Does Inquiry-Based Learning Approach In Chemistry Practical Lessons Affect Students’ Nzomo Attitudes And Self-Efficacy In Chemistry? A Case Of Meru South Sub-County,Kenya
Nzomo, Christine Mueni
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Chemistry is a crucial subject for a country like Kenya that seeks to be industrialized by the year 2030. Even though the subject is important, performance in the subject has been declining consistently in Kenya. A decline in performance in Chemistry has also been reported in Meru South Sub-County. The decline in performance has been attributed to teacher-centered learning methodologies, negative attitudes of students towards the subject and low self-efficacy. Teachers have been encouraged to use Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) approach in teaching of Chemistry and particularly in practical lessons because it has been associated with improved attitudes and self-efficacy. However, little is known on the uptake of inquiry-based learning approach by teachers in Chemistry practical lessons and how it is related to students’ attitudes and self-efficacy in Chemistry in Meru South Sub-County secondary schools. The purpose of this research was to examine the utilization of inquiry-based learning approach in Chemistry practical lessons, and determine the relationship between the utilization of inquiry-based learning approach and selected performance predictors i.e. students’ attitudes and self-efficacy in Chemistry. The study was guided by the Vygotsky’s social constructivism theory which emphasizes on the role of social interactions and active construction of knowledge. A mixed method research design was employed in this study. The target population was all secondary schools in Meru South Sub-County. Stratified and purposive sampling was used to select both public and private secondary schools. Purposive sampling was used to select 42 form three Chemistry teachers while 357 students were chosen for the research using basic random selection. Data collection was done using practical lesson observation schedule, teacher’s questionnaire, student’s questionnaire, and document analysis framework. Results revealed that teachers used inquiry-based learning approach in Chemistry practical lessons once a week (mean = 3.89). Results from correlation and regression analysis revealed that there is a significant positive relationship between inquiry-based learning and students’ attitudes towards Chemistry (r = .9972, p = .000, t = 58.285, p = 0.00). Besides, it was established that inquiry-based learning is positively associated with students’ efficacy beliefs in Chemistry (β= 0.903, p < 0.05). From the study findings, it was concluded that inquiry-based learning approach is an effective teaching technique for enhancing positive attitudes towards Chemistry among students as well as improving their confidence in Chemistry. The study findings are significant in the education sector in improving teacher training programs and calls for shift from teacher-centered teaching methodologies to learner centered teaching methodologies among practicing teachers.