The Effect Of Group Learning Strategies In The Academic Achievement Of Students In Biology

Biology Education Project Material

The Effect Of Group Learning Strategies In The Academic Achievement Of Students In Biology


Abstract


This study was carried out on the effect of group learning strategies in academic achievement of students in biology using some selected secondary schools in Arewa Dandi local government Area of Kebbi State as a case study. The study is was specifically set to determine whether there is a significant relationship between group learning strategies and students academic achievement, find out the extent group learning strategies are being adopted by biology teachers during teaching process, ascertain whether group learning strategies contributes to students academic engagement in biology and ascertain whether group learning strategies enhances students’ academic grades in biology. The survey design was adopted and the simple random sampling techniques were employed in this study. The population size comprise of biology teachers and students of selected secondary school in Arewa Dandi local government Area of Kebbi State. In determining the sample size, the researcher conveniently selected 200 respondents and 150 were validated. Self-constructed and validated questionnaire was used for data collection. The collected and validated questionnaires were analyzed using frequency tables. While the hypotheses were tested using Pearson Correlation statistical tool, SPSS v23. The result of the findings reveals that there is a significant relationship between group learning strategies and students academic achievement in biology. The study also revealed that the extent group learning strategies are being adopted by biology teachers during teaching process is low. Therefore, it is recommended that since the study had revealed that cooperative group learning strategy (C G L S) facilitates meaningful learning, and achievement of biology concepts, the strategy should be employed by teachers. To mention but a few.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Cooperative learning is an effective instructional method in which small teams, each with different abilities, use a range of learning experiences to enhance their comprehension of a given subject. Each member of the community is responsible not only for learning what is learned, but also for encouraging teammates to understand. According to Adegoke (2011), cooperative learning is characterized as a division of labor undertaken to solve a problem for any particular task. Students split the work and come together to present their results. Each student has an individual contribution to make. Yar’adua (2008) expounded that cooperative learning is grounded in the belief that learning is most effective when students are actively involved in sharing ideas.

Biology is the science of all living forms, plants and animals, including human beings, as persons and as interdependent bodies. Biology reveals man’s absolute reliance on all other aspects of life. Life is really important and it is when one is alive that he/she can carry out everyday tasks. At the senior secondary school level, the study of separate sciences namely Biology, Chemistry, Physics among others is aimed at preparing the students who opt for these subjects for higher education, either in the respective subjects or in science based disciplines such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, Agriculture, science teaching, Engineering etc. A lot of reasons are borne in mind while studying biology. The reasons include the following: understanding of oneself and his/her environment, appreciation of nature as well as population control, Kalra (2008).

Learning is very important in the life of human beings. This is because the very survival of man depends on how quickly he can learn to change his adaptive behavior patterns in the environment. Learning has been the subject of exhaustive investigations by psychologists. Agbi (2004) defines learning as the change or modification of behavior or response as a result of some form of experience.

The basic elements in learning are the learner, the learning process and the learning situation. The learner is the most important of the three elements because without the learner the other two will not exist. The term learning process refers to the ways and means through which the event of learning takes place while learning situation means the environment in which the learner finds himself during the process. Learning is therefore, a mental process by which knowledge, skills, habits, and attitudes are acquired, retained or sustained and finally utilized. It is a relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of practice. Various theories have been advanced by psychologists to account for learning. However, no single theory of learning can explain everything that one needs to know about learning.

The main objective of school as an institution is to bring about certain changes in the behavior of children through the process of learning. Learning is the responsibility that cannot be done by another person except the learner. The learning actions lie with the learner, the teacher guides and directs. The teacher’s teaching and learner’s learning must be complementary, but the teacher is in this, the prime mover. (Esomonu, 1998). Although the teacher is expected to be proficient in the methods of teaching and learning, he or she is confronted on a regular basis with educational innovations that must be incorporated into his or her teaching. Teachers should have the knowledge of how students learn science and how best to teach. Changing the way we teach and what we teach in science is a continuing professional concern. As the teacher prepares, arranges and co-ordinates the teaching functions, learning must be done by the students. The teacher is an important factor in education as a whole and in making learning meaningful, relevant or effective.

There are different ways of structuring a learning situation. Learning can be structured competitively, so that students can work in competition with each other, individually, so that students work alone, or co-operatively, so that student work together to accomplish shared learning goals (Johnson and Johnson, (1993). Co-operative learning is an instructional strategy that simultaneously addresses academic and social skill learning by students. According to Johnson and Johnson, (1991) co-operative learning a relationship in a group of students that requires positive interdependence (a sense of sink or swim together), individual accountability, (each of us has to contribute and learn) and interdepersonal skills (communication, trust, leadership, decision making and conflict resolution). Cooperative learning is grounded on the belief that learning is most effective when students are actively involved in sharing ideas and work cooperatively to complete academic tasks. Cooperative learning has been in use by teachers for a long time. (Humphreys, Johnson and Johnson 1982, Johnson & Johnson, 1991, 1993, Samuel, Williams and Fred 2007). According to them, cooperative learning experience promotes more positive attitudes towards the instructional experience than competitive or individualistic methodologies. On the other hand, individualized learning program has the potential to promote targeted course work that enhances learning (Effandi and Zanaton, 2007).

Individualized learning is a student centered strategy designed to provide the student with a highly flexible system of learning, which is geared to individual life, and learning styles. In such strategies, the teacher and the institution play supportive rather than central roles. The learner concentrates on processes and retains new and difficult information without recourse to anybody. A Large number of approaches to student centered learning have been tried out in recent years. These vary from individualize learning within an existing educational or training environment by extensive use of resource-based learning to systems where practically all of the conventional barriers to educational opportunity have been removed.

Individualized learning is a way in which each learner begins to concentrate on process and retain new and difficult information. All learning actually takes place within an individual, whether within a group or not. Instructional teaching methods can be classified based on different criteria such as degree of teacher and student activity or degree of individual student or group involvement. Which ever way, teachers have used various methods of these categories to present instructional activities in virtually all levels of education to make students Excel in their areas of studies yet not much have been recorded in terms of positive achievement.

Physicist Evelyn Fox keller, (2011), argues that science may suffer for its manly stereotypes when ego and competiveness obstruct progress, since these tendencies prevent collaboration and sharing of information. However, within the last decade, concern has also been expressed regarding how boys may be lagging behind in their verbal skills as a result of what happens to them in the school. This realization has therefore, led many advocates to promote cooperative learning as the pedagogy of choice.

Researchers have acknowledged that appropriate instructional strategy and planning coupled with attention to each student’s learning style characteristics has produced rewarding combination. (Ezeugo and Agwagah, 2000; Odeleye, 2006; Effandi and Zanaton, 2007; Kalra, 2008;).


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Despite the proven success of the cooperative and individualized methods in other fields, biology teachers do not use the cooperative and individualized methods. This informed the need to determine the effects of individualized and co-operative methods of learning on students’ achievement in biology. This situation has bothered researchers, parents and biology educators. Research evidence (Ezeugo and Agwagah, 2000; Odeleye 2006; Kalra; 2008, Uwadiae, 2009) suggested that teaching today still follows the traditional patterns. Teacher-directed explanations are used to present materials for new lessons while the teacher and textbooks serve as the source of facts and evaluators of achievement. The students merely rely on their teachers to decide what, when and how to learn. According to these researchers, this traditional pattern of teaching and learning had been identified as responsible for the poor performance of students in sciences.

There is therefore the need to look for methods and intervention strategies that will make learning of biology more meaningful and understandable to students. One strategy that is gaining contemporary acceptance as potentially effective in science instruction is the group learning strategies, an approach that engages students in working together non-competitively towards a common goal. The strategy according to Okebukola (1986b) provides classrooms that respect value and include the contributions of all students as well as attract and retain women and minorities who often express a sense of alienation exclusion and disenfranchisement in the traditional science classroom. Without enough empirical evidence to support the effectiveness of group learning strategies in biology, it is likely to be still ignored as an instructional methodology by biology educators. There is therefore, the need to ascertain the effects of group learning strategies on students’ achievement in biology.

Another teaching method that has been suggested as likely to improve and aid students’ achievement is individualized learning (Ellington, 1996, Dolder and Nuzum, 2007). The writers acknowledged the fact that individualized learning programme has the potential to provide targeted course work that enhances students learning. It therefore becomes imperative to further investigate the effect of the cooperative and individualized methods of teaching biology, on which this study undertook. Put succinctly, what is the effect of cooperation learning method on students achievement in biology?


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to determine the effect of group learning strategies in academic achievement of students in biology.

Specifically, the study aims at determining;

  1. Determine whether there is a significant relationship between group learning strategies and students academic achievement.
  2. Find out the extent group learning strategies are being adopted by biology teachers during teaching process.
  3. Ascertain whether group learning strategies contributes to students academic engagement in biology.
  4. Ascertain whether group learning strategies enhances students’ academic grades in biology.

1.4 Research Questions

The following research questions were addressed in the study.

  1. Is there is any significant relationship between group learning strategies and students academic achievement?
  2. What is the extent group learning strategies are being adopted by biology teachers during teaching process?
  3. Does group learning strategies contributes to students academic engagement in biology?
  4. Does group learning strategies enhances students’ academic grades in biology?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

The following null hypotheses (Ho) were tested in the study at 0.5 level of significant.

Ho: There is no significant relationship between group learning strategies and students academic achievement in biology.

Ha: There is a significant relationship between group learning strategies and students academic achievement in biology.


1.6 Significance of the Study

Many students who offer biology in the senior school certificate examination or who sat for teacher- made tests failed in this subject. It is possible that this high incidence of students’ failure in biology has something to do with how biology is taught and learnt. Since biology is considered important and a basic prerequisite for entry into many professional and technological courses, it is anticipated that a research of this nature may give useful insight into ways and means of improving biology teaching and learning in senior secondary schools. Such research efforts may lead to higher students’ achievement; increase in the number of students who offer biology at post secondary levels of education and number of biology teachers.

The result of the research will help prospective teachers to understand and apply the cooperative and individualized approach to learning and become informed about the change process that will be needed to create a science classroom that provides active hands-on, minds-on, authentic learning for students to engage in science learning that is authentic and patterned after methods that modern scientists use.

It will also help biology text book writers to understand established standards for curriculum instruction and assessment and use them as guidelines for making instructional decisions.

It will equally help curriculum developers restructure time and facilities, the acquisition of resources and the professional development of teachers.

Finally, the result will help education policy makers to create policies and laws that will enable significant reform of the structure and organization of the schools,(example length of school, day and year, greater flexibility, provide funding for resources and training to implement reform).


1.7 Scope of the Study

The study was carried out in Kogi state, in the Middle-Belt geo-political zone of Nigeria using senior secondary two (SS2) biology students. The topics used for the study are blood circulation, respiration and respiratory mechanism of man.


1.8 Limitations of the Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. However, the researcher were able to manage these just to ensure the success of this study.

Moreover, the case study method utilized in the study posed some challenges to the investigator including the possibility of biases and poor judgment of issues. However, the investigator relied on respect for the general principles of procedures, justice, fairness, objectivity in observation and recording, and weighing of evidence to overcome the challenges.


1.9 Definition of Terms

Cooperative Learning:

Cooperative learning is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a particular subject.

Student:

A student is primarily a person enrolled in a school or other educational institution and who is under learning with goals of acquiring knowledge, developing professions and achieving easy employment at a particular field.

Academic Achievement:

Academic achievement or academic performance is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has attained their short or long-term educational goals. Completion of educational benchmarks such as secondary school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees represent academic achievement.

Biology:

Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development and evolution.

Impact:

Coming into forcible contact with another object.

Academic:

Of or relating to education and scholarship.

Performance:

The accomplishment of a given task measured against preset known standards of accuracy, completeness, cost, and speed.

Instruction:

It refers to the action of teaching and the job of a teacher.

Teaching:

Teaching is the art and practice of imparting to a learner knowledge, skills, values and norms that will be useful to the total development of the individual.

Learning:

Learning is defined as an activity that provides a relatively permanent effect on the learner’s activity.


1.10 Organization of the Studies

The study is categorized into five chapters. The first chapter presents the background of the study, statement of the problem, objective of the study, research questions and hypothesis, the significance of the study, scope/limitations of the study, and definition of terms. The chapter two covers the review of literature with emphasis on conceptual framework, theoretical framework, and empirical review. Likewise, the chapter three which is the research methodology, specifically covers the research design, population of the study, sample size determination, sample size, and selection technique and procedure, research instrument and administration, method of data collection, method of data analysis, validity and reliability of the study, and ethical consideration. The second to last chapter being the chapter four presents the data presentation and analysis, while the last chapter(chapter five) contains the summary, conclusion and recommendation.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

This chapter summarizes the findings on the effect of group learning strategies in academic achievement of students in biology using some selected secondary schools in Arewa Dandi local government Area of Kebbi State as a case study. The chapter consists of summary of the study, conclusions, and recommendations.


5.2 Summary of the Study

In this study, our focus was on the effect of group learning strategies in academic achievement of students in biology using some selected secondary schools in Arewa Dandi local government Area of Kebbi State as a case study.

The study is was specifically set to determine whether there is a significant relationship between group learning strategies and students academic achievement, find out the extent group learning strategies are being adopted by biology teachers during teaching process, ascertain whether group learning strategies contributes to students academic engagement in biology and ascertain whether group learning strategies enhances students’ academic grades in biology.

The study adopted the survey research design and randomly enrolled participants in the study. A total of 150 responses were validated from the enrolled participants where all respondent arebiology teachers and students of selected secondary school in Arewa Dandi local government Area of Kebbi State.


5.3 Conclusions

Based on the findings of this study, the researcher made the following conclusion.

  1. There is a significant relationship between group learning strategies and students academic achievement in biology.
  2. The extent group learning strategies are being adopted by biology teachers during teaching process is low.
  3. Group learning strategies contributes to students academic engagement in biology.
  4. Group learning strategies enhances students’ academic grades in biology.

5.4 Recommendation

Based on the responses obtained, the researcher proffers the following recommendations:

  1. Since the study had revealed that cooperative group learning strategy (C G L S) facilitates meaningful learning, and achievement of biology concepts, the strategy should be employed by teachers.
  2. Biology teachers should endeavor to motivate students towards the learning of biology.
  3. Biology teachers should encourage students to work together and discourage independent learning strategy.
  4. Government should organize workshop for training of teachers on the use of cooperative learning strategy.

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