Effect of Covid 19 on Senior Secondary School Students’ Academic Achievement in Physics in Secondary Schools
This chapter presents the background to the study, statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, research questions, research hypotheses, significance of the study, delimitations, limitations of the study, and definition of terms.
1.1 Background to the study
Science in a broad sense existed before the modern era and in many historical civilizations. Science in its original sense was a word for a type of knowledge rather than a specialized word for the pursuit of such knowledge. In particular, it was the type of knowledge people can communicate with each other and share. It is the bedrock on which modern-day technology breakthrough is hinged and also a systematic study of the nature of the behavior of the material and physical universe through observation, experimentation, measurement, and recording. Fape (2007) defined science as rationally structured knowledge about nature that embraces systematic methods of positive attitudes for its acquisition, teaching, learning, and application. The objectives of science education in this country according to Maduekwe (2006) includes the need to prepare students to observe and explore the environment, explain simple natural phenomena, develop scientific attitudes including curiosity, critical reflection, and objectivity, and apply the skills and knowledge gained through science to solve everyday problems in the environment, develop self-confidence and self-reliance through problem-solving activities in science. Since the world is turning scientific and all proper functioning of lives depend greatly on science.
The major goal of teaching science is to develop scientifically literate individuals that are concerned with high competence for rational thoughts and actions. The overall objective of science as enumerated in the Federal Ministry of Education (2008) was to enable students to develop an interest in science and technology, apply their scientific and technological knowledge and skills to meet societal needs, and take advantage of the numerous career opportunity offered by the science and technology, become prepared for further studies in science and technology, to avoid drugs abuse and to be safety and security conscious. Physics is a core science subject that is taught at the senior secondary school level so as to prepare the students for the core science field in tertiary institutions.
Physics is among the three major pillars of science (i.e. Physics, Chemistry, and Biology). Physics is a branch of science that deals with the structure of matter and the interactions between the fundamental constituents of the observable universe (Aiyelabegan, 2013). In the broadest sense, Akanbi, (2013) asserted that physics is coined from the Greek physikos which is concerned with all aspects of nature on both the macroscopic and submicroscopic levels. Its scope of study encompasses not only the behaviour of objects under the action of given forces but also the nature and origin of gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear force fields. Its ultimate objective is the formulation of a few comprehensive principles that bring together and explain all such disparate phenomena. Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves (Aiyelabegan, 2013).
Effect of Covid 19 on Senior Secondary School Students’ Academic Achievement in Physics in Secondary Schools
Physics deals with the study of laws that determine the structure of the universe with reference to the matter and energy in the universe (Ike, 2012). In the words of Olarinoye (2010) “Physics is the most utilized basic science subject in most technology and technology-related profession”. This merely indicates that the enormous role Physics plays in the technological growth of any nation must not be undermined. It is germane to say that the technological growth of a nation leads to its social and economic development. The importance of Physics for the development of a nation is, therefore, glaring. Physics is the most basic of the sciences and its concepts and techniques underpin the understanding of other disciplines: A thorough understanding of mechanics is necessary to chemists and materials scientists since the structure of every atom in the universe is determined by mechanics.
Physics is also a cross-cutting discipline that has applications in many sectors of economic development, including health, agriculture, water energy, and information technology (Odeleye, Olusola, and Awodun, 2015). There is no doubt that a good part of the scientific knowledge is derived from the principles of Physics. Indeed, the knowledge of Physics has led to so many inventions such as the production, application, and utilization of integrated circuits, production, and use of machines, and other contrivances. It also accounts for the discovery and production of hydroelectric power, gas turbine and thermonuclear power plant, telephones, refrigerators, heaters, and cookers. The invention of modern technologies such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which has made the world a global village is also part of the benefits of Physics and many other benefits. The principles of radiation used in modern medicine for diagnosis and treatment, the production and use of so many appliances such as electronic gadgets and computers, and surgical and astronomical instruments are all traceable to the study of Physics (Ogunleye and Fasakin, 2011).
The Federal Ministry of Education (FME, 2008) regards Physics as a crucial subject for effective living in the modern age of science and technology. This means that it is necessary that every student is given an opportunity to acquire some physics concepts, theories, principles, and skills. These concepts, theories, principles, and skills are clearly explained in the objectives of physics education enshrined in the new Senior Secondary School Physics Curriculum. According to the National Policy on Education (Federal Government of Nigeria 2013), the Objectives of Physics to students in the secondary level of education are to provide a basic literacy in physics for functional living in the society; acquire basic concepts and principles of physics as a preparation for further studies; acquire essential scientific skills and attitudes as preparation for technological application of physics, and stimulate and enhance creativity. The study of Physics make students have first-hand experiences of the way a problem situation is tackled by a scientist; inquisitive about their physical environment; enables students to comprehend the major unifying science concepts and pattern such as the principle of conservation of energy and the interrelationship between each composition of living things.
It provides opportunities for students to get acquainted with science process skills such as measuring, observing, experimenting, inferring, predicting, classifying, communicating, and recording data. Sequel to the above importance of physics, the effective learning of the subject in schools is therefore desirable. Hence, it will not be an exaggeration to say that Physics occupies the highest practical aspect in science and it is the mother of all other branches of Physical science (Odeleye, Olusola, and Awodun, 2015). Therefore, it can be argued that if physics is to be made real and interesting, then, full attention must be paid to the teaching and learning of concepts in physics.
However, despite the importance of physics to the individual and the society, literature review constantly reveals persistent low students‟ performance at all levels. For instance, Eniayeju and Azuka (2014) lamented that statistics from West African Examinations Council (WAEC) indicated that from 2003-to 2012, less than 40% of Nigerian students obtained credit passes in physics in each of the 10 years in SSCE. Uyuota (2016) rightly cautioned that poor performance in physics at the secondary level has spill-over effects on tertiary level physics. Further, Olusunde and Olaleye (2017) described the poor performance as a loss in a country’s financial investment. Poor performance in physics is also evident among Akwa Ibom State senior secondary school students. The implication of here is that the highest percentage of Akwa Ibom State students that qualified for admission into science and technical courses in Nigerian universities is low. This is because of the lack of credit passes in physics. This is quite alarming.
Specifically, researchers reported poor academic performance in physics due to students and even teachers perceived difficulty in teaching and learning the area (Abbas, 2008; Hassan, 2010; Idehen, 2012; Choi, 2013). Hassan (2015) lamented that students find it difficult to accurately measure, construct, draw, and even re-arrange objects which are basic processes involved in the study of physics. As for teachers, Idehen (2017) has been linked to many student factors like the proper engagement of students in learning processes; environmental and emerging health issues such as the coronavirus pandemic which leads to the disruption of many school activities. It is therefore pertinent to investigate into coronavirus pandemic as they influence the academic achievement of students in the subject.
The importance of education to human development has been well documented, highlighting the catalytic roles of education in national and human capital developments (Fägerlind & Saha, 2016; Griffin, Care & McGaw, 2012). Education is a means of self-development through learning, knowledge, skills, and habits conveyed across generations. The importance of education for the economic, social, and moral development of nations cannot be underestimated. It is of significant concern that education at all levels has been threatened since the emergence of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The coronavirus disease is a highly infectious disease that has plagued the world population over the months from December 2019 to date. The disease spread through droplets (World Health Organization, 2020) and has affected more than 9.1 million persons, and resulted in about 473,000 deaths worldwide (Aljazeera News, 2020) as at the time of writing this paper. As a result, countries have relied on several containment measures, including a range of physical and social distancing measures to flatten the epidemiological curve and avert morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19 (Barasa et al., 2020; Viner et al., 2020).
Different countries have engaged in various measures to implement physical distancing, such as the complete closure of the economy, including educational institutions (Nicola et al., 2020; UNESCO, 2020). The pandemic is affecting all levels of the education system, from preschool to higher education, in a manner that is of irreparable educational and economic implications (Lindzon, 2020). For instance, a four-week school closure in New York City translated to an economic impact of about $10.6 and $47.1 billion (Lindzon, 2020). A 12-week nationwide school closure cost 1% of GDP (Araz et al., 2012), while protracted closures could cost 3% of UK GDP (Keogh-Brown et al., 2010). Though school closure is intended to control the spread of the virus within schools, prevent carriage to other vulnerable individuals, and sustain public health, these closures have had widespread socioeconomic impacts (Lindzon, 2020; Wren-Lewis, 2020; Cauchemez et al., 2009).
Effect of Covid 19 on Senior Secondary School Students’ Academic Achievement in Physics in Secondary Schools
Furthermore, the far-reaching effects of social/physical distancing and the associated lockdown measures, as well as school closures, have thwarted the education sector and are expected to leave an indelible mark on the education system (Impey, 2020; Yinka & Adebayo, 2020; Nicola et al., 2020). Over 188 out of 195 countries have been implementing nationwide school closures and restricted education facilities (Nicola et al., 2020; UNESCO, 2020). It is estimated that more than 1,576, 021, 858, which constitute about 91.3% of all the learners across the globe, have been affected by the closure of educational institutions (Fong et al., 2020; Nicola et al., 2020; Sadique Adams & Edmunds, 2008; Brown et al., 2011; UNESCO, 2020). Apart from the impact on learners, school closures have high economic, health, and social costs (Cauchemez et al., 2009; Brown et al., 2011; Wu et al., 2010).
Timely responses have been in place in most countries, such as Australia, Italy, Germany, and Hong Kong, with regard to online learning before the pandemic (Crawford et al., 2020). Yet, researchers have shown that the pandemic has posed significant challenges to education in such countries (Crawford et al., 2020). Hence, it is expected that the pandemic would have a more adverse effect on schools that had no online learning platforms before the pandemic (Zhong, 202; Kachra & Brown, 2019). Zar et al. (2020) pointed out that the indirect effects of the pandemic include disrupted schooling and lack of access to school, especially in low and medium-income countries.
In low and medium-income countries, the impact of COVID-19 is particularly threatening to education given that education systems have been working on substandard platforms (Dan-Nwafor et al., 2020; Yinka & Adebayo, 2020). It is also challenging in overcrowded resource-constrained schools in these regions to provide a safe learning environment for students (Zar et al., 2020). The pandemic has a peculiar dissipating impact on education in Africa and other countries through the decreased level of education, broadened existing divide in learning access and outcomes, and increased school dropouts (Blundell et al., 2020; Dorn et al., 2020). In Nigeria, the threat posed to education is compounded due to peculiar vulnerabilities, including poor health systems, poverty and inequality, hunger, internally displaced populations, high population densities, urban-rural divide, and out-of-school population (Obiako & Adeniran, 2020).
Prior to COVID-19, Nigeria accounts for one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children. About 10.5 million children aged 5-14 years in Nigeria were out of school, and only about 61 % of 6 to 11-year-old children receive primary school education on a regular basis (UNICEF Nigeria, n.d.). Hence, Nigeria is battling with underlying educational challenges that have kept the country behind in getting young people ready for the dynamic workplace (Dan-Nwafor et al., 2020; Obiako & Adeniran, 2020; Yinka & Adebayo, 2020), COVID-19 impacts further exacerbate this problem.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, all schools in Nigeria were closed from March 27, 2020, as one of the Federal Government measures to limit the spread of the disease. This translated to a contextualized state-wide school closure across the 36 states in the country. In response, different states’ Ministries of Education have been releasing modalities for radio and TV schooling and internet-based learning for students in public primary and secondary schools. Though these efforts could be effective, with experience from developed countries, they can amount to a far-reaching negative impact on the education system in developing low-income countries like Nigeria (Obiako & Adeniran, 2020).
For instance, as the COVID-19 pandemic is revolutionizing digital and online education globally, primary and secondary school learners in rural and under-served communities remain behind due to lack of skills and resources to adapt or transition to the new learning avenues. In addition, university students who may have the skills to undertake internet-based learning face poor internet infrastructure and a lack of reliable electricity supplies (Crawford et al., 2020; Zhong, 2020). Thus, learning remotely (including ratio, TV schooling, and online learning apps for primary and secondary learners, virtual libraries, and online classes in the universities) is practically not feasible in most Nigerian communities. Poorly resourced institutions and socially disadvantaged learners where limited access to technology and the internet, as well as students’ inability to engage in an online environment, undermine Government response (Zhong, 2020).
Obiako and Adeniran, 2020 (2020) found that the pandemic has impacted education in three major ways, including missed learning for the majority of the pre-pandemic students, and loss of access to vital school-provided services, and leaving more kids behind. Thus, these impacts are likely to widen the gaps in education quality and socioeconomic equality following the school closures in the country. This is because a lesser percentage of learners who are in the urban areas, who are likely to hail from higher-income families, stand more chance to access education during school closure through technology (Obiako & Adeniran, 2020), leaving behind the majority of learners from poor homes and underserved rural and suburban areas of the country (Zhong, 2020). Apart from this, learners in schools that lack the resources or capacity to transition to online delivery are currently missing learning (Leung & Sharma, 2020).
Learning within the home could also be a challenge or present challenges for learning. Such depends on parents’ educational attainment and other commitments, leaving a greater percentage of the learners’ population behind. These problems constitute considerable concerns from all stakeholders in education (Crawford et al., 2020). Hence, even though most states in the country are currently responding through radio and television, a good fraction of the learners are still experiencing some challenges in their education. Further, to the best of researchers’ knowledge, no study has investigated the impact of COVID-19 on education with particular reference to primary and secondary schools based on perspectives of education stakeholders (educators, parents, and learners) in Nigeria. Therefore, this study relied on stakeholders’ views to deconstruct the educational challenges posed by COVID-19 and how those challenges have impacted education and learning in primary and secondary schools. This then formed the background to investigate the effect of coronavirus on the academic performance of students in physics in secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
1.2 Statement of the problem
The COVID-19 pandemic led to numerous governments deciding to close schools for several weeks in spring 2020. Empirical evidence on the impact of COVID-19-related school closures on academic achievement is only just emerging in the literature. Personal observations indicate a considerably negative effect of school closures on student achievement specifically in younger students and students from families with low socioeconomic status. At the same time, certain measures can be identified that might mitigate these negative effects. This then motivated the researcher to investigate the effect of coronavirus on senior secondary school student’s academic achievement in Physics in secondary schools in the Uyo Local Government Area.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study was to determine the effect of covid 19 on senior secondary school students’ academic achievement in Physics in secondary schools in Uyo Local Government Area. Specifically, the study sought to:
- examine the influence of school closure due to Covid 19 on academic achievement of senior secondary school students in physics in schools in Uyo Local Government Area;
- examine the influence of e-learning utilization due to Covid 19 on academic achievement of senior secondary school students in physics in boarding and day schools in Uyo Local Government Area;
1.4 Research Questions
Based on the above purposes, the following research questions will be raised to guide this study:
- To what extent does school closure due to Covid 19 influence the academic achievement of senior secondary school students in physics?
- To what extent does e-learning utilization due to Covid 19 influence the academic achievement of senior secondary school students in physics?
In line with the research questions, the following hypotheses were formulated:
- There is no significant influence of school closure due to Covid 19 on the academic achievement of senior secondary school students in physics.
- There is no significant influence of e-learning utilization due to Covid 19 on the academic achievement of senior secondary school students in physics.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study would be of immense benefit to the school administrator, government, parents, policymakers,
- It is hoped that the findings of the study may help school administrators reflect upon various factors that influence the teaching-learning process. By so doing, they could investigate the possibility of introducing those factors to their schools which may consequently lead to reducing absenteeism, dropouts, and repetition, and consequently effective teaching-learning process.
- These findings may also help the government through the Ministry of Education to provide more funds for schools for instructional materials and repair and maintenance of the available physical facilities, and also provide in-service training for teachers in private schools thus improving the teaching-learning process.
- Parents may also use findings from this study to help improve the school facilities by organizing fundraising for instance to construct a classroom, Language laboratory, and library among other facilities irrespective of the pandemic.
- Policymakers would use the findings to help them make decisions in developing strategies for the improvement of academic standards in secondary schools.
- Future researchers will use the study in identifying priority areas and gaps on which to carry out more research about the effect of coronavirus on academic performance in other subjects in secondary schools.