Students' Preparedness to Integrate Information and Communication Technology Tools and Resources for the Learning of Organic Chemistry Concepts in the District of Masvingo, Zimbabwe

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ABSTRACT

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools form an important component in the teaching-learning process. The research surveyed 100 A' Level students' views on the availability of ICT tools and resources and their preparedness in terms of computer literacy to successfully integrate ICT resources in learning organic chemistry concepts. A self-constructed questionnaire was used to collect data complemented by in-depth interviews and in-situ observations. Data collected was analysed using SPSS Version 15 to find frequencies of commonly held views. The study revealed students had no ready access to computers. Computer usage for learning purposes and other uses was relatively low. Schools had no Computer Aided Instruction (CAI) software. However, the students agreed to a larger extent that integrating ICT in teaching and learning of Chemistry enhances conceptual understanding of Organic Chemistry. The researchers recommend that it must not only be the role of the teacher to encourage for the increased use of ICT tools but all stakeholders (parents, government, industry) to realise fruits from this noble endeavour.

Keywords: ICT Integration, ICT Tools, Organic Chemistry, Advanced Level

INTRODUCTION

Bell (1973), Reich (1991), and Toffler (1980) cited in Reigeluth (1995) have identified several massive changes that today's society has undergone, from the agrarian age to the industrial age, and now the information age. These drastic changes have certainly affect today's education systems at various levels (Goktas and Yildrim, 2003). The need to incorporate Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into education is now inescapable (Goktas and Yildrim, 2003). In this context, integration of ICT into education is a critical issue. ICT has had a critical role in enhancing the quality of education. The role of ICT is to serve education in particular, by helping students to learn and teachers to perform their teaching profession more effectively (Goktas and Yildrim, 2003). It is also important to note that despite the abundance of these technologies, effective use of them is a critical issue.

In Zimbabwe, Advanced Level ('A' Level) is a two-year secondary education course (i.e. fifth and sixth years of secondary school education) equivalent to grades 11-12 in South Africa or AS Level in Britain. Chemistry is believed to be a challenging discipline at TV Level by many people. Erduran and Scerri (2003) noted that ?' Level Chemistry students experience difficulties with many Chemistry sub-disciplines which include among others inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry. Erduran and Scerri (2003) provide an insight into how an understanding of the structure of chemical knowledge could improve teaching and learning in the subject. Some concepts need to be developed in a linear manner as in organic chemistry, but in inorganic chemistry there may be no clear relationship between the concepts under study. As a result organic chemistry has troubled many teachers and students. Green (2002) in her study analysed the content of chemistry sub-disciplines and revealed that there is a difficulty in methodology and approaches of teaching organic chemistry concepts. Consequently, 'A' Level examiners' reports, have also reported on poor performance in organic chemistry questions, (e.g. UCLES 1993; UCLES 1994; UCLES 1997; UCLES 1998; UCLES 1999a; UCLES 1999b; UCLES 2000a; UCLES 2000b; UCLES 2001a; UCLES 2001b; UCLES 2004a; UCLES 2004b; ZIMSEC 2005).

This has pointed to a pedagogical issue that has prompted the need for and provides an opportunity to look at the art of teaching and learning of organic chemistry at ?' Level. It is an indisputable fact that the learning of chemistry is very dependent on the use of student-centred methods, participatory methods and problem solving approaches for both theoretical and practical lessons (Skemp, 1987; Jaji, 1994). Integrating computers into the teaching and learning of organic chemistry can go a long way in solving the above problem, since it is an alternative approach available to the teachers and students in the study of chemistry (Anderson 2002; Gyongyosi 2005). …