ABSTRACT This research work investigated the effects of laboratory exercises on science secondary school studentsâ€™ performance in chemistry, in Kaduna State, Nigeria. In most of the literature reviewed, the final outcome favoured laboratory exercises. Quasi experimental and descriptive survey research were employed in this study. In quasi experimental design the researcher selected six (6) schools out of 372 science schools across the state. Similarly, 31 schools were selected for survey research, questionnaire was used to collect data. The six sample schools are from the central educational zone selected through stratified sampling technique. Four research questions and two hypotheses were formulated in conformity with the stated objectives. The reliability of the twenty test items were obtained through pilot study, using Pearson Product Moment Correlation Co-efficient r=0.78. While Cronbach Alpha was used to test the reliability of the questionnaire r=0.55. The two null hypotheses were analyzed using Ttest with Î± = 0.05. The researcher recommended among others that, chemistry teachers should see laboratory exercises as a need that cannot be avoided. 12 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background to the Study Laboratory is a focal point for all scientific activities. It is usually equipped with tools that facilitate effective teaching and learning of science. Science is experimental in nature and the laboratory helps to enhance scientific knowledge through the process of science (observing, classifying, measuring and interaction with objects and events of scientific interest). Abdullahi, (1982), emphasizes that science is not science unless it is accompanied by laboratory exercises i.e putting theories into practice. Laboratory provides ideal setting for skill development, discovery learning, inquiry and problem solving activities. Laboratory work is a range of activities from true experimental investigation to confirmatory exercises and skill acquisition. Since science is experimental in nature, any course in science should reflect this by introducing laboratory work. This is because, it is in the laboratory that learners learn science through precise measurement, accurate observation and clarity in Communication (Muhammad, 2010). Laboratory work is an established part of chemistry at all levels of education. The original reasons for its development lay in the need to produce skilled technicians for the industry and highly competent workers for research laboratories (Morrell, 1972). There is need to prepare students practically in the laboratory as well as develop some follow-up activities. These may enrich and enhance the whole laboratory experience and enable it to contribute more effectively to the overall learning of students in chemistry. It would be 13 rare to find out any science course in any institution of education without a substantial component of laboratory activity. However, it is taken for granted that experimental work is a fundamental part of any science course and this is especially true for chemistry courses. Very frequently, it is asserted that chemistry is a practical subject and this is assumed, some what naively to offer adequate justification for the presence of laboratory work. Thus, the development of experimental skills among the students is often a suggested justification. One of the main reasons to question the place of laboratory in science teaching is that, laboratory programmes are very expansive in terms of facilities and material resources, but also, more importantly in terms of staff-time (Carnduff & Reid, 2003). Laboratory work is used to describe the practical activities which students undertake using chemicals and equipments in chemistry laboratory. The word â€śpracticalâ€ť can include other experimental activities conducted in the laboratory by students. Laboratory classes are where science students acquire and practice key manipulative and process skills while learning to move concepts from an abstract into a concrete setting (Oâ€™ Brien & Cameron, 2008). West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and National Examinations Council (NECO) on the other hand, being the highest examination bodies for Senior secondary school students in Nigeria recommended that the teaching of all science subjects listed in their syllabi should be practical based (WAEC, 2008). This perhaps is to demonstrate the importance they attached to practical work in science. Chemistry laboratory gives students an opportunity to handle equipment and chemicals, to learn about safety procedures, to master specific techniques, to measure 14 accurately and to observe carefully. However, making chemistry real and exposing ideas to empirical test is of great importance. Skills of observation, deduction and interpretation are also very important. In addition, there are many other important practical skills to be developed such as team-work, reporting, presenting and, developing ways to solve practical problems. Many school courses seek to develop some of these outcomes to help students learn science through the wise use of properly designed and utilize school laboratories for students to think scientifically. No matter how good a student is, without learning materials and effective methodology of teaching from his teacher may eventually lead him/her to low performance in chemistry. It is possible to adopt laboratory method of teaching chemistry in order to enhance students performance. This is because, laboratory teaching technique encourage students to take more active role in their learning, it also create enthusiasm and creativity in students (Carnduff & Reid, 2003). The researcher is fully aware of other variables that could influence students academic performance, like teacherâ€™s qualification and adequacy, effectiveness, availability of laboratory facilities, interest, leadership style e.t.c. towards the end of the twentieth century, more sophisticated alternatives had been introduced to facilitate effective learning in school laboratories. These include pre-laboratory experiences, films, video experiments, computer based pre-laboratories, post-laboratory exercises and computer simulations which can assist the students in Kaduna State to improve their performance in chemistry (Carnduff & Reid, 2003). 15 Inequalities in some instances down right deprivation have characterized the position of women both in education system and in the Nigerian society at large. â€śDeny, anybody education, you deny that human being freedomâ€ť. Women must be mobilized and motivated to seek education for themselves and their daughters. They must also be determined to get their daughters complete their study and to obtain reasonable and worth wide grades in their examinations (Shehu, 1995). 1.2 Statement of the Problem Students performance in chemistry at the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) WAEC in Kaduna state science schools, keep fluctuating. For example, students that obtained credit pass in chemistry from Government College Kaduna in 2010 was 62%, 79%, in 2011, 38% in 2012 and 57% in 2013. Schools with similar problems are; Jupavi, Government Day Secondary school Sabon-Tasha, Girls Science School Kwoi, just to mention but few. (Ministry of education, Kaduna State, 2014). There are so many factors that hinder the effective use of laboratory exercises in teaching chemistry in the state. Such as; teachers work load, lack of equipments and materials, lack of incentives, lack of laboratory assistant, it is time consuming, and lack of exposure of students to laboratory exercises which affect their performance directly. Practical covers 40% of the total score, and students can hardly conduct these practical because they lack the basis and confidence to conduct such practical, which affect their performance in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination. Science teachers do not always find it convenient to make laboratory work the center of their instruction, as the condition under which many teachers operate does not 16 engender enthusiasm to use the laboratory method of teaching chemistry, even where material and equipments are available. The workload and class size may be discouraging (Ministry of Education, Kaduna State, 2014). 1.3 Objectives of the Study The objectives of this study are to find out; 1. the level of exposure of secondary school students to chemistry laboratory exercises in Kaduna state. 2. the factors that hinder effective use of laboratory exercises in teaching chemistry in Kaduna state 3. the difference in the performance of students that are exposed to chemistry laboratory exercises and those that are not. 4. the difference in the performance of male and female secondary school students exposed to chemistry laboratory exercises. 1.4 Research Questions The following research questions are raised to guide this study. 1. What is the level of exposure to chemistry laboratory exercises among secondary school students in Kaduna State? 2. What are the factors that hinder the effective use of laboratory exercises in teaching chemistry to secondary school students in Kaduna State? 3. Is there any difference in the performance of secondary school students exposed to chemistry laboratory exercises and those that are not? 17 4. Is there any difference in the performance of male and female students exposed to chemistry laboratory exercises? 1.5 Null Hypotheses The following null hypotheses are formulated and tested at Î±=0.05 level of significance 1. There is no significant difference in the performance of secondary school students exposed to chemistry laboratory exercises and those that are not. 2. There is no significant difference in the performance of male and female secondary school students exposed to chemistry laboratory exercises. 1.6 Significance of the Study The findings in this study will be significant to all science educators and students, because it would help to remind them of the role accorded to practical work in science. It would also remind school administrators/teachers of the need to adhere to WAEC/NECO recommendations in their syllabi, by equipping students practically before their final exams. It would also show the effect of laboratory exercises on students performances in chemistry. A well designed science laboratory if prudently used would enable students to learn the product of science, posses skills of the scientists and develop scientific attitudes, hence this can enhance their performance. 1.7 Scope and Delimitation of the Study The study is delimited to Science Secondary Schools Students in Kaduna State that are offering chemistry. SS2 students are the targeted population, because they have 18 covered a lot of their course work in chemistry and they know if practical are conducted in their respective schools or not. The research is also delimited to the following topics: volumetric analysis, test for ammonium ion and separating funnel technique.