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2013. Vol.4, No.5, 304-306
Published Online May 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2013.45045
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s .
Nigerian Pre-Service Teachers’ Science Anxiety
Oludipe Daniel Idowu
Integrated Science Department, School of Science, Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu-Ijebu, Nigeria
Received August 30th, 2012 ; revised September 30th, 2012; accepted October 16th, 2012
Copyright © 2013 Oludipe Daniel Idowu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons
Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
This study investigated science anxiety of two groups of would-be science teachers. A 20-item Science
Anxiety Rating Scale (SARS) adopted from Bursal (2008) was used to gather data from the selected stu-
dents. 360 science education students drawn from a college of education and faculty of education of a
university in South-western part of Nigeria participated in the study. The sample comprised 200 (55.56%)
of the final year Bachelor’s degree in education and 160 (45.44%) of the final year Nigerian Certificate in
Education students respectively. Finding of this study revealed that there was statistically significant dif-
ference in the science anxiety of the two categories of would-be science teachers.
Keywords: Anxiety; Bachelor Degree; NCE; Science; Pre-Service Teachers
Science education plays an important role in the lives of in-
dividuals and in the advancement of science and technology for
the development of mankind and the society in general (Ale-
biosu, 1998). Science education is the tool used to achieve sci-
entific literacy which is the gateway to achieve scientific and
technological advancement and economic survival (Alebiosu,
2003). The influence of science on a nation and her citizens
could be seen from the production of basic human needs to
social, political, educational, technological and economic ad-
vancement. The steps scientists take during scientific investiga-
tion (science process) and scientific products draw the attention
of the society to the fact that science makes life comfortable.
Economically, advanced nations of the world are distin-
guished by the excellence of their educational system. Aca-
demic programmes of their educational institutions give special
attention to science education programme. Towards revolution-
izing Nigerian educational system, the 1969 conference gave
birth to the National Policy on Education which brought
changes to Nigerian educational system. For instance, in Nige-
ria, the National Policy on Education (2004: pp. 29-32) pro-
vided educational expenditure in science and technology.
Science anxiety is described as involving feelings of tension
and anxiety that interfere with the manipulation of scientific
equipment in a wide variety of ordinary life and a cademic s itua-
tions. Science anxiety can also be described as a state of dis-
comfort which occurs in response to situations involving scien-
tific tasks which are perceived as threatening to self esteem.
Such feelings are shown to lead to panic, tension, helplessness,
fear, distress, shame, inability to cope, sweaty palms, nervous
stomach, difficulty in breathing, and loss of ability to concen-
trate (Seligman, Walker, & Rossenham, 2001).
Students’ participation in science is affected by attitudes as-
sociated with science (Linn, 1992). International Assessment of
Educational Progress (1992) reported that positive attitudes
toward science influence students’ performance and enrolment
in science subjects. Further research examining psychological
effects found that a student’s self-concept of his ability to per-
form in science positively correlated with achievement (Oliver
& Simpson, 1988). Jegede (2007) carried out a research work
on students’ anxiety towards the learning of chemistry in sec-
ondary schools found that students, male and female, showed
great anxiety towards the learning of chemistry and that the
anxiety is higher in female than male.
Jegede also reported that wide coverage of the syllabus, low
awareness of career opportunities, teachers and their teaching
methods, and lack of teaching aids/laboratory were the causes
of the Senior Secondary School students’ anxiety towards
chemistry. It has been observed that so many students fear sci-
ence subjects (biology , chemistry, physics, & integrated science)
and such fear is characterized by mass disenchantment among
the students towards the science subjects (Jegede, 2007). Stu-
dents’ anxiety towards the learning of any of the aforemen-
tioned science subjects leads to loss of interest in sciences at all
levels of educational system (Keeves & Morgenstern, 1992).
As said earlier, science education plays a vital role in the
lives of individuals and in the advancement of science and
technology for the development of mankind and the society in
general. Science subjects are the prerequisites for the medical
sciences, textile technology, agricultural science, synthetic In-
dustry, printing technology, pharmacy, chemical engineering,
science education, to mention just a few (Jegede, 2007). In spite
of the Federal Government efforts to enhance students’ interest
in science right from the primary school level, students still see
science subjects as bitter pills to swallow.
To solve this problem of science anxiety among primary pu-
pils and secondary school students respectively, it is pertinent
to focus on the pre-service science teachers because they are the
implementors of the dictates of the science curriculum and the
ones to create an anxiety-free classroom environment. In spite
of the negative effects of students’ anxiety on the science sub-
O. D. ID OWU
jects, researchers had done little or nothing to examine the level
of science anxiety, most especially among pre-service science
teachers, in a Nigerian sample. It is against these backgrounds
that the present research work critically examined the level of
science anxiety among pre-service science teachers.
This study was conducted to answer the following questions:
1) Are the pre-service University science teachers science
2) Are the pre-service College of education science teachers
3) Does any of the two categories exhibit significant science
anxiety than the other?
4) Is there any significant difference in the level of anxiety
exhibited by male and female Pre-se rvi ce science teachers?
360 pre-service science teachers (biology, basic science,
chemistry, and physics) from the faculty of education of a Uni-
versity and a College of education in South-West Nigeria par-
ticipated in the study. The Sample comprised 200 (55.5%) of
the 4th year or final year university pre-service science teachers
and 160 (45.5%) of the 3rd year or final year college of educa-
tion pre-service science teachers. The 360 pre-service science
teachers who participated in the study were randomly selected
from the 800 (400 level) pre-service university science teachers
in the aforementioned University, and 500 (300 level) pre-ser-
vice college of education science teachers in the aforemen-
tioned college of education.
The only instrument used to gather data for this study was a
structured questionnaire, Science Anxiety Rating Scale (SARS).
Each item in the instrument was rated on a five-point Likert-
type scale anchored by 1 = none, 2 = some, 3 = moderate, 4 =
much, and 5 = very much. The 20-item Science Anxiety Rating
Scale (SARS) (Bursal, 2008) was administered to the partici-
pants during one of the lectures in second semester. The in-
strument was validated by three senior colleagues (one from
science education, one from guidance and counseling, and the
third from test and measurement respectively). To ascertain the
reliability of the instrument, it was administered to a set of stu-
dents of the same level and status from another University and
College of education respectively. Cronbach Alphas were com-
puted to determine the reliabilities of scores obtained in this
context. The SARS yielded an internal consistency (coefficient
alpha) reliability of .83. Descriptive statistics and independent
samples t-test were used to analyse the data collected.
Total anxiety score was calculated from the 20 items on the
SARS scale in order to ascertain the prevalence of science
anxiety within each of the two groups. The minimum possible
score was 20 and the maximum 100. A score of 60 is the mid-
dle point; hence higher scores indicate more science anxiety,
while lower scores indicate less (or no) science anxiety. It was
revealed from the data analysis that 110 students representing
30.56% had 48 as scores less than the 60 mid-point. 05 students
scored 63 (1.39%), 85 students scored 65 (23.61%), 70 students
scored 67 (19.44%), while 90 students scored 76 (25%) all of
which were higher than the mid-point (60). This result indicates
that majority of the prospective science teachers in this sample
(250, 69.44%) had high science anxiety, suggesting the preva-
lence of science anxiety among the participants.
Along programme line, it was revealed that 110 degree pro-
spective science teachers had scores (48) less than the mid-
point (60), while 90 degree prospective science teachers had
scores higher than the 60 mid-point (63 & 65). At the college of
education level, all the 160 samples had scores higher than the
mid-point (67 & 76). This implies that the prospective college
of education science teachers are more science anxious than
their University counterparts. Examining the prevalence of
science anxiety along gender line, it was revealed that 110 male
students scored 48 representing 30.56%, 60 male students
scored 67 (16.66%), while 190 female students (52.78%)
scored between 63 - 67 above the midpoint (60). 110 male pre-
service university students scored 48, while 60 male prospec-
tive college of education students scored 67 (above the 60
midpoint). 90 female prospective university students scored 63,
while 190 female prospective college students scored between
63 - 76 (above the midpoint). From the foregoing, female stu-
dents are more science anxious than their male colleagues.
Male preservice college of education science teachers are more
science anxious than their university colleagues. Similarly, the
female preservice college of education science teachers are
more science anxious than their female university colleagues.
Further statistical analysis, using independent samples t-test,
indicated in Table 1 that there was statistically significant dif-
ference in science anxiety between the prospective university
and college of education science teachers (t = .000, sig). Simi-
larly, from Table 1, there was statistically significant difference
in the science anxiety between male and fe male prospective uni-
versity and college of education science teachers (t = .000, sig).
Discussion and Recommendations
Statistical analysis of the individual’s perception of their
level of science anxiety, measured through the SARS, indicated
the prevalence of science anxiety among pre-service teachers in
this sample. Interestingly, this study revealed that the pre-ser-
vice college of education teachers were more science anxious
(72.06) than their university colleagues (55.50). Suggesting that
programme of study might be a causative agent of pre-service
teachers’ science anxiety. The analysis also revealed that gen-
der might be a predictive factor of students’ science anxiety
given the statistical difference in the male and female standard
deviations (54.71, 70.16). This study has established the preva-
lence of science anxiety among the pre-service science teach-
ers in Nigeria. Hence it is hereby recommended that lec turers
handling the science courses, most especially at the college of
Independent samples t-test according to institutions and gender.
InstitutionNumberMeanStd Df Sig. (2-tailed)
College 160 72.064.479
Male 170 54.719.107
Female 190 70.165.604
Note: ** = significant; Std = standard deviation; Df = degree of freedom; Sig =
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 305
O. D. ID OWU
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s .
education level, should drop the conventional lecture method of
teaching the pre-service teachers for other methods of teaching
which are activity oriented that would make teaching and learn-
ing science more meaningful to the pre-service teachers. Work-
shops on the appropriate methods of teaching science should be
regularly organized for the in-service teachers to update their
Alebiosu, K. A. (1998). Effects of two cooperative learning models on
senior secondary school students’ learning outcomes in chemistry.
Unpublished Ph.D . Thesis, Ibadan: University of Ibadan.
Alebiosu, K. A. (2003). Readings in science education. Ibadan: Majes-
tic Printers and Publishers.
Jegede, S. A. (2007). Students’ anxiety towards the learning of chemis-
try in some Nigerian secondary schools. Educational Research Re-
view, 2, 193-197.
Keeves, J. P., & Morgenstern, C. (1992). Attitudes towards science:
Measures and effects. In J. P. Keeves (Ed. ), The IEA study of science
III: NCE: 1970-1984 (pp. 122-140). New York: Pergamon.
Linn, M. C. (1992). Science education reform: Building the research
base. Journal of Research in Science Teaching , 29, 821-840.
Murat B. (2008). Changes in Turkish pre-service elementary teachers’
personal science teaching efficacy beliefs and science anxieties dur-
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NERDC (2004). National policy on edu c ation. Lagos: NERDC.
Oliver, J. S., & Simpson, R. D. (1988). Influences of attitude towards
science, achievement, motivation, and science self concept on achi-
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Sel ig man Walkman, M. E. P., Walker, E. F., & Rossenhan, D. L. (2001).
Abnormal psychology (4th ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Com-
Science Anxiety Rating Scale
Researcher: D. I. Oludipe, PhD
N.B.: This is not a test, so your opinion will not be judged as
right or wrong. Any information you give will be treated with
confidentiality and will be used for research purposes.
Directions: Some of the following activities may cause anxi-
ety toward science and science learning.
Please select one of the boxes to indicate the level of anxiety
you may or may not experience in each situation.
Full Name: …………………………………………………
Male [ ] Female [ ]
Please indicate (X) on the number (1 - 5) to indicate how you
feel about each statement below.
N.B.: None = 1
Some = 2
Moderate = 3
Much = 4
Very Much = 5
1 Discussing scientific theories with my friends
outside the school 1 2 345
2 Explaining my ideas to people abou t
a novel event in na ture 1 2 345
3 Being asked to justify an everyday life
decision by using science 1 2 345
4Helping elementary/secondary school stu-
dents with his or her sc ience project 1 2 345
5Walking to a science class 1 2 345
6Working on a project for my science class 1 2 345
7Waiting for the result of a science
examination 1 2 345
8Reading science textbooks 1 2 345
9Reporting scientific data from tables and
charts in cl ass 1 2 345
10Doing a science experiment in labo ratory 1 2 345
11 Presenting my findings from exper iments to
the teacher 1 2 345
12Taking a sc i ence examin ation 1 2 345
13 Being asked to ju stify my answer in a
science clas s 1 2 345
14 Asking questions about what I do not
understand i n a science class 1 2 345
15 Thinking about an abstract scientific
concept in class 1 2 345
16 Being asked by my t eacher to explain
a novel event 1 2 345
17Using unit in science classes 1 2 345
18 Using mathematical equations in
science examinations 1 2 345
19 Recalling the textbook definition of
scientific laws 1 2 345
20 Being asked t o explain scientific laws in
my own words 1 2 345