LABORATORY TEACHING TECHNIQUES IN THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF BIOLOGY IRELE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF ONDO STATE.
Background of the Study
Laboratory work is an integral part of most science courses and offers an environment different in many ways from that of traditional classroom setting. A good laboratory environment promotes students’ curiosity, rewards creativity, encourages a spirit of healthy questioning, avoids dogmatism, and promotes meaningful understanding, where wait-time is essential in promoting thoughtful responses and dialog. A good science classroom welcomes all students and strives to enable all motivated students to be successful. According to Akinbobola and Afolabi (2015), a productive laboratory environment is a student-centered classroom, which is interactive, comfortable, and collaborative learning is encouraged.
Biology is one of the core science subjects offered in Nigerian secondary schools and it is the most highly subscribed among the science subjects of the Nigerian senior secondary school curriculum by both schools and students. Majority of the students offer it at the Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) because the knowledge of Biology is needed in the fields of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, agriculture, engineering and other related disciplines. It is a subject that requires the processes and skills of science, through laboratory experiences, to understand its theoretical concepts and application of such concepts in practical and similar situations in everyday life. Such practical experiences encourage critical thinking which can enhance innovation and productivity (manufacturing) that are highly needed in Africa as a developing continent.
However, a significant proportion of laboratory activities remain highly prescriptive and fail to challenge secondary school students (Fisher, Harrison, Handerson, and Hofstein, 2008). The laboratory has been given a central and distinctive role in science education. Science educators have suggested that rich benefits in learning accrue from using laboratory activities (Hofstein and Lunetta, 2003). According to Hofstein, et al, (2008), science laboratory activities are learning experiences in which students interact with materials and/or with models to observe and understand the natural world. This leads to metacognition which Gunstone and Champagne (1990) suggested is an elaboration and application of one’s learning which can result in enhanced understanding. The challenge therefore is to help learners take control of their own learning in the search for understanding. In the process, it is vital to provide opportunities that encourage learners to ask questions, suggest hypotheses and design investigations. There is the need to provide students with frequent opportunities for feedback, reflection, and modification of ideas (Barron, et al., 2008). Research has not provided evidence that such opportunities exist in most schools in Nigeria.
The teaching and learning of Biology demands laboratory activities in an environment that is inspiring, encouraging and challenging to learners to enable them acquire and utilize the necessary science process skills in the subject. Such process skills which are either generic or integrated include observing, classifying, measuring, reporting, analyzing, communicating, using numbers and recognizing spatial relations. Others are inferring, predicting, defining operationally, hypothesizing, identifying and controlling variables, experimenting, interpreting data and using models. Science process skills are fundamental to science, allowing every category of learner to conduct investigations and reach conclusions. A good laboratory environment, according to Aladejana and Aderibigbe (2007), promotes curiosity in students, reward creativity, encourages the spirit of healthy questioning, avoids dogmatism and also promotes meaningful understanding. In line with the above, Metzenberg (2005) suggested that students need to develop necessary social and learning skills so that they can collaborate effectively, share, debate, defend their ideas and be able to work in groups. In this way they can interact and help one another to acquire process skills needed in learning especially the sciences like Biology.
Science process skills are learnt and acquired among learners in environments that encourage thinking and eagerness to work and find out new things. In schools where Biology is compulsory for students to offer as a core science subject, the class is made of different categories of learners like males and females, science-oriented and non-science oriented and high and low achievers. Such a class demands that lessons should be conducted in an environment that can elicit from the learners the desire to work with materials, manipulate equipment and carry out experiments. However, all children who come to school can learn but some are slower at learning than others. In a normal heterogeneous class, students grouped as lowest in achievement in any subject constitute the slow learners and those highest in achievement constitute the fast learners in that subject (Ekpo, 1991). Inyang and Ekpeyong (2000) noted that one of the issues often debated in educational circles is that of grouping secondary school students by ability. Sometimes some teachers group their students according to their scores in a given test or examination by fixing a certain mark as the grading point above which are the high achievers and below which are the low achievers.
Low achievers in one subject may be high achievers in another. It is the duty of the teacher therefore, to make a lesson as interesting and as involving to the students as possible by creating a science learning environment. In Biology lessons, the teacher is expected to provide working materials and equipment for the students to work with. The students should be given adequate opportunity to work with the materials and equipment under the teacher’s guidance. In this way some low achievers may become high achievers in subsequent tests or tasks from retained knowledge gained from active participation in the lessons. An encouraging learning environment can also build in the learners a free, critical, innovative and productive thinking which is vital to a developing continent like Africa.
The use of the laboratory method of teaching science has become a dogma among science educators and teachers. On the one hand, they extolled the importance of the use of the laboratory method in science teaching while on the other hand, they only pay "lip service" to its use in practice. Science teachers do not usually find it convenient to make laboratory work the centre of their instruction. They usually complain of lack of materials and equipment to carry out practical work. At the same time, it is possible that some of these materials and equipment may be locked up in the school laboratory store without teachers being aware of their existence. The conditions under which many teachers function do not engender any enthusiasm to use the laboratory method of teaching science even where they know that these materials and equipment are available. Class size in urban schools is getting larger and this does not usually encourage teachers to use the laboratory method to teach science. In some states of the country, teachers go for months without salary owing to shortage of funds. Science teachers who fall in this category cannot reasonably be expected to give off their best to their students.
There is disparity in the ability of students to perform specific tasks (Adesoji, 2008). Students are not the same especially when we find out the rate at which facts and principles in sciences are being assimilated. Several studies within the Nigerian environment have however, shown that learners are quantitatively different in their ability levels and in learning problems (Ehindero, 1980). Some studies have also shown that method of instruction can influence the performances of low achievers (Kempa and Dube, 1974; long 1981, Adesoji, 1992; Okebukola, 1992; Lavioe, 1993 and Iroegbu, 1998). However, achievements of low ability students have been found to be lowest while that of high ability students was the highest (Kempa and Dube, 1974; Roberts, 1995; Talca, 2001). It has also been observed that outdoor laboratory instruction strategy was effective in teaching students of different ability levels (Adesoji, 1995, 1997, 2008 and Usman, 2010). Very human being has an element of curiosity in him or herself, this element of curiosity when added to interest leads an individual to be involved in the act of inquiry.
However, the degree at which this act of curiosity develops in individual part of science. An American scientist; James (1980) define science as an interconnected series of concepts and conceptual schemes that have developed as a result of experimentation and observation and are faithful of further observation and experimentation.
Oguntonade (2010) further defines science basically as rational inquiry which is generated by a desire to explain the phenomena of human experience, commenting further, he states that any claim to a satisfactory or acceptable discipline in general.
However, whatever opinion people hold about science, there is no doubt that science has come to stay as an integral part of our wellbeing. It is therefore relevant for any nation to embrace science in her educational pursuit.
As rightly noted by Professor Babs Fafunwa “a nation that overtook the significant truism of science in our age has her own peril. Science in our age has obviously become a necessary tool to good living, to health, home making and to leisure add to national defense.
Curriculum planets over the years have become aware of the importance of biology as an integral part of science and there attempted to give biology as well as other sciences proper attention in the secondary school education but sad however, is the fact that the teaching of biology as a subject In our secondary schools is more of a theoretical knowledge.
Indeed no attention has been directed towards making biology as a way of thought of attitudes or as a product. One of the ways in which biology teaching and learning could be seen as a way of thought; attitude or as product is by emphasizing the importance of laboratory and of course the need for the availability and use of the necessary science equipment in the schools science 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.
This study on the “effects of the availability of laboratory science equipment on students performances in biology at the west African school certificate examinations (WASCE) will attempt to offer a broad base for the need to making the teaching and learning of sciences in general and biology in particular to be seen as a way of thought, of attitude or of products.
Various activity-based teaching strategies have been employed for the purpose of improving the teaching/learning of Biology at (SSCE) level. These are inquiry method, demonstration, process approach, cooperative learning and laboratory activity method (NCCE, 2008). These teaching strategies usually took place within the classroom environment but in biology of (SSCE) level, there are topics which demand the use of outside classroom investigations in form of outdoor laboratory activities. For example Ecological concepts the various studies cited the teaching strategy employed by teachers is limited to the indoor laboratory investigations. The aspect of the outdoor laboratory activities are often neglected, or in some cases converted to the traditional lecture method as observed by Stanley (2008) and Duniya (2009).
Stanley (2008) and Duniya (2009) claimed that the outdoor laboratory is more effective than the indoor in the teaching of biology concepts due to the facts that outdoor demands the students to handle, observe and collect on the spot information of a particular concept unlike the indoor in which the materials are brought to the classroom for students to observe and make investigation within the limited classroom environment. While Haruna (2008) and Usman (2010) claimed that both indoor and outdoor laboratory strategies enhance students’ performance at senior secondary chemistry and Junior Secondary Integrated Science respectively. These studies were done at secondary school level. This study is therefore intended to further investigate these claims with regard to biology at SSCE level. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of outdoor laboratory teaching strategy on students’ academic performance in biology at SSCE level in Ondo state.
On the issue of gender, Ogunkola (1999) and Usman (2007) found out from their various studies that boys perform well in any ‘rigorous’ work, while girls show to settle seated for less rigorous work. While Mari (1994), Bichi (2008) believed that girls perform better than boy in problem solving type of activities. Another dimension, if boys and girls are given the equal opportunities, they will perform equally well (Yoloye, 2004, Nworgu, 2005 and Usman, 2010). The issue of gender in science teaching seems to be controversial. In this study therefore, there is need to investigate the issue of gender difference on performance in biology using outdoor laboratory activities at college of education level.
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Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this research work is to study the impacts of laboratory teaching techniques in the teaching and learning of biology Irele Local Government of Ondo state. Specifically, the study tends to;
(i) Determine if the use of the laboratory technique in teaching and learning biology, develops scientific attitudes in students towards the learning of Biology.
(ii) Ascertain if the use of the Biology laboratory in teaching the subject develops scientific skills for problem solving in students
(iii) Find out if the use of the Biology laboratory in teaching the subject, helps the students to learn scientific methods.
(iv) Find out whether the use of the Biology laboratory helps the students to match their abilities through the laboratory experiences they are exposed to.
(v) Find out the types of science laboratory use in our secondary schools and how they are arranged
The following research questions guided the study;
i. Does the use of the laboratory technique in teaching and learning biology develop scientific attitudes in students towards the learning of biology?
ii. Does the use of the biology laboratory develop scientific skills in the students for problem solving?
iii. Does the use of the biology laboratory in teaching the subject help the students to learn scientific methods for science learning?
iv. Does the use of the biology laboratory in teaching the subject help the students match their abilities through the laboratory experiences they are exposed to?
v. To what extent are the safety meassures incorporated in both the design and management of science laboratories?
The following Null Hypothesis will be tested at p = 0.05 level of significance in this study.
i. laboratory technique in teaching and learning biology has no significant effect on students’ academic achievement in biology
ii. laboratory techniques has no significant effect on students’ scientific skills in solving biological problem
iii. laboratory technique in teaching biology has no significant effect on students’ scientific knowledge on science related learning?
iv. laboratory technique in teaching biology has no significant effect on students’ exposure to scientific knowledge.
Significance of the Study
The use of the laboratory method of teaching science has become a dogma among science educators and teachers. On the one hand, they extolled the importance of the use of the laboratory method in science teaching while on the other hand, they only pay "lip service" to its use in practice.
The study is intended to present the proper use of science laboratories in secondary schools. The research would also make some recommendation to government and individuals who own secondary schools in Irele and also could be future reference to any study concerning laboratories and its proper used.
Though series of studies have been carried out concerning the availability and importance of science laboratory in secondary schools Hemba (2006). The availability and quality of science laboratories on academic performance of secondary school students. Oguche (2005). Samba and Eriba (2011) laboratory techniques and the art of improvisation and so on. None has been carried out in comparative study of government and private secondary schools with respect to how laboratories are used in Irele Local government area of Ondo State.
The study would also help in broadening pupils experience and developing initiative resourcefulness and cooperation. Because of the reasons discussed above, practical work frames a prominent features in Biology. The active learning is that which uses the laboratory and traditional, which uses the teaching resources ordinarily available to the teacher. In laboratory students gain more content knowledge and knowledge of process skills compared to traditional instructions. The laboratory approach enhances knowledge and process learning for students.
Scope of the Study
The research work covers the effects of laboratory teaching techniques in the teaching and learning of biology in Irele Local Government Area of Ondo state.
Irele is a Local Government Area in Ondo State, Nigeria. Its headquarters are in the town of Irele. It has an area of 963 km². Ode-Irele is located 10 kilometres (6 mi) by road west of the town of Okitipupa and a population of 145,166 at the 2006 census. The local government owns 69 public secondary schools. Out of which 10 were selected for this study.
Definition of Terms
Laboratory: It is a place providing opportunities for experimentation observation or practice in a field of study.
Science equipment: In this context, it refers to all the necessary materials and supplies required for teaching and learning of biology in the secondary schools.
Method: A method can simply be described as the way in which one does something
Biology: biology is the scientific study of living things
Science: Science is the study of the natural things around us
Skills: A type of art and craft that comes about as a result of some special training.
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