Attention to Female Students’ ‘Lower’ Outcomes in Science as Social Construction of a Negative Perception of their Ability in School Science

By Samuel Ouma Oyoo.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The lower participation by girls in mathematics and science related courses and professions is a worldwide concern, in a manner similar to that on their lower performance than boys in mathematics and school science subjects. However, the concern about girls’ lower level of performance may be because they must also make the requisite grades in order to be admitted into the science related courses as a means into the professions. This paper focuses on the performance of girls in national science examinations in Kenya that has consistently been lower than boys’ performance, and draws from a study that attempted to address the question: Is there a girl-friendly approach to the teaching of science? The data were collected using a self-response questionnaire administered to participants in an ‘examination situation’. The sample (n = 100) consisted of equal numbers of male and female students who, by choice and ability, had opted for pure science subjects, including physics. The outcome of the data analysis suggests no exclusively girl-friendly approach; however, it provides an outline of participant students’ general expectations of effective physics teaching practice. In the absence of an exclusively girl-friendly approach to teaching science, and in the current situation where attainments in science have remained generally low, it is argued that singling out the ‘poorer’ female students’ outcomes in national examinations, is constructing a negative image of the girl students’ ability in school science. The paper concludes by considering areas of research focus for a more effective science education in Kenya.

Keywords: School, Science, Physics, Outcomes, Females, Survey

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 11, pp.271-286. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 731.219KB).

Prof. Samuel Ouma Oyoo

Assistant Professor, Educational Research and Science Education, Maseno University, Dar es Salaam, Kenya

Dr. Samuel Ouma Oyoo, until recently, The Assistant Professor at The Aga Khan University, Institute for Educational Development, Eastern Africa (AKU-IED, EA) located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, now belongs to the Department of Educational Communication Technology and Curriculum Studies, of the Faculty of Education at Maseno University, Maseno, Kenya. He coordinates and teaches Physics Education and Research Methods in Education courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. A graduate of Nottingham and Leeds Universities in England, United Kingdom, he also holds a PhD in Education from Monash University, Clayton, Melbourne, Australia. His research interests cover the general area of teaching and learning school science, and approaches to research in (science) education.


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