The Impact Of Availability And Utilization Of Laboratories On Science Student Academic Performance
1.1 Background to the Study
Science has been extremely important on a global scale for long-term and socioeconomic growth, as well as for nation-state technical improvement. Because of the tremendous issues, knowledge in science and technology is required in all countries and required by all people worldwide. These challenges include, among other things, the emergence of new drug-resistant diseases, the effects of genetic experimentation and engineering, the ecological impact of modern technology, the dangers of nuclear war and explosions, and global warming, all of which have resulted in rapid changes in medicine, industry, communication, and agriculture. Thus Science, as a development agent, plays a significant part in bringing about these changes via technical innovation, increased national prosperity, improved health, and industrialization (Validya, 2003).
The emphasis on science teaching and learning is on ensuring that instructors can not only teach the method of science but also subject scientific concepts to the sensory experience of the learners. This means that learners’ ‘hands’ and’minds’ must be engaged in scientific activities so that they can actively learn and so participate in knowledge production. Essentially, the emphasis is on activity-based scientific lessons that incorporate both excellent classroom and laboratory methods. This approach to science teaching and learning in schools is intended to lead students to acquiring the necessary science process skills, life skills, and competence as enshrined in the revised edition of the (National Policy on Education (NPE) (FRN, 2013) National core curricular for Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics, among other subjects. However, instructional attempts to achieve the goals of NPE 2013, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS), EFA, Science Education for All, NEEDS, and Vision 2020 confront significant hurdles. The employment of teacher-centered approaches to teaching, a lack of suitable and relevant instructional materials, inadequate classroom and laboratory and laboratory equipment, and other obstacles face scientific teaching and learning.
So long as research is both a product and a process, the laboratory is at the heart of scientific investigations and/or science. The availability of laboratory equipment, facilities, and materials is critical in defining the level of optimal laboratory practices that will enable learners’ learning of science process skills and proficiency in science ideas. According to Abimbola (2001), one key challenge in scientific education is the availability and efficacy of specialized and appropriate science equipment, facilities, and teaching materials. School laboratories that are well-designed, well-stocked, and safe for scientific teaching and learning enable active practical activities (Katcha, 2005).
Laboratory work is an essential component of science education, and no good science education can exist without it (Udo, 2010). Laboratory practicals are reliant on the laboratory’s degree of equipping with appropriate teaching resources and the teacher’s ability to use them successfully and efficiently. Due to the difficulties that instructors sometimes experience while conducting practicals in insufficiently equipped laboratories, teachers have separated scientific sessions into practical and theoretical lessons or classes, and/or shifted practical work until the second term of the final year (Ekpo, 1999). According to Ekpo, every attempt to divide science into practical and theoretical lessons perpetuates the dichotomy, which is the polar opposite of what science is therefore it becomes imperative that adequate provision and utilization of science laboratories is established in secondary education .
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The persistent low level of scientific academic success among senior secondary school students in Nigeria’s numerous external examinations has piqued the interest of key players in education. Students’ performance in science has continually been weak and unsatisfactory. Despite all of the significant efforts made by stakeholders at all levels, there has been relatively little progress in student success. Data from the two public examination bodies, namely the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO), in their assessment report on the SSCE, show that performance in Nigeria has been declining.
According to available records, there was a negative trend in student performance in the three sciences subjects from 2008 to 2012, with average performances of 56.01 percent in Physics, 46.30 percent in Chemistry, and 37.27 percent in Biology, in addition to an increasing failure rate in Biology and Chemistry (Sakiyo and Badau, 2015). It was generally noticed that the performance of candidates in WASSCE in Nigeria in the topics and during the time studied was not particularly outstanding, with the exception of Government, where the majority of candidates in Nigeria obtained credits or above. The fundamental reason for this failure is that scientific learning and practice cannot be accomplished in an environment that does not place a focus on practical and hands-on activities in schools. Students are expected to engage in both theoretical and practical learning activities. However, because science is an activity-based topic, effective teaching and learning cannot take place unless it is supplemented by practical tasks. Practical activities must take up a larger proportion of the time allotted to science topics than the chalk and talk technique of teaching academic components. Owing to the importance of laboratory on effective learning of science, the study therefore the impact of availability and utilization of laboratories on science student academic performance.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to find out the impact of availability and utilization of laboratories on science student academic performance.
Specifically the study intends to:
- To explore science teachers’ perceptions on effects of availability or non-availability of laboratories on students’ performance.
- To find out the level at which laboratory facilities are available in secondary schools.
- To examine the level at which laboratories is being utilized in secondary schools.
- To analyze the effect of using laboratories on academic performance of students.
1.4 Research Questions
The research is guided by the following question constructed in line with the research objectives:
- What is the perception of science teachers’ on effects of availability or non-availability of laboratories on students’ performance?
- What is the level at which laboratory facilities are available in secondary schools?
- What is the level at which laboratories is being utilized in secondary schools?
- What is the effect of using laboratories on academic performance of students?
1.5 Significance of the Study
Findings of these study will also benefit in planning and budgeting so as to provide enough funds to support science subjects in schools, building laboratories, train more science teachers, purchase adequate teaching and learning resources including books, teaching model, laboratory equipment, apparatus and chemicals. Furthermore, findings will hopefully influence further research on how use of laboratories may promote learning of science for development of the nation. Lastly the findings of the study will help the ministries of education and relevant stake holders including the teachers in evaluating students’ performances in their various capacities. It will also give curriculum developers new insights into emerging issues on performance and influence the authorities on policy formulation. Students will also benefit from the findings; because improved science performance will give them opportunities to pursue career in Medial, Environmental, Pure and other related sciences programs in institutions of higher learning in the country. The study will also serve as a resource and reference material to future scholars who wishes to conduct further studies in related field.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study borders on the impact of availability and utilization of laboratories on science student academic performance. The study will further discuss science teachers’ perceptions on effects of availability or non-availability of laboratories on students’ performance, level at which laboratory facilities are available in secondary schools and the the effect of using laboratories on academic performance of student. The study delimited to secondary schools in Ikwerre Local government Area in River State.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that it is a new discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size covering only selected secondary schools in Ikwerre Local government Area in River State. Thus findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for other secondary schools in other states within Nigeria. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work will impede maximum devotion to the research. Howbeit, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How does the availability of biology laboratory science equipment affect performance?
From the study, it was concluded that the availability and regular use of the biology laboratory science equipment brings about better performances of students in biology at the West African school certificate examination.
Do schools with laboratory and science equipment have untrained biology teachers?
The hypothesis which stated that schools with laboratory and science equipment and with laboratory and science equipment but with untrained biology teachers was rejected. The data for this study were obtained through this use of questionnaires and records of the West African school certificate biology examination result (2003-2010).
What is the importance of laboratory?
The laboratory has been seen by Pinchas Tamir as “a place where students are engage in hands on activities such as observations and experiments” commenting further, he stated that a laboratory must be used not only to verify but to find her investigation and enquiry.