EFFECT OF COOPERATIVE LEARNING ON STUDENTS ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN BIOLOGY - UNIPROJECTS

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EFFECT OF COOPERATIVE LEARNING ON STUDENTS ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE IN BIOLOGY

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the study
Cooperative learning has been well documented in the educational research as a successful pedagogy to improve students’ academic achievement. It is a fundamental principle of cooperative learning that group members are linked together in such a way that they cannot succeed unless everyone succeed, they will actively assist each other to make sure that the assignment is done and the purpose of the group achieved (Deutsch, 1949). They acquire this by providing help and cooperation to each other, sharing resources, and encouraging each other’s efforts. As a result, group members who work in cooperative groups outperform students who work by themselves or in competition with each other (as seen in competitive conventional classrooms) (Johnson & Johnson, 2004).
Cooperative learning is one of the two ways of organizing the learning environment of a classroom, the other being competitive. In cooperative learning environment, the goals of separate individuals become so linked that there is a positive correlation between them; on the contrary, in a competitive conventional environment, the goals of the students are so linked that there is a negative correlation between their goal attainments (Johnson & Johnson, 1994). Cooperative learning establishes a community in which students can get help and support from other group members immediately in a non-competitive learning environment, just raising their hands and waiting for the right answers to be given.
Pollock, 2001). Attitudes and values of learners are formed through
social interaction. Borich (2004) noted that most of our attitudes and values are formed by discussing what we know or think with others. Continuing, in this manner, we exchange our information and knowledge with that of others who have acquired their knowledge in different ways. This exchange shapes our views and perspectives.
Our attitudes and values are among the most important outcomes of schooling
(Borich, 2004). They provide the framework for guiding our actions outside the classroom. Cooperative learning is important in helping learners acquire from the curriculum the basic cooperative attitudes and values they need to think independently inside and outside of the classroom.
Academic achievements of students have been found to be enhanced by the use of cooperative learning (Lampe, Rooze & Tallent-Runnels, 1998; Johnson & Johnson, 1989; Slavin, 1990, 1991; Webb, 1989). Stevens and Slavin (1995) stated that, the fact that it has been linked to increases in the academic achievement of learners at all ability levels is another reason for its use. Bramlett (1994), Megnin (1995), and Webb, Trooper, and Fall (1995) in their contributions noted that cooperative learning activity engages the student in the learning process and seeks to improve the critical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving skills of the learner.
While research efforts on cooperative-learning indicate that it enhances student
achievement (Johnson & Johnson 1989; Slavin 1990; 1991; Webb 1989), Lampe, Rooze and Tallent-Runnels (1998) stated that peer interaction is central to the success of cooperative learning as it relates to cognitive understanding. They further noted that comprehension is facilitated. Lampe et al (1998) again emphasized that as learners, some of who might normally "turn out" or refuse to speak out in a traditional setting, become actively involved in the learning process through group interaction. Stahl and Vansickel (1992) noted that every cooperative-learning strategy, when used appropriately, can enable students to move beyond the text, memorization of basic facts, and learning lower level skills. This method which results in cognitive restructuring leads to an increase in understanding of all students in a cooperative group.
Apart from academic benefits, cooperative learning has been found to promote self-esteem, interpersonal relationship and improved attitudes toward school and peers(Johnson & Johnson, 1996). Lampe et al (1998) stated that in a competitively structured classroom, except for the few "Winners" or students who succeed, self-esteem can suffer.
When competition is promoted, students may learn to value winning at all costs, and cooperation may be discouraged (Lampe, et al 1998; Conrad, 1988). Although the advocates of cooperative learning are not opposed to all competition, they do oppose inappropriate competition (Johnson & Johnson, 1996; Johnson & Johnson, 1991). Stahl (1992) stated that inappropriate competition tends to widen the existing differences and abilities, which, in turn, can widen negative perceptions of others on the basis of gender, race, or ethnicity. Studies by Glassman (1989), and Johnson, Johnson and Stanne (1986) and comments by Johnson and Johnson (1996) and Trowbridge and Bybee (1996) on cooperative learning found cooperative-learning groups to equalize the status and respect for all members, regardless of gender. Research by Klein (1985) noted by Lampe et al (1998) revealed that competitively structured classrooms have the effect of favouring boys or reinforcing sex role stereotypes that may limit opportunities for girls. In cooperative learning this usually is not the case, where interaction among students is intense and prolonged and students gradually take responsibility for each other’s learning (Borich, 2004).
In general, cooperative learning can be said to lead to the formation of attitude and values, provision of models of prosocial behaviour, presentation of alternative perspective and viewpoints, building a coherent and integrated identity, and promotion of critical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving behaviour (Borich, 2004; Stevens & Slavin, 1995; Abruscato, 1994; Zehin & Kottler, 1993). All these result in collaborative skills improvement, better self-esteem and increased achievement. (Johnson & Johnson, 1996).
Science teaching and learning today is to a great extent focused on activities by which the learner acquires facts, rules and action sequences (Kpangban & Ajaja, 2007).
In a student-centered instructional approach like this, using student ideas means incorporating student experiences, points of view, feelings, and problems into the lesson by making the student the primary point of reference. A completely studentoriented lesson is always initiated by asking students questions and assigning specific roles to them on the content to be taught and their answers and dispositions would become the focus of the lesson. This approach, according to Borich (2004), is intended to heighten student's interest and to encourage positive attitude and feeling towards the subject. Research by Johnson and Johnson (1991) on learning together and alone showed that cooperative learning enhanced more positive attitude towards subject members and the teacher.
Evidences from research works in Nigeria indicated that very little research efforts had been directed at cooperative learning. This approach has been highly recommended for teaching at all levels, as stated by the Federal Government of Nigeria
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Despite the relative importance of biology in science and information based courses as well as in medicine and social sciences, students‟ performance in the subject in both internal and external examinations has remained consistently poor.
Science educators are trying to identify the major problems associated with the teaching and learning of biology in the nigeria schools. Despite all these noble efforts, the problem of poor performance in has continued to surface in nation‟s public examination. Researchers also conducted studies on the factors responsible for students academic performance in biology.
Yet performance and attitude of students in biology is generally poor . Many students especially in the study area have fear and lack of interest for biology; they shun away from biology classes, paid little or no attention to lessons and as a result, continue to experience difficulties in answering questions, particularly in genetics and biology in general. Therefore, they have very poor performances and retention in terminal and promotional examinations. To corroborate the above statement West African Examination Council (WAEC) Zonal coordinator reported that 80% of candidates that sat for the WAEC examination in the year 2015/2016 failed Biology. This agrees with the report of registrar and chief executive of National Examination Council (NECO) who said that 71.92% of candidates who registered for biology in the examination failed the subject.
This without any argument cooperative learning was reported as effective strategy of teaching biology at various places (Johnson & Smith, 1998). Hence, in an attempt to possibly promote the performance students in biology while non cooperative attitude of students towards the teaching and learning of biology have effect on their academic performance, in view of this, the aimed of this study is to find out the effect of non cooperative attitude on students academic performance
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this research work is to investigate the effect of non cooperative attitude of students on academic performance in biology
The specific objectives of this study were:
  1. To identify the effects of non cooperative attitutude on students’ achievement.
  2. To investigate whether the cooperative learning method is more effective than the regular methods of teaching with respect to academic achievement of students in biology
  • II. To establish the attitudinal change towards cooperative learning as a method of learning biology
RESEARCH QUESTION
  • What are the effects of non cooperative attitude on students’ achievement.
  • Does cooperative learning method more effective than the regular methods of teaching with respect to academic achievement of students in biology
  • To what extent does the attitudinal change of cooperative learning as a method of learning biology
Research hypothesis
2        Is there any difference between the mean performances scores of students taught Biology using cooperative learning strategy and their counterparts taught using lecture method?
2) Is there any difference between the mean retention scores of students taught geometry construction using cooperative learning strategy and that of students taught using lecture method?
Significance of the Study
The significance of this study lies in its potentiality of addressing key issues to the teaching and learning of biology as a compulsory science subject as well as being it prerequisite for further education. This study is significant for the following reason:
This study will be of tremendous assistance to all involved in the teaching and learning process. Specifically, it is hoped that this study would be of help to the biology teachers. It is hoped to provide a more efficient method of teaching biology considering the worldwide reports about the capability of cooperative learning strategy. It is hope to promote students personal relationship as they relate with one another during lessons‟ periods and equally enable the slow learners to learn from the past learners in the group.
The result of this study may also provide curriculum planners necessary information

that may be importance when curriculum review is needed. The curriculum planners may use the result to measure students‟ performance in achieving the set objectives of SS III biology curriculum. On the other hand, professional bodies and associations would also be beneficiaries of this study as their members meet annually to review and update their members‟ knowledge in current researches in the field of mathematics education.
Fellow researchers might also find the study valuable from the design, method and the research gap been identified for their further study in the field. Text book publishers may also find the study valuable as they consider good methods of teaching when writing text book.
The problem areas of the students identified from this study would serve as a vehicle for further research work, the result of this study may further show how to overcome the difficulties.

Scope of the Study
In this study, the researcher investigated the effect of non-cooperative attitude on students academic performance in Ekiti state. Senioir secondary schools (SSS) III in Ikere Local government area were considered during the research. The choice of SS III was because; they are the students preparing for SSCE examination. Five selected secondary schools will be used for the study.
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