The Strategies For Effective Teaching Of Biology In The Secondary Schools

Biology Education Project Material

The Strategies For Effective Teaching Of Biology In The Secondary Schools


Abstract


This study investigated the strategies for effective teaching of biology in secondary schools. The study was carried out in Ebonyi L.G.A, Ebonyi state. The theoretical framework used included operant conditioning model and stimulus response (SR).Association theory, Bruner’s theory of cognitive learning, John Dewey’s theory of cognitive, Ausubel’s subsumption theory other review done covered the following concept maps, using concept maps in instruction, the use of concept maps and experiments in the teaching of Biology, origin of experimental science, importance of science practical work, experimentation in Biology teaching. The study was conducted using the quasi- experimental design, specifically the pre-test and post-test; non equivalent control group design was used. The population for the study comprised of the 6208 SS2 biology student of Ebonyi state from which 1116 were drawn from Ebonyi L.G.A. The schools sampled include Government Secondary School (GSS) Afikpo and Government Secondary School (GSS)Okposi. The Biology Achievement Test (BAT) was used in the study. The dependent variable in this study is the students‟ Biology achievement. The research questions were answered using mean and standard deviation while the two sample t-test, analysis of covariance and pairwise comparison was used for testing the hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. From the analysis of the data from this experiment, the use of experimental strategies for teaching biology was found to have better advantages over the conventional method (lecture) and the concept mapping method. The study further recommended that Science teachers should lay more emphasis on the use of experiments in the teaching and learning of Biology for improving performance among students.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Science and technology have proved significantly useful in man’s daily struggle to control his immediate environment and build a virile world. Specifically Jegede and Brown (2008) opined that sound national development emanate mainly from the areas of science and technology. Okeke (2007) stated that science and technology are like two inseparable twins that mainly hold the National development and sustainability. Science is a systematic process of obtaining testable knowledge about nature and natural occurrences, utilization in careful manner of the observation and experimentation. Technology, on the other hand is the process of designing and utilizing techniques to convert resources to material object. Most developing nations as a result of visible role of science and technology now make frantic efforts to improve on the study of science and allied science subjects in their schools, for instance in Nigeria, the National policy on education stipulates that admission into the Nation’s tertiary institutions should be based on 60:40 ratio of science and Arts related subject respectively (Federal ministry of Education (FME, 2004).

The study of biology is essential for nation’s building, scientific and technological development. With out sound knowledge and wholesome attitude towards biology, the much needed and vouched technological breakthrough may not be achieved. For instance, the knowledge of biology is brought to play, in the area of manufacturing and processing industry, medicine, food production and pharmaceuticals among others. Osuafor and Okoro (2013) said that science education is imperative for useful living in any society. It is the centre for producing resources necessary for socio-economic, scientific and technological development need for advancement of any nation.

From the above, notwithstanding much has been said about factor that hinders the effective teaching and learning of biology and has caused a lot of backward and poor academics performances of senior secondary school student in Ebonyi State and Nigeria entirely. The implication of this persistent poor performances of students in biology due to a lot of factors created greater percentage of them to fall to get good grades that will take them to higher institution of her studies. This has been a source of problem to well meaning Nigerians, parents, governments, researchers and science educators.

Researchers in science education in Nigeria have continued to seek for ways of improving the situation and maximize meaningful learning of biology by the students. Biology is described as a science of life and plays vital roles in the life of every human being. It is very vast with many decisions including zoology, botany, ecology, genetics, morphology anatomy, physiology histology, microbiology, biochemistry evolution and the more advanced cell biology, molecular biology among other. Apart from the interrelatedness that exists among these branches, biology is close related with other science subject like agricultural science, chemistry, Geography, mathematics and physics. Little wonder that biology finds application in many specialized areas like medicine, pharmacy, food production and processing industries, biotechnology, genetics engineering, agriculture and horticulture, agriculture and environmental protection, tourism industry among other (Osuafor and Okoro 2013).

Considering biology’s many branches and vast application in every field of human endeavor as enunciated above the importance of biology in the nations economic development cannot be over emphasized. It is therefore becomes very necessary that effort are geared towards finding a last solution to the students academic poor performances in the subject. To this end several factors have been identified by researchers as been responsible for the effective teaching and learning which definitely lead to poor performances. These includes the following; lack of qualified and experienced teachers, lack of educational instructional materials like textbook, visual and audio visual aids, laboratories, conducive learning environment, over loaded syllabuses, lack of interest on the parts of the students, poor teaching method/interaction pattern on the parts of the teachers, large class size/high teacher, family background (Nwagbo, 2011).

Ncharam (2008) has established that students inability to seat down and study, comprehend what the curriculum talked about and this highly result to poor performances in external examination. This also results to general backwardness in technological and scientific advancement. Akpan (2009) rightly documented that proper understanding of concept and concentration science related subject and this contribute to no small measure to better the academics achievement and performances of students. He went further to say that, to such students there is therefore no nature of manipulated questions that might be posed to them in that particular concept that they cannot be able to provide solutions to, since they have mastery and regular practice of the concept involved in the question. This would give the students the opportunity to think ethically, manage and use available resources within their environment effectively to develop the Nation.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The poor performance of the secondary school students in Biology examinations (such as in SSCE and JAMB examinations had been a matter of concern to both the government and the Nigerian society.

This is because Biology is one of the most important science subjects since it deals with life and living things. In addition, a sound knowledge of Biology will prepare the student for degree programme on such vital courses as medicine, pharmacy, microbiology, nursing and many others.

Despite all the efforts being made by the various ministries of Education in the country to enhance students’ performance in Biology, the problem still remains. Why do students perform poorly in biology examination? What are the current methods of teaching biology in secondary? What are the strategies for effective teaching of biology in secondary schools? These questions present the problems that necessitated this research.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

This study sought to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Compare the mean performance of students taught biology using concept maps and experiments in Ebonyi L.G.A.
  2. Compare the mean performance of students taught biology using concept map, experiments and lecture method Ebonyi L.G.A.
  3. Determine the level of retention of biology knowledge between students taught using concept maps and experiments in Ebonyi L.G.A.
  4. Determine the level of retention of biology knowledge between students taught using concept maps, experiments and lecture method in Ebonyi L.G.A.
  5. Compare the attitude of students to the teaching of biology when concept maps and experiments are used in the teaching of biology in Ebonyi L.G.A.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the difference in the mean scores of students taught biology using concept map and experiments in Ebonyi L.G.A?
  2. What is the difference in the mean scores of students taught biology using concept maps, experiments and lecture method in the Ebonyi L.G.A?
  3. What is the mean score of students taught using concept maps and experiments in the retention of biology concepts used for the study in Ebonyi L.G.A?
  4. What are the mean scores of students taught using concept maps, experiments and lecture method in the retention of biology concepts used for the study in Ebonyi L.G.A?
  5. What is the difference in attitude of students towards Biology when concept maps and experiments are used for teaching biology in Ebonyi L.G.A?

1.5 Hypotheses Testing

H01: There is no significant difference in the mean scores of students taught biology using concept map and those taught using experiments in Ebonyi L.G.A.

H02: There is no significant difference in the mean scores of students taught biology using concept map, experiments and those taught using lecture method in Ebonyi L.G.A.

H03: There is no significant difference in the mean scores of students taught using concept map and those taught using experiments in the test of retention of selected biology concepts in Ebonyi L.G.A.

H04: There is no significant difference in the mean scores of students taught using concept map and experimental strategies and those taught with lecture method in the test of retention of selected biology concepts in Ebonyi L.G.A.

H05: There is no significant difference in students‟ attitude towards biology when concept map and experiments are used for teaching in Ebonyi L.G.A.


1.6 Basic Assumptions

The study is based on the following assumptions:

  1. That most biology teachers are not conversant with learning theories that are best suited for biology teaching and learning.
  2. That in schools where laboratories are well equipped biology teachers do not make out time to teach their students using experiments.
  3. That most biology teachers do not take time to analyze their teaching methods to find out how appropriate it is to the topics they teach at a particular time, as not all topics in biology can be taught using only one particular teaching method.
  4. That most biology teachers do not make attempt at finding out if other methods can be added to the lecture method for effective teaching.
  5. That most biology teachers are not concerned about students‟ negative attitude towards the teaching and learning Biology as a result of their teaching method.

1.7 Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will be of benefit to biology students, teachers, curriculum planners/ developers, textbook writers, ministry of education and future researchers. Biology students will benefit from the findings of this study as the use of concept maps and the use of experiments in the teaching of biology will boost their achievement and help to increase their retention of biology concepts. It will also help them to develop more interest in Biology and acquire and develop scientific skills which will help them in their career choice particularly those careers geared towards Biological sciences.

The findings of this study will be of benefit to biology teachers as it will help teachers in choosing appropriate instructional methods and materials capable of releasing students‟ tension toward the subject. It will motivate teachers to develop interest in utilizing modern instructional material like using experiments in teaching topics that are experimental in nature and selecting suitable teaching methods that will be a possible means towards reducing failure in the teaching and learning of biology. The findings of this study will also sensitize Biology teachers on the benefits of the use of concept maps and experimental strategies for teaching as it will have a great effect on the academic achievement and retention of the students. The research will also form another dimension of innovations in the teaching and learning of Biology.

The findings of this study will also benefit curriculum planners in curriculum planning, as using concept maps in planning a curriculum on a specific topic helps to make the instruction conceptually “transparent” to students. (Bascones and Novak 1985 ; Novak 1991, 1998). Concept mapping can be utilized in appropriate strategies of curriculum planning such as modification and revision.

The Federal Ministry of Education can also benefit by using the findings of this study to engage teachers and administrators in training programmes that can model this new educational approaches.


1.8 Scope of the Study

The study was on effects of concept mapping and experimental strategies in the teaching of Biology. The study covered two (2) schools in Ebonyi state, Nigeria.

The senior secondary two (SS2) students were used. The reason, been that they are more exposed to the teaching of biology and can be used as a research sample because they are not preparing for any external examination. The study focused on using concept mapping and experiments in the teaching of selected Biology topics. The content of these topics include.

  • Classification of Living Things – Classification of Plants
  • Classification of Food – Food Test
  • Skeletal System – Vertebrae Bones
  • Digestive system –Alimentary canal of bird
  • Cell‟s reaction to its environment- osmosis and diffusion

The choice of this selected classes make room for the use of concept maps and experiments for teaching the selected topics. It also enables the students to get adjusted to the new class. The choice of SS 2 is to ensure that concept learned from SS1, been a foundation class can be properly integrated into the ones been learnt in SS2, and makes understanding better for SS3 topics so as to improve their performance in senior secondary school for their external examination.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

The deteriorating performance of students in internal and external Biology examinations is a thing of concern to both teacher, parents, schools and even examination bodies like the WAEC. Other stakeholders have identified the teacher variable, as one of the factors, that is the teacher‟s teaching strategy as being responsible for students‟ poor performance in science and biology in particular. This therefore calls for a search for alternative teaching methods that will guarantee effective teaching and learning of science subjects especially biology in the secondary schools. The concept mapping method is said to makes students to remember information longer and enables them to use this knowledge effectively because it is moved to a long term memory. The use of experiments have been shown to give rise to effective learning .The study therefore investigated the effects of concept mapping and experimental strategies for the teaching and learning of selected concepts in Biology among Senior Secondary Schools in Ebonyi L.G.A.

To determine the effect of the investigation, a study was conducted where the performances from students exposed to lecture method, experiments and concept mapping were compared. A test was administered to each of the group before and after the experiment. Along with the result of performance in academic achievement and retention abilities of the students, their attitude towards the concept mapping and the use of the experimental strategies in the teaching of the biology concepts were assessed.

  1. Students taught biology using experimental strategies had a significant improvement in performance than students taught using concept mapping.
  2. Students taught biology using concept mapping and lecture method did not show any significant difference in performance.
  3. Students had a higher retention level of biology concepts when experimental strategies were used over the use of concept mapping and lecture methods.
  4. The study revealed that there was no significant difference in the retention level of students taught biology using concept mapping and lecture methods.
  5. Students showed a positive attitude towards the use of concept mapping for teaching biology.

5.2 Conclusions

From the analysis of the data collected from the study and tests of the study‟s hypotheses, the following conclusions were drawn:

  1. The use of experimental strategies for teaching biology concept enhances students‟ performance significantly better than the use of the concept maps and the lecture method.
  2. The use of experimental strategies significantly improved students‟ performances in Biology concepts than the conventional lecture method.
  3. The experimental strategies significantly improved students‟ retention ability than the concept mapping method.
  4. The use of experimental strategy significantly improved students‟ retention of
    Biology concepts than the conventional lecture method.
  5. Students have higher preference for the use of concept mapping method of teaching than the experimental strategies of teaching the subject.

5.3 Recommendations

The following recommendations are made on the basis of the outcome of this study.

  1. Science teachers should lay more emphasis on the use of experiments in the teaching and learning of Biology for improving performance among students.
  2. Science teachers and Biology teachers in particular should give effective orientation to students towards the use of the experiments in the teaching of biology concepts and should be encouraged and trained in the use of concept maps alongside with other methods in the teaching of Biology.
  3. The Science Teachers‟ Association of Nigeria (STAN) in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Education and various secondary school boards should ensure the availability of standard laboratories in our secondary schools or the use of labless labs.
  4. Since attitude could be circumstantial, it would be necessary to put experiments and its merits before students to encourage them towards its use in the teaching and learning of the subject.
  5. The lecture method should still be used to teach very abstract topics to enable students acquire knowledge, new information and explanation of events or things.

5.4 Suggestions for Further Studies

Further research studies can be carried out on:

  1. The effect of using concept maps as study tools on achievement in Biology
  2. Cognitive influence on Biology students‟ concept mapping ability and achievement in Biology.
  3. Effect of concept maps and experiments on attitude, retention and achievement in other schools in states of the federation.
  4. Critical appraisal of the role of concept maps and laboratory practical work in Biology.

5.5 Contribution to Knowledge

  1. This study has been able to establish the fact that concept maps can be used by Biology teachers for instruction in FCT secondary schools to teach Biology, this will aid in the change of students attitude to Biology and invariably their performance as a result of this change in attitude.
  2. The use of experiments in the teaching and learning of Biology could be a way out to improving the teaching and learning of Biology in our senior secondary schools.
  3. The study has shown the correlation between positive attitude and improved academic performance.
  4. The study has shown that students have preference for new teaching methods which maybe why they showed preference for the concept mapping method even though the use of experiments helped to improve their performances.

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