The influence of teachers' teaching experience and practices on students' performance in Chemistry at O-level: A case of Wakiso District
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This study was prompted by the high alarming failure rates in chemistry. The poor performance of students in chemistry has assumed a dangerous dimension. Chemistry being a key subject in the field of science, it should not be neglected. The purpose of this study was therefore to explore the influence of the teachers’ teaching experience and practices on students’ performance in chemistry at O-level in Wakiso district. To achieve this purpose, the study sought to establish the teaching experiences of the chemistry teachers, the teaching practices that the teachers use when teaching chemistry and teachers’ perceptions of the influence of teachers’ teaching experience and practices on students’ performance in chemistry at O-level. A qualitative and descriptive research design was adopted so as to be able to explore and describe the influence of the teachers’ experiences and practices on their students’ performance. Six schools were purposively selected under the categories of “high”, “average” and “low” performing schools, and six teachers of chemistry, one from each school were randomly selected to participate in the study. Sixty students who were taught by the selected teachers were also randomly selected to participate in the study. Data was analysed using analytic induction. NVIVO was used to determine themes and patterns and SPSS to obtain descriptive statistics. The study found that most teachers of chemistry, regardless of the school category have an experience of more than five years of teaching but lack experience in terms of exposure to practical teaching methods, apparatus and materials. In addition, the researcher established that expository instead of discovery methods of teaching were mostly used in the teaching of chemistry and that this unfortunate scenario in most cases was beyond the teachers’ control. It was also established that teachers’ teaching experience indeed influences teachers’ choice of teaching practices which in turn influences students understanding of chemistry concepts and consequently learners’ performance In light of the above findings, the study therefore recommended that the Ministry of Education and Sports should endeavor to reward experienced teachers so as to retain them in service and also to train all teachers to teach chemistry using discovery methods of teaching. The Ministry and schools should also as much as possible facilitate teachers with apparatus and equipment so as to ease their teaching of the concepts; which will lead to better students’ understanding of the subject and consequently improve their grades in the subject.