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This study was carried out to identify senior secondary school girls’ mentors and role models, determine the mentoring and role modeling qualities that could promote girls interest and self efficacy in chemistry. Two hundred senior secondary school girls were purposively chosen from two senior secondary schools from Lagos educational district 1, Agege. Questionnaire was used to collect data and data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Scientist (SPSS). The results showed that senior secondary school girls mentors are their mothers (N=103, 51.5%), there role model is also their mothers (N=65, 32.5%) closely followed by medical doctors (N=47, 23.5%). Both represent more than half of the total sample.  

The findings of the study also showed that self confidence of mentors can significantly promote girls self efficacy in chemistry. Openness/objectivity of mentors and optimism/hard working nature of role model significantly promote senior secondary school girls interest and self efficacy in chemistry. Self confidence of mentor was not a realistic measure of senior secondary school girls’ interest in chemistry. Moral behavior of role model cannot significantly promote girls interest and self efficacy in chemistry.



The role of chemistry as a requirement for technological advancement of a nation cannot be over emphasized and Nigeria is not an exception (Nbina J, 2012). Eke (2008) stated that any nation aspiring to be scientifically and technological developed must have adequate level of chemistry education. Based on this, the Federal government through, her national policy on education, made chemistry a compulsory science subject at the secondary level (NPE 2004). According to Adesoji & Olatunbosun (2008) Chemistry is one of core science subjects at the senior secondary level and plays significant role in unifying other science subjects. This calls for the need to teach it effectively.

Thomas & Tinu (2008) opined that the senior secondary school is to prepare student for the future activities in the area of science and technology. At this level, teaching ought to be activity oriented and centered on the student. Saage (2009) reported that despite the increasing important of chemistry, the performance of Nigerian students in the subject at secondary school remains considerably poor. According to Betiku (2002), the available report from West African Examination Council(WAEC) shows that student achievement in chemistry worsen as years go by and many students seem to have negative attitude towards the subject.

Farhana W & Zainum M (2013) stated that many factors contributed to student success and one of the factors is students’ attitude to learning. They opined that understanding students’ attitude is essential in supporting students’ achievement and interest towards a particular subject .Papanastasious (2001) reported that those who have positive attitude towards science perform better in the subject. The teachers play an important role during the learning process and they can directly or indirectly influence the student interest towards the subject, which in consequence can influence student performance. Britner &Pajares (2006) showed that self-efficacy is especially important in learning difficult subjects, such as biology and other sciences, given that students enter courses with varying levels of fear and anxiety. As concepts in the course become increasingly complex, self-efficacy becomes a more important variable that influences the potential for student learning. They demonstrated that students’ self-efficacy is a strong predictor of their academic performance. Poor academic performance of student in science subject is of great concern to parents, educators, scholars and government. More worrisome is the poor performance of female students. Orodho A (1996) reported that poor performance in chemistry is attributed to several factors. These include inappropriate syllabus, students’ poor attitudes towards the subject and inadequate resources.

Bashir & Kabir (2009) posited that gender difference in science, technology and mathematics is characterized by under representation and under achievement in these areas by female. Findings from studies on science education revealed that female enrollment in science subjects are very low. Reporting National Educational and development research council (NERDC, 1992) reveals that between years 1987 and 1991 only about 40% of students that sat for the science subjects of the final school certificate examination were female students. Irowi (1991) noticed that the rate of female participation in school science worldwide is lower than male participation.

Onekutu(2002) wrote that achievement test results over the years have shown an ever increasing gap between the performance of boys and girls in chemistry at senior secondary school level. According to Eriba & Ande (2006), this has resulted to a situation where there are more boys than girls doing chemistry at this level i.e. boys dominated chemistry and science classes while the girls go into reading languages and Arts. This perceived low achievement of girls in chemistry is an unpleasant development which spells doom for those who would have like to pursue careers in science programs in the universities.

Some factors have been identified to be responsible for this and are discussed below:

1.1.1 Factors that negatively influence female participation and performance in science and technology.  

(a) According to Bashir & Kabir (2009), women play numerous roles at home, leading to the assumptions that women’s place is in the kitchen, which implies that home duties and family responsibilities should be her sole priority. This assumption negatively affects women active participation in national development in general and scientific field in particular. As an individual, educated woman scientists have numerous roles to play alongside their home duties. She can be a professional science teacher, doctor, engineer, nurse, mid-wife etc.

(b) Bashir & Kabir (2009) stated that the assumptions that female are biologically not designed for energy exerting and hazardous occupations also militates against female participation in science and technology and mathematics. This argument may not be true anymore because, with the age of information technology (IT), intellectual ability counts more than physical energy.

(c) Catherine W (2008) reported that, in many African countries, girls’ exclusion from science can be attributed largely to the construction of feminine identities, ideologies of domesticity and gender stereotypes. According to UNESCO, “TIMSS 2011 Such gendered stereotypes are often ingrained early in life and are difficult to overcome. There is a prevalent view in Nigeria that women’s and men’s traditional roles in society should be preserved, and therefore girls should not compete with boys in class. Those who do pursue science can be stigmatized as aberrant or, at best, deemed “exceptional,” whereas boys are presumed to have a “natural ability.

(d) According to Bashir & Kabir (2009) the home contributes to female lack of participation in science, technology and mathematics. At home, some parents discourage their female children from entering for science subjects at secondary school level. This attitudes exhibited undermines female confidence and conveying strong messages that science and technical subjects are no go areas. Some parents only educate male children at the expensed of female. In the northern part of the country, education of majority of the female children ends at post primary school level. They are married out at a very early age and there education disrupted. The school portrays teacher bias which affects females’ confidence and performance. Teachers’ different expectation for females affects their achievement.

(e) Lastly, Ekine, A(1999) asserted that  with more women accessing science education and careers, even if in small numbers, these views are beginning to change. Nigerians are increasingly able to point to female role models such as Grace Alele Williams, who was the first Nigerian woman to obtain a doctorate, in mathematics education, and who then rose to become the first female vice chancellor of the University of Benin. Nonetheless, Nigerian women’s lack of visibility in the sciences, and the lack of recognition that they can play a part in the sciences, at both the local and national levels, persists. These different forms of cultural bias and discrimination against girls in relation to their participation in science greatly exacerbate their lack of self-confidence, which often translates into a lack of interest and leads them to drop out of science classes. As girls get older, they tend to become less confident in their abilities, even if

they are performing at the same levels as their male peers, and thus they often show science and

mathematics related anxieties, and come to believe that science is not for them. Mentoring and role modeling can be used as intervention strategies to encourage girls’ interest and self efficacy in chemistry, thereby improving their performance.

1.1.2 Mentoring in promoting girls attitude and self-efficacy in chemistry 

According to Mentorset (2014), mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool. It is an effective way of helping people (students) to make progress in their careers and is becoming increasingly popular as its potential is realized. Mentoring is a partnership between two people (Mentor and Mentee) normally working in a similar field or sharing similar experiences. It is a relationship based upon mutual trust and respect. A mentor is a guide, who can help the mentee to develop solutions to career issues. A mentor helps the mentee (female students in this work) to believe in herself, boost her confidence while providing guidance and encouragement. Mentors help keep students in school, helps with homework and can improve their mentees’ academic skills. A number of studies have revealed a correlation between a young person’s involvement in a quality mentoring relationship and positive outcomes in the areas of school, mental health, problem behavior and health. Also, Marshall (2001), define mentoring as a process of people helping people; where helping teaching, advising counseling, instructing and guidance are provided by one person to another. He suggested that mentoring increases networking and social interaction. Lough( 2001),describes mentoring as a process that links an experienced individual with someone who needs support and guidance. Abbey (1991) proposed that mentoring schemes as a mechanism for developing females’ careers and providing a genuine opportunity to become significant leaders in sport. Bauldry & Hartman (2004) reported that mentoring programs have achieved extensive public recognition due to their remarkable success in increasing positive behaviors in youth and reducing negative behaviors. According to Jekielek, Moore and Hair (2002), youth participation in mentoring relationships improved important educational measures such as unexcused absences and better attitudes. They noted that mentoring also helped develop healthier behaviors (less drug and alcohol use) and improved social and behavioral outcomes, such as better relationship with parents and peers. Wood and Mayo-Wilson (2012) in their meta-analysis of school based mentoring programs for adolescents similarly found small to modest positive changes in student attendance. Wheeler, Keller, Dubois (2010), Funk and Ek (2002) and Jekielek et al. (2002) also reported reductions in truancy in their studies.

1.1.3 Qualities of a mentor

According to Daloz, 1999 & Guy, 2002. A mentor was described as an older, more experienced person who shared his or her expertise and knowledge with a mentee. As mentoring research progressed, age differential between mentor and mentee was found increasingly irrelevant. Knowledge, skill, expertise, and experience of the mentor were considered more essential than age differential. The mentor must also be knowledgeable, experienced, interested, accessible, and a networker. This individual must be willing to share resources, observe confidentiality, show mutual respect, and show affection (Carruthers, 1993; English, 1996). In a qualitative study of 27 mentors from 5 medium to large companies, Allen and Poteet (1999) found characteristics of an ideal mentor. Among these were listening and communication skills, patience, knowledge of the organization, the ability to understand others, honesty, a genuine interest in mentoring, people-orientation, structure, vision, common sense, self-confidence, openness to suggestions, leadership qualities, versatility, respect of others, an ability to teach, willingness to give feedback, and fairness/objectivity. The mentor has an outlook which is both positive and realistic, is prepared to give quality time to others, will listen and not pre-judge, retains an interest in their own growth and development, has a degree of self-assurance which enables them to be challenged and receive criticism (and to give it), and is prepared for occasional feelings of discomfort (Whitaker & Cartwright, 2000). In addition, the mentor displays an ability to readily see potential in a person; tolerance with mistakes, brashness, abrasiveness, and the like, in order to see that potential develop; flexibility in responding to people and circumstances; patience; perspective; and gifts and abilities that build up and encourage others (Stanley & Clinton, 1992). The mentor is also a person of integrity, judgment, wisdom, self-knowledge (Garvey, Alfred, & Smith, 1996), and a high tolerance for complexity with the ability to help the mentee navigate it (Garvey & Alred, 2001). A unique perspective on mentor function held that social judgment capacities were essential, including wisdom, social perceptiveness, and moral and social reasoning (Sosik & Lee, 2002). MacCallum & Beltman (2002) noted that mentors need to be caring and have a positive non judgmental approach to young people and guide them in their journey. According to Mc Kimm et al. (2003), the following are qualities that characterize good mentors: good interpersonal skills, objectivity, role model, flexibility peer respect, demonstrable competence, reflective practitioner, non-threatening, attitude facilitator of learning, allowing the development of initiative and independence, open mindedness, approachability, self-confidence and self awareness advocacy, sincerity, warmth, commitment, understanding etc.

Heeralal P (2014) carried out a study on student teachers’ perspective of qualities of good mentor teachers. The result of the study is presented in table A. The data suggests that student teachers would like their mentors to be knowledgeable, experienced, honest, respectful, fair, flexible and understanding, Student teachers do not like to have mentors that are controlling and strict

Table1.1: Students preferences of qualities of mentor teachers


Percentage of students preferring this quality

















1.1.4 Role modeling in promoting girls attitude and self-efficacy in chemistry

According to Kenny, Mann & Macheod, (2003), role modeling is described as teaching by example and influencing people in an often times unintentional, unaware, informal and episodic manner. That is, everyone serves as role model for learners in our field through our routine actions. It has been referred to as the “hidden curriculum” of professional education as one often lack understanding regarding the influence role modeling has on learners. Students learn behaviors that appears successful to them in the light of their personal goals and rewards. This is a foundational principle of social learning theory and how role models exert influence on others. 

According to Lockwood & Kunda ( 1997), a role model can be a symbolic entity, an inspirational and/or motivational individual, someone from whom one can learn and model desired behaviors. Role modeling according to Dake and Taylor (1994)  is teaching by example and learning by imitation.

Asghani & Atabaki (2011) found that role models not only help students develop their knowledge and skill, but also play significant role in shaping and inspiring a career. According to (2014), a role model inspires and encourages us to strive for greatness, live to our full potential and see the best in ourselves. Students learn through role models, through their commitment to excellence and ability to make students realize their own personal growth. A role model can be anybody, a parent, a friend, a sibling but some of the most influential and life changing role models are teachers. Therefore, teachers can use this tool to promote girls interest in chemistry, which will subsequently improve their academic performance.

1.1.5 Qualities of a role model

According to Freddie (2014), role models inspire youngsters to reach their full potentials. He stated that not everyone is suitable to be influential, positive role model. Effective role models possess desirable characteristics that make them easy to look up to. These qualities are: Moral: A good role model has high moral values. Research conducted by developmental psychologist Marilyn Price-Mitchell and reported on her website, Root of Action; found that children respect those who practice what they preach. Role models behave ethically and demonstrate honesty. Confident: People admire those who project confidence. Good role models, have a healthy appreciation of their accomplishments. They are able to acknowledge their skills and achievement without becoming arrogant. Hardworking: Role models demonstrate their commitment to a desired goal and are willing to invest the necessary time and effort to achieve success. They don’t give up easily and they persevere when confronted by obstacles. Their passion to succeed inspires youngsters to follow through and reach the goals they set for themselves. Respect: For role model to be influential, they must show respect for others. Young people appreciate being treated with respect and admire those who treat them and others that way. Role model who demonstrate selflessness and a democratic, non-prejudiced view of those different from themselves earn the admiration of others. Optimistic and Creative: Role models inspire others with an upbeat, optimistic outlook to life. No one would want to emulate a pessimistic individual.

Marty Z (2010) highlighted seven traits of a role model to be: confidence & leadership, uniqueness, good communication, respect, knowledgeable, humility and doing good things outside their jobs. Sharlyn L (2013): stated six qualities of a role model; awareness, commitment, empathy, foresight, listening and persuasion.


This study will provide science educators, curriculum planners, government and the wider society with detailed information about mentoring and role modeling qualities that can effectively promote girls’ attitude and self efficacy in chemistry thereby, improving their academic performance. In view of this information, curriculum planner and government can ensure that these tools are incorporated into planning and formation of policies for science education.


The theoretical background of this study is the social learning theory. According to Albert Bandura(1977). Social learning theory is a learning theory based on the ideas that people learn by watching what others do and that human thought process are central to understanding personality. This provides a framework for understanding, predicting and changing human behavior. The main tenets of Bandura’s theory are that:

(i) People learn by observing others.

(ii) The same set of stimuli may provoke different responses from different people or from the same people at different times.

(iii) The world and a person’s behavior are intertwined.

(iv) Personality is an interaction between three factors: the environment, behavior and a person’s psychological processes.

Through his research, Bandura (1977) established that there are certain steps involved in the modeling process:

(i) Attention: one need to pay attention to learn something new. The more striking or different something is, the more likely it is to gain our attention.

(ii) Retention: one must be able to retain (remember) what one has paid attention to. One store what one has seen the model doing in the form of verbal descriptions or mental images and bring. These triggers up later to help one reproduce the model with one own behavior.

(iii) Reproduction: at this point, one has to translate the images or description into actual behavior. One must have the ability to reproduce the behavior in the first place.

(iv) Motivation: Unless one is motivated, or have a reason, one will not try to imitate the model. Badura (1977) states a number of motives including: past reinforcement, promised reinforcement and vicarious reinforcement.    

According to Kendra (2014), the concept of self-efficacy is central to Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory which emphasizes the role of observational learning, social experience and reciprocal determinism in the development of personality. According to Bandura, a person’s attitudes, abilities and cognitive skills comprise what is known as the self-system. This system plays a major role in how one perceives situations and how one behaves in response to different situations. Bandura (1995) defines self-efficacy as “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations” that is, self-efficacy is a person’s belief in his/her ability to succeed in a particular situation. He described these beliefs as determinants of how people think, behave and feel. Bandura found that an individual self-efficacy plays a major role in how goals, tasks and challenges are approached.  

Based on these theories, this research assumes that a student with a strong/positive self-efficacy and attitudes tends to put greater effort into studying (chemistry), which eventually results in good performance. Those with weak/negative self efficacy and attitudes are less likely to put great effort into the subject which eventually results in low/poor achievement/performance


Many researchers have carried out studies about under-achievement of females in the sciences (Eriba & Ande, 2006). Adesoji (2008) stated that there is a relationship between attitude and achievement and that it is possible to predict achievement from attitude scores. Turner et al (2009) also agree that self efficacy is strongly related to one’s academic achievement. Research has shown that youth in mentoring relationship present better attitudes and behaviors at school ( Jekielek et al, 2002) and that mentoring helps improve a young person’s self esteem, set career goals and start taking steps to realize them ( mentor set, 2014).

Asghari et al (2011) examined opinion of fourth year medical students on role modeling and reported that role models are not only important in helping students develop their knowledge and skill but 57 percent of the students claimed their role model influenced their decision regarding their clinical specialty for residency training.

Some authors and investigator are skeptical about mentoring and disagree with the idea that mentoring is always a positive experience. Also, according to Ashley J (2014), a role model could have negative impact on learners. This study therefore examines if mentoring and role modeling could be used as intervention strategies to promote senior secondary school attitude and self efficacy in chemistry.

1.5 Purpose of study

The purpose of study is to:

(1) Identify senior secondary school girls’ mentors and role models.

(2) Identify the mentoring qualities that could promote girls attitudes and self – efficacy in chemistry.

(3) Determine the role modeling qualities that could promote girls attitudes and self efficacy in chemistry.

1.6 Research Questions

(1) Who are the senior secondary school girls’ mentors and role models?

(2) How will self confidence of mentors promote girls’ attitudes and self-efficacy in chemistry?

(3) To what extent will openness of mentors promotes girls’ attitudes and self-efficacy in chemistry?

(4) How will objectivity of mentors promote girls’ attitudes and self-efficacy in chemistry?

(5) To what extent will hardworking nature of role models promote girls attitudes and self-efficacy in chemistry?

(6) How will optimism of role models promote girls’ attitudes and self-efficacy in chemistry?

(7) To what extent will moral behaviors of role models promote girls attitudes and self-efficacy in chemistry?

1.7 Definition of terms

Attitude towards chemistry: refers to students’ interest in chemistry.

Mentoring: Is a way of helping students to make progress in their academic work (chemistry) and careers.

Role modeling: Is teaching by example and influencing people.

Self – efficacy in chemistry: indicates students self belief in learning chemistry and achievement.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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