The exploratory study focused on the
identification of difficult topics in Chemistry in the International General Certificate
of Secondary Education (IGCSE) curriculum. A structured questionnaire was used to
obtain data from thirty students by simple random sampling technique. Interviews and focus group discussions were carried
out to seek clarifications on some of the responses to the questionnaire questions
and to elicit detailed explanations of the causes of the perceived difficulties.
A multiple-choice test was also administered for the purpose of triangulation. Frequencies
and means were used to answer the research question. The findings indicate that
the causes of poor performance could be categorised into five groups i.e.: nature
of concepts, prior knowledge, access to the language of instruction, teaching processes
and mathematical efficacy. The study recommends a more structured form of curriculum
mapping of all topics and sequencing of topics over the two-year period of study
of IGCSE Chemistry and suggests further research on misconceptions and their origins
in the subject matter.
Keywords: chemistry, difficulty, concepts, abstract, igcse, sub-micro.
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