study investigated the senior secondary school student’s misconceptions in
Physics in various Local Government Area of Lagos state. The major
misconceptions were outlined and the hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of
significance using gender, age and cultural as moderator variable. Three
hundred (300) SSS III Physics students were randomly selected from Eight (8)
Senior Secondary Schools purposively selected from four (4) various Local
Government Area of Lagos which constituted the sample of the study. Fifty (50)
items test questions on misconception of students in Physics which was the
instruments used in collecting data. The instruments were subjected to face,
content and empirical validations. The data collected were analyzed using
Pearson moment correlation, T-test. The results of the study showed a positive
significant relationship between students ‘gender and misconception in physics.
Other findings of the study are: there was significant relationship between the
cultural background of student and misconception in Physics. There was no
significant relationship between the students’ age and misconception in
physics. The researcher recommended that for students’ understanding of basic
concepts in Physics, attention should be focused on enhancing the students’
understanding by providing adequate competent teachers and environmental
factors; since students cultural background is an important variable in
Key words: Students,
Misconception, Achievement, Physics.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page i
Approval page ii
of the Study 1-5
Problems of teaching physics in Nigeria secondary school 6-7
Student performances in physics 7-8
Statement of the Problem 8
of Study 9
of Study 10-11
of Study 11
of Terminologies 1-12
Literature Review 13
Misconceptions of Student in Physics 14-15
2.2 Determination of the Relationship of Gender
and Misconception of Students
in Physics 15-17
2.3 Relationship Between Student’s Cultural
Misconception of Physics
2.4 Student’s age and
their misconception in physics
2.5 CONCEPT OF ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT S.S PHYSICS
2.6 SUMMARY OF THE REVIEW
METHODOLOGY AND RESEARCH DESIGN
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Population of the study
3.3 Sample and sampling procedure
3.4 Research Instrument
3.5 Validity of the research instruments
3.6 Data collection procedure
3.7 Statistical treatment of data
DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
4.1 OUTLINING MAJOR MISCONCEPTIONS OF STUDENTS
OF RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GENDER AND MISCONCEPTIONS OF STUDENTS IN PHYSICS
OF MALE AND FEMALE STUDENTS IN PHYSICS
OF STUDENTS’ CULTURAL BACKGROUND AND MISCONCEPTION IN PHYSICS
4.4 ANALYSIS OF STUDENTS’ AGE AND
MISCONCEPTION IN PHYSICS
DISCUSSION, SUMMARY, CONCLUSION,
RECOMMENDATION AND SUGGESTION FOR FURTHER STUDIES.
5.1 DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
5.2 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
SUGGESTION FOR FURTHER STUDIES
LIST OF TABLES
2.5.1 Statistics of
physics student’s performance in WAEC
TABLE 4.2 Independent Sample t-test of male and female
students’ misconception in physics
TABLE 4.2b Misconception
of male and female students in physics
of the relationship between cultural background and students’ Misconception in
TABLE 4.3b Misconception
of student in physics from various cultural backgrounds
4.4 Correlation of the
relationship between students’ age and misconception of Students in physics
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
major concepts which underline and unify the topics in the SSS physics
curriculum content are motion and energy. Relevance of the topics to society in
terms of application is stressed throughout. Only the topics which are directly
derivable from the concepts and their sub concepts were selected. Generally, the
approach in the curriculum is to treat the topics under a unifying concept in a
general form and provide some elaboration in the applications in order to
advocate relevance and use copious illustration to aid understanding.
on physics learning has revealed that students come to their physics course
with already ideas about the world that differ from accepted scientific ideas.
This initial common sense will be used to refer to misconception. There is a
research which showed that it is difficult for students to change their initial
common sense (McDermott,1990) because their own believes are grounded in long
personal experience. Changing initial ideas of students is often difficult. It
is necessary to connect the new knowledge with their existing knowledge
effectiveness of introductory physics instruction is important to improve
student attitudes toward an understanding of scientific process; for example,
improve ability in quantitative problem solving, improve students’ laboratory
skill, improve students’ understanding of physics concepts, and reasoning
skill. Some scientific explanation of physical phenomena often differs from the
intuitive ideas or existing conceptual structures. How physics is learned and
designing more effective approaches to teach physics will be our ultimate goal.
of difficult topics in teaching physics is electricity and magnetism students
often have difficulty in understanding electricity and magnetism because it is
the abstract nature of the subject which is difficult to visualize and the
mathematical relationships can be complex. Electricity and magnetism is seen as
a central area of physics curricula at all level of education, primary,
secondary and tertiary. Students’ understanding of concept in electricity and
magnetism has not been investigated in as great detail as in mechanics. Some
research showed that teaching methods can be developed to change students’
ideas in electricity and magnetism with scientific model like conceptual
conflict and analogies (Driver et al.1994).
the last 20 years, physics education research has revealed that students
already have a number of ideas about how physical systems behave even before
they start to study physics. In many cases these ideas often called alternative
conceptions or common sense science differ from accepted scientific ideas.
Other research has shown that it is difficult for students to change their
development and extensive use of the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) conceptual
test concerning some basic kinematics and Newton’s three laws has raised the
consciousness of many physics teachers about the effectiveness of traditional
education. Many physics instructors have expressed an interest in assessing
students’ knowledge of electricity and magnetism. However, developing an
instrument to assess students’ ideas in electricity and magnetism is a very
different task than development of the FCI.
Student’s preconceptions in science have since aroused science
educators’ interest for over 30years because of the principle idea of
constructivist learning theory, which was stated as “students come to the
learning environment with the preconceptions, which were formed during their
interactions within physical and social environment and those preconceptions
affect learning” (Pfundt and Duit, 2006). The main interest of studies focus on
those preconceptions of which especially contradict with scientific knowledge
and create problems in learning. In this study, the notion of misconception was
used for such preconceptions. Research carried out resulted with some findings
about the main features of misconceptions. These findings are listed below
(Driver and Bell, 1986; Driver, 1989; Mutimucuio, 1998; Widodo et al., 2002;
• Misconceptions of
students who have different culture, religion and language arefrequently
similar to each other.
may deeply penetrate into students’ minds and resist to change.
• Everyday language,
culture and religion can cause the formation of
• Misconceptions can be
parallel to the explanations made by earlier scientists in interpreting
Misconceptions may develop after a formal teaching. Many
researchers came up with the same findings during the investigation of
students’ misconceptions about simple electric circuits (Osborne, 1983; Cohen
at al., 1982; Tiberghien, 1983; Shipstone, 1984; Kärrqvist, 1985; Shipstone et
al., 1988; McDermott and Shafer, 1992; Barges et al., 1999; Lee and Law, 2001;
The most frequently encountered findings are given below:
• The concepts of current, energy and potential difference are not
respected as different concepts and used interchangeably with each other.
• Current is consumed by circuit components.
• Current comes out from the (+) pole of the battery and enters to
the bulb where it is consumed to light the bulb which is not affected by the
second wire connected between the (-) pole and itself.
• Current comes out from the both poles of the battery and clashes
in the bulb to light it.
• Current is divided equally in each line of the parallel
.Positively charged object have gained protons, rather
than being deficient in electron.
• A change before the bulb affects the brightness of the bulb in
circuit connected in series but the same bulb is not affect by change in
anywhere of the circuit after the bulb.
• Batteries are constant current sources.
Misconceptions outlined above were reported in studies conducted
with students in different countries and with different age groups. Shipstone
et al.’s (1988) study is an important research, which summarizes that students
in five European countries also have similar misconceptions about simple
The misconception of “current is consumed by circuit components”
which is listed above is almost reported in all studies about electric
circuits. Students sometimes may have misconceptions stemming from the use of
everyday language (Gilbert et al., 1982; Leach and Scott, 2003). Gilbert et al.
The misconception of senior secondary student in physics can also
be linked to the teacher’s methods of imparting and evaluating physics in
classrooms, the teacher’smethod of imparting and evaluating physics is a major
cause of misconception among senior secondary school student in Nigeria.
1.2 PROBLEMS OF TEACHING
PHYSICS IN NIGERIA SECONDARY SCHOOL
number of deep-rooted issues has been identified which are peculiar to physics
subject in senior secondary schools and needs to be addressed. These problems,
common to senior secondary schools are:
Inadequacy of materials and personnel with
respect to teaching the subject.
Lack of laboratories and Equipment
Inability of the teachers to impact the
subject to the student s, which might be due tothe problem of teachers’
qualification and effectiveness.
The overloading of West African
examination council syllabus.
Shortages in the supply of physics
teachers and poor environments in which physics practical are taught.
The ability of this subject to inspire and
interest pupils, particularly girls; and other factors such as careers advice
which affect pupils’ desire to study physics at higher levels.
The inflexibility, irrelevance and
repetitiveness of the curriculum;
The lack of engagement in debate and quiz
in this subject
The limitations on practical and fieldwork
The low educational value of coursework
Non implementation of ICT in science teaching.
The shortage of qualified science teachers
is a well-known problem. The
increasing demand for science graduates in other more lucrative sectors and the
decreasing number of graduates in these subjects means that we are caught in a
seemingly endless cycle of decline in specialist science teachers
13. Insufficient account taken of pupils'
previous learning and attainment, including what they had already learned in
14. Some tasks set for pupils were either too
difficult for them or insufficiently challenging
15. Insufficiently high teacher expectations of
the pace of pupils' learning and of the quality of presentation of their
1.3 STUDENT PERFORMANCES
of students at the senior secondary school level have been the concern of
government and parents. The performance of student in physics has deteriorated
for the past few decades due to certain factors, which are:
- Teacher’s deficiency in various contents
they teach which affect the quality of learning and performance of the student.
- The effects of laboratory facilities and
resources also have a major influence on the performance of students in physics
at this level.
- Student’s interest and achievement in
Physics at secondary school level lie within the teacher and students’
relationship in a given subject.
- Girls and women may be regarded as late
arrivals in the scene of science in Nigeria. There is a significant differences
in performance of male and female students in Physics
- Historically, Physics has been taught at
the high school and college level primarily by the lecture method together with
laboratory exercise aimed at verifying concepts taught.
1.4 STATEMENT OF THE
The issue of misconception in physics in senior secondary schools
is a major problem that befalls the educational sector.
Yearly, students record massive failure in physics especially in
the West African secondary school certificate exam (WASSCE) and the newly
introduced National Examination Council (NECO) Examination.
New effective methods of teaching and learning physics needs to be
designed to curb misconception of students in physics and to improve the
academic achievement of students in senior secondary schools.
Recognizing effective method of teaching and learning, if
considered can improve the level of academic achievement of students in senior
secondary schools physics. The study is aimed at identifying effects of these
methods on academic performance of students and also to determine the extent to
which the methods can modify or change students’ academic performance in
PURPOSE OF STUDY
general focus point of this research study is to make an inquiry into senior
secondary school misconception in physics. However, this study is set out to
achieve certain objectives, which is the main purpose why this research work is
embarked upon. The purpose of the study are as follows;
To outline the major misconceptions
of student in physics.
To determine the difference between
misconception of male students in physics and female student in physics.
To determine if the misconception of
student in physics is dependent on student cultural background.
To determine the relationship of age
and misconceptions of students in physics.
What are the major misconceptions of
students in physics?
Is there difference between the
misconception of male and female students in physics?
What is the relationship between the
misconceptions of students’ in physics and their cultural background?
What is the relationship of age and
students’ misconception in physics?
1.7 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
There is no significant difference between the misconceptions ofmale and female
students in physics.
There is no significant relationship between cultural background and
misconceptions of students in physics.
There is no significant relationship between student’s age and misconceptions
SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
significance of this study cannot be under estimated or over emphasized.
Firstly, this study tends add to the body of general knowledge and existing
research of the subject inquiry. Secondly, this study emphasizes the urgent
need to vigorously examine the misconceptions of senior secondary school
students in science (physics). This will not only help to curb the general
misconceptions in senior secondary school, it will also enhance and improve the
student knowledge and skills in the area of science (physics) as well as
related subjects. Furthermore, this study stresses the need to implement the
national policies that will aid the training of specialized and qualified
teachers in the area of science development in Nigeria. This will further
strengthen and increase the nation’s status in terms of science development
within the global world as well as enhance the adoption of scientific
application in all works of life socially, politically and economically.
1.9 SCOPE OF
scope of study will cover senior secondary school student, specifically senior
secondary students within the various Local Government Area of Lagos State.
This study is limited to senior secondary students only due to speculated and
limited time frame this study is expected to be carried out.
DEFINITION OF TERMINOLOGIES
and concepts are very central to the understanding of any scientific research.
More so, it is imperative to give operational definitions that will be used for
the study. This will help make the study explicit and at the same time give the
reader a thorough understanding of the central terms concept used in the study.
a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of
testable explanation prediction about the universe.
view or opinion that is incorrect based on faulty thinking or understanding.
a process of acquiring new, or modifying existing, knowledge, behaviors,
skills, values, or preference and may involve synthesizing different types of
information (Sandman et al, 2000). For the purpose of this study learning will
be restricted to the development of science.
SSS: senior secondary schools.