or molecules involved in a chemical process must be transformed into measurable quantities expressible in practical units, according to stoichiometry. Parker (1983) presented four categories that make up the stoichiometry concept.

The law of conservation of substance, the law of chemical combining weights, the law of combining proportions, and the rates of reaction connections in a system are all examples of these laws.

Engineering practice and present operations, as well as the design of new manufacturing units and equipment, rely heavily on calculations utilizing these concepts. Understanding quantitative deductions in physical chemistry requires a strong basis in stoichiometry.

Despite the importance of stoichiometry in physical chemistry, research has revealed that students struggle with stoichiometric calculations (Evans, Yaron and Leinhardt, 2008; Fach, de Boer and Parchmann, 2007 and Furio, Azconu and Guisasola, 2002). In the literature, there is evidence of students’ misunderstandings and knowledge of stoichiometry (Gauchon and Meheut, 2007; Arasasington, Taagepera and Potter 2004). Other studies sought to create problem-solving models and instructional tactics to aid students’ stoichiometry success (Chandrasegran, Treagust, Waldrip and Chandrasegaran, 2009). There is a direct link between students’ mathematical ability and their comprehension of chemical arithmetic (Badru, 2004). As a result, it’s critical to provide an anxiety-free environment within a social, democratic setting in which students may actively participate in the learning process and engage one another’s intellectual, academic, and social abilities.

Observation over the previous few decades has revealed that, despite significant improvements incorporated into scientific instruction in general and chemistry in particular, student performance has remained poor. This is supported by pupils’ dismal results in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

The use of previously learned information and abilities to attain specific goals is known as problem solving. In the literature, there are many different definitions of problem-solving. It is defined by each researcher and author in terms of his or her own psychological orientations. Problem solving, according to Krulik and Rudnick (as described in Carson, 2007), is the process through which a person applies previously acquired information, skills, and understanding to meet the demands of an unexpected situation. The learner must next apply what he or she has learnt to a new and distinct circumstance.

It is viewed by behaviorists as a connection between problem circumstances and ideas or objects that have the greatest potential for giving appropriate solutions. Scanning and association are used to solve problems, as well as linking chains of conditioned responses, finding the proper association, and searching for responses that can be linked to the problematic scenario. Drill and practice, as well as trial and error, are examples of reproductive thinking. Problem solving, according to Gestaltists, is an insightful or intuitive process involving the solver’s perceptual processes. Problem-solving is defined by cognitivists as information processing containing internal mediating elements, and it refers to the mental process that humans use to uncover, analyze, and solve issues. This includes the full process of identifying difficulties, making a decision to address the problem, and comprehending the problem itself.

If the problem is misunderstood, the attempts to fix it will be inaccurate or erroneous as well. It’s a sort of discovery learning whose development is influenced by the task’s structure and may be unaffected by the solver’s prior knowledge. It is mostly dependent on the solver’s capacity to identify general processes for solving problems of specific types through specific manipulations, which may need some fumbling and searching, as well as the creation of right hypotheses. The problem-solving in this situation reflects a process of gradual clarification of means-ends linkages, with formulations, testing, and rejection of alternative hypotheses playing a key part.

According to Carson (2007), issue resolution has three characteristics: 1. linking theory and practice.

2. Problem-solving fosters inventiveness.

3. It also teaches conceptual knowledge transfer and application.

According to Villegas, Castro, and Guterrez (as cited in Mushtaq, 2010), two characteristics of problem-solving are: 1. the opportunity to practice heuristics as a valuable procedure that generates additional motivation due to their potential for application, and 2. the creativity required in using multiple mental representations.

Students place a high value on problem solving. Problem-solving may also be compared to a fun game since it engages pupils and encourages them to participate. It adds excitement to the teaching and learning process. Students may use problem solving to cement and enhance their knowledge while also stimulating fresh learning (Akinsola, 2008). It is reasonable to argue that problem-solving should be included in classroom training as well. Problem-solving abilities must be developed for a number of reasons.

To face this challenge, education must look for more trustworthy and effective ways to teach students so that they may build skills that will allow them to compete successfully in a technological and scientific world. While presenting a new vision for teacher educators, Long (1991) proposes that instructors would need to be versatile, dynamic, perceptive, and equipped to cope with change. He went on to remark that qualified teachers will be able to reflect on their teaching methods in order to better meet the needs of their students. These revolutionary approaches have not been adopted by science educators in Nigeria in comparison to the old method (Owolabi, 2006). Problem-solving techniques include questioning, sorting, field trips, interviews, brainstorming, role-playing, projects, utilizing resource persons, library searches, and other creative activities (Adewuya 2003). All of these approaches encourage students to engage in problem-solving activities like as critical thinking, gathering additional information, assessing, exploring, and amassing themes and ideas, formulating hypotheses, testing assumptions, and collecting and analyzing data.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Complaints have been made over the years about the decreasing quality of education in Nigeria. The typical student’s performance in the senior secondary school certificate examination (SSCE) and the national examination council (NECO) is not very impressive, which does not bode well for the country’s technical progress. Given the importance of education, it is critical to concentrate on instructors’ problem-solving abilities in order to achieve the necessary increase in students’ learning outcomes, particularly in physics in senior secondary schools.

According to recent study, instructors’ problem-solving talents have a significant impact on students’ learning methods, which in turn affects their performance. According to Rockoff (2004) and Hanushek (1998, 2005), instructors’ problem-solving ability and qualitative competencies lead to at least a 7% and one standard deviation increase in students’ academic progress. Many stakeholders in the field have expressed concern over students’ poor performance in the subject. The curriculum of this activity-based course emphasizes the utilization of the activity-based form of learning, much like any other science topic. Unfortunately, according to studies such as Lakpini (2006) and Lawal (2009), instructors avoid using activity-based teaching methods and instead depend on easy-to-follow lecture methods, which are often insufficient and inappropriate for meaningful learning. The study focused on the teachers’ problem-solving skills and their influence on pupils’ academic achievement.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to examine the impact of problem solving learning strategy on students’ academic achievement in chemistry using Lagos State as case study.

Specifically, the study seeks to:

i. Determine if problem-solving method can enhance critical thinking among secondary school student.

ii. Ascertain if brainstorming as a problem-based technique has the capacity of inculcating problem solving skill into secondary school student.

iii. Investigate if problem-based teaching method is more innovative and preferable that the traditional lecture method.

iv. Examine if teacher’s problem-solving skill as a student centred method is capable of influencing student academic achievement.

1.4 Research Hypothesis

HO1: Brainstorming as a problem-based technique is not capable of inculcating problem solving skill into secondary school student.

HO2: Teacher’s problem-solving skill as a student centred method is not capable of influencing student academic achievement.

1.5 Significance of the Study

This research is based on the assumption that the findings will be useful in both practical and theoretical contexts. Teachers, students’ curriculum designers, and educational administrators will profit from the research. The research might be considered theoretically relevant since it will provide light on current ideas that may impact issue resolution. Curriculum planners would use the information from the study’s findings to plan their lessons. The data might aid curriculum planners in determining the appropriateness of the senior secondary biology program’s problem-solving component. Finally, the research would add empirically to the body of existing literature and serve as a reference source for students or other academics interested in conducting research on a comparable issue.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The broad objective of this research is to look into  problem-solving teaching strategy and how they affect students’ academic progress using Lagos as a case study. The goal of this study is to see if problem-solving techniques may help students improve their critical thinking skills in secondary school. It will be determined whether brainstorming, as a problem-solving strategy, is capable of instilling problem-solving skills in secondary school students. It will look into whether problem-based learning is more innovative and superior than standard lecture learning. However, the study is confined to a few secondary schools. Local Government of Ikeja.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing to the nature of the discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. More so, the choice of the sample size was limited as few respondent were selected to answer the research instrument hence cannot be generalize to other corporate organizations. However, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Teaching Method: A teaching method comprises the principles and methods used by teachers to enable student learning. These strategies are determined partly on subject matter to be taught and partly by the nature of the learner.

Problem-Based Learning: Problem based learning (PBL) is a teaching strategy during which students are trying solve a problem or a set problems unfamiliar to them. PBL is underpinned by a constructivist approach, as such it promotes active learning.

Problem-Solving Skill: Problem solving method, student learn by working on problems. This enables the students to learn new knowledge by facing the problems to be solved. The students are expected to observe, understand, analyze, interpret find solutions, and perform applications that lead to a holistic understanding of the concept.

Academic Achievement: Academic achievement is the extent to which a student or institution has achieved either short or long term educational goals. Achievement may be measured through students’ grade point average, whereas for institutions, achievement may be measured through graduation rates.


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