1.1 Background of the study

          Physics is amongst old academic disciplines that still survive the test of time. It emerged as a unique program of its own during the scientific revolution in the 17th century from natural philosophy alongside objects such as Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics etc. physics is one of the science subject taught at senior secondary level of education in Nigeria. It is a fundamental science. It is essential for all science-related disciplines and vital for modern technologies. Most landmark success record in the quest to uncover hidden fact about the universe originated from physics field. The study of physics covered a wide range of knowledge. It is concerned with all aspects of nature, covering the behavior of bodies under the action of certain forces be it natural such as gravitational, frictional, nuclear forces or man-made such as push, pull, frictional forces etc. It borders on studying of fundamental/natural principles and theories involved in transforming scientific knowledge into technological innovations to ameliorate global challenges in all facets of life.

          By definition, physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force. Many authors have described physics in a unique way. Serway, and Jewelt (2004) described physics as a fundamental physical science concerned with the basic principles of universe; a foundation upon which other sciences are based. Sci-Tech Encyclopedia (   2012) defined physics as a body of subjects responsible for explaining all discernible phenomena in nature. According to Wikipedia (2012), physics is a natural science which relies on experimental data among other things in making explanations and predictions about our environment. International union of pure and applied physics, IUPAP (2009) adopted that physics is the study of matter and energy and their interactions is an international enterprise, which plays a key role in the future progress of human-race.

          Scientist of all disciplines and sometimes non-scientists make use of the ideas of physics. Physics is also the foundation of all engineering and technology. No man-made physical materials could be designed without first understanding the basic principles involved. Many pleasurable products ranging from automobiles and information and communications equipment to improved health system have their roots in ground-breaking discoveries made in the field science which physics is one of the bedrock subjects. Physics transverse disciplines. Its boundaries are not rigidly defined with other subject areas in sciences. Every occurrence in the universe obeys the physical laws and physical laws are laws of physics. Physics holds an important position in advancement of science and technology. The difference between developed and developing countries lies on the practice of science and technology, as developed world are readily applying scientific wisdom in problem solving, developing countries are doing little or nothing in the area of science and technology. Physics is a force to reckon with in this difference.  Young and freeman (1996) remarked, ‘’the study of physics is an adventure. You will find it challenging, sometimes frustrating, occasionally painful, and often richly rewarding and satisfying.” Our present understanding of the physical world has been built on the foundations laid by scientific giants of past and contemporary such as Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Einstein, and host of others. Physics matters so much in our life, its study has profoundly, influenced the ways in which we live and think. Physics is an exciting intellectual advert that inspires and propels expanding frontiers of mankind knowledge about our environment. It garners basic information required for now-and-future technologies which directly or indirectly accelerates the economy of a nation. The role physics education plays transcends its field. Its study has answered a lot of questions that had puzzled human race for centuries. The concepts of space and time, thunder and lightning, rainbow, eclipse, unidentified flying objects (UFOs) day and night, earthquake, hurricane etc are no longer mystery to mankind as a result of studies in sciences and related disciplines.

          Undoubtedly, physics may be viewed as the hub of sciences. Its relevant can never be over emphasized in today’s modern day life. However, it is quite disheartening that a survey into schools both secondary and tertiary institutions showed a continual decline in the number of students into the study of physics. This is sad news. Findings over decades now show that physics is one of the subjects with low enrollment rate when compared with other science disciplines in Universities, polytechnics and colleges of education Onalue (2005). The reasons why few students now offer physics in secondary schools as against unprecedented number of students studying other sciences and social sciences and the effects are the tasks this work is set to achieve.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

          It is worrisome to both physicists and educational researchers of the plight that bedevil the study of physics education in Nigeria. Numerous factors may be responsible for this low enrollment of physics in secondary school education. These factors are outlined below.

-         There are steady decrease in the number of capable manpower (teachers) needed to teach the subject.

-         Graduates from tertiary institutions around the country are mostly half-baked and this innovations in the field of science (especially in physics) are greatly jeopardized presently.

-         There is total decay in infrastructural amenities in schools in most part of the country. Science equipment and other material resources that should be made available for the study of physics and other sciences are unavailable.

-         High rate of scientiaphobia exist among students. Even primary school pupils are not left behind hence, interest in science subjects (especially physics) at tender age are inhibited.

-         Poor teaching approach in teaching sciences especially physics by teachers that are not specialist of the subject; poor motivation and unconducive working environment among other problems.

1.3 Purpose of the study

          The purpose of this research work is to investigate on the causes and effects of students’ low enrollment of physics in secondary school education in Anambra State. The work will also seek to find out the contributions of students, parents, schools and society to this deplorable situation facing the study of physics in our secondary schools.

1.4 Significant of the study

          The findings of this research work will generate reliable information stakeholders in physics education would utilize in formulating polices that will positively improve and encourage the study of physics particularly at secondary school level. Also the outcome of the work will be very useful to science teachers especially physics teachers because the direct implementation of education polices rest on then. Lastly, the result of the research will provide parents and guidance with information on how to motivate and encourage their wards to see reasons why they should, study practical oriented subjects (like physics) in this current dispensation where unemployment is the talk of the day.

1.5 Scope of the study

          The research covers all the secondary schools in Aguata Educational Zone of Anambra State and is intended to determine the causes and effect of low enrollment of physics in secondary school education.

1.6 Research questions

In order to make the research work successful, the following research questions were raised.

       i.            Does student’s attitude to physics hinder their enrollment in physics?

     ii.            Does physics teachers’ method of teaching hinder students’ enrollment in physics?

  iii.            What are the schools factors which tend to hinder student’s interest in the study of physics?

  iv.            Do parents influence on their wards’ choice of subjects at secondary school contributes to poor students’ enrollment of students in physics?

     v.            Are there same societal factors which tend to contribute to poor enrollment of students in physics in secondary school?





A number of researchers had been done on issues affecting the study of physics in Nigerian secondary schools for this research work, related literatures on the increasing decline in the number of students offering physics in secondary school education were reviewed. The review was done under the following subheadings;

1.     Conceptual framework

2.     Theoretical framework

3.     Review of  empirical studies

Thereafter, the summary of the literature review was given with emphasis on the vital points as it concerns the research topic.


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