This study investigated the Impact of Mastery Learning Approach (MLA) on Motivation and Academic Performance in Physics among Senior Secondary School Students in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. The study comprises four objectives with their corresponding research questions and null hypotheses. The research design used was pretest, post-test, quasi-experimental control group design. The population of the study covered all the 9 coeducational senior secondary schools (SSII) in Zaria, offering Physics with total enrolment of 304 out of which 67 from two coeducational schools were selected as sample using simple random sampling technique. Two validated instruments namely; Physics Academic Performance Test (PAPT) and Students‟ Motivation Questionnaire (SMQ) were used for data collection with a reliability coefficient of 0.89 and 0.76 respectively using PPMC and Cronbach‟s Alpha statistical tool using SPSS. Research questions raised were answered using mean and standard deviation while null hypotheses were tested using t-test and Mann-Whitney U-test at 0.05 level of significance. Results of findings reveal that there is significant difference between the performance mean scores of students taught using MLA and those taught using lecture method in favour of MLA group. Also, there is significant difference in the motivation level of students taught using MLA and those taught using lecture method in favour of the MLA group. Similarly, the findings reveal that there is no significant difference in the level of motivation of male and female students taught using MLA. From the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made: Physics teachers should be motivated and encouraged by Ministry of Education  to use Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) modules for seminars and workshops on the effective use of MLA as it motivate students in teaching and learning of Physics. It is also recommended that MLA should be used to teach Physics to both male and female students at secondary school level as it was found in this study to be gender friendly.








1.1 Introduction

Science is the foundation upon which the bulk of present day technological breakthrough is built. These days, developing nations all over the world including Nigeria are striving hard to develop scientifically and technologically since the world is becoming scientific and proper functioning of lives depend greatly on science. Its relevance as a requirement for technological development of a nation cannot be underrated (Philips 2002). Owolabi (2004) viewed science as an integral part of human society. Its impact is felt in every way of human life so much that it is intricately linked with a nation‟s development. Science as a field of study has done a lot for mankind. For instance, life has become easier for man as a result of the advancement in science. Through science, man has been able to understand his environment. For example, by drastically changing our means of communication, the way we work, our housing, clothes and food, our methods of transportation, and indeed even the length and quality of life itself, science has generated changes in the moral values and basic philosophies of mankind. According to Ogunleye (2002), science is taught as Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

Physics is one of the science subjects taught in Senior Secondary Schools. It deals with the study of the behaviour of matter in relation to energy. Physics is the most fundamental and all-inclusive of sciences and as science is considered  a veritable tool widely recognized as being of great importance for the development of the economic well being of any nation, then the knowledge of Physics cannot be overemphasized

(Wambugu & Changeiywo 2008). This stressed the fact that science and technology are interwoven. Therefore the broad knowledge of science and technology is very important especially as the world today has a lot of challenges ranging from natural and artificial phenomena. It‟s   noteworthy that today, with the extensive help of the collaborative work of scientists and technologists, the whole world is considered as a single community served by electronic media and information technology. Hence, we can say that without the fundamental knowledge of science, the actualization of the benefits that science brings to the society will only be a mirage and the figment of our imagination (Adeyemo & Babajide, 2014).  Physics is one of  the fundamental and all-inclusive of science; therefore, Physics teachers need to prepare well in order to present basic knowledge and understanding of its concepts.

Poor preparation of teachers, over-crowded classroom, inadequacy of laboratory and workshop facilities, poor attitude of students to work, gross under funding, inadequacy of reward for excellence in science teaching and learning has been attributed to some of the factors leading poor performance of students. Others are: misconception of some concepts, inadequacy of new teaching techniques and frequent practical classes, inadequacy of revising past question papers, and inadequacy of relating science subjects with practical situations (Adamu & Ahmad, 1999; Akubuilo, 2004; WAEC 2005; Lawal, 2009).   It is very important to note that for  effective learning to take place, necessary teaching and learning techniques, quality instructions, evaluation, feedback and instructional materials should be rightly put in place as humans tend to learn better by hearing, seeing and doing rather than reading. Therefore, it is important that the use of well defined instructional materials that aid pedagogy and learning process should be employed while teaching especially difficult subject in Physics.

Research reports by Ajayi (2007), Adedayo (2008) and Adeyemo (2010) revealed that the performance of students in Physics is very appalling, hence, call for attention towards generating effort towards improving the situation. The report of West African Examination Council (WAEC, 2014) contains worries over the low performance of students in Physics. The WAEC Chief Examiner‟s report stated that 70% of candidates that sat for the Physics examination in the year 2014/2015 session failed the subject. Poor performance in Physics could be attributed to many factors ranging from the attitude of students towards the subject, lack of motivation on the part of the students, lack of basic science background at the primary school and teachers‟ strategy which is considered as an important factor (Owolabi, 2004; Omebe & Akani, 2015).

Nigeria secondary school students are taught Physics by “chalk and talk” lecture method have repeatedly demonstrated poor motivation and low performance in and from their Physics education programme. Lecture method is an oral presentation of information about a particular subject (Joe, 2011). It is often used to deliver a large amount of information to the students in a short period (Berry, 2008). It is designed to deliver new information to a large group of students. It is also known to be effective in dealing with a large class. Regrettably, most science teachers in a bid to cover their syllabus adopt lecture method (Ali & Akubue, 1998). Lecture method is mainly teachers centered and subject driven (Liddle, 2002). It does not encourage initiatives, curiosity, and creativity in learners and does not offer them opportunity to interact effectively with their peers and learning materials. This has resulted in students‟ loss of interest, reduced participation and poor learning performance.

Educators are incessantly concerned about the need to improve students‟ academic performance especially in the sciences. The plethora of research on students‟ academic performance in the science is a testimony to this concern (Ayot & Petal, 1987; Lee, 2004; Wilson, 2004; Samuel, 2007; Olatoye, Aderogba & Aanu, 2011). The issue of teaching methods and their effect on secondary school students‟ performance has been a very important issue in recent times. It is apparent that science and technology cannot thrive without using the appropriate instructional strategies to teach the students. The future development of any nation in the field of science depends on how well the subjects are taught which require that students are able master what they are taught.

Mastery Learning Approach (MLA) is a process in which learners are provided with the opportunity to master a particular unit of lesson before proceeding to the next. Most modern applications of mastery learning stem from the writing of Bloom (1968) even though the idea of the approach dated back to earlier years. Bloom (1968) hypothesized that a classroom with a mastery learning focus as opposed to the traditional form of instruction would reduce the performance gaps between learners of varying degrees of academic abilities (Guskey, 2007). Mastery Learning Approach divides subject matter into unit that has predetermined objectives or unit expectations where students alone or in groups work through each unit in an organized fashion. The teacher assesses and grades the students after each unit to determine who has mastered the content and who needs more help. Students must demonstrate mastery on unit exams typically 80% before moving on to new material (Davis & Sorrell, 1995; Anderson, 2000). Students who have mastered the materials are given enrichment opportunities which could be in the form of projects or problem solving tasks. Students, who do not achieve mastery received remediation through torturing, peer monitoring, small group discussions or additional assignment. Additional time for learning is prescribed for those requiring remediation and students continue the cycle of studying and testing until mastery is achieved after which they can proceed to more advanced learning tasks. Mastery Learning Approach is learner center-centered, making learners‟ active participants of the learning task and also motivated to learn.

Motivation is defined as a set of force that causes people to behave in certain ways. It is a set of force that changes behaviour and determine it form; direction and intensity.

Motivation is that energizing force that induces or compels and maintain behaviour. There are two types of motivation in learning process. These are extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is directed at earning rewards that are external to a learner, while intrinsic motivation is doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Hancock (2004) asserts that a motivated learner performs well. The teaching approach a teacher adopts is a strong factor that may affect students‟ motivation toward learning, which in turn affects their performance. Motivation can be enhanced through teaching methods that actively involve students (Keraro, Wachanga & Orora 2006). Students are categorized as academically motivated when they are able to maintain high ability, and competence in their work. How the teachers view motivation will influence what they should do to establish a classroom environment that will enhance students‟ motivation (Dembo, 1994). A teacher has the ability to influence the students‟ motivation to learn through a variety of teaching decisions and approaches

(Shihusa & Kerora, 2009).

According to Hohn (1995), there is need for classroom practices that would arouse the students‟ interest and attention, raise their expectancies of success in academic work and give them incentives and rewards that they value. A teaching method that would help students to find satisfaction in the subject matter and also make the subject matter relevant to the need of the learner will be necessary to motivate them. Keller‟s attention, relevance, confidents and satisfaction (ARCS) model (Hohn, 1995) can be used to enhance students‟ motivation to learn. Most of the tasks found in Physics course that a student is required to perform are not inherently interesting or enjoyable. There is need for a teaching strategy that will promote more active and volitional form of extrinsic motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Early study had shown that positive performance feedback enhanced intrinsic motivation (Deci, 1971). Consequently, a teaching approach that has continuous feedback to the performance of students can motivate students to value and self-regulate the academic activities, and eager to carry them out on their own.

The issue of gender is an important issue of discuss in science education especially with increasing emphasis on ways of boosting manpower for technological development as well as increasing the population of females in science education and technology  fields (Ogunkola & Bilesman-Awoderu, 2000). In Nigeria, and perhaps the whole of Africa, gender bias is still very prevalent (Arigbabu & Mji, 2004). This is a view to which Onyeizugbo (2003) has also alluded in pointing out that “sex roles are held rigid in Africa particularly in Nigeria where gender differences are highly emphasized”. It is common place to see gender stereotypes manifested in the day- to-day life of an average Nigeria.

Certain vocations and professions have been traditionally regarded as men‟s course

(medicine, engineering, architecture) and others as women‟s course (nursing, catering, typing, and arts). What are regarded as complex and difficult tasks are allocated to boys, whereas girls are expected to handle relatively easy and less demanding tasks. As a result, the larger society tends to see girls as the “weaker sex”. Consequently, an average Nigerian child goes to school with these fixed stereotypes. Gender issues, both on the part of the teachers and students, have been documented to affect performance generally (Kennedy, 2000 & Erinosho, 2005).  Conflicting results in gender- related research vary in their learning contexts and outcomes. These include the methodology, population, geography, research tasks and classroom settings. Girls are being encouraged today and sensitized to develop positive attitudes towards science. However, some researchers still found that there are still significant differences in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills performance of students‟ in respect of gender (Billing, 2000; Croxford, 2003; Kolawole, 2007; Aguele & Agwugah, 2007). Thus, the issue of gender in science education is yet to be concluded. Therefore, it is on this basis that this research sought to find out the Impact of Mastery Learning Approach on Motivation and Performance in Wave Concepts among Senior Secondary School Physics Students in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria.

1.1.1 Theoretical Framework

The concept of mastery learning is rooted in the behaviorism principles of operant conditioning (Skinner, 1984). According to operant conditioning theory, learning occurs when an association is formed between a stimulus and response. In line with the behaviour theory, mastery learning focuses on overt behaviours that can be observed and measured (Baum, 2005). Mastery learning as a theoretical approach goes back to the work of Bloom (1968) who came up with “learning for mastery” method. Bloom was interested on how he could improve traditional classroom instruction by examining what it was about individual tutoring that made it an effective instructional approach. Bloom contended that most instructors divide their instructional materials into smaller units of instruction, but the way the students‟ progress as assessed was not helpful for their learning. He observed that instructors typically had the students take an assessment at the end of the instruction, which served to give the students a grade for their performance, but regardless of how the students did, he or she continued on into the next unit of instruction not minding his or her grade.

Bloom recommended that the material to be learned be divided first into instructional units, similar to the way the chapters are organized in a course textbook. Following a teacher‟s initial instruction in each unit, a formative assessment or quiz is administered not as a part of the grading process, but to provide feedback to both the students and teacher about what material was learned well and what was not. Special correctives are then offered to students who require additional time and practice to learn the material. For those who have learned the material well, special enrichment activities are planned to give them opportunities to strengthen and extend their learning. Following the correctives work, a second formative assessment is administered to verify students‟ success. Typically, corrective activities are made specific to each learning unit so that each student needs to work on only those concepts or skills that he or she has not yet mastered. The results from the formative assessment provide the students with a specific prescription for what more needs to be done to master the unit‟s learning objectives. The activities are designed to present the material differently and involve the student in alternative methods to learn the material. The corrections may be worked on with the teacher, peers in cooperative learning teams or by the student independently (Guskey, 1986). The formative assessment process combined with systematic corrections of individual learning difficulties provides each student with a more appropriate quality of instruction than is possible under more traditional approaches to classroom teaching. Using this approach according to Bloom, virtually all students could master the subject (Bloom,


Mastery learning as a school of thought presumes that all children can learn if they are provided with the appropriate learning conditions. In mastery learning, students are assisted by the teachers to master each learning unit before proceeding to the next which is more advanced. This instructional philosophy is based on the belief that all learners can learn if given the appropriate amount of time and the appropriate instructional opportunities. Three basic indicators of learning output could be identified in the work of Bloom (1984). These are cognitive introduction behaviors (i.e. preliminary learning which is assumed to be a necessary pre-requisite for learning a concept); emotional introduction features (the extent of learners‟ motivation to learn); and the quality of teaching activity. The variables (clues, reinforcement, students‟ participation, feedback and correction) which Bloom described as the quality of teaching activity, explain the activities which are prepared by the teacher to enable mastery learning. According to this theory, if related introduction features of the students along with the teaching activities are positive, the learning output will reach a high level and the differentiation between the students in terms of performance will be at a minimum level (Sever, 1997). In other words, the theoretical framework of this research is based on Bloom‟s Learning for


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Students‟ failure in senior secondary school West African Examination Council (WAEC) is becoming the order of the day in which only few candidates obtained the requirements for further studies into Nigerian Higher Institutions. The percentage of failure recorded in

Physics for the past eight  years ranged from 75.06% in 2010, 44.66% in 2011, 61.19% in

2012, 35.74% in 2013, 70% in 2014, 37.96% in 2015, 19.96% in 2016 and 31.23% in 2017(WAEC). Besides Physics, as one of the science subjects remains one of the most difficult subjects in school curriculum (Isolo, 2010). Also most of the students consider the concept involved in the study of Physics to be too abstract and difficult to understand. This may account for the current low students‟ performance, motivation and enrolment in the subject. Several studies have investigated the causes of the appalling state of Physics performance. These causes were identified as: low students motivation to learn Physics, poor teaching approaches used by Physics teachers, teachers use of language in the classrooms, perceived difficulty of the subject and inadequate instructional materials (Ndirangu,2000; Kiboss, 2002; Etikna, 2005; & Oyoo, 2009). Students shun sciences particularly Physics when given an option and this applies to girls (Aduda, 2003). That is if given a choice, students would rather drop Physics in favor of other science subjects. Physics has been mystified as a difficult subject by most students. Recent findings show that students who hold negative stereotype images of scientists, science, and technology in society are easily discouraged from pursuing scientific disciplines and usually performed poorly in science subjects (Changeiywo, 2000).

The teaching of Physics in Nigeria has predominantly been through lecture method, which has been implicated to bring about poor academic performance and low motivation among students. The use of lecture method discourages initiatives, curiosity and creativity in students and does not offer them opportunity to interact effectively with their peers and learning materials.

Students‟ academic motivation is the tendency to find academic activities meaningful and worthwhile and to derive the intended academic benefits from the teaching and learning process (Dowson & Mclnerney, 2001). High academic motivation has consistently been linked to increase level of students‟ academic performance (Kushman, Sieber & Harold, 2000). Thus, the development of students‟ motivation in Nigeria secondary schools is a valuable objective for Physics teachers because of its inherent importance in enhancing students‟ performance in the subject. Mastery Learning Approach can help teachers organize personal responsibility and ensure congruence among learning goals, instructional techniques and procedures for assessing or evaluating students‟ learning. It provides a mechanism through which teacher can offer students regular feedback on their learning progress and guidance in correcting learning difficulties. In this study, the researcher investigated the Impact of Mastery Learning Approach on Motivation and Performance in Wave Concepts among Senior Secondary School Physics Students in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria.

                1.3       Objectives of the Study

The study has the following objectives. To:

  1. determine the impact of mastery learning approach on secondary school Physics students‟ performance,
  2. determine the impact of mastery learning approach on secondary school Physics students‟ motivation,
  3. find out if there is any difference in performance of male and female students  when taught using mastery learning approach and
  4. determine if there is any difference in motivation of male and female students when taught using mastery learning approach

                1.4       Research Questions

The following research questions are formulated for answering:

  1. What is the difference between the mean scores of students taught using mastery learning approach and those taught using lecture method?
  2. What is the difference between level of motivation between students taught using mastery learning approach and those taught using lecture method?
  3. What is the difference between the performance mean scores of male and female students taught using mastery learning approach?
  4. What is the difference between level of motivation of male and female students taught using mastery learning approach?

                1.5       Null Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses are formulated based on the research questions for testing at P < 0.05 level of significance:

H01: There is no significant difference between the mean scores of students taught using mastery learning approach and those taught using lecture method

H02:  There is no significant difference between level of motivation of students   taught using mastery learning approach and those taught using lecture method.

H03:  There is no significant difference between the performance of male and female students taught using mastery learning approach.

H04: There is no significant difference between level of motivation of male and female students taught using mastery learning approach.

1.6    Significance of the Study

It is hoped that the findings of this study would contribute to the growing body of knowledge in the following ways:

Physics Teachers: The findings of this study may benefit teachers in their choice of effective and relevant approach in teaching physics.

Students: The findings may also benefit students to adjust in the level of mastery and performance in physics.

Curriculum Planner: The findings could motivate curriculum planner to incorporate the use of mastery learning approach in physics curriculum.  

Researchers: Fellow researchers may use the outcome of this study to replicate it in other study areas, improve on it or adopt it for similar studies. The outcome of this study may also serve as a basis for further researches.

Government: It may also be of benefit to the federal and state government toward the development of individuals by providing useful information on ways of giving their citizens qualitative physics education.

Professional Bodies: Professional bodies like Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) and Mathematics Association of Nigeria (MAN) may use the findings of this study to organize workshops, seminars and conferences for teachers especially on how to incorporate it in teaching.



1.7    Scope of the Study

This study investigated the Impact of Mastery Learning Approach on motivation and performance in wave concepts among senior secondary school Physics students in Zaria,

Kaduna State. It is delimited to all public coeducational senior secondary school two (SSII) in Zaria Education Zone, Kaduna State, Nigeria. The reason for restricting this study to public schools is that they are the majority and have similar administrative structure. The choice of SSII students is because they are fully settled and they are not facing their final year examinations like SSIII. The SSI students are new to the system and are not settled and as such not use. Selected concepts of the study will be from Senior Secondary School (SS II) Physics Syllabus. These are: production & propagation of waves, types of Waves, properties of waves, light and sound waves and calculations involving waves. The choice of these concepts can be justified based on the fact that the Physics curriculum emphasized its teaching at SSII. Moreover, the concepts are perceived to be abstract in nature having limited instructional facilities (Adeyemo, 2010). More so, the concepts appear annually in the S.S.C.E and perceived by students as difficult concepts that contribute to their low performance (WAEC Chief Examiner‟s

Report, 2013).

 1.8     Basic Assumptions

The study has the following assumptions:

  1. Students can learn all important academic content to a level of excellence.
  2. The students under study have prerequisite adequate knowledge of wave concepts taught.
  3. The teachers teaching Physics in schools selected for the study are qualified and competent to teach wave concept
  4. The schools have Physics laboratory with adequate equipments.


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