Chemistry teaching and learning is important in any society because it is one of the key subject in the socio-economic development of the society. It is offered in the secondary school curriculum and examined at Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) Examinations. It helps learners to acquire knowledge of facts, principles and events of nature, enabling them to live intelligent and efficient lives in the modern society. Despite its usefulness, the students’ performance in Chemistry in National Examinations has been poor thus affecting their enrollment in chemistry related courses in colleges and universities. The teaching approach used by a teacher may affect the students’ performance in the subject. The constructivist teaching approach may help improve students’ performance in Chemistry, but its usefulness is not known. Therefore this study sort to investigate the effect of the constructivist teaching-learning approach on students’ achievement and attitude in the learning of Chemistry. Quasi-experimental research which involved Solomon-Four Non- Equivalent Control Group Design was employed. The population of the study was Form Two learners in Baringo North District. The sample size was 160 Form Two students out of a total population of 1260 from four District co-educational public boarding schools purposively sampled. The four schools were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. The instruments used in the study were Chemistry Achievement Test (CAT) and Students’ Attitude Scales (SAS). Pilot test was done in a school within the Baringo North District but a different division from the schools under study to ascertain the instruments’ validity and reliability. To maintain validity, three experts from the Department of Curriculum Instruction and Education Management validated the instruments. The Cronbach’s coefficient alpha method was used to estimate the reliability coefficient of SAS and the reliability coefficient of the CAT was calculated using Kuder-Richardson formula 21(KR-21).The reliabilities of SAS and CAT were found to be 0.7591 and 0.7823 respectively which were above the threshold value of 0.7 recommended for the research. The students took a pre-test then a post-test after the treatment followed by post group discussions. The collected data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Quantitative data were subjected to t-test, ANOVA and ANCOVA at coefficient alpha (α) equal to 0.05 level of significance with the help SPSS computer package. Results of the study showed that the constructivist teaching–learning approach is highly effective on enhancing students’ chemistry achievement but no significant difference was found in their attitudes towards chemistry. The results of this study may be beneficial to curriculum developers, teacher trainers and chemistry teachers in improving the teaching- learning process in Chemistry.

1.1 Background Information
In the recent years, scientific and technological knowledge have grown very rapidly. It is now estimated that this knowledge is doubling every ten years. The changes that science and technology have brought to the environment have been so great that many people view the world as a marvel of man’s mastery over the environment. This justifies why students should go through the chemistry curriculum to help them to develop the attitudes, skills and confidence to deal with the present world. A research by the Department of Education and Science (DES) in the United Kingdom showed a gloomy picture about the few number of children choosing science beyond the age of 14, many opting to go out of science (DES, 1979). One outcome of the study was the need to address the types of approaches to be used to teach science to broaden its appeal. The teaching approach that a teacher adopts is one factor that may affect students’ achievement (Mills, 1991). One of the disturbing trends in Africa is low academic achievement in science and mathematics. This concern was the agenda of a recent meeting of African ministers of Education in Johannesburg South Africa. The meeting warned that unless science education was improved, the continent’s economies would fail to meet the Millennium Development Goals (Kigotho, 2007). The delegates further noted that while low achievement in science in Africa is historical, students’ limited interest in studying science is rooted on how the subject is taught.

In the Kenyan case, when the secondary chemistry curriculum was formulated and developed at K.I.E, in 1963, the emphasized approaches became teacher and book centered. The teacher and textbook acted as the absolute authority on the knowledge of chemistry. Since then the chemistry syllabus has undergone several changes aimed at finding the best approach for teaching and learning the subject. The search for a better teaching method has been going on for years (Okere, 1986). Research in teaching behaviour indicates that there are teaching methods that influence students’ achievements more positively than others (Wenglinsky, 2000). Wenglinsky further argues that there is a correlation between high academic achievement of the students and the classroom practices of the teacher.

The Kenyan goal of achieving an industrialized status by the year 2020 and vision 2030 depends on how the youth are equipped with scientific skills. Chemistry therefore will play a very important role in the national development if it is properly taught. The main objectives of teaching chemistry in secondary schools in Kenya include; the development of interest and appreciation, development of favorable habits, acquisition of knowledge and information, development of scientific attitudes and training in the scientific method among others (K.I.E, 1992). The mode of testing chemistry in national examinations usually involves a set of three papers; two theory papers and one practical paper.

The MacKay Report (1984) which led to the introduction of 8.4.4. system of education emphasized on the chemistry content and methods which would be directly applicable to the pupils’ immediate environment. As a result more attention was paid to students’ project. The persistent low performance in the subject however may suggest that appropriate and effective approaches of teaching chemistry have not been realized. For instance the Ministry of Education Science and Technology cites problems in secondary school education as poor performance in core subjects as mathematics and sciences due to lack of text books, teachers’ shortage and poor teaching methodology (MOEST, 2005). The 8.4.4. Syllabus for instance is overloaded and exam oriented. The students end up finishing the fourth year without developing all the scientific skills. Traditional instructional practices that centre on teacher dominated pedagogy predominate in most schools. Changeiywo (2000) observes that learning activities in most secondary school classrooms centre around text books and past examination papers. These two serve as major determinant of what is taught in schools.

The dismal performance on the subject in National Examinations (Table 1) may be attributed to poor methods of teaching and learning. In a study on the effect of Integrated Programme Instruction (IPI) in teaching mathematics, Eshwani (1975 & 1974) pointed out that gender differences in achievement and retention can be attributed to teacher’s inability to use relevant instructional methods. Many in-service workshops have been organized for science and mathematics teachers in this country to find out a solution to this problem. A notable example of these workshops is the Strengthening of Mathematics and Sciences in Secondary School Education (SMASSE) organized by the Japanese government in collaboration with the Kenyan government. In a study to investigate how students learn mathematics, Oloyede (1996) concluded that the way the teacher handles the instructional process affects students’ values, interest and behaviour towards the learning of mathematics. Moreover, Huber (1990) proposed that quantitative and qualitative research studies should be carried out to investigate students’ preferences for teaching methods. It is of great concern to note that the student’s enrolment in Chemistry Nationally for eight consecutive years has been rising while the performance has never reached 7.0 on a 1-12 scale and improvement has not been consistent, Table 1....

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 85 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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