Malawian secondary school students' learning of science: historical background, performance and beliefs
Dzama, Emmanuel Nafe Novel
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This study explored the problem of poor performance in science among students who are provided secondary school places on merit in Malawi. Existing studies of the problem are inconsistent suggesting that these studies may have shed light on some parts of a complex problem. Questionnaires, interviews and analysis of documents were used to obtain information concerning students’ conceptions of science, science learning and events that eventuated into the problem in the past. The population for this study was 89 government and governmentassisted secondary schools. From that population eighteen schools were randomly selected from each of the six education divisions in the country. One thousand five hundred secondary class 3 students drawn from randomly selected schools participated. The participating students completed a 31item learning beliefs and practices questionnaire with items drawn from the science education literature and adapted to the local situation and a selfefficacy and attribution of failure questionnaire. Forty students were interviewed about their concepts of science and science learning. Relevant documents found in the Malawi National Archives were analyzed to determine the origin of the problem.