Students’ Perception Of Biology Classroom Environment On Their Academic Achievement In Senior Secondary Schools

Biology Education Project Material

Students’ Perception Of Biology Classroom Environment On Their Academic Achievement In Senior Secondary Schools


Abstract


This study was designed to examine student’s perception of biological classroom environment on their academic achievements in secondary schools. The study was conducted in Lagos state in Shomolu Local Government Area in four different secondary schools for students. The study examined the availability of laboratories, examine the use of laboratories, and assess the availability of biology teachers, and biology teachers ’perceptions how laboratories availability influence students’ performance in biology. The problem was that students’ performance in biology is appalling in community secondary schools. Survey research design was used and the study employed quantitative approaches where observation, checklist, school records and likert scales were used for data collection. The sample of the study included 4 heads of schools, 4schools and 24 students. The data were analyzed using frequency, percentages and ratio. Findings revealed that schools did not have laboratories; instead they had science rooms which lacked laboratory space. It was recommended that, policy makers need to ensure that students enrolment should match with the availability of laboratory facilities, more laboratory need to be built in schools and more science teachers be trained.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

The senior secondary which is also three years of training, involves development of the scientific skills learnt in the JSS (junior Secondary School) level, while the four years of university education relate to the adaptation of the skills learnt. It is these skills that the individual applies in his daily life to enable him fit into the society.

The new biology education with the new curriculum was started to be implemented from 1998-1999 education year. The goals and objectives of the new biology curriculum were identified in the way that would give rise to learning far from memorization and students would not only grasp the subject in the best pattern but also use the knowledge in daily life. New curriculum aimed at getting students to gain consciousness of health care, thus topics are made linked to human health. Teaching learning strategies of each topic were explained in detail and supported with different kinds of examples and questions. (Chalin&Manske, 2005). Education is the most important instrument of change in the society and that any fundamental change in the intellectual and social outlook of any society. The perception of both the teachers and the students in biology classroom learning environment influence the achievement of students in biology education.

The fact that a lot of factors are responsible for students’ under achievement in biology is not new to researchers but amongst those factors could be students’ perception of biology classroom learning environment. Recent studies indicate that there is a substantial impact of the classroom learning environment on students’ achievement in biology learning.

Arguaye (2001), have strongly argued that students perception of the learning environment are very important on the achievement of students in biology and that the knowing the students’ perception will help the teacher in shaping their students’ class perception and relatively their achievement in biology. Over the years, a number of research projects on classroom learning environment have been carried outby some researchers for examples; (Ben Ari, 2003; Carnegie1989; Jackson & Davis, 2000; Kaplan &Middleton, 2002; Manning, 2000; McCombs &Whisler, 2000; National Middle School Association, 1995; Payne, Conroy, & Racine, 1998; Stipek, 2002).

The interest in the study of learning environment has become more prominent since it has been evident that learning outcomes and students’ attitude towards learning were closely linked to the classroom environment refers to a setting of space where teachers and learners interact with each other and use variety of tools and information resources in their pursuit of learning activities (Wilson 2002).

The classroom has become an important place for educational research because most learning takes place there. The importance of the classroom learning environment has been increasingly recognized internationally over the past 30 years.

According to Wilson (2002), classroom learning environment is a place where learners and teachers interact with each other and use a variety of tools and information resources in their pursuit of learning activities. Research in education that focuses on classroom and school-level learning environments has produced promising findings leading to an enhancement of the teaching and learning process. Classroom learning environment consist of factors which are teachers’ support, instructional materials, task orientation, study habit, classroom disciplinary climate and locate of adequate laboratory facilities, teacher-student interaction, equality, method of teaching and qualification of the teachers.

Perception refers the way one think about something and ones’ idea of what it is like also it is an ability to understand the true nature of a subject especially as it affects our environment. However, students perception of biology classroom learning environment determines the students’ learning progress, hence, learning is a process which produces series of changes in behaviour or it is more or less a change in behaviour that result from activities, training or observation. It is a change in behaviour that confirms learning. According to Ajayi (2000) learning is a process which produces progressive series of changes in behaviour or it is more or less a change in behaviour that results from activity and these activities takes place in the classroom environments.

Fraser (1986) argues that perceptions of the students are very important when investigating the learning environment (Wubbels & Brekelmans, 2004). The role of students’ perceptions of the classroom environment in influencing cognitive and affective outcomes has been addressed in many learning environment studies and strong relations between student outcomes and their perceptions about their learning environment have been shown by many researchers (Fraser & Fisher, 2000; Wubbels, &Brekelmans, 2002; den Brok, Brekelmans, &Wubbels, 2004). Fraser (2001) emphasized that relations between outcome measures and classroom environment perceptions have been replicated for a variety of cognitive and affective outcomes, with a variety of instruments, across different countries and grade levels. Learning environment research has studied these associations in different types of classroom environments (Fraser, 2002), for instance science laboratory classroom environments, constructivist classroom environments and cross-national studies of science classroom environments.

However, there has been a wide range of problems with the available classroom learning environment in senior secondary schools in Nigeria which prevent effective learning to take place. Some of the problems associated with class room arrangement which includes the tall students obstructing the short students at the back to see the chalk board inadequate chairs and tables which can cause discomfort to students. Another problem is poor classroom with little or no cross ventilation, poor interaction between the students and the teachers, lack of teaching materials, poor study habit etc.


1.2 Statement of Problem

The classroom is the basic unit of organization of the educational system. By continuing to increase the knowledge of the interactions that occur within the classroom, the quality of science education can be improved with understanding of students’ development, their perception about learning environment.

Fraser (1989) mentioned that the classroom environment is such a potent determinant of students’ outcomes that it should not be ignored by those wishing to improve the effectiveness of schools. He emphasizes that students spend a great amount of time (more than 15,000 hours) in the classroom environment. Therefore the quality of the environment of these classrooms has a significant impact on students’ learning (Fraser, 1989).

Over the years, the problem of under achievement of science students in biology has been a general problem, for example many researchers in Nigeria have conducted series of researches on classroom learning environment to actually find out what could be responsible for the problem of poor performances of students in science subjects such as biology, physics and chemistry. Factors such as locate of adequate laboratory facilities, teaching aids, ineffectiveness and lack of teaching proficiency of teachers and teaching methods had been identified as causes of poor classroom environment thereby resulting to students’ under achievement in science subjects.

Despite all these efforts, the poor performances of students still exist. However, little emphasis has been made in the student’s perception of biology classroom learning environment therefore in order to improve students’ performance in biology there is need to place more emphasis on this topic so as to determine some factors of the classroom learning environment. Hence, this calls for the need for the study of the students’ perception of biology classroom learning environment on their academic achievement in senior secondary schools.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

  1. To assess the availability of laboratory facilities in senior secondary schools in Shomolu Local Government Area, Lagos .
  2. To assess the use of laboratories in senior secondary schools in Shomolu Local Government Area, Lagos.
  3. To explore science student’s’ perceptions on effects of availability or non-availability of laboratories on students’ performance.

1.4. Research Questions

  1. What is the extent of availability of laboratories in the established Secondary schools in Shomolu Local Government Area, Lagos.
  2. What is the extent to which laboratories are used in the teaching and learning of biology in Shomolu Local Government Area
  3. What are biology students’ perceptions on the effects of availability or non- availability of laboratories and equipment on students’ performance in examinations.

1.5 Scope of Limitation

The study will be carried out in Lagos state in Shomolu Local Government Area in four different secondary schools for students in SS 1 and SS 2and it will look into the variables of:

  1. Students perception on Teachers’ support in a biology classroom,
  2. Students’ perception based on the level of availability of instructional materials,
  3. Students’ perception based on students’ habit
  4. Students’ level of involvement in the classroom and
  5. Students’ perception based on the classroom disciplinary climate of biology class room.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study would be of importance towards improving the perception of students towards the learning of biology study at the secondary school level.

The study also lies in its contribution to the pedagogical body of knowledge. It’s value to teacher effectiveness, academic development and performance of the students. It is also important in investigating student perception of biology class room learning environment to enhance development of positive approach towards biology and to understand the way students perceive their biology learning environment because of its effect and achievement on the subject and its influence on students’ learning.

Understanding students’ perceptions of their classroom learning environments and the factors associated with their perceptions may help teachers and educational researchers to find out some alternative ways that enhance the student’s learning.

This study provides information and moreover helps to discover the weakness of some classroom determinants such as students’ habit, teachers’ support, classroom climate, availability of instructional material, students’ involvement which when sort out will improve the perception of students towards their classroom learning environment.

The study will enhance the active participation of students in the class and also help teachers to be aware of suitable and required teaching methods that will promote teacher-students interaction in the class room environment and also help to give teachers the reason to place more emphases on giving the students tasks in the classroom setting.In student centered learning environment learners are given actual control and self-direction of academic tasks through task and assessment design by enhancing classroom learning environment.

As teachers and students actively participate in the teaching and learning process with the aim of resolving the challenges unveiled, there will thus, be an enhancement in the academic achievement of students thereby improving the learning of biology and preparing the students for the future.


1.7 Operational Definition of Terms:

School Learning Environment:

School learning environment is the perception of the student and is a summated score measured by a self-administered rating scale on parameters such as teachers’ support, study habits, students’ involvement, instructional materials, and laboratory facilities in the school,

Academic Achievement:

Average of the previous and current years’ marks is the academic achievement.

Academic:

It pertains to school subjects or to fields of liberal arts or to the sphere of ideas and abstraction (Chaudary, 2004).

Achievement:

It was denoted by knowledge attained or skills developed by pupilsusually in the schools, measured by test scores or by marks assigned by teachers (Chaudhary, 2004).

BSPQ:

Biology Students’ Perception Questionnaire


Chapter Five


Discussion, Conclusions, Recommendation and Summary

5.1 Discussion of the Study

From the finding, practical activities influence student academic achievement on biology in senior secondary school in Shomolu L.G.A. This is in agreement with that of Kiladare and okoro(2007) who established that student understands better when they involves themselves in practical experiment, thus matching theory with practical. This also affirmed that fact for an effective teaching to take place, the theoretical aspect must go inline with the practical aspect so as to attain a positive behavioral change in the life of the learner(s). Students understand well when they are been taught with practical. Biology practical helps to make abstract ideas more concrete for learners, such that basic concepts could be understood. The use of practical work in teaching biology and other subjects make learning interesting and fun, keeping the student active, create a conductive atmosphere for a participation class during teaching, making students to discover facts and new ideas by themselves. The finding revealed that despite the importance of the use of practical work in the teaching and learning of biology in senior secondary schools in Shomolu. There are some problems that are still militating against it the problems are teachers incompetency in the use of laboratory equipment, student wrong attitudes towards biology practical, inadequate supply of biology equipment and poor method of teaching in senior secondary school.

From the finding biology teachers are still unable to prepare and design a robust practical or experiment for the biology lesson. Biology teachers should proficient on how to plan better steps. According to Erin and Alicia (2009) designing learning instructions, setting goals and structuring teaching steps are important; the study shows that teachers are still inefficient in handling laboratory equipment and could not manage a systematic and effective experiment.

From the finding the word gender does not mean that there are clear difference between female and male on academic achieved in biology. If there are difference, they are based on hierarchical structures within the culture of what is suitable for male and female respectively.

Considering the findings of different people, it is clear that there is not yet a consensus as to whether gender influences academic achievement in biology.


5.2 Conclusions

The conclusion of the research were as follows:

  1. Influence of biology practical activities increase student academic achievement in biology in Shomolu Local Government Area of Lagos State.
  2. Teachers incompetence in the use of laboratory equipment negatively affect students achievement in biology.
  3. The wrong attitude of students towards biology practical influence them in a negative way within the area.
  4. Influence of gender on academic achievement of student in biology.

5.3 Implication of the Study

The finding of this study have some educational implications for students, teacher and government. Active participation of the students in the class and retention makes the lesson more meaningful. This is because as the student participate and manipulate equipment/materials, they apply their five senses and other skills to their lessons more than when they would have learned in abstraction or remained less active in class.

The finding of this study have implications on the students who should adopt practical activity method of teaching which is the student centered method. Students learn better when they are involved in the laboratory activity. Activity-based methods enhance understanding of biological concepts and increase the ability to acquire scientific skills by the learners.

Furthermore, the finding of the study showed that there is no clear different between female and male on academic achievement in biology. The implication of this finding is that most instructional approach used in teaching biology does not take care of gender difference in student. Therefore gender has to be considered during instructional delivery so that both male and female students will have equal opportunity to learn.

The finding of this study also have implication on the curriculum planners who are expected to plan for conceptual change over period of years. This is because learning involves the restructuring of prior knowledge to gain new ones for effective learning to take place. Therefore, since the use of practical activities enhances students’ high performance in biology, it follows that curriculum planners can create the awareness of this method in teachers by including it in the biology curricula. Also they should include within the existing subjects contents of the biology curriculum, some corresponding indigenous knowledge. They can do this by re-examining existing units of the subject matter taught in schools and identifying their corresponding indigenous knowledge and instructional materials. This will make the teaching of biology interesting and more meaningful.


5.4 Recommendation of the Study

Based on the finding, the following recommendations were made:

  1. Teachers should encourage students to develops interest in practical activities by engaging them in practical and providing instructional materials that will challenge them to be actively involved during practical lessons.
  2. Ministry of Education and professional organization like STAN should organize workshops, seminars and conferences for biology teacher.
  3. Biology concepts should be taught with practical activities so that the students will do science instead of learning about science.
  4. The government/ministry of education should provide more adequate qualified competent biology teachers to all the public secondary schools in Shomolu local government area.
  5. The government should provide fund for schools so as to enable them procure the relevant resources for effective teaching and learning of biology in all the public secondary school in Shomolu local Government Area.

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