The problem of poor achievement in science has been problematic despite government efforts to ensure good performance. Methods of assessment and readiness are some of the factors militating against it. There is also the problem of using teacher-made achievement tests which has no psychometric properties, are unstandardized and cannot give effective information needed to understand the learners better. This study was therefore designed to develop and standardize an instruments titled basic science prognostic tests for universal basic education for Nigeria schools. Six research questions and four null hypothesis guided the study. The study adopted an instrumentation design. It was carried out in Abia State, one of the states in the south east geopolitical zone. The population composed of fall the primary 4 pupils (basic 4) and J.S.S.1 (basic 7) entrants. Proportionate stratified random sampling technique was employed to select 3992 primary school pupils (basic 4) and 4092 students of basic 7. Four instruments were developed. The instrument are two basic science prognostic tests (BASPT1 and BASPT2) for basic 4 and basic 7 respectively and two basic science achievement tests (BASAT1 and BASAT2) for basic 4 and basic 7 respectively. The BASPTS were cross validated. BASPT1 has average validity coefficient of .62 while BASPT2 has average validity coefficient of .66. The BASPT1 and BASPT1 are predictor instruments were correlated with the BASAT1 and BASAT2 the criterion instruments and were found to be highly correlated. A Chi-square test for relationship showed a high significant relationship between the predictor and the criterion instruments-BASPT1 and BASAT1 had a coefficient of 0.72 and BASPT2 and BASAT2 had a coefficient of 0.79. Expectancy table was produced that could be used to calculate a student expected probability on the instruments. Two of the instruments, the BASPT1 and BASPT2 were used to find out how the students background characteristics (gender, school type/ ownership of school attended and school location) affected their readiness to study basic science. The study produced instruments with high validity and reliability. The study produced fifteen group norms each for the primary and for the secondary schools that can be used for comparism of standards and for guidance purposes. The norms include means and standard deviations that are easy to understand and use. From the study it was found out that gender was not significant in the primary school but in junior secondary it was significant predictor of readiness to study science. The location factors indicate that the urban located schools performed better than the rural located schools. School type/ownership of school showed that private schools were by far better achievers in science and about 60% of them enter the higher basic ready for the basic science programme while about 48% of the public schools were found ready of the basic science programme. The conclusions drawn were that the BASPTS instruments incorporated the prerequisite skills for attaining the objectives of the basic science in Nigeria. They have high content and predictive validity. The middle basic entrants (basic 4) were more ready to study basic science than basic 7 entrants.
Background of the Study
The teaching-learning process involves continuous and interrelated series of instructional decisions concerning ways to enhance student learning. As such, teachers have numerous day to-day decisions that they must make that require some knowledge of their student’s aptitudes, achievements, and personal development. Such decisions have a tremendous influence on the lives of their students and as such need not be lightly made, and certainly never casually made. The teachers therefore, require a carefully collected evaluation data that will help them understand the learners better and aid the teachers in making more intelligent worthwhile educational decisions. Linn & Gronlund (1995) posit that evaluation techniques provide a more objective information and more dependable basis for teachers to make such judgments. That instructional decisions are more likely to be sound when they are based on informations that are accurate, relevant and comprehensive. The effectiveness of instruction depends to a large extent on the quality of the evaluation information o n which decisions are based.
Abonyi (2003) posits that evaluation instruments are tools used for measuring the present value of the quality under observation. This implies that without a suitable instrument, the value of the quality under investigation cannot be adequately assessed. Likewise, Anastasi and Urbina (2005) pointed out that tests are means of gathering data for making decisions about the individual or group. Well-constructed tests are essential prerequisites for the precise measurement of individuals.
Kerlinger (1992) posits that certain problems cannot be satisfactorily studied, because methods do not at present exist to collect data implied by the problems or existing methods and even those to be invented may not be capable of yielding the precise data needed. By this Kerlinger stressed that evaluation instruments help researchers or teachers obtain measures of variables “so that they can bring empirical evidence to bear on research question”. For this reason, there is need for evaluation instruments, that will be accurate, relevant and comprehensive, that will provide quality evaluation information on which sound conclusion or plan for action about the student will be based.
Anastasi and Urbina (2005) observed that at present, schools are among the largest test users. Among many educational uses of tests include the classification of children with reference to their ability to profit from different types of school instruction and the identification of outstanding slow or fast learners. Test therefore is the best instrument that could be used as first step to get information that will enable the school to take care of the differences in the learning abilities of students for proper instruction and implementation of the curriculum. Failure to take care of differences in learning abilities of students will bring about failure of many students and thus improper implementation of the curriculum (Paul, 2005: 318). Based on this use of test technique, Linn & Gronlund (1995) clearly pointed out that one of the major aims of the school is to assist each student to achieve the maximum of which he is capable, as such standardized achievement and aptitude test play prominent role in identification of differences in learning abilities of target students in the school. It requires first and foremost the assessment of each student to find out the maximum of which he is capable. To do this, some estimate of students’ ability in science and other subjects is necessary in determining learning readiness, in individualizing instruction, in organizing classroom groups, in identifying underachievers, outstanding slow or fast learners, in diagnosing learning problems, in placing students in special classes, and in assisting students with their educational and vocational plans. Although the results of achievement tests are also useful for these purposes, aptitude tests make a unique contribution. Students in schools have varying learning abilities and the same is true about students coming from various primary schools into junior secondary school to study basic science. There is therefore, need for selection and grouping to ensure that instructions are made relevant to students with different learning abilities. By this instructions will be adapted to individual needs. Teaching can be most fruitful when it meets learners at whatever stage they happen to be. Ascertaining what individuals need, are already able to do and what they already know about a subject is thus a necessary first step for effective teaching. By giving prognostic test at the beginning of the school year, educators can take constructive steps to fill the major gaps in knowledge revealed by test results (Anastasi & Urbina, 2005).
Prognostic test is a general label for any test designed to produce data for making prediction about the eventual outcome and 1ikellyhood of success of some programmes of education or training for an individual (Reber & Reber, 2001). Thorndike & Hagen (1991) assert that prognostic tests are a group of aptitude tests designed to predict readiness to learn or probable degree of success in some specific subjects or segments of education. A group of tests in this category is the reading readiness test. They are designed to be used with students usually after their entry into their chosen class, at primary or secondary or high school level, to give the school as accurate an indication as possible of the student’s ability to progress in learning. It therefore provides information the teacher can use in assembling working groups within the class, in deciding upon the amount and type of activities to provide.
Further, Anastasi & Urbina (2005:488) points out that prognostic tests function as aptitude tests rather than as achievement tests. At the same time they frequently resemble achievement tests in content, because what they undertake to predict is usually performance in a specific course of study. Thus, in development of prognostic test it will have as an achievement test content validity, be reliable and standardized. These will ensure the tests’ being predictive instruments possesses high psychometric properties required in test development.
A number of tests have been designed to determine students’ readiness for learning school tasks. Readiness test is a general label for any test that assesses readiness, that is, a state of a person that enables him profit from some experience (Reber & robber, 2001). Linn & Gronlund (1995) point out that at the elementary level, reading readiness are most familiar but recently new type of early school readiness and achievement tests have appeared. At the secondary level, readiness tests are called prognostic or aptitude tests and are available for some school subjects. Readiness and prognostic tests are the same. It is called readiness test at primary school level but at secondary and college levels they are called prognostic test. Prognostic tests used in secondary schools are designed to predict success in particular school subjects. In other words, they determine readiness of students for learning. Prognostic tests are essentially specialized scholastic aptitude tests and their test items are drawn from specific achievement areas. This has the advantage of providing diagnostic as well as predictive information. In addition to predicting learning success in a particular achievement area, prognostic test performance can provide information concerning the specific skills in which the pupils need improvement if this learning is to be maximally effective. Prognostic tests at high school level are especially useful in decisions concerning course selection and instruction. Furthermore, Linn & Gronlund observed that although prognostic tests seldom predict success any better than general scholastic aptitude test, the nature of the test content tends to make them more useful for instructional and diagnostic purposes, that is, they reveal remedial weakness in learning readiness. Prognostic tests (also referred to as specialized aptitude tests) can be used to distinguish low achievers working up to their ability from those with potential for higher achievement. Prognostic tests therefore are a unique tool for teachers and school officials in determining students’ ability to progress in science. Standardized prognostic test in basic science is very relevant and highly needed to determine students’ readiness to progress in basic science since the students are passed from one level to another through continuous assessment (NPE, 2004:16). The prognostic test given at the beginning of the class will help to determine students who are ready to study basic science. That is, those that have attained the prerequisites (knowledge and basic skills) needed for the next stage of a much more demanding work. The students not yet prepared should be given remedial lessons, so that they will attain to the prerequisites to enable them progress in science.
This need for all the student and to flow along with the teaching of science should be clearly seen and perceived; besides there is the need for every student and citizen of our nation to wake up to basic understanding of science and technology. Indeed, the world is ever more dependent on advances and innovations in science and technology. Science and techno1ogy education contributes to three of the Education for all goals: attainment of life skills for youth, elimination of gender disparities in education and enhancement of the overall quality of education. In all, it ensures sustainable development (Diallo, 2004). Today experts agree that the need for science and technology education is greater than ever to make sense of today’s world. Beyond its industrial and economic uses, science education teaches people how to discuss and question things, how to challenge established truths and respect other people’s views. People need to master a minimum amount of science and technological knowledge to understand the world around them, issues such as climate change, pollution, health, genetically modified organisms, water shortage and biodiversity (Hall-Rose, 2004). This will help them take the decisions that are needed in their environment on these things. This will equally help them to influence the decision-makers. These call for the need for students to study science effectively, learn it properly, understand the concepts, and have a solid foundation in science. This will enable them acquire the basic skills and bring about inventions.
Due to the importance of science the federal government of Nigeria adopted education as an instrument per excellence for effecting national development (NPE, 2004). One of the most potent instruments of change through which government hopes to
do this is science education. The federal government therefore, has at various times made efforts to initiate, organize, sustain and promote science. The government for instance, builds and equips science laboratories, produces special science books, organizes seminars and provides in-service training for science teachers and many others. To enhance the study of science, the Federal government made science compulsory throughout the Universal Basic Education (UBE) period, that is, 9 years of free and compulsory education for all Nigerian children. One of the goals/objectives of the UBE is to ensure the acquisition of functional literacy, numeracy, manipulative and life skills, as well as ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying a solid foundation for life-long learning. The federal government also made it compulsory that at senior secondary school, a student must do one core science subject (Biology, Physics or chemistry). Still to improve and encourage the study of science, the Federal Government has established a policy on admission of students into higher institutions in the ratio of 60% Science and 40% Arts. To further boost the study of science the government stated that a greater proportion of expenditure on university education shall devoted to science and technology.
However, with all the efforts the government has put in to improve science and technology education, studies show poor performance and low interest in science. Some school surveys show that at the end of junior secondary school, when the students are given opportunity to choose subjects for the senior secondary school, majority of the students drop science subjects and choose only one of the core science subject, usually biology. The proportion of students choosing 2 or 3 core science subjects in the senior secondary is very small compared to those choosing the arts and social science subjects (All, 1996). Again when one looks at the science achievement one is disappointed at the quality and number of candidates who pass in-school science examinations and as well as in public examinations for example, Junior School Certificate Examination of Abia State.
Table 1: JSCE Abia State 2003 – 2009 (Examination Development Centre, Umuahia, Abia State).
|Year||Total Sat||Number Excellent||Number Credit||Number Of Pass||Number Failed|
source: schoolprojecttopics.com field work
A study of the data on table 1 indicate that those who scored excellent and those who failed when compared is to poor. Those with excellent score range from 3.6% to 13% while those with complete fail range from 8.8% to 23%. Those that scored credit range from 26% to 43.04% while those that scored pass range from 36% to 55.01%. these show poor achievement. Yet all those scores include the continuous assessment scores which were arbitrarily assigned and inflated (Hasssan & Adeyanju, 1998; Adejuno & Afolabi, 1990). This means that the real obtained scores of the students will be very poor. All these point to poor achievement in science. Likewise earlier studies by Anakwe (1997); Ifeakor (2005); Falaye & Afolabi (2005) all show poor achievement in science. Similarly report from UNESCO points out that students in developing nations (including Nigeria) show poor achievement in science and are increasingly disinterested in science and technology just like their counterparts in industrialized countries (Hall-Rose, 2004). These findings are justification enough for studies to identify factors militating against the study of science and means of enhancing performance in science.
Some studies on factors militating against the effective leaning of science and the means of improving achievement in science have also been approached form different angles. Some researches carried out found out that method of teaching science militate against effective learning of science. Reports from studies indicate that students perceive science as dull, abstract and theoretical. Instead of being experimental (and go on expeditions to study nature) it is rather book-based. O’Connor (2003) points out that the classroom approach to teaching science and mathematics is almost entirely authoritarian: lecturing, note-taking, and questions and answer sessions. Little or no practical work is done. There is a belief that real science can be found only in the laboratory amidst fancy and expensive equipment and not among the ordinary everyday things of life. He further pointed out that another cause of ineffective learning of science is the short comings of science curricula and text books, which often lead to rote learning and give no real understanding of concepts. This ends up with students becoming bored and developing aversion to science. Esiobu & Soyibo (1995), Ezeudu (1995) and Opara (1995) carried out research on the use of various instructional strategies to improve science achievement and found out that the strategies that will generate interest in the students improve achievement. Likewise, studies by Nzewi & Osisioma (1995), and Njoku (1999) show that teaching strategies that promote science achievement are those that encourage participation by the learners.
Furthermore, A1i (2006) observed that language influences all aspect of human endeavour. When language or other method of communication of the learning does not make clear what is required the child will find it difficult to understand. Fafunwa (1976) Osumah (2002) and Enyi (2003) found out that the use of mother tongue (Yoruba) instead of English language as a medium of instruction improved science achievement whereas lack of proper understanding of the language of study hindered effective study of science. In another study, Newby (1991) investigated motivation in classroom as a factor for study of science pointed out that for the students to engage profitably in learning task he must be ready for it in a variety of ways. These include the possession of appropriate experiential background and requisite mental ability as well as proper state of mind. In addition, he must be able to perceive and appreciate the purpose of the learning, that is, he must be properly motivated. In another study Khatiri, Riley and Kanel (1997), Roseigrio and Crowky (2001) studied students attitudes and background characteristics (sex, location and home environment) as a factor to the study of science and found them to have effect on achievement.
Thorndike and Hagen (1991) observed that a fair assessment of achievement of students should take not only their output, but also input into consideration. This makes sense for given differential intellectual input; equal output implies differential achievement, all other things being equal. It is therefore, equally important to investigate the quality of teaching these students had received during the period they were assessed and perhaps, more essentially, how ready they were for the experiences when they started off, what prerequisite (knowledge, experience and skills) they had at their point of entry into the science programme as factors that might bring about poor achievement. Harbor-Peters (1992), Ali (1991) examined the quality of teaching received by students through assessing the competence of their teachers in the subject. The former found generally low level of mastery of the subject content among primary school teachers, while the latter found the teachers to be at the same level with the students. Hall-Rose (2004) found out from her study that primary teachers are generally poorly prepared to teach the subject and often did not study or like science themselves at school. In the classroom, these teachers are faced with student who frequently have more skills in information and communication technology than they have, even though their understanding of the physical principles may be totally lacking.
Despite every effort to make instruction relevant and engaging through the use of various strategies, one still discovers that students perform poorly in science. Even teachers competence does not appear to guarantee students success because competent teachers may sometimes fail to carry some of their students along in teaching/learning process. At times due to pressure to cover the syllabus, the teacher might pace his teaching at the rate of majority or even under frustration, go ahead with majority failing to grasp the concept being taught. This results to poor performance as gaps between what students should learn and what they actually learn widens (Horton et al, 1993. Briggs, 1977). It might not be that all who have achieved poorly in science have not worked hard at the subject rather some due to frustration by expectation too high for them to fulfill loose interest for the subject. Such is the situation when teachers set their sight instructionally continually where many of their students will lag one developmental level behind the target or when students are consistently advanced into science concepts for which they do not possess pre-requisite (Floden, 1991). Ausbel’s learning theory emphasized that meaningful learning occurs when new concepts are linked to familiar concepts existing in the Learners’ cognitive structure (Horton et all, 1993). Many school children entering the Upper basic (Basic 7) from various primary schools who may not have been exposed to basic science and technology curriculum or do not have equal experience (or pre-requisite skills) are grouped together and placed in the same class -for instruction. The teacher assume they are equally exposed and advance them continually into science concepts for which they do not posses pre-requisite skills or adequate relevant knowledge and are not ready or prepared for. This therefore calls for study for enhancement of performance in science assessment of readiness.
Readiness has been looked at as a condition of a person that enables him to profit from a given activity. Absence of readiness therefore inhibits success in an activity. Udegboka (1987) stated that readiness is not a dichotomous construct but a continuum that defines the degree to which one has acquired a new knowledge. Readiness therefore, becomes a factor in any learning, which involves acquisition of sequential skills, (Horton et al. 1993, Jouassan et al, 1999). Failure to acquire the pre requisites therefore, jeopardizes acquisition of subsequent ones (Borich & Tombari, 1995). This is especially so in science due to the spiral nature of its organization and the sequential approach to instruction in it (Adeniyi, 2006). This means that effective teaching/learning of science should incorporate reliable assessment of readiness. Science being spiral in nature, science learnt at one level becomes a prerequisite for that to be learnt at next higher level. This implies that assessment of readiness should and need be undertaken at the beginning of any new science programme. The result of such assessment will prepare the teacher, guidance counselor and student for the next task ahead by reflecting on them the extent to which the student has acquired prerequisites essential for that task, his prospect in the new task and the type of adjustment he might need to reduce negative effect of moving into a new programme for which he is not adequately prepared.
Bruner (l964) observed that readiness has cultural, motivational, cognitive and personal components. Naegele (1965:121 B) described culture as a collective term for “pattern of existential and normative assertion” could vary from location to location and even within the same location, from group to group. Likewise motivation, which could also change with individuals. Readiness to study science may be influenced by students’ background factors such as location of the students (either urban or rural), ones sex, and type of school attended (whether public or privately owned school). For the purpose of this study, an urban and rural location refers to typically urban and typically rural locations of human settlement. A public school is one owned and directly maintained by a government, usually through its agency charged with the management and supervision of education. A private school is one not so owned or maintained. It could be one owned by an individual, group of persons or some other agencies (including the government) and public organizations such as the University, police, navy, army or air force. Knowledge of how these factors (sex, location or type of school) are related to achievement might give an insight on how to improve on students’ performance in science.
Finally, the issue of achievement is problematic because many achievement tests, which are used in science, are teacher made and their psychometric properties may be unstandardized or varied. Information and testing services are two important services to provide comprehensive information on the student to enhance rational decision by and about him (Shertzer and Stone, l980). But effective testing services are being hampered by a dearth of tests developed with the Nigerian students as the focus (Ipaye, 1995). Furthermore, the need for making guidance developmental, starting as early in school life as possible and continuing progressively through it, highlights the importance of relevant educational tests in enhancing accumulation of information for the guidance of the student. Some studies available (for example Ndukwe. l986; Okebukola, 1985; Jegede & lnyang, 1991) show that the researchers have been more interested in finding the level of acquisition of science process skills or identifying the process skills (that is, the high order or integrated science process skills, identifying variables, operationally defining, identify testable hypothesis, experimentally designing and graphic analysis of data) in a particular curriculum material and classifying them to various hierarchical levels. However, Onwuka & Mozube (1992) developed a test on integrated science process skills for senior secondary students. There seem to be no test developed and standardized to assess the readiness of students in basic science and technology in UBE programme in
Nigeria. This call for the need to develop and standardize prognostic tests in basic science that will help teachers determine pupils/students readiness to progress in learning science and enhance accumulation of information in basic science for the guidance of the students.
Statement of Problem
A number of approaches have been used to tackle the issue of students’ poor achievement in science but they have not yielded the desired result. There is therefore a need for a comprehensive examination of this problem and this should include readiness since readiness in science has been identified as a factor (limiting or facilitating) learning of science (Borich & Tombari, 1995). Any comprehensive study of science achievement should start with prognostic test first to ascertain students’ readiness. A search in literature in Nigeria show there is no test of this kind in basic science with focus on Nigerian children. Since the effectiveness of instruction depends to a large extent on the quality of the evaluation information on which decisions are based, non-availability of relevant, accurate and comprehensive test that will accurately measure readiness in basic science at this level of education in Nigeria warrants this study.
Therefore, the problem of this study posed as a question as suggested by Kelinger (1981) and Ali (2006) is: How possible is it to develop basic science prognostic tests whose psychometric properties of validity, reliability and objectivity are high for finding out the readiness of entrants from lower basic to middle basic and from middle basic to upper basic to study basic science? Also how would students’ gender, school location and type of school influence students’ readiness to study basic science.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to develop and standardize basic science prognostic tests.
- Develop prognostic test that incorporates the prerequisite skills for attaining the objective of basic science.
- Determine the psychometric properties of the basic science prognostic tests.
- Determine the readiness of students to study basic science
- Determine the degree to which the prognostic tests could predict achievement in basic science.
- Determine the difference in performance of class levels of basic four and seven from the scores of the prognostic tests of students.
- Determine the influence of gender on readiness of students to study basic science.
- Determine the influence of school location on the readiness of students to study basic science.
- Determine the influence of school type/ownership readiness of students to study basic science.
Significance of the Study
In recent times, there has been growing concern about reversing the deteriorating trends in students’ interest and achievement in their study of science. At the same time students are passed from lower basic to middle basic and from middle basic (senior primary) to upper basic using continuous assessment scores from teacher made tests. Invariably, it is assumed that these students have acquired the pre-requisite skills or have adequate prior knowledge of science for success in the upper basic (junior secondary) school programme. This is not ideal, because the continuous assessment scores are supposed to be true scores and help conclusions on students past, but studies show that their award is arbitrary and inflated (Adejumbo & Afolabi, 1990; Hassan & Adeyanju, 1998). As such they cannot predict future performance. Again these students as they enter into middle basic from lower basic and form upper basic to middle basic, it is assumed that they all have acquired adequate prior knowledge or prerequisite skills and are advanced into series of science concepts without determining the readiness of the child to proceed in the task. The same occurs as they go up the classes. There is, therefore, need for prognostic test that will assess the degree of acquisition of prerequisite skills or adequate relevant prior knowledge needed for future programme or instruction. Readiness has been referred to as the “prerequisites” that enable the leaner to profit maximally from school instruction. It is preparedness for successful learning (Anastasi & Urbina, 2005). This study is deemed theoretically significant because it will produce instrument of known psychometric property that will facilitate learning and provide insight into Thorndike’s principle of learning in (Hurlock, 1981 and Borich & Tambori. 1995). Moreover, this study is significant because it will fill the gap created by lack of well constructed and high psychometric instrument designed with focus on the Nigerian basic science and technology curricular.
As entrants from lower basic to middle basic, and from middle basic enter into upper basic (basic 7) or JSSI, the schools can use this prognostic test to separate students into different groups in a class to ensure that instructions are made relevant and engaging. The prognostic test will give the school as accurate as indication as possible the child’s ability to progress in basic science. lt will provide information the teacher can use in assembling working groups within the class. This will also reduce frustration of students who otherwise would have proved too deficient for the group they are placed. It will also reduce frustration of the teachers who are expected to accomplish that task of making such deficient child achieve what they lack as skills or knowledge.
This instrument will help schools that have enough staff and can afford remedial programme in classifying and placement of their deficient students. Thus, the basic science prognostic test will also have diagnostic potentials. The instrument will be useful in the identification of students with special science disabilities and in the measurement of progress in the course of remedial work.
The prognostic test will help the school to ascertain what individual students are already able to do and what they already know about basic science which is effective First step for effective teaching. By giving prognostic test at the beginning of any school year the school can take constructive steps to fill the major gaps in knowledge revealed by test results. This will help the school meet the learner at whatever stage they happen to be, thus adapting instruction to individuals need.
To the guidance counsellor, this instruments will provide some standard against which to determine the degree of readiness of a particular group of students for a given science programme or individual student for the purpose of counseling. To enhance rational decisions by and about the student, information and testing services are two important services to provide comprehensive information on the student (Shertzer & Stone, 1980). This test will Fill the gap. Furthermore, the need for making guidance development, starting as early in school life as possible and continuing progressively through it; speaks of the importance of relevant test in enhancing accumulation of information for the guidance of the student. The basic science prognostic test will provide such information.
Within Nigeria context specifically, it is worth noting that prognostic testes or specialized scholastic aptitude tests are not readily accessible to most schools because of their scarcity, prohibitive cost of administration and most are not tailored to Nigerian educational need. Also, Nigeria present level of development suggests that use of a single valid instrument for the predictive function would be more realistic (economically and administrative wise) than attempting a combination of others which can only be adequately handled by test specialists who themselves are also few. Again, here lies the need for this study, to produce an instrument that assesses readiness for basic science at this foundationa1evel with greater economy in terms of cost, skills and administrative time. It will also offer a test with good degree of reliability and validity, which are factors of concern in developing country such as Nigeria.
This prognostic test could be used for all selection tests (e.g. scholarship or competition). Although some people have kicked against all selection tests (e.g. Smith, 1956) arguing that they tend to exclude too many potentially “good materials” from selection however, some others think otherwise. Aina (1985) and Ebel (1979) sees no better alternative in situation where candidates far out number the chances available. Thorndike and Hagen (1991) also agree with this. These Latter, have observed that the general trend of evidence suggests that prognostic (or reading readiness tests) as selection instruments, are more valid in predicting achievement than general or academic aptitude tests. Orleans-Hanna Algebra prognostic Test (Hanna, Sonnenschein & Lenke, I 983). the artificial tests devised by the U.S office or personnel, predict ability to learn a new language (Diane, Brogan, & McCauley, 1991) have offered evidence to show that their prognostic tests predict achievement in geometry and algebra, and ability to learn a new language respectively better than general measures of scholastic aptitude do. However, Thorndike & Hagen (1997) demand more evidence to show that use of prognostic tests would predict achievement more validly than a combination of measures of general intelligence and previous academic achievement in related areas will enough to justify their use and proliferation. From this perspective, this study also has research significance in as much it will produce an instrument that could be used in further research to seek the type of evidence Thorndike and Hagen have called for.
The Scope of the Study
This study was carried out in the south East Geopolitical Zone in Nigeria. They consist of five states namely, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States. They are one of the three major ethnic groups of Nigeria. They have fairly the same culture with minor variation. However, this study was carried out only in Abia State due to time constraint and also they have large population.
The study covered basic 1 – 7 (that is, primary 1 – 6 and junior secondary school, JSS 1). This covered the basic science curriculum basic 1 – 7. Concentration on this is logical for a pioneer effort in science prognostic testing in so much as it is foundational level in education in Nigeria. This study includes the application of the instrument.
The study answered the following questions
- How valid are the basic science prognostic tests in measuring the objectives of the basic science?
- Are the basic science prognostic tests reliable measures of degree of readiness to study basic science?
- What proportions of entrants into basic four and basic seven (JS1) are ready (in terms of the scores of basic science prognostic test) to study basic science in middle basic and in upper basic?
- Would student’s scores in basic science prognostic tests (basic four and basic seven) correlate with basic science achievement test scores of basic four (basic science and technology curriculum) and basic seven (basic science and curriculum) at the end of the year?
- What are the degrees of readiness to study basic science at class levels of basic four and basic seven?
- What basic science prognostic norms (or means) are available for evaluation of testees?
The following null hypotheses were tested for significance at the alpha 0.05.
- Student’s gender is not a significant predictor of degree of readiness to study science.
- School location is not a significant predictor of degree of readiness to study science
- School type/ownership of school is not a significant predictor of degree of readiness to study science
The student class level is not a significant determinant of degree of readiness to study science