Parental Influence and Cultural Beliefs as Correlates of Secondary School Girls Attitude and Performance

Parental Influence and Cultural Beliefs as Correlates of Secondary School Girls Attitude and Performance

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This study investigated the parental influence and cultural beliefs as correlate of secondary school attitude and achievement in chemistry The study employed a Correlational research method. An instrument titled: Parental Influence and Cultural Beliefs as Correlate of Secondary School Girls Attitude and Achievement in Chemistry   (PICBCSSGATAC) was used to collect relevant data for the study. The ten secondary schools involved were selected based on stratified random sampling technique and the statistical package of social sciences (SPSS)  using descriptive statistics  were used to determine the rural community challenges as correlates of senior secondary school achievement and attitude towards chemistry. 100 sample sizes were used for the study.  3 research questions were designed and formulated for the purpose of the study. The study revealed that there is a significant relationship between parental socio economic status and academic achievement of girls in secondary school. It also revealed: Parental influence may not affects secondary school girls’ attitude towards chemistry, it also revealed that Cultural biases impede girls’ learning and pursuit of chemistry as well as other sciences, the study further revealed that science, particularly chemistry is seen as the domain of males and not for females; and girl’s choice to study science is seen as weakening her identity as a girl and as making her appear less feminine, it further revealed that girls do not see the relevance of studying chemistry as its impact on their life career pursuit and it finally revealed that girls tend to perceive science as difficult, uninteresting or unappealing in the future prospect it offers. Based on the findings of this study, recommendations and suggestions were made for students, parents, teachers and school administrators and relevant agencies for further research.



Background of Study

Chemistry is a scientific study of structures, substances, how they react and   behave   under different conditions. (Advanced Learners Dictionary 2006). Chemistry is one of the  core science  subjects in secondary school curriculum.

It is a subject with wide knowledge area. This position  makes  aspiring students to embrace  it  early  but often,  parental  perceptions  as  being difficult  to learn,  projects  negative attitude in  the  minds  of their  children who have  interest  in  the subject.  As a result, males are more favoured than females.   Girl’s   low   participation   in   chemistry   and  sciences  in general has been an issue of great concern to science educators and researchers   alike   (Onyene, 2004). Recognizing  the role of science (chemistry) in contemporary society, with the  potential  to  improve  lives in  a  multitude  of ways and  advance  national development the   task of redressing  the shortfall in human  resources  in  the  area  of  science (chemistry) and technology in order not to leave woman of the process is  considered  important  and necessary.

A country’s ability to create, apply and diffuse scientific  and technological knowledge is now a   major determinant of its  socio-economic development and national competitive. This potential, however, cannot be fully realized without making the best use of the entire population of a  nation-including girls and women.  It is noted, however that most African countries lag behind in the generation of  the human  technological capacity on which further economic development  is  heavily dependent (Salome,   2013). Studies have shown that a student’s performance in  science (chemistry)  and mathematics is a strong indicator  of later earnings (Ekine and Abey, 2014). This is the case even  within   the   education   system  where teachers and lecturers in science (chemistry) are often paid more  or have a competitive advantage over  their colleagues  in  other  fields.  It is  also in  science (chemistry]  and mathematics subjects  that many of the  cognitive  and non-cognitive skills necessary for  individual  and national  development,  such as  higher order thinking  and   problem solving,  are expected  to  be  learned.  For  science to largely  remain the domain of men  is  a sure means to  perpetuate  existing inequalities  on  the basis of gender in  society.

However,   the   low   participation of girls  in   chemistry   as   well  as   other science  in   school has  led   to  many research  efforts   to  identify  factors  responsible for such observation (Udeani; 2004:  Onyene,  2004; Masanja, 2010; Ekine and Abey,   2014 just  to mention but a  few).  Findings reveal that there are conventional  interplay  of  factors  like  parents  illiteracy, gender relation and  cultural beliefs (Ekine  and Abey,  2014).  Concerning these girls’ impediments to learning  chemistry  as  well  as  other  science subjects. Ekine and Abey (2014) identified socio-cultural beliefs and classroom  practices as influential factors that favour males and discourage  girls in  their pursuit  of science. They  also  noted  that societal beliefs  about  females’   innate   abilities   and    social  role  biases   in   the curriculum,  teacher-student  and  peer interactions  and the   methods  of pedagogy and assessment also conspire and militate  against  girls  in participation  in  science.  At this junction, let us examine how parental influence, gender and cultural beliefs impart greatly on girls attitude and achievement towards chemistry.

Parental Influence on Girls Participation in Chemistry

Early exposure of girls to chemistry as   well   as other science subjects when   their interests and attitudes    about   learning    are    formed   is necessary. But this seems not to be the case with the girl child in Nigeria where socio-cultural  belief system inhibits  parents from any investment on girl-child education (Udeani,  2004). In rural communities, late  school entry  is  a particular  problem among poor children and girls. It has been noted that less than 50 percent of the poorest girls are enrolled in  school at age six (Ekine, 2014). In essence, girls face greater constraints in pursuing their studies due to household demands  on   their  labour, threats to their physical  safety   and  a   lack   of  necessary  sanitation facilities at school and societal  beliefs that privilege investments  in  boys education, Thus, girls lack access to school remains a fundamental barrier to their participation in   science,  both  as   children   and  adults (Salome, 2013). All  illiterate   parents  may directly dissuade  girls   from pursuing science or indirectly convey their differing expectations   by insisting  that boys  take science subjects  and leaving  girls to choose what they want to  study  (Salome,  2013).  Such  family questions  the  relevance of science to girl’s  own  lives.

 Gender Relation and its Influence on Girl Child Learning of Chemistry

Gender relations are accordingly defined as the specific mechanisms whereby different cultures determine the functions and responsibilities of each sex.  They also determine access to material resources such as  land, credit and training, and more ephemeral  resources such as power (Wikipedia   Contributors,   2015),   Esiobu  (2004)   asserts  that  girls   are affected  by sex  role,  stereotyping,  attitude and financial  strength.

In  many  countries,  studies have  shown  that  girls,  on  average,  tend  to perceive  science  (chemistry)  as  difficult,  uninteresting  or  unappealing  in the  future prospect it offers (Salome, 2013). There is a  prevalent view  in Nigeria  that women’s  and men’s traditional roles in  society should  be preserved,  and  therefore  girls  should  not  compete  with  boys   in  class (Salome, 2013). Those who do pursue science can be stigmatized as aberrant or, at best, deemed “exceptional.” whereas boys   are presumed to have a “natural ability.” Views  about the proper conduct for girls –  as submissive,  reserved  and unquestioning  –  shape student  –  teacher and peer interactions  in  schools and thus  have implications  for girls learning.

In   most  societies,  a   girl’s   choice   to   study   science  is   also   seen  as weakening her identity as  a girl and as making her appears less  feminine (Esiobu, 2004). In contexts where a girl’s worth   and   material circumstances,  as  well  as  those  of her family, are intimately tied  to  her marriage   prospers,   the  implications   of   challenging    the    dominant construction of female identity are not easily  dismissed. In many African countries, girl’s   exclusion   from   science  (chemistry)   can   be   attributed largely  to the construction of feminine identities, ideologies  of domesticity and gender stereotypes  (Esiobu,   2014). Formal and informal  socio- cultural norms and expectations about the role of females in society have tremendous effects on girl’s educational opportunities, learning outcomes and decisions about study and work  (Ekine  and Abey,  2014).  At the most basic level, obstacles to school access and retention remain fundamental barriers to girls’ participation in science (chemistry) both as children and adults.

Read Also:  An Evaluation of Gender and Class Type Differences in Physics Classroom Learning Environment in Secondary Schools in Port Harcourt

Influence of Cultural Beliefs on Girls Achievement and Attitude towards science Chemistry Gender discrimination in sciences particularly physical science, engineering and   mathematics will continue to be seen as males preserved.  Educations, in general, and  science education, in particular, are often viewed as being of less value to girls,  given  the   cultural expectations  about  their  primary roles as  wives and  mothers.  Nigerian women lack of recognition in the sciences (chemistry) play a part in their low self-esteem. These different  forms of cultural belief  and discrimination  against  girls  in  relation  to  their participation in  science (chemistry) greatly affect their aspiration which leads them to drop out of science (chemistry)  classes (Udeani,  2004).  As girls  get  older,  they  aspire less  even if  they are performing at the  same levels  as  their male  peers, and   thus  they often  show science  (chemistry)  and mathematics  related anxieties and  come   to  believe that  science  ( chemistry)   is not for  them (Masanja,  2010).

 Girls Achievement and Attitude towards Chemistry

However,  girls themselves  (as well  as  their families, teachers  and school peers) question the relevance  of science  (chemistry)  to  their  own  lives. People   may even doubt that a  woman can be  trusted  to  fly  a  plane  or supervise  a  road’s  construction,  which  are  viewed as   entirely  a  man’s domain  (Salome,  2013).   Such  beliefs  have  a  negative  impact  on  girls’ practical   and  academic  interest   and  learning   in   science  (chemistry) (Ekine and Abey,  2014).

In   many  countries,   studies  have  shown  that girls,  on average, tend  to perceive science (chemistry) as difficult,  uninteresting  or  unappealing in  the future  prospects it  offers  (Salome, 2013).  Girls may be  further discouraged by  the  prevalent perception that they lack  the ability and,  in  some contexts, the  “toughness”  to succeed in the  science  (chemistry).  This is  of great  consequence  to  learning,  given that there is a  strong  correlation  in  science (chemistry)  between positive attitudes and  high  performance (U deani,  2004).     Such    gendered stereotypes are often ingrained early in life and are difficult to overcome. This area pertaining  to  the attitudes  towards sciences ( chemistry)  needs more research because  the performance in  chemistry and other  sciences is  still  low.

Furthermore,   chemistry  as   a  science  subject  is  a  pivot  in  the   Nigerian secondary school curriculum since other  subjects,   e.g.   Physics and Biology,   depend  on  it.  Despite  the  prime position chemistry  occupy  in Nigeria, women in some parts of Nigeria  and rural communities are affected by   socio-cultural   factors.   It   is   important   to  note   that  at  the primary school level, participation is  not an issue,  it  is  at this level  that gender disparities interest and  in some cases   performance  begin  to emerge  in  Nigeria  and  in   other  countries.  At this earliest ages (below seven years),   few differences   in   children’s   engagement in   science are documented. A review  of  existing   literature   on   science  teaching  and learning in  Nigeria has proved that  disparities  in  interest  in  favour  of boys  and could be  tied to performance right from upper  primary school level. The available literature   also   traced  the constant decline  of  girls’ interest,    and  in   some  cases   performance,   in   higher  education   and secondary school science (chemistry)  to  the experiences  that  girls had in their primary science classrooms. In  essence, a  gender  equity approach, which goes beyond trying to  treat girls and boys  the same recognizes the prevailing gender inequality in the field  of science (chemistry) and in society.

It  advocates  for  a  strategic  focus  on  girls  in  order  to  promote their participation, higher  achievement and  interest   m science (chemistry).  This does not, however, disadvantage boys. What is good for girls is   also   good   for boys.  Equity and high quality very clearly work together in the case of science (chemistry) education.  On a final note, it is noted that there are 69 million women and girls in Nigeria:  represents a tremendous waste of human   potential. Nonetheless,  women also undertake  60 to 90  percent of agricultural production activities  in  the developing world,  and they carry the primary responsibility for  providing for the water, energy, sanitation and health care needs of their  family and communities (Udeani, 2004).  In  any case,   their  exclusion   from participation and high achievement in science  (chemistry)   education means that  they have limited  access to  jobs in  these  fields,  which  are among the  fastest growing and  highest  paying.   Study by Salome, (2013) lends support to this assertion.

For science  ( chemistry)   to  largely  remain  the  domain of men  is  a  sure means  to  perpetuate  existing   inequalities   on   the    basis  of  gender   in society. It should be   borne  in  mind that  after decade of  Science  and Technology   (S   &   T)   interventions   in  development,   women’s   overall position actually declined relative to men’s and women have become disproportionatey poor in comparison with men  in  their communities. Given this  situation, this study seeks to  assess the conventional interplay of factors like parental/influence, gender and cultural beliefs as imparting greatly on girls’ achievement and attitude towards chemistry in school.

 Theoretical Framework

The  theory  of reasoned  action as   propounded  by  Ajzen  and Fishbein’s (1975)  as   cited  in  Salome  (2013)  is  seen  relevant  for  the  study.  The theory explains that the beliefs represent the information that is known by an individual about the subject.   Thus,   an individual’s   attitude towards any subject is a function of that person’s belief about that object as well as the implicit evaluates  response associated with those beliefs.  It could therefore be argued that beliefs affect attitudes and these attitudes affect the intentions and behaviour. The enhancement of positive  self concept  on  student’s  ability in  science  (chemistry)  will  possibly in  turn foster development of favourable attitudes  towards science (chemistry).

Statement of the Problem

Nigerian  women  lack  of recognition  in   the  sciences  (chemistry)  play a part  in  their low  self-esteem.  The low level of women participation  in  the  study of  science  ( chemistry)  at local  and national  levels  stem  from  deep seated trends encouraged  by  the parents. These influences  include;  fear of being molested or raped in pursuit of seemingly male dominated area; parental  insecurity  and worry over  exposure  of the  girl who goes through menstrual pains and related feminine private issues in  area they thought boys  could perform easily;  and parental perception that it  is  a  waste of fund  training women in  the area.

In the same vein, family chores, early marriage and socialization presents a   cultural   hurdle against women participation and performance   in science (chemistry). So,   this proposed study will  assess  the   relationship  between  parental influence  as well  as  cultural  challenges as  they affect  secondary school girls achievement and attitude  towards  chemistry.

Purpose of the Study

The proposed study is to assess the Parental Influence and Cultural beliefs on Secondary School girls’ achievement and attitude towards Chemistry.

The Study Specifically:

1.)        Examined the Parental influence (fear of being raped, inadequate fund and inadequate sanitary facility) on secondary school girls (a) achievement and (b) attitude towards Chemistry.

2.)        Determine the influence of cultural beliefs (family chores and early marriages) on Secondary School girls (a) achievement (b) attitude towards Chemistry.

3.)        Show the extent of influence which gender have on Secondary School girls (a) Achievement and (b) Attitude towards Chemistry.

1.4       Research Questions’

1.)        To what extent do parents influence Secondary School girls (a) achievement and (b) attitude towards Chemistry?

2.)        How have cultural beliefs influenced secondary school girls (a) achievemen


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