Researchers have found science laboratories to be central to the
teaching of science in secondary schools (Adeyemi, 1998; Ige, 2000). Laboratories
have been found to be the scientists` workshops where practical activities
are conducted to enhance a meaningful learning of science concepts and
theories (Seweje, 2000; Olubor and Unyimadu, 2001). They have also been
found to be a primary vehicle for promoting formal reasoning skills and
students` understanding, thereby enhancing desired learning outcomes in
students (Jeske, 1990; Ogunleye, 2002).
Jones (1990) examined teacher provision in the sciences in many countries
and found that 45% of the schools surveyed indicated insufficient laboratories.
His findings agreed with Barrow`s (1991) findings in Saudi Arabia which
indicated inadequacy in the provision of laboratory facilities in schools.
The findings were also consistent with those of Black et al. (1998)
who found in Uganda that science education is faced with the problem of
lack of resources with half the schools having no real laboratory.
In respect of output, researchers have argued that output represents
the immediate results of the system`s activities (Nwadiani, 2000; Ajayi,
2000). Their views supported Aghenta (2000) remarks that education yields
outputs which are the students that emanate at the end of the school programme.
Their views also agreed with the arguments made by Babalola (2002) that
output could be measured by the number of students completing a course,
of standard length. The views also agreed with Ogunsanwo`s (2000) contention
that school output could be measured by assessing the rate of progress
of students through an educational system as well as the performance of
students in examinations at the terminal end of the school year.
In this regard, Nwadiani (2000) measured output from secondary schools
in terms of the number of school leavers weighted by the number of passes.
According to him the quality of output is equated with students` examination
performance. His views were supported by Adeyemi`s (2001) who remarked
that the best measure of output from secondary schools in Nigerian is
the number of school leavers.
Notwithstanding, researchers have found shortages in the number of laboratories
in Nigerian schools (Alebiosu, 2000; Onipede, 2003). They argued that
many schools do not have required laboratory facilities. Hence, students
often fail to acquire science laboratory skills because their teachers
were unable to conduct practical as they would like to and this always
had inevitable consequences for students` learning (Keister, 1992). These
shortages of laboratory facilities could have serious implications on
the quality of schools` output. All these show the importance attached
to science laboratories in schools. It is this importance that prompted
the researcher to examine the number of science laboratories in secondary
schools in Ondo State, Nigeria and their influence on the quality of output
in terms of students` performance in the Senior Secondary Certificate
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Common observations show that secondary schools in Ondo State, Nigeria
have varied numbers of science laboratories. While some schools have three
science laboratories, some have two laboratories while others have only
one multipurpose science laboratory. The implication of this is that many
students seem not to be exposed to practical work in the three science
subjects, Physics, Chemistry and Biology which are core subjects in secondary
school curriculum. The problem of this study therefore, was what influence
the science laboratories have on the quality of output from secondary
schools in Ondo State, Nigeria? In addressing this problem, the following
research questions were raised:
||What is the position of science laboratories in secondary
schools in Ondo State, Nigeria?
||What is the performance level of students in Physics, Chemistry
and Biology in the SSC examinations in secondary schools in Ondo State,
||What influence does the number of science laboratories have on the
quality of output from secondary schools in Ondo State, Nigeria?
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This study was a descriptive survey. Oppenheim (1992) described
a descriptive survey as a study that involves a planned collection of
data over a large area for the purpose of making description. Gay (1996)
regarded it as the collection of data from members of a population in
order to determine the status of the population with regard to one or
more variables. On this note, the study population comprised all the 257
secondary schools that presented candidates for the year 2003 senior secondary
Certificate examinations in Ondo State of Nigeria. Out of this, a sample
of 168 schools (65% of the population) was taken. The stratified random
sampling technique was applied in the selection of the sample while variables
such as school-location and school-sex were considered in the selection
of the sample.
The instrument used to collect data for this study was an inventory.
The inventory requested among other things data on enrolment figures,
number of science laboratories in each school and grades obtained by students
in physics, chemistry and biology in the year 2003 SSC examinations in
the State. The content validity of the inventory was made by experts in
tests and measurement who examined each item of the inventory to determine
whether the instrument actually measured what it was supposed to measure.
The three science subjects examined in this study were chosen since the
Nigerian science curricula are subject-based with physics, chemistry and
biology being the core science subjects (Federal Republic of Nigeria,
2004; Bello, 2000). The data collected was analysed through the use of
the One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) while the Least Significant Difference
(LSD) test was used to determine the group difference in the quality of
output among the three groups of schools.
Semi-structured interview was also conducted with 20 principals of schools
and 20 education officers sampled randomly form the 257 principals and
451 education officers in the State. Their responses to the questions
raised at the interviews were analysed through the content analysis technique
while the proportion of the number of responses to each question was computed
based on a maximum obtainable score of 100% (Easterby-Smith et al.,
Research Question 1: What is the position of science laboratories
in secondary schools in Ondo State, Nigeria?
Answering this question, schools in the sample were classified into three
groups on the basis of the number of science laboratories available in
each school. Thus, schools having one science laboratory were classified
into group 1. Schools having two science laboratories were classified
into group 2 while schools having three science laboratories were classified
into group 3.
||Cross-tabulation of science laboratories with school
As shown in Table 1, schools having three science laboratories
were in larger number in urban areas than in rural areas whereas schools
having less than three science laboratories were more in the rural areas
than in urban areas. Schools having less than three science laboratories
were 61 in rural areas while they were only 26 in urban areas.
Research Question 2:
What is the performance level of students in Physics, Chemistry and
Biology in the SSC examinations in secondary schools in Ondo State, Nigeria?
In answering this question, performance was computed through the frequency
counts of the number of students who obtained credit grades 1 to 6 in
each subject in the examinations were transformed from discrete data into
continuous data through secondary analysis. The weighted average performance
is computed using the formula:
where, p = performance; n1, n2 ......., n6
= number of times each grade occurs;
while A1, B2, ......, F9 = numeric weights
of each grade. In this regard A1 was weighted as 9, B2 as 8,
B3 as 7, C4 as 6, C5 as 5, C6
as 4, D7 as 3, E8 as 2, F9 as 1 while
N1-N9 represent the number of candidate who obtained
such grades (WAEC, 2003).
||Schools having credit performance in year 2003 SSC examinations
As indicated in Table 2, the bulk of the schools scored
below 0.20 credits in each of the three science subjects. The highest
score obtainable per school was 3 credits per student and schools that
scored one credit per student were few. Thus, the performance level of
the schools was low and almost the same in all the subjects.
Research Question 3: What influence does the number of science
laboratories have on the quality of secondary schools output in Ondo State,
In examining, this question, the following hypothesis was raised:
Ho: There was no significant difference in the quality of output between
schools having laboratories in three science subjects, Physics, Chemistry
and Biology and between schools having less than three laboratories in
the three science subjects in Ondo State, Nigeria.
In testing this null hypothesis, the quality of output was measured by
examination performance (Nwadiani, 2000; Aghenta, 2000).
||ANOVA findings on students` performance in SSC examinations
|*N for group 1 = 37; N for group 2 = 50; N for group
3 = 81. *df = 2, 166
In Table 3, the probability was less than 0.05 in each
of the subjects. This shows a significant difference in the quality of
output on the basis of the three groups with difference number of science
laboratories, although the F-test has not shown where the difference was
located among the groups. In order to identify the between-group difference,
the Least Significant Difference (LSD) test which is a post hoc test was
conducted. The findings are indicated in Table 4.
||LSD findings indicating mean values in physics, chemistry
|*: Indicates significant differences which are shown
in the lower triangle, Grp: Group
In Table 4, the mean value for each group increased
monotonically for each subject as the mean values increased with increases
in the group. The mean for group 1 was lowest for each of the subjects
while the mean for group 3 was highest. The show a significant differences
in the quality of output between group 1 and group 3 and between group
2 and group 3 in Physics and Chemistry and between group 1 and group 3
in Biology. The difference between the groups was statistically significant.
Thus, students of schools in group 3 with three Science laboratories
had better performance than students of schools in group 2 with two laboratories
and students of schools in group 1 with one Science laboratory in Physics
and Chemistry. In Biology, students of schools in group 3 had better performance
than students of schools in group 1. There was however, no significant
difference between the performance of students in schools in group 2 with
two Science laboratories and the performance in schools in group 3 with
three Science laboratories in Biology. The findings also show that quality
of output in schools in group 2 with two Science laboratories was not
significantly better than the quality of output in schools in group 1
with one science laboratory in any of the subjects.
The content analysis of the responses to each question raised at the
interview with principals and education officers are along the following
Question 1: What is the position of science laboratories in the
three science subjects, Physics, Chemistry and Biology in secondary schools
in Ondo State Nigeria?
In response to this question, the principals and the education officers
agreed that many schools in the State had less than three science laboratories.
Seventeen of the principals (85%) and sixteen of the education officers
(80%) gave this response.
Question 2:What do you think about the adequacy of science equipment
in schools` science laboratories?
Responding to this question, the interviewees reported that science equipment
were in short supply in schools. All the principals claimed that many
schools had obsolete equipment while seventeen of the education officers
(85%) argued that the few science equipment available in schools were
Question 3:What is your view about the quality of output in the
State secondary schools in science subjects?
Responding to this question, Eighteen of the principals (90%) and seventeen
of the education officers (85%) reported that the quality of output was
low in the three science subjects. These was perhaps the result of inadequate
laboratory facilities in many of the schools. As such many of the students
might not have been exposed to practical work in the laboratories.
Question 4: What suggestions can bring about an improvement?
In response to this question, the principals and education officers seemed
to agree in some areas. For instance, they all claimed that since science
laboratories are of considerable importance for effective teaching and
learning of science in schools, the state government should provide science
laboratories and equipment in the three science subjects in all schools.
They however, disagreed in some areas. Eighteen of the principals (90%)
suggested that government should increase the running grants to schools
to fund science laboratories while nineteen of the education officers
(95%) argued that schools could raise funds through endowment and donations
to fund science laboratories. Although other factors might affect the
quality of output in the schools, the respondents have singled out the
inadequacy of laboratory facilities as a major factor affecting the performance
of students in science subjects and would want the State government to
pay attention to this area.
The foregoing had examined the influence of Science laboratories
on the quality of secondary school output in Ondo State, Nigeria. The
findings have revealed significant differences in the quality of output
among the three groups of schools with different numbers of science laboratories.
Schools tend to get better results with more science laboratories thereby
agreeing to the findings of previous researchers (Tairab, 1992; Cash,
1993) who reported that school resources such as Science laboratories
are strongly related to students` performance while science achievement
scores are better in buildings with good science laboratories. The findings
were in consonance with Hamide and Geban`s (1996), Greenwald et al.
(1996) findings that school facilities such as Science laboratories are
related to quality of output from schools. The findings also agreed with
Linn (1997) findings that laboratory facilities could improve learning
outcomes. The findings were consistent with Alebiosu (2000) and Adeyegbe
(2002) findings which attributed the low performance level of students
in science subjects in SSC examinations in Nigeria to, among other things,
the inadequacy of science laboratories in schools.
The findings suggest that the choice of schools might perhaps be the
same for all students at the time of entering secondary schools while
the number of science laboratories in any school which a candidate selected
was a predictor of value added. As such, a schools` possession of three
science laboratories is a critical factor in performance or a proxy for
some other critical factors. This implies that schools with extra laboratories
tend to attract bright students.
The interviewees` responses tend to buttress the findings of this study.
Although there were some agreements and disagreements in the responses
made by the principals and education officers, their responses were supportive
evidences to the findings of this study. Their responses agreed with the
findings made by Animola (1990) and Onipede (2003) that there were shortages
of science laboratory facilities in schools. The interviewees however
disagreed in some areas. While the principals suggested an increase in
school grants to schools, the education officers argued that schools could
source funds from local sources such as through endowment funds and donations
from parents/ teachers associations thereby agreeing with Hoover-Dempsey
and Sandler (1997) who reported that parents must have a strong sense
of efficacy for helping children to succeed in school.
Based on the findings of this study, it is concluded that science
laboratory is a critical variable in determining the quality of output
from secondary schools. The findings show that science laboratory had
significant relationship with quality of output from secondary schools.
Schools having laboratories in the three science subjects performed best
in the examinations out of the three groups of schools with different
numbers of science laboratories. The findings of the study has led the
researcher to conclude that there was inadequate provision of science
laboratories and equipment in many secondary schools in Ondo State, Nigeria.
Based on the findings, it was recommended that the state government
should as a matter of urgency provide laboratories in the three science
subjects, Physics, Chemistry and Biology in all schools having shortages
of science laboratories in the state in line with the provisions of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) in improving standards in schools.
The Federal Government could also assist through the Education Trust Fund
in funding science laboratories in. schools.