Exploring the use of the science laboratory in science Teaching: a case of a secondary school in Kenya

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Peter Kajoro

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Anjum Halai


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


The natural sciences are highly regarded subjects in the Kenya science curriculum. This is due to the fact that the country hopes to use scientific knowledge to enhance development of industries and propel the country to achieve vision 2030. However, the performance of students in science examination has not been impressive, especially in questions that require science process skills usually acquired from the laboratory. For Kenya that is aiming at using scientific literacy to achieve industrialization by 2030, it is unlikely that this goal will be attained. This study, therefore, sought to explore how science teachers use the science laboratory to facilitate students’ learning science in a secondary school in Kenya. The study adopted a qualitative approach. It involved three science teachers, six students and three classes. The study used qualitative data collection methods namely; laboratory observations, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and document analysis. Data analysis involved organizing, coding and analyzing data as well as interpretation. The findings of the study indicate that the teachers used group based laboratory activities to enhance a variety of interactions, and mainly presented theoretical content before practical activities hence used practical activities to illustrate theoretical concepts. The teachers also set up confirmatory tasks during laboratory instruction. Further, the findings showed that the use of the science laboratory was influenced by availability of resources, teachers’ workload, national examination, large classes and a supportive administration. The pedagogical implication of the findings is that the nature of interactions, the sequencing of theoretical content and practical activities, and the type of tasks set up, together with the factors that influence laboratory use hinder student understanding of scientific concepts and development of scientific process skills. This therefore compromises students’ attainment of scientific literacy and may lead to poor performance in science examinations. Consequently, it is imperative that teachers adopt teaching approaches that would enhance students’ scientific literacy, through appropriate use of the laboratory.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library