1.1 Background to the Study
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth,evolution, distribution, identification and taxonomy. Modern biology is a vast and eclectic field, composed of manybranches and sub-disciplines. However, despite the broad scope of biology, there are certain general and unifying concepts within it that govern all study and research, consolidating it into single, coherent field. In general, biology recognizes thecellas the basic unit of life,genesas the basic unit of heredity, andevolutionas the engine that propels the synthesis and creation of new species. It is also understood today that all the organisms survive by consuming and transforming energyand by regulating their internal environment to maintain a stable and vital condition known as homeostasis, (Richards, 2002).
Sub-disciplines of biology are defined by the scale at which organisms are studied, the kinds of organisms studied, and the methods used to study them for example biochemistryexamines the rudimentary chemistry of life;molecular biology studies the complex interactions among biological molecules;botany studies the biology of plants;cell biologyexamines the basic building-block of all life, the cell;physiologyexamines the physical and chemical functions of tissues,organs, andorgan systemsof an organism;evolutionary biologyexamines the processes that produced the diversity of life; andecologyexamines how organisms interact in their environment, (Richards, 2002).
One of the objectives of education in Nigeria is to prepare the youth to become self sufficient in order to meet the nation’s manpower requirements. Schools need to conduct examinations purposely to assess the cognitive ability of the student. It follows then that examination is very paramount in the placement of students. Examination, according to Maruka, (1993) “can be seen as a way to ascertain how much of a subject matter in a particular field of study the candidate has mastered.” In other words, it is a process through which studies are evaluated or tested to find out the quality of knowledge students have acquired within a specific period.
Examinations could be oral, written or both. However, examination malpractice is any wrong doing before, during or after any examination Olisama (2003). To Sooze (2004), examination malpractice is an illegal means that students use to pass examinations. Olisama, (2003) is of the opinion that when a student receives or acquires foreign aid in an attempt to pass examination, it is called examination malpractice.
The various dimensions of examination malpractice includes bringing of foreign materials into the examination hall, colliding with supervisors to cheat, receiving help from other candidates, impersonation, insult or assault on examination officials, electronically assisted malpractices, mass cheating, and changing of scores by examiners for candidates.
Studies on the causes of examination malpractice reveals that low morality, poor school facilities, inadequacy of trained teachers and corrupt nature of WAEC and NECO officials and desire to succeed at all cost by the students are the common reasons why students engage in examination malpractices (Idahosa, 2005).
According to Oredein (2008), the variables of age, sex and test anxiety of students largely influence their behaviour especially during examinations. Some scholars have argued that these variables correlate to certain degree and cannot be separated from examination malpractices. To many researchers, age of the learner determines the variation in the speed at which he learns and at the rate at which he engages in examination malpractices. Others have attached sex of the learner as factor for examination malpractices. For instance, in tracing the mode of examination malpractice between the sexes, Oredein, (2008) argued empirically that girls find it easy to inscribe information on any part of their body like thighs, baby pampers, purses and palms than their male counterpart. Apart from this, other scholars have identified test anxiety as the main cause of examination malpractices. According to Ibrahim, (2004) academic success usually depend upon students’ ability to adapt to academic situation. He argued that students who feel competent will not be much threatened by stressful academic demands but to one’s surprise, students are generally anxious over examination, which invariably leads some of them to engage in examination malpractice.
Sex, according to Cambridge Dictionary is the state of being a male or female. Different views exist as to which sex involves more in examination malpractices. Lobel and Levanon (2008) argue that more males engage in examination malpractices than the females while Leming (2000) believes that there are more female involvement in examination malpractice than male.
The absence of significance difference between the anxiety levels of males and female most especially prior to examination could be attributed to many factors. Both students must have familiarized themselves with the academic environment and the females, thinking that they can always find themselves through by any means, write on parts of their body with the aim of engaging in examination malpractice. Boys have been found to partake in examination malpractice especially when they have fear of failing in difficult subjects. Based on this finding, sex as a variable will receive serious attention as predictor of examination malpractices.
Age, in education, is a level of development equivalent to that of an average person of a particular age. As already noted, the variable of age in combination with biological, cognitive, affective and psychological dimensions upon students’ examination malpractice seems to be one of the main factors determining students’ participation in examination malpractice. Amamize (2003) observed that maturation of the learner and exposure to different situations is a determining factor whether the student will involve himself or herself in examination malpractice. However, it still remains open to question whether a particular age group is more prone to examination malpractice. In some respect, all age group engage in examination malpractice and this is where the research will focus attention.
Test anxiety is another major factor that leads students to engage in examination malpractices. Olusade (2003) defines anxiety as the chronic fear that occurs when a threatened event is in the offing but is unpredictable. In a similar way, May (1977) in Ibrahim (2004), viewed anxiety as a maladjusted behaviour. On the other hand, test can be seen as a series of questions, problems, or practical tasks to gauge somebody's knowledge, ability, or experience (Encarta, 2007). In other words, it is the exams designed to objectively measure the academic aptitude of students from varying social backgrounds and with different educational experience. Test anxiety refers to the fear a student exhibits before, during or after writing a test. According to Ibrahim (2004) several factors account for test anxiety among secondary school students leading some of them into examination malpractices.
Considering the problem of examination malpractices, the rate at which students faint or fall sick during examination, and many other anxiety related problems in schools, it becomes necessary to find out the age and sex of the students and look at their anxiety levels, (Idahosa, 2005).
With the embarrassing situation examination malpractice has caused the nation, this made the Federal Government in 1984 to promulgate Decree 20 to punish offenders. Part of the Decree reads thus:
“any person who fraudulently or with intent to cheat or secure any unfair advantage to himself or any other person or in abuse of his office, produces, sells or buys or otherwise deals with any question paper intended for the examination of persons at any examination or commits any of the offences in specified section 3 (27) of this Decree shall be guilty of an offence and on conviction be sentenced to 21 years imprisonment (Fagbemi, 1998).
Despite this attempt to curb examination malpractice, it has been on the increase. It therefore becomes imperative for policy makers to understand the age factor, sex factor and test anxiety factor as a predictor of examination malpractice, which presently, little is known about.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
As much as research has been conducted on examination malpractice, there is scanty information on how age and sex predicts examination malpractices among biology students. Although, there exist a lot of research on test anxiety but variable in combination with age and sex are yet to be fully researched. Therefore this study investigated test anxiety, age and gender as predicted of examination malpractice among secondary school Biology students.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this research work is to:
1.4 Research Questions
This study attempted to answer the following research questions;
1.5 Scope of the Study
This study centers on gender and test anxiety as a predictors of examination malpractice among biology students in senior secondary schools in Odeda Local Government of Ogun State. Data were collected from five (5) schools randomly selectedin Odeda Local Government, Abeokuta.
1.6 Operational Definition of Terms
Examination:Examination is a way to ascertain how much of a subject matter in a particular field of study the candidate has mastered. In other words, it is a process through which studies are evaluated or tested to find out the quality of knowledge they have acquired within a specific period.
Examination malpractice: Examination malpractice is an illegal means that students use to pass examinations.
Sex: the state of a being female or male
Age: the chronological age of a person
Test Anxiety: Test anxiety in this study refers to the fear a student exhibits before, during or after writing a test.
Biology: Is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy.
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