Chemistry is one of the science subjects which are taught in Kenyan secondary schools. One of the objectives for teaching chemistry is to enable learners to use knowledge and skills acquired to solve problems in everyday life. Achievement of this objective depends on the methods and techniques employed by teachers during instruction. The method used can either enhance or hamper the learner’s interest in the subject and hence affect the overall performance of school learning. The Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) reports that secondary school students’ performance in chemistry practical papers is poor and this affects their overall achievement in Chemistry. Poor achievement in chemistry may be a result of the methods teachers use. This study was designed to investigate the effectiveness of Science Process Skills Mastery Learning Approach (SPROSMALEA) on students’ achievement and acquisition of selected science processes skills. The study was carried out in Koibatek District, Kenya, where a persistent low achievement in the subject has been registered. The study focused on the topic “salts” in Form Two chemistry syllabus. The Solomon Four Group, Non-equivalent Control Group Design was employed in the study. Four co-educational schools were purposively selected from the 35 secondary schools in the District and randomly assigned to serve as experimental group (E1), experimental group (E2) control group (C1) and control group (C2). Data were collected from a sample of 160 Form Two students. Three instruments namely, Chemistry Achievement Test (CAT), Science Process Skills Performance Test (SPSPT) and Classroom Observation Schedule (COS) were used for data collection. The instruments were pilot tested in two secondary schools in Koibatek District which were not part of the study but had similar characteristics as the sampled schools. This was to ascertain their suitability, establish its validity and reliability. Two groups, the experimental (E1) and control group (C1) were pre-tested, experimental group (E2) and second control group (C2) were not. All groups were taught the same course content for a period of four weeks, with the experimental groups receiving their instruction by use of (SPROSMALEA) approach and control groups using the conventional teaching method. During the teaching COS was used to observe and record the activities of the teachers and learners. A post-test on CAT and SPSPT was administered to all groups after the completion of instruction on the chemistry topic on salts. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 12.0 for Windows. ANOVA and ANCOVA were used to analyse differences in the four means of post-test scores. A t-test was used to get the differences between two means. Hypotheses of the study were tested at α=0.05 level of significance. The results of the study indicate that students in the experimental groups outperformed the control groups in the achievement and the acquisition of selected chemistry practical skills. The findings further indicate that students’ and teachers’ activities during the instruction in the experimental groups had higher mean frequencies in COS than in the control groups. Science teachers, educators and policy makers are likely to benefit from the results and recommendations of the study in that it provides them with an alternative teaching approach which is capable of improving their achievement in the subject and acquisition of the desired practical skills.

Background Information
It is held that science is an organized body of knowledge about natural phenomena (Ogunniyi, 1986). But to others, it is an attempt to organize our sense data or experience into meaningful systems of descriptions and explanations. Lederman (1983), observed that science is a dynamic on-going activity rather than a static accumulation of information. The present state of knowledge is important because it is a base for further scientific theory and research. The acid test of new ideas is therefore not only its success in explaining and correlating the known facts but, much more its success or failure lies in its ability to stimulate further experiments and observations which in turn are fruitful.

Chemistry is a branch of science that deals with the study of matter and the changes it undergoes (Chang, 1998). The earliest record of man’s interest in chemistry was approximately 3,000 BC in the fertile crescent of Egypt (Durant, 1950). At that time chemistry was considered more of an art than a science. Tablets records the first known chemist as women who manufactured perfumes from various substances. By 1000BC, chemical arts included smelting of metals and the making of drugs, dyes, iron and bronze. Many groups contributed to these developments; among them were ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, Chinese and Indians. Chemistry knowledge has been used to solve problems affecting communities. For example, world population problems can be discussed in the light of chemistry contributing to improve agriculture techniques, production of drugs, soap and plastic (Wachanga, 2005).

The history of curriculum in Kenya has gone through three stages. The first stage was adoption of the British curriculum, the second stage was its adaptation. The third stage (which is the current 8-4-4 system) was the production of curriculum that was expected to meet the need and aspirations of the Kenya people (Eshiwani, 1988; Sifuna, 1987). The 8-4-4 programme faced persistent donor opposition. They felt that the system was inappropriate and too expensive for the country. The Kenyan government reacted to the above problems and criticism by carrying out reviews of the curriculum in 1990, 1995 and 1999 (Oluoch, 2002). Chemistry curriculum has undergone several changes since independence 1963. There has been changes in the contents taught at different levels owing to the various changes in the systems of education that has taken place. It aimed at having a child centred investigatory approach of teaching. The current chemistry curriculum was released in 2002 and implemented in 2003 (K.I.E, 2002). Despite the importance of chemistry, student achievement is still generally low. Table 1 shows the performance in KCSE chemistry examination in Koibatek District between 2004-2006....

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 113 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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