How the laboratory rules shape the students' views of the laboratory as a learning environment.

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Samuel Oyoo

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Peter Kajoro


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Practical work is an important component in the leaning of school science. lt contributes to the development of science concepts by helping students to link real world objects or materials, events and the abstract world of thought. It plays a central role in the grading of student achievement in the science subjects and consequently the end of secondary school examination. Most of the experiments take place in the school science laboratory. One important aspect of the secondary school laboratory is the rules and safety precautions that govern laboratory activities. This thesis presents a report of a study conducted to investigate the effect of the laboratory rules on students' views of the laboratory environment as a leaning area and how it may affect their learning of science. The study used a survey with mixed method design i.e. both qualitative and quantitative approaches were used in collecting data. Self response-questionnaires and focus group interviews were used to collect data in the study. The study was carried out in four public secondary schools in Nairobi, Kenya and involved 70 science students and four of their teachers as participants. An interpretative approaches as well as calculation of frequencies and percentages were used in the analyses of participants verbatim and questionnaire responses. The findings indicate that rules instill anxiety, fear and lack of motivation in students which hinders free handling of equipment and participation in practical work. This arguably limits the effectiveness of practical work in and on the learning of science. Free access to the laboratory is curtailed making students see the laboratory as a place to be used only in 'special' circumstances. This may negatively affect their attitude towards science. The science teachers also break the laboratory rules without consciously thinking of the impact of this on their students learning. The conclusion from this study is that though the rules are necessary. Their effectiveness can be enhanced if they are discussed during the process of carrying out practical work so that the students may simultaneously identify their importance and Relevance

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