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Oguns 0 1 a~Bande 1 e , Mercy F. ; Lawan, Falilatu K. 
Gender-Related Differences in Error Analysis of Some 
Nigerian High School Students in Practical 
Biology. 

Apr 96 

13p*; Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the 
National Association for Research in Science Teaching 
(69th, St. Louis, MO, April, 1996). 

Reports - Research/Technical (1A3) — 
Speeches/Conference Papers (150) 



EDRS PRICE MFOl/PCOl Plus Postage. 

DESCRIPTORS *Biology; ’'Error Patterns; Foreign Countries; High 

Schools; ’'Laboratory Experiments; ’^Sex Differences 
IDENTIFIERS ’"'Gender Issues; ’’^Nigeria 

abstract 

The purpose of this study was to analyze the errors 
made by high school students in practical biology and the extent to 
which boys and girls differ in terms of the frequency of errors 
committed. The subjects included 317 students from the twelfth grade 
sampled from five different schools in Nigeria. A criterion level of 
0.05 was set to test the two null hypotheses: there is no signjificant 
difference in error types between schools and there is no significant 
difference in the frequency of error types -committed by boys and 
girls in practical biology examinat i ons . One-way analysis of variance 
and chi-square statistics were used to test these hypotheses . The 
results of the analysis showed that all the subjects committed 
certain degrees of errors which differ from school to school. These 
errors were found to be gender-related with girls commi tting less 
errors than boys. It is suggested that teachers should spend more 
time exposing students to possible errors during practical lessons in 
order to reduce the errors committed and thus improve the students’ 
achievements. Contains 28 references. (Author/ JRH) 



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from the original document. ’' 

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. 

ERIC 



Abstract 



GENDEB-REU.TED DIFFERENCES ,N ERROR ANALYSIS OF SOME NIGERIAN HIGH 

SCHOOL STUDENTS IN PRACTICAL BIOLOGY 

Dr. Mercy F. Ogunsola-Bandele and Falilatu K ^awan, 

Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria. 

T.e purpose 0, .his study was ,o analyse the errors nsade hy high sohoo, students In 
practical biology and the extent to which boys and grris dlHer in terms o. the freguency 
:: erTors committed. For this purpose. 3tY students. Irom the .el«h grade senror 
secondary three), sampled from five different schools were used for the stu y. ^ 
level of 0.05 was set to test the two null hypothesis, namely ■ there ,s no stgn 
ditterence in error ,pes between schools, and there Is no slgnllican. ^>«-hca ,n the 
ireguency o, error types comm,. ted by boys and girls In practical biology examtnabo^s^ 
To test these hypothesis the one- way analysts of variance and me c . squa 
were used respectively. The results of the analyses showed that all the sub.eCs 
committed certain degrees of errors whtch differ from school to school. These errors^ 
gender-related with the girls committing less errors than the boys. Possible explanation 
to the above findings and suggestions are discussed. 



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introduction .- 

The low participation of gihs in high school coorses of science and technology 
has been well documented and been the subject of world-wide - concern since the 
1970's (Shemesh 1990; Murphy 1987; Lockheed et al 1985; NAEP report 1983). In fact 
the change of status of science from an optional to a compulsory subject in most 
countries is all in an attempt to alter the situation. But according to Shemesh (1 990) girls 
Who still choose to study science prefer subjects that are different from boys-for boys are 
more oriented toward the so-called "hard sciences (physics, chemistry etc.), and girls 
prefer the "soft" subjects such as human physiology, plant life, zoology etc. (Entwistie 

and Duckworth 1977; Jungwirth 1973 and Tamir 1975). 

There has also been an increased emphasis on practicals or active learning with 
the recent curriculum innovations in science. In fact a number of science educators have 
enumerated the need for practical work in science (e.g. Head 1966, Ndu 1980, Bently 
and Watts 1985) and the practical nature of a subject is commonly regarded as an 
important source of pupil motivation (Bryce and robertson 1985),. However other critics 
view it as having little value to learning, too expensive in terms of space and equipment, 
too dangerous for pupils ir Junior High School and time consuming (Hempstead 1973). 

As regards gender differences and practicals, there had been contradicting 
messages coming from literature about girls and boys attitude and performance on 
practical activities (e.g. Harding et al 1988. Omerod 1981. Kelly 1981). For instance 
Omerod (1981) found practical work an added incentive for boys to study the three 
science subjects but not for girls, while Huilderbrand (1989) found practical work a way 
of combating sex differences. Some National science surveys have shown large 
differences in favour of boys on practical test (Kelly 1981) and still other studies either 
showed no difference or a trend in favour of girls (Department of Education and Science 
1988). Girls lack of confidence in practical contexts and fear of practical equipment has 

also been noted (Murphy 1987). 

in Nigeria, biology is one of the science subjects many students like to take at 



both the secondary and tertiary level since it is a requirement for most science disciplines 
in the universities. Students are expected at the end of the senior high school to sit for 
an examination (called senior secondary certificate Examination SSCE) made up of 
theory, multiple choice and practicals. Despite the high enrolment In this subfeot which 
confirms its relative popularity among other science subjects (Olaniyi, 1995; Turton 1991), 
the students' performance in this subject at the SSCE is depressingly poor (Turton 1991). 

The low percentage passes in biology has been attributed to the errors students 
commit in practical biology among other factors (Aramide 1985, Kumari and Aliyu 1985). 

The objective of this study, therefore, is to analyse errors made by students in 
practical biology and the extent to which boys and girls differ in terms of the frequency 

of error type. 

A criterion level of 0.05 was set to test the two null hypotheses, namely; 

1 . There is no significant difference in error types between schools. 

2. There is no significant difference in the frequency of error types committed by 
boys and girls in practical Biology examinaiion. 

Sample and Procedure 

The sample consisted of 317 final year high school biology students from five (5). 
schools This consisted about 50% of the total enrolment in biology in different schools 
North of Nigeria. The sample school consisted of one oo-eduoational, two boys and two 
girls schools with a mean age cf 16 years. The students responded to the instrument 
during one of their biology practical periods. At the end of the tests, the answers scripts 
were vetted by biology teachers who had experience in marking WAEC examinations. 

The five schools selected were judged to be particularly suited for this study since 
they had graduated and presented students for the Senior Secondary Certificate 
Examination (SSCE) for minimum of five years running. 

Instrument 

There are two instrument;, used for data collection and analysis. 

1 , The West African Examin.ilion Council (WAEC) question and marking scheme 



o 

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The West African Examination Council is the body responsible for the drawing of 
examination syllabuses for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) 
as well as conducts the examination leading to the award of this certificate. 

For data gathering purpose, practical biology examination test questions of WAEC 
(1988-1992) for SSCE questions were randomly sampled. The test consisted of two 
sections; Section A is made up of short answer questions, and Section B is made up of 
long answer questions requiring the use of certain instruments, drawing, identification of 
specimens, etc. A total of ten short answer questions were randomly selected for Section 
A out of a total of 49. For Section B, three long answer questions were randomly 
selected out of 15. These 10 short answer questio.-s and 3 long answer questions and 
marking schemes were selected in line with the number of questions set by WAEC every 
year. These questions and marking schemes were however not validated since the 
WAEC questions and marking schemes are assumed valided being the only central and 

recognised examination body in West Africa. 

Below are an example of questions and marking schemes in section A and B. 

S ection A (Short Question ) 

i) What would you observe if a filament of spirogyra is immersed in 0.1 molar 

sodium chloride-solution fcr about one hour. 

ii) Name the process which cccurs during the immersion of the spirogyra filament 

in the 0.1 molar sodium chloride solution. 

Marking Scheme (2 marks) 

i) Shrinkage of the cell/shrink 

ii) Plasmolysis mark) 

a) Section B (Long Q uesjions) 

i) Identify specimen A, B, C. without reasons. 

ii) Cut a transverse section through specimen A and make a labelled drawing 6-8cm 
wide to illustrate the essential features of the cut surface only, 

lih What type of fruit is it? Give two reasons for your answer. 




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b. i) State two features each which contribute to the dispersal of the seeds of 

specimens A and B. 

ii) Name one agent of dispersal for each of specimens A and B. 

c. Cut a stransverse section through specimen C. State two similaries and two 
differences in structure in tabular form between specimens A and C. 

Markina Scheme 

a j) Specimen A is mango/oil palm/coconut fruit. 

Specimen B is tridax/Emilia 
Specimen C is tomatoe/guava (3 marks.) 
ii) Drawing of specimen A: 

Qualit y of drawing : 

M - Magnification (xl/2 - xl) (1 mark) 

S - Size (6 - 8cm) C 

C - Clarity of lines (1/2 allowed) (1 mark) 

Details : 

DL - Double lines fo' cut surface 

Ed - Hard endocarp shown 

Ms - Soft mesocarp shown (3 marks) 

Labels : 

Epicarp. mesocarp. endocarp. seed. (2 marks) 

iii. Drupe : 

- Hard endocarp 

- One seed marks) 

b) i. Specimen A - hard endocarp 

- succulent mesocarp 

- brigh: colour 

(Any 2 x 1 mark = 2 marks) 

Specimen B - hairy parachute 



- light (easily carried by wind) 

(2 marks) 



ii. Specimen A - man 
Specimen i;. - wind 
Similarities : 

Mango (A) 

Seed present 
Contain 3 layers 
epicarp, mesocarp 
and endocarp 
Succulent mesocarp 

Differences : 

Mango (A ) 

One seed 
Hard endorcarp 
Placentation 
marginal 



(2 marks) 

Tomatoe/Guava (C ) 
Seed present 
Same 



Same 

(Any 2 x 1 mark = 2 marks) 



Tomatoe/Guava (C ) 
Many seed 
Soft endocarp 
Axial placentation 



(Any 2x1 mark = 2 marks) 
(TOTAL = 24 MARKS) 



Error Types 

A list of ten error types in the SSCE Biology Practicals (WAEC 1985/86 

Regulations) were selectee in line with the questions set. Examples of such error 

types are as follows: 

i) Drawing errors, ability to represent observations, diagramat;cally and 
accurately. Drawings should be with HB pencil, magnification indicated, 
proper title, drawing line not woolly, wavy or doted. Spelling of parts 
labelled must be correct. Label line drawn with ruler and must be 



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horizontal, no shading of parts. Cut surtaoes represented by double lines. 
Any digression from any of the above, error is committed. 

ii) spelling of technical terms must be correct, for example in writing Hepatic 
portal vein, any mistake in the spelling above an error is committed, e.g. 

Hepartic Portal vein. 

iii) Inability to follow instruction accurately. If a student is required to cut and 
draw a cross-section of a specimen, if instead the student cuts a 
longitudinal section and draws that, he also has committed an errors, 
cutting and drawing wrong view. 

p. oi ia hilitv of the Test - items 

The questions set were administered to a sample of students similar to the sample 
to be used and a test-retest conducted. The reliability coefficient of the test-retest was 
calculated to be r = 0.97 at 0.05 level of significance using Pearson product moment co- 

efficient of correlation. 

For the errors made, each of the scripts was taken and each question analysed 
to see why the subject failed in cases were they obtained no scc^e. The error made is 
thus recorded for each question. Failure by a sub,ect to obtain a score for a particular 
number is marked as wrong with a tallying mark against the criterion concern, the total 
number of errors in each of the 10 criteria or error types was then added up to give the 

total arrors for aach studant. 

RESULTS 

Table I below shows the mean scores and standard deviations of each of the error 
typas by schools. 









8 

Table I ■ MEAN SCORES AND STANDARD DEVIATION OF ERROR TYPES BY SCHOOL 

ERROR TYPES 



SCHOOL . 





1 


II 


III 


IV 


V 


V! 


Vi I 


VitJ 


IX 




A 


10 19 


3 97 


0 04 


0 06 


6 78 


3 62 


2 82 


6 12 


0 72 


1 39 


{74} 


(2 94) 


(1 94) 


(0 2) 


(0 76) 


(2 64) 


(2 24, 


(2 21 


(3 2) 


(1 26) 


(0 86) 


B 


8 73 


3 19 


0.79 


0 77 


3 52 


3 44 


3 6 


80 


2 85 


1 6 


{48} 


(2 66) 


(1 45) 


(041) 


(0 78) 


(1 82) 


(1 50) 


' 1 99) 


(4 05) 


(1 05) 


(1 45) 


C 


9.05 


2 30 


0 37 


0 90 


3 3 


4 33 


3 92 


9 95 


2 33 


2 02 


{63} 


(3 59) 


(1 83) 


(0 55) 


(0 73) 


(2 14} 


(2 16; 


;2 24) 


(5 3) 


(1 87) 


(1 57) 


D 


11 46 


3.25 


0 76 


0.87 


3 08 


3 23 


3 48 


13 62 


2 13 


1.73 


{71} 


(2 43) 


(1 36) 


{0 43) 


(0 33) 


(1 67) 


(1 is: 


(1 54) 


3 k 
CO 

i9 


(1 72) 


(1 32) 


p 


10 10 


2 45 


0 03 


0 35 


1 47 


2 42 


3 33 


10 55 


1 15 


1 87 


{60} 


(2 87) 


(1 411 


(0 10) 


{0 66) 


(1 74;. 


n 32' 


:2 34. 


;4 89) 


(1 99) 


(1 77) 




*F:gL.res in bracket 


( ) a'e 


: Standard 


deviction 


and { } 


> a*e njrr.be: 


cf Si>b 


lects in each schcol 





In order to test the first hypothesis that there is no significant difference in error 
types between schools, a one-way analysis of variance was used (of 5 schools and 10 
error types). This statistics was used because all the five schools were drawn from the 
same parent population. The results obtained are as shown on Table 2 below; 

TABLE 2; SUMMARY OF ONE-WAY ANOVA FOR Ho 1 



3 of Variation 


SS. 


df. 


Ws 


F. 


SSb 


506.9 


9 


CP Q 




SSw 


59.5 


40 


1.48 


*38.0 


SSt 


566.4 


49 







*F calculated was found to be.- 38.0 

F critical at df, = 9. df, = 40 is 2.86 

From the results, the F calculated valLje is greater than F critical at 0.05 level of 
significant (Foal > Fori). Thus the relevant null hypothesis was rejected. It can therefore 
be conclused that there is a significant difference m error types between schools. 

To test the second hypothesis that there is no significant difference in the 
‘."ec'-.e":"/ o‘ error types crm.mr.ted l y boys and giris i'mct:cai biology examination, 



O 

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the chi-square statistics was used since the result was in frequency counts. 
The results obtained are indicated on Table 3 below: 

Table 3; ERROR TYPES BY GENDER 

ERROR TYPES 



GENDER 





I 


II 


111 


IV 


V 


VI 


VII 


VIII 


IX 


X 


TOTAL 


Male 


1711 


457 


79 


132 


488 


590 


595 


1986 


320 


301 


6659 




(1753) 


(534) 


(66) 


(133 7) 


^660 u) 


602 7) 


(597) 


(17168) 


(290 8) 


(295 5) 




Female 


1463 


510 


41 


110 


708 


501 


486 


1122 


221 


234 


5396 




(1420.7) 


(432.8) 


(53.7) 


(108) 


(535. 


(488) 


(483 9) 


(1391) 


(242) 


(239 5) 




TOTAL 


3174 


967 


120 


242 


1 196 


1091 


1081 


3108 


541 


535 


12055 




Figures in bracket ( 


) are expected 


cell ftequenctes 















value obtained by calculation = 233.5. With df 9 (P = 0.001 ) critical from table was 
found to be 27.88. 



From the results critical value for X'" is less than the calculated value. The null 
hypothesis of no significant difference in frequency of errors committed by male and 
female subjects was rejected. 

Ability of a subject to commit error therefore appears to be sex-related; with the 
females committing less errors than their male counterparts in most of the error types. 
Discussion 

The results of the analyses above showed that all the subjects committed certain 
degree of error in each of the ten groups of error types, although the degree differ from 
school to school. This is clearly indicated on Table I where the mean scores for each of 
the error types is indicated by school. The result of the one-way analysis of variance 
showed a significant difference in error types between schools which might be due to 
the fact that the students were not adequately taught. This confirms earlier conclusions 
made by Osenuga (1981). Abijo (1982); Aramide (1985) and Soyinbo (1992). 

The results on Table 3 also suggested that errors committed by subjects was 
gender related with the females committing loss errors than their male counterparts and 




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subsequently achieving more. This supports Entwistle and Duckworth (1977), Jungwirth 
(1973); and Tamir (1975) studies that girls actually prefer the soft subjects such as 

Biology, Zoology, eto. and boys the hard sciences. 

Although this findings agree with Ameh (1980) study that girls are usually more 

careful in practicals because of their cultural background, Kelly (1981) however found a 
large differences in favour of boys on practical test. Since girls and boys do appear to 
experience practical work differently, classroom strategies will have to take account of 
boys and girls present preferred styles of working and interest as well as providing 
opportunities for them to reflect critically on them (Ogunsola-Bandele 1987. 1993) 

In order to reduce the errors committed and thus improve the students 
achievements, the teachers should spend more time exposing students to possible errors 
during practical lessons. Also biology teachers should teach the subject as both content 
and process rather than the present "chalk and talk" method operating in most schools. 

Finally inclusion of practical work directed towards a single outcome should also 
be resisted. Pupils should not be encouraged to find out what the teacher wants alone 
but other expected and possible outcomes. For according to Roger (1987), increased 
opportunity should be provided for practical work of a genuinely open-ended nature. 

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Practical Chemistry in Niger a. Journal ot Science Teachers Association of Nigeria, 

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Skills in Zaria. M.Ed Thesis Ahmadu Sello University. Nigeria. 

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Bently D. and Watts M. (1989); Learning and Teaching in School Science 

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Pv-v-'P T K G. and Robertson F (19E.V.; The Diagnostic Assesoment of Practical 



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Ogunsola-Bandele M.F. (1987) Cognitive Styles of Chemistry Students in the 
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