Effects of quality assurance and standards services on preschoolers' performance in science in Westlands district, Kenya
Musee, Christine Mwikali
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The study was to determine the effects of Quality Assurance and Standards Services on preschoolers' performance in science in Westland District, Nairobi in Kenya. It was found necessary to undertake this study as its findings were envisaged to provide useful insight as to why there are variations in science performance in public preschools which are inspected by Quality and Standards Officers (QASO) and in others which are not inspected at all. It was guided by four objectives: to assess effects of frequency of Quality Assurance and Standards inspection; teacher characteristics; inspection of preschools on science materials and inspection of school management on performance of preschool pupils in science activity in Westland District, Kenya. The findings would be useful for the DQAS to strengthen QASO inspections in ECE centers to enable them to attain quality ECE education. The literature review focused on government policy on education, functions of Directorate of Quality Assurance and Standards (DQAS) in instruction supervision, types of inspections, challenges faced in teaching science in Westland District and inspection in Kenya. Theoretical framework of the study was drawn largely from the work of Thorndike (1969) on connectivism theory of learning. The study adopted quasi experimental design. The population of the study was entirely drawn from Westland District registered Public preschools which comprised of 4 preschool headteachers, 4 preschool teachers and 103 preschoolers. Data was collected using questionnaires for preschool headteachers, teachers and QAS officers. Interview schedules for teachers and QASOs to source in-depth information were employed. Observation checklists were used to source information on preschoolers' behaviour and scope of QASO inspections in preschools. Finally pretests and post tests in science were administered to capture effect of QAS inspection on performance of pupils in measurement, weighing and estimation skills. The data was analyzed statistically and descriptively around the research objectives. The findings revealed that, It was observed that frequency of Quality Assurance and Standards inspection on teacher characteristics, availability, usage and condition of teaching and learning materials for science and school management influenced performance in science activity in Westland District. In inspected preschool A learners improved performance in post test with mean score of 70.07 from mean score of 52.33 in pretest. In school B, there was an improvement in mean score performance of post test of 66.70 from 55.19 pretest. However, there was marginal improvement in performance for schools C and D with school C having a mean performance in pretest of 51.82 to post test performance of 54.88. School D had pretest performance of 55.64 and post test performance of 57.36. It can be deduced that regular inspections of preschools enhance teacher approaches for teaching science where teachers prepare schemes of work and lesson plans. Inspections also contribute to teachers using appropriate teaching aids and methods. With inspection of schools, teaching and learning materials are made available and used appropriately. Finally, inspection of schools enhances good school management practices characterized by regular supervision and monitoring of teachers. The study recommended that there should be regular inspections and implementation of Quality Assurance Standards for enhancement of preschool performance in science activity.