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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 8 NO 1, JUNE, 2010


EVALUATING GENDER-FAIR INSTRUCTIONAL BEHAVIOUR OF SCIENCE TEACHERS: IMPLICATION FOR LEARNING SCIENCE

M.l. Simeon
 Department of Science and Environmental Education, University of Abuja
E-mail: simeon20012003@yahoo.com
and
Musa Binta
Chemistry Department, Federal College of Education, Kontagora

 

Abstract
The paper identified the problem of a possible subtle bias for a particular gender by the science teacher which invariably could affect the interaction and achievements of students in the science classroom. The population for this study was a 108 NCE students (54 males and 54 females) randomly selected from the various levels in the School of Sciences, Federal College of Education Kontagora. The research instrument used for the study was a four-point likert scale questionnaire administered to the science students to elicit response on their level of perception of gender - fairness of their science teachers. A reliability coefficient of 0.89 using the Spearman - Brown prophecy formula was established for the instrument. The t-test statistical tool and the pie -chart were used to proffer answers to the generated research hypothesis and questions. Findings revealed that there is no significant difference in the perception of male and female students as well as of the perception of physics and chemistry students of their science teachers gender-fair instructional behavior of their science teachers.

Keywords: Gender-fair, instructional behavior, perception, science teacher, gender-friendly.


Introduction
Bilesanmi – Awoderu and Kalesanwo (2009) observed that the role of science in the advancement of human beings on issues relating to public health, water infrastructure, energy, food security, environment is a  prominent one.  According to them, this is why the world’s development has become increasingly driven by and pace also dictated by science and technology so that no country can afford to be passive. Also Akano (2004). Observed that science is the bed rock of technology, industrialization and the modern civilization. Indeed, science is so crucial to the national development of any country of the world today so that the actors which inevitably affect the teaching and learning of science cannot be relegated to the background without a due consideration for them if
 development will be actualized and sustained.       

Without mincing words, so many factors could influence students’ achievements and performance in science classrooms. In the usual or conventional science classroom there is that possibility of a subtle bias to a particular gender by the science teacher. Such factor could be very crucial in a bid to create a congenial learning environment for teaching and learning of science in schools. The sex of the science teacher whether male of female as well as that of the science students whether male or female will greatly affect the interests and achievement of students in a science classroom. This is confirmed in the word of Lassa (1996) who identified stereotype curriculum (male authors, dominating male pictures, masculine language etc) as materials that discourage female students from the sciences.
Gender - friendly and unfriendly behaviours of science teachers: implication for learning science
Gender-fairness of science teachers in classroomrefers to science teachers attitudinal behaviours which are, favourably, and appropriately applied to both male and female students during classroom interaction. More often than not such teachers' attitudinal behaviours affect to a large extent the participation of either male or female in the achievement of such students in the science classroom. In fact, a student can either be active or passive in classroom interaction depending on the extent of science teacher's gender-friendly or unfriendliness. In the word of Nnaka and Anaekwe (2005) it is gender ­unfriendly for a teacher to set differential level of expectation for boys and girls in a particular class. According to them such development while motivating a particular gender is also capable of demoralizing the other or at best making them passive participants in classroom. Also an unfavoured gender would continue to show apathy towards and shy away from STM (Science Technology and Mathematics) classes. Suleiman (2004) asserts that gender imbalance in education attainment have been a major reason that contributes to low representation of women in mainstream of economic activities. Indeed, most females in science classroom are often treated as inferior. Besides, Ukwangum (2002) reported that a noted gender difference in favour of boys that girls need great attention during integrated science class.

Ibe (2006) also affirmed that research studies in STM education have indicated that achievement is STME at all level of education is in favour of males. Such favoritism of male at the expense of their female counterpart is gender-unfairness. Moreover, Nnaka' and Anaekwe (2005) further identified some attitudinal behaviour of teachers as gender-unfriendly, including, among others:

  1. Consistent use of masculine pronoun when discussing STM concepts.
  2. Domination of boys as class prefects in STM classes. Assisting female students most often in practicals, projects and assignments.

Unequal access for male and female students to participate in class discussions and demonstrations.

Purpose of study
The purpose of this study is to evaluate gender-fair instructional behavior of science teachers in science classroom.

Hypothesis

  1. There is no significant difference between the perception of male science student and female science student of gender-fair instructional behaviour of science teachers.
  2. There is no significant difference between the perception of physics students and chemistry students of gender-fair instructional behaviour of science teachers.

Research question

  1. What is the quality of perception of gender-fairness of science teacher by male science students.
  2. What is the quality of perception of gender-fairness of science teachers by female science students.

Methodology
Population and sample
The population for this research was the 2006/2007 set of NCE 111, NCE 11, NCE 1, and pre-NCE all of the School of Science, Federal College of Education, Kontagora. About 120 (one hundred and twenty) questionnaire was administered to the various levels of NCE classes and only 108 (one hundred and eight) were found usable. 54 (fifty four) male and 54 (fifty four) female for gender-fairness. Twenty-eight (28) are in the pre-NCE, twenty (20) in NCE I, twenty-seven (27) in NCE II and  twenty-three (23) in NCE III while thirty-eight (38) were chemistry students in NCE I, II, students from NCE I, II and II and NCE III besides the pre-NCE students.

Instrument for data collection
The research instrument for the study is a four-point likert­-type scale questionnaire, titled gender-fairness of science teachers questionnaire (GFSTQ).. The questionnaire was administered to students at the various NCE level in the school of science. Students were requested to indicate the extent of their perception of gender-fairness of their science teacher on each item. Scoring on the scale was done as follows; strongly agreed (4) agree (3), disagree (2) and strongly disagree (1) for positive statements and vice-versa for negative statements.

Validation of the instrument
Draft copies of the instrument were given to two experienced chief lecturers and researchers who were requested to validate the instrument based on adequacy of the items addressing gender ­fairness of science teacher as well as clarity and appropriateness of language used in the instrument.

Reliability of the instrument
The reliability of the instrument was determined using the spearman Brown prophecy formula for the internal consistency of the items. An internal consistency index of 0.89 was established and considered adequate for the instrument.

Method of data analysis
The t-test statistical analysis was used to test the generated hypothesis and the pie-chart was also used to answer the research questions.


Result and findings

Male

                            

Female

179.30

180.70

 

 

 

 


.

Figure 1. Pie-chart showing the quality of perception of gender­ fairness of science teachers by male and female students.


From the pie-chart above, the perception of male science students of the gender-fairness of science teacher (180.7°) was closely akin to what obtained for the perception of female science students for gender-fairness of science teacher (179.3°). Thus, the answer to the research question 1 and 2 which asked what is the quality of perception of male and female student of gender-fairness of science teachers are answered.


 

Table 1: Showing the t-test statistics for the perception of male and female students for gender-fairness of science teachers.


Sex

N

X

S.D

Variance

d.f

tcal

tcri

p

Decision

Male

54

66.60

12.03

11.92

 

 

 

 

Not
significant

53

0.38

2.00

0.05

Female

54

66.11

13.20

13.08

 

 

 

 

 


Result from table 1 above shows that the t-value calculated tcal (0.38) is less than the critical t-value tcri (2.00) at p = 0.05. The­ Null hypothesis is therefore accepted implying that there is no significance different between the perception of male and female science students of gender- fair instructional behaviour of their science teacher.


 

 

Table 2:  Showing t-test statistics for the perception of physics and chemistry students of gender-fair instructional behaviour of science teachers.



Student Course

N

Mean

SD

df

tcal

tcri

p

Decision

Physics

42

7.60

1.27

 

 

 

 

Not
significant

78

1.08

1.98

0.05

Chemistry

38

7.30

1.13

 

 

 

 

 


Result from table 2 above shows that the t-value calculated tcal (1.08) is less than the critical t-value t-cri (1.98) at p=0.05.
The Null hypothesis is therefore accepted implying that there is no significant difference between the perception of physics students and chemistry students of gender-fair instructional behaviour of their teacher.
Discussion
Figure 1 above proffered answer to the research questions 1 and 2 showing the level or quality of perception of male and female students of gender-fairness exhibited by science teacher. In other words, there seems to be no discrimination in the observations or perceptions of the two sexes as regards gender-friendliness of the science teachers. This therefore implies that to much extent, the science teacher were found to be less discriminatory and ensured gender equality treatments in science classroom.

From table 1 above, statistics revealed that there is no significant difference in the perception level of male and female science student as regards gender-fairness of their science teachers. Since the two sexes have the same perception as regards gender-fairness of science teachers, it then implies that the teachers uphold the principle of gender-equality and fairness which if lacking would have been revealed by either of the two sexes (male and - female). This generated research hypothesis which states that there is no significance difference between the perception of male and female students on the gender-fairness of science teachers was therefore answered.

Also, from table 2 above, statistics revealed that there is no significant difference in the perception of physics students as regards the extent of gender- fairness of science teachers in the college thus proffering answers to the generated research hypothesis 2, which stated that there is no significant difference between the perception of physics and chemistry students of gender-fair instructional behavior of science teachers.

Conclusion
The study revealed that both male and female student had same level of perception, observations, dispositions, towards the gender- fairness of the science teacher in the college. This nevertheless implies that the science teachers give equal treatment to all in science classroom irrespective of the sex factor.
It is therefore recommended that more awareness on gender equality and more empowerment should be given to science teachers to enable them promote and uphold gender-fair behaviours during science instructions.

Also, science teachers in other schools should be made to learn from such science teachers who practice and promote gender friendliness behaviour during science instruction as this will lead to major development and breakthrough for scientific development in our country and the global world.

Study of this type should be extended to more schools and colleges so as know the extent of gender-friendliness or unfriendliness of teachers in science, classroom interaction and arrest any attitudinal behaviours of -         teachers culminating to gender unfriendliness as this could impede the learning of science for national development.

 

References
Akano, B.U. (2004) Developing self-reliance in Nigeria through science education. Constraints and remedies. Kontagora Journal of Science & Technology  4(2) 1-7.   
Bilesanmi-Awoderu, J.B and Kalesanwo, O.O (2009). Women Entrepreneurship in science and Technology: Impetus for female participation in national development in Nigeria. Academic leadership. The online journal. Available at http: www.acedemic leadership.org_empirica_research/women_enterpreneuship_in_
science_and_technology_impetus_for_female_participation.  Retrieved on 16/02/2010.
Ibe, E (2006): Breaking gender barriers on achievement in STME
using hands - on, Minds - on science: Implication for supply of resources. Proceedings of the 47th Annual STAN conference P 211.

Nnaka, C.V and Anaekwe,. M.C (2005): Sustaining Students' Interest in Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) through Gender-fair Instructional Behaviours: Implication for Professionalization' of teaching in Nigeria. Proceedings of the 46th Annual STAN conference P. 229.
Lassa, P.N (1996) "Gender Stereotype in curriculum and career choice" Lead paper presented at the 8th conference of the Association for Promoting Quality Education in Nigeria.
Suleiman, B. (2004) Gender Enrolment in Mathematics oriented Disciplines: A motivating factor for National reconstruction. Confluence Journal of Education (CJE) 1(1). 114-117.
Ukwungwu, J. O. (2002) Gender Differences Study of Performance in Integrated Science. A Summary of Studies Conducted in Nigeria. Journal of Science Teachers Association of Nigeria. 37 (1-2), 55-59