Background of the Study

Education is an instrument “par excellence” for effective national development (Ocho, 2005).  It is highly rated as the most important instrument of change since any definite change in the intellectual and social outlook of the people must be preceded by an educational revolution (Ezeugo, 1999).  The development of any nation depends largely on the level of education attained by her citizens especially in the area of science and technology.  The world has been turned into global villages as a result of inventions and innovations of science and technology.  Practical changes and development of a nation are pivoted on these inventions and innovations.  This has led most developing countries to lay more emphasis on science learning, with each country striving towards providing more and better-trained scientists and technologists (Ivowi, 2002).  Nigeria as a developing country is not left out of this striving.

In the recent past, Nigeria had embarked on a scientific, industrial and technological take off.  Education development in Nigeria is guided by the National Policy on Education enacted in 1977 and revised in 1981, 1998 and 2004.  The policy made provision for both formal and informal education delivery as well as pre-primary education.  The importance of science subjects, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Agriculture, etc. through which scientific principles, facts, values and norms could be inculcated to the students cannot be over emphasized.  Science help pupils to explain events in nature, think and reason in a logical manner. In order words, science teachers can help students acquire these skills by making teaching and learning activity based and learner-centred.

Science teachers have used a number of teaching strategies in the past.  Such methods are; discovery, expository, question, discussion, guided inquiry etc.  Studies have shown that these methods have not yielded expected results (Inomesia and Unuero, 2003).  In fact, the national philosophy of education in Nigeria is geared among other things towards social, cultural, economic, political, scientific and technological progress.  This philosophy or objectives can only be attained if Nigerian citizens are properly equipped with the necessary innovative teaching strategies which will help the students learn how to learn and acquire meaningful learning, develop, assimilate and understand the concepts taught and acquire process skills in science especially in Chemistry which is seen as the central science ( Senese, 2010).  This is because chemistry serves as interface to practically all of the other sciences as well as to many other areas of human endeavour.

Chemistry is the science that systematically studies the composition, properties and activities of Organic and Inorganic substances and various elementary forms of matter (Senese, 2010).  Chemistry is an essential science subject in the Senior Secondary Schools (SSS) curriculum. The life processes of all organisms involve chemical changes.  A lot of activities centre on the study of Chemistry in the sense that Chemistry play a key role in the development of drugs, which are helping to cure and alleviate diseases and prolong life span.  Chemists are involved in biochemistry and genetic engineering.  Chemists are also at the forefront of developing fields.  They are actively involved in environmental issues and are helping to tap new sources of energy to replace the earth’s furtive reserves (petroleum).  Our high standard of living depends on the contributions of Chemists to agriculture, manufacturing, new technologies, and the development of efficient means of transportation and communication.  Thus, with its broad scope, Chemistry especially in organic chemistry, offers an exciting array of intellectual adventures and opportunities.

Organic Chemistry which is the main focus of this study is the Chemistry of carbon compounds and has been found very useful in different fields of science and technology.  It is utilized in petrochemical industries, wine and alcohol processing production.  Unfortunately, some research findings have revealed that Chemistry students have been finding Organic Chemistry difficult (Ngoka, 1990, Menis and Fraser, 1992).  Bello,(1990) had reported the downward trend in the achievement of Nigerian students in Chemistry.  Oloruntegbe and Omoifo (2000) also noted that not only are the results of Chemistry getting worse but also the recipients are getting progressively unscientific in their thought pattern and approach to solving scientific problems.  Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN),(2003) outlined a number of factors responsible for poor achievement in Chemistry in Senior Secondary School which include; the nature of Chemistry curriculum, teacher’s methods, the parents, government and lack of science facilities in schools amongst others.  The implication of the above persistent low achievement in Chemistry and other science subjects is that the much needed technological development of this nation will remain a wishful thinking until the inherent problems are identified and remedied. (Oyeyinka 2001). Despite the number of factors outlined as being responsible for the low achievement in chemistry, accusing finger have been pointing at teachers’ inappropriate teaching style as the major problem.

Research reports  (Nwosu 1991, Nwagbo 1999 and Okoli, 2006) indicate that many science teachers prefer the traditional expository or lecture method of teaching. This is a teaching technique in which one person, the teacher, presents a spoken discourse on a particular subject and shy away from activity-oriented which are students centred (such as some innovative strategies of teaching and learning of science, like concept mapping, cooperative learning, case study, problem based learning and  Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI). Hence, in a given enterprise, new idea and approaches are introduced to ensure the continued achievement of set objectives in the desired direction with reference to that enterprise (Umeoduagu, 1998).  Ahiakwo (2001) opined that the role of the Chemistry teacher as a facilitator of learning while allowing for the active participation of the students also ensures that they are focused in what they are learning for proper acquisition.  This will help their improvement in the knowledge of theory and of practical and will also stimulate their interest to achieve meaningful learning.


Interest is a subjective feeling of intentness or curiosity over something (Habor Peters, 2001). It is the preference for particular type of activities, thus, the tendencies to look out for and participate in certain activities. According to Bandele (1998), students’ interest in Chemistry is jeopardized by the teachers’ authoritarian and introverted styles.These styles reduce all Chemistry to a series of formular and equations written on the chalkboard which make little or no meaning to the students.So,Bandele advocated the use of self-learning devices as a way of getting students interested in Chemistry. There is need therefore to teach Chemistry in an inspiring manner in order to achieve meaningful learning. Interest is an important variable in learning because when one becomes interested in an activity; one is likely to be deeply involved and inspired to learn.   Since Chemistry plays a vital role in technological advancement and is also one of the core and basic science subjects taught in schools, both sexes should have equal opportunity to learn and to achieve in Chemistry subjects.  Both achievement and interest in Chemistry may therefore be influenced by gender.

Gender is defined as a socially ascribed attributes which differentiates feminine from masculine (Okeke, 2007).  Gender disparity in education is a worldwide phenomenon.  The issue of closing gender gap in technical subjects, sciences, mathematics and vocational subjects has remained elusive.  Okeke also opined that many people speculate that the sex of a student, whether female or male, feminine or masculine is of help in determining the academic achievement of students in a particular subject.  However, some parents perceive that some subjects are meant for one particular sex.  Even at times, parents will encourage their children due to their notion that some subjects are difficult while some advice their wards to study subjects that they know that their ward cannot do well simply because they want them  to be addressed as Doctor, Engineer, Barrister etc.  Currently, technical subjects and physical sciences are dominated by boys from forth (4th) year of secondary schools upwards (Ahiakwo, 2001). Ahiakwo also stated that female students rarely enrol into technical and science related courses as a result of teachers teaching methods which change girls’ interests and their achievements.

However, Okeke (2007) asserted that the consequences of gender stereotyping cut across social, economic, political and educational development especially in the area of science and technology.  Nwosu (1991) on a study on gender and achievement have indicated that boys perform slightly better than girls in science related tasks.  Nwosu opined that even though boys may perform slightly better than girls, cognitive ability, type of exposure among other factors may relate more strongly on achievement level in science than gender. However, both interest and achievement in both sexes may be enhanced by use of appropriate teaching strategy.  Nzewi (2008) noted that different learning strategies have been proposed to improve meaningful learning.  Such strategies include: the use of analogy, inquiry, cooperative learning, problem solving constructivism.  Other learning strategy includes the concept of advance organizer and concept mapping.

A concept map is a diagram showing relationships between concepts.  Concepts are connected with labelled arrows, in a downward-branching hierarchical structure.  A concept map presents the relationships among a set of connected concepts and ideas.  The relationship between concepts is articulated in linking phrases, eg. “give rise to”, “results in”, “is required by,” or “contributes to”,  Novak and Gowin (1996).  Some studies (Pankratius,  Udeani,  Markor and Loaning) as cited in Ahiakwo, (2001) have reported that concept mapping strategy which has become a viable educational tool/medium can help teachers become more effective, fosters curriculum development and promotes students hands-on activity.  One of such techniques that promote better comprehension for meaningful learning in science is concept mapping.  In effect, the researcher wants to see if there is a way to reduce the abstract nature of Chemistry content. The only option is to find methods and strategies that will attract the students’ interest in Chemistry.  Thus, the researcher wants to find out the effect of concept mapping teaching strategy on students’ achievement and interest in some Organic Chemistry concepts.

Statement of the Problem

One of the objectives of education in Nigeria is to enhance science and technology which will enable the nation tackle her economic, social and other problems.  Chemistry being one of the basic and core science subjects is designed to equip the students with the knowledge of relevant concepts and scientific skills.  In view of the usefulness of Chemistry in nearly all fields of human endeavour (like Agriculture and industries), the poor achievement of students in Chemistry at both secondary and post-secondary levels have been sources of concern to various people and government at various times.  One of the reasons advanced for low interest and achievement is poor teaching method used by teachers.

Nigerian Chemistry teachers use discussion and lecture methods most frequently in their Chemistry classrooms.  They present facts and principles contained in textbooks and students are rarely involved in any practical exercises.  This kills interests of students in the study of Chemistry.  Considering the importance of Chemistry in all round development, there is need to make sure that Chemistry is properly taught most especially the difficult concepts using innovative strategies.

Research evidence abound that highlighted a number of factors responsible for low interest and poor achievement in Chemistry.  Among the several factors enumerated to account for this poor achievement in Chemistry, poor teaching method seem to be a major contributory factor.  The neglect of activity-oriented method of teaching has led to abstractness which makes the students less active (passive learners) and more prone to rote memorization.  Based on this, many researchers advocate the use of self-learning strategies such as concept mapping, as a way of enhancing student’s achievement and promoting their interest in Chemistry.  Posed in question form, the problem of this study is: How effective is concept mapping a means of enhancing students’ achievement and interest in Chemistry in secondary schools.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of concept mapping on students’ achievement and interest in some Organic Chemistry concepts. Specifically, the study intends to determine the:

  1. Effect of concept mapping on the achievement of students in Organic Chemistry concepts.
  2. Effect of concept of mapping on the interest of students in Organic Chemistry concepts.
  3. Differential effect of concept mapping on the achievement of male and female students in Organic Chemistry concepts.
  4. Differential effect of concept mapping on the interest of male and female students in Organic Chemistry concept.

Significance of the Study

Teaching invariably aims at achieving national objectives on education.  These typically manifest as instructional products.  Consequently, correct teaching methods in Chemistry require attention for sound scientific base needed for technological advancement.  This study focuses on the effect of concept mapping on students’ achievement and interest.  It is hoped that the findings of this study will be significant to the following:  Students, Curriculum planners, Chemistry teachers and Government.

For the students, the result of the study might reveal the activity-oriented nature of concept mapping which help in the organization of incoming information, build mental bridges between what was already known and what would be learnt.  Concept mapping will also help the students in enhancing Meta cognition (learning to learn, and increase students-teacher relationship.

For Chemistry teachers, concept mapping helps teachers discover students’ misconceptions as well as provide teachers with a novel and more effective strategy for teaching Chemistry.

For curriculum planners, the study might make them to appreciate the fact that meaningful school reform must address the central unit of the entire education enterprise, that is the classroom and must seek to alter the ways teaching and learning have traditionally been taught to interact in that unit.  Hence the result of the study may provide a basis for decision on the effective instructional approach to be recommended and adopted by the curriculum developers.

The findings could also motivate the government to sponsor some researchers on investigating the effectiveness of other teaching techniques thereby adding to the frontier of knowledge.

Scope of the Study

The study will be conducted using male and female students in Senior Secondary School II students in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State.  The study will be restricted to Organic Chemistry concept using concept mapping strategy.  The concept maps will focus on the two Organic Chemistry units namely: Alkanoic acids and Alkanoates.  These units were considered because they are among the difficult concepts in Organic Chemistry and are also in SS II Chemistry curriculum. See appendix F,page 114.

Research Questions

The following research question will guide the study:

  1. What is the mean achievement scores of students taught Organic Chemistry concept using concept mapping and those taught using the lecture method?
  2. What is the mean interest scores of students taught Organic Chemistry concept using concept mapping and those taught using the lecture method?
  3. What is the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught Organic Chemistry concept using concept mapping?
  4. What is the mean interest scores of male and female students taught Organic Chemistry concepts using concept mapping?


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