Background of the Study:

Science education is a veritable tool for scientific and technological advancement of any nation. It is in realization of this fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria stated in the National Policy on Education (Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), 2004) that science education should among other things equip students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology. To achieve this, resources for science teaching and learning in Colleges of Education (COE) must be adequately provided for and judiciously managed. Effective teaching and meaningful learning of science subjects, biology inclusive at colleges of education level depend to a large extent on the availability and management of both human and material resources.

Resources according to Hornby (2008) are supplies of something that a country, organization or an individual has and can use especially to increase wealth. Nweke (1999) agreed that resources are all human, financial and material available in the institution or organization which is used as inputs in production. Biology laboratory resources can therefore be said to be supplies of teachers, learners, laboratory assistants/technologists, instructional materials and other necessary devices provided to the school to increase wealth of knowledge which gives help, support or comfort when the need is appropriately implemented.

Biology laboratory resources had been categorized into two namely: human and material resources. Human biology laboratory resources in colleges of education comprise all human beings or resourceful individuals who in one way or the other aid effective utilization of material resources in biology laboratories. These human resources include teachers, learners, resource persons, laboratory assistants and technologists together with other non-professional personnel (Okoli and Osuafor, 2010). They make up the workforce of biology departments in colleges of education that aid the effective management of biology laboratory material resources.

Biology laboratory material resources also bear educational terminologies like: instructional materials, teaching materials, educational media, teaching aids, instructional facilities and instructional media. Chimezie, Ike and Iwu (2002) pointed out that these are devices which present a complete body of information and largely self supporting rather than supplementing in the teaching learning process.   Educational material resources are those things which are manipulated, seen, heard, read or talked about plus instruments which facilitate such activity (Okafor, 2000). Such material resources Okafor continued are both tools for teaching and avenues for learning. They include textbooks, chalkboards, model/mork-ups, television, radio and other projected as well as non projected devices. Material resources whether they are real or representations, their main purpose is to improve the quality of teaching and learning. Specifically, the objectives of utilizing biology laboratory resources in colleges of education as summarized by Chimezie, Ike and Iwu (2002) include:

·         To stimulate and sustain learners’ interest.

·         To encourage active participation of the learners.

·         To economize time.

·         To control large group of learners at the same time.

·         For easy assimilation of facts.

·         For easy understanding of lessons.

·         For easy recall of stored information.

·         To expose students to opportunities in the field of biology and its related courses.

·         To prepare students for varied future occupations.


Based on the above objectives listed, Biology education as a basic science subject (together with physics and chemistry) in colleges of education curriculum is designed to produce graduate teachers who may or may not take up biology as their professional job. It is a branch of knowledge that deals with living organisms and their vital processes (Wikipedia, 2007). Biology as a science subject employs the use of all sense organs which include olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), auditory (hearing), kinesthetic (skin), and optical (seeing) of which only the application of theory in teaching and learning could not yield 100-percent accuracy without the use of laboratory resources (Okeke, 1995). Thus, effective teaching and learning of biology in colleges of education with the use of laboratory resources is very necessary if biology education programmes must gainfully achieve stated objectives. Education is a system deliberately designed to equip individuals (undergraduate students in colleges of education) with the desired knowledge, skills and attitudes which will help them live worthy and happy lives in the society (Nwafor, 2007). Imogie (2010) argued that teaching has not taken place if permanent changes in behaviours have not been observed. Biology education imparts scientific knowledge to the learners if studied with appropriate material resources by qualified human resources. This calls for educational innovations in the content, methodology, principles, instructional materials as well as management techniques-designing, ordering, documenting, storing and safety of Biology Laboratory Resources (BLR). Where does effective teaching and learning of biology takes place and why?

The study of biology education in colleges of education takes place in laboratories. This is due to the usage of material resources stocked in the laboratories to dispense lectures not only during practical classes but also during normal classroom teaching. Biology education adopts laboratory method of teaching. The laboratory method is an individual or group activity involving two-way approach namely: the exercise approach and the experimental approach. Okoli & Osuafor (2010) pointed out that this method offers students the opportunity to develop scientific skills and attitude such as objectivity, communication, questioning, formulating hypothesis, analyzing data, critical thinking, carefulness, open-mindedness, make inference and analyze data. Scientific skills can only be effectively developed if biology laboratory management is effectively coordinated. Biology Laboratory management is regarded as those complex activities that involve planning, organizing, directing and co-ordinating human and material resources of the biology laboratory in a manner conducive to scientific investigation (Okoli & Osuafor 2010). Maduabum opined that a common challenge in biology teaching and learning is insufficient laboratory materials. This challenge according to Maduabum has contributed to the inadequacy in the provision and poor management of available resources.

    The teaching and learning of biology is faced with many challenges. Amongst such challenges are population explosions into higher institutions (COE). Imogie (2010) stated that increase in the number of students’ enrollment into science courses in colleges of education have affected teaching methods designed for such courses. Due to increase in the number of undergraduate teachers into COE, limited number of qualified teachers/lecturers has been forced to reduce time allotted to biology practicals to compliment other lectures and departmental responsibilities. Biology laboratories built since 1970s with maximum of 20 students in view now accommodates more than 200 students; no wonder lecturers have adopted substitutional methods of teaching biology to suit the management deficiencies-lack of planning, organization, direction, supervision, monitoring and evaluation observed in biology laboratories (Eze 1999). According to Okechukwu (1997), most biology laboratories lack laboratory assistants/technologists or even when available, they are unqualified and unskilled to use BLR effectively. On the part of the students, conventional methods of teaching biology adopted by biology teachers makes lesson abstract hence, difficult to understand. When students find it difficult to co-operate with schools management concerning blurred rules and regulations, increment in school fees, non-provision of adequate resources as well as incoherent explanation to mismanagement of available resources, students resort to purposeful demonstrations/riots which have also created more management scandals to biology laboratories. In most colleges of education, storage facilities, infrastructural facilities, care and safety of resources are not guaranteed. Additionally, documentary and logistics imbalances in biology laboratories are reported by Osondu (2006) as a factor to management problems in COE. Most laboratory resources are lost, damaged without repair while unavailable ones are not replaced or improvised. Available laboratory resources are not effectively monitored, supervised and evaluated. These challenges have posed great threat to the provision and management functions since all biology laboratory users find it very difficult to adjust favuorably to the poor conditions of biology laboratory human and material resources. The above factors have invariably affected students’ performance negatively.         

Mamah (2000) reported from a survey in Canada, that there is a diminishing use of biology laboratories and teachers now use the conventional classroom teaching for both theory and practical biology activities. The conventional teaching method is a combination of lecture and practical biology activities. These adaptive strategies are adopted by teachers to tally the available resources with the large number of students in biology classes.   In most laboratories where they are adequately provided, its proper management is not guaranteed. In some cases, the bodies to provide these resources diffuse such responsibilities to the government alone despite the National Policy on Education (NPE) statement that:

Education as an expensive, social service requires adequate financial provision from all tiers of government for successful implementation of the educational programmes. Thus the provision and management of laboratory resources is a joint responsibility of the federal, state, local governments and the private sector (FRN, 2004: 13)


Another striking factor that contributes to lack of human and material resources in biology laboratories is poor management strategies adopted by laboratory users. Michael (2008) view management as the effective utilization and coordination of resources such as capital, plant, material and labour to achieve defined objectives with maximum efficiency. It is the process of reaching organizational goals by working with and through people and other organizational resources. Armstrong (2006) view management of resources as the process of setting and achieving goals through the execution of five management functions: planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling; that utilize human, financial and material resources. These functions are found lacking in colleges of education (Mamah, 2000). This has invariably affected students’ performance not only in higher institutions but also their products in secondary schools. The function of biology laboratory managers (teachers, laboratory assistants/technologists and students) is to provide adequate resources for laboratory users. How can this be done?

Provision of resources implies adequacy in (quantity and quality) supply of teachers, laboratory assistants/technologists, learners, as well as materials for them to work with in biology laboratories. If these valuable resources are lacking; inadequate or the available ones provided to schools are not being utilized during instruction, national educational objectives which is to inculcate the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of the individual and the Nigerian society will not be actualized (FRN, 2004).

            Researchers such as [Nweke, 1999; Ali, 1996, 2006; Neboh, 2009; Adewale and Anjorin, 2010]; have stressed that appropriate provision and management of resource materials when teaching have positive effects on students’ performance. Salami (1992) stated that adequate provision and management of biology laboratory resources had always been positively correlated to good performance in examinations in Nigerian educational system.

In Nigeria, education is classified into three levels namely; primary-junior secondary, senior secondary and tertiary education. These respectively made up the 9-3-4 (nine years in primary school; three years in secondary school and four years in the university) system of education in Nigeria. Colleges of education (COE) are among the institutions legally authorized to train teachers and award Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) to qualified students. Graduates of colleges of education are qualified teachers. In support if this, National Policy on Education (FRN, 2004:33) reveals that, the minimum qualification for entry into the teaching profession shall be the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE). By implication, NCE holders are to teach in primary, junior or senior secondary schools depending on the course of study. Those that studied primary education subjects are to teach in the primary schools while those studying secondary education courses like biology, physics, chemistry and geography are to teach in secondary schools. To achieve the above objective effectively, the federal ministry of education, established the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) to supervise colleges of education in Nigeria (NCCE, 2002). The commission was mandated with the responsibility to lay down standards for all programmes of teacher education, to monitor and control quality of resources (human and material) among colleges of education, accredit certificates and academic awards. If undergraduate teachers in colleges of education are not trained using biology laboratory resources, poor performance of biology students in all educational sectors will continue to surface. This is because teachers will continue to transfer training deficiencies to classroom, thus indirectly influencing students’ performance negatively. If human and material resources are not adequately provided for and scarce resources properly managed, students will be taught using conventional method as Salami (1992) had rightly stated.

Given the above scenario, one wonders whether the situation in colleges of education in South Eastern Nigeria (SEN) is different. Hence, the purpose of this study: to evaluate the provision and management of Biology Laboratory Resources (BLR) in Colleges of Education (COE) in south eastern Nigeria. Specifically, the study aimed at finding out:

·         Human and material biology laboratory resources in COE.

  • the extent to which biology laboratory resources are provided in COE.
  • the extent of utilization of such recognized resources in COE.
  • factors militating against adequate provision and management of human and material resources and


  • effective strategies to curb inadequacy in the provision and poor management of resources highlighted.


Statement of the Problem


            Teaching and learning of biology need to be simplified, comprehensive and concrete. Extensive use of biology laboratory resources makes biology interesting, stimulating and understandable to the learners. The success of biology students in academic pursuit largely depends on the adequacy in the provision and effective management of available human and material resources.

 The teaching of biology as a science subject is faced with some problems. Such problems include: the increasing number of students’ enrollment into science courses in higher institutions which forced the limited qualified teachers available to reduce allotted time to practicals to the minimal or even omit practical activities (Imogie, 2010). Teachers find it difficult during laboratory activities to supervise and teach large classes and combine the practicals effectively with normal class lessons.  Students on their part have the problem of comprehending what is taught without the complementary laboratory activities in biology (Mamah, 2000). Most laboratory resources are lost, damaged or carelessly stored. In some colleges of education, storage facilities are not even available. In some cases, students are not allowed to make use of biology laboratories due to fear of losing valuable materials through stealing in the laboratory (Okoli & Osuafor, 2010). According to Imogie (2010), the number of professional lecturers in colleges of education are limited whereas competent and experienced lecturers cannot give hundred percent of their time, energy and resources to biology practicals due to limited quantity of materials as well as too excess work load. Most biology laboratories are dilapidated. Some biology laboratories built since 1970s with maximum of twenty students in view now occupies more than two hundred students which can only be managed for instructional delivery without practicals.

Researchers’ evidence testifies that most biology laboratories are not equipped with science facilities, seats and demonstration tables (Okoli & Osuafor 2010). Even when these resources are available, their management becomes questionable. These anomalies no doubt affect students’ performance in biology examinations. Most research works reveal the reformation of teaching methods without delving into what effects the management of material resources would have on students’ performance. In addition, scholars have been researching on the physical facilities/equipment in secondary schools without assessing the teachers’ training background from colleges of education. The challenge to improve the teaching and learning of biology in colleges of education through adequate provision and effective management of biology laboratory resources in colleges of education prompted this study.

            Consequently, based on the problems so far listed, this research work investigates the adequacy in the provision and management of biology laboratory resources in Colleges of Education in South Eastern Nigeria.

Purpose of Study


The purpose of this study is to examine the adequacy in the provision and management of Biology Laboratory Resources (BLR) in Colleges of Education (COE) in South Eastern Nigeria (SEN).  Specifically, the study intends to:

1)      Identify resources available for effective teaching and learning of biology in biology laboratories of Colleges of Education in South Eastern Nigeria.

2)      Ascertain the adequacy in the provision of these biology laboratory resources in Colleges of Education in South Eastern Nigeria.

3)      Determine the extent to which lecturers and students utilize biology laboratory resources in Colleges of Education in South Eastern Nigeria.

4)      Ascertain factors that militate against the effective use of available resources in biology laboratories of Colleges of Education in South Eastern Nigeria.

5)      Determine how biology laboratory resources could be effectively managed in Colleges of Education South Eastern Nigeria.


Significance of the Study

Science awareness is now on the increase in educational system in Nigeria. As a result, high enrolment of students in science subjects including biology has been noted by researchers. The potential beneficiaries of this research work include: the state and federal government, curriculum planners, incumbent researchers, inspectors and supervisors of higher institutions, policy makers and implementers, lecturers/teachers, teacher trainees, non-governmental organizations and laboratory assistants/technologists.

The findings of this research will help the state and federal government of Nigeria to work out effective means of providing and managing resources in biology laboratories in colleges of education. This could be achieved through the establishment of resource centres where biology laboratory resources could be purchased, observed and experimented with at subsidized rates.

The curriculum planners on assessing the findings of this research would upgrade the content of instructional programmes to include fifty (50) percent practical and fifty (50) percent theoretical work on all science and its related subjects.

Incumbent researchers on assessing this research work would find it worthy of emulation since it will provide them with documents and reference materials.

The findings will be useful to inspectors and supervisors of higher institutions as the recommendations will enhance educational growth. It will also furnish them with the quantity and quality of laboratory resources that are available in colleges of education and the extent to which they are utilized for effective and efficient dispensation of lectures. They will also appreciate the need to plan, direct, control, co-ordinate and supervise institutions of higher learning to actualize national educational objectives.

From the findings of this research work, teachers (lecturers) in colleges of education will see the need for effective and efficient management of available laboratory resources provided to schools. In the same way, teacher trainees will appreciate the need to manage and improvise biology laboratory resources in colleges of education.

The findings of this study will help all Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to assist the government, the school, the students, the community and the society at large in the provision of biology laboratory resources in colleges of education.

Laboratory attendants and assistants/technologists on assessing this research would see the need to keep useful inventories of biology laboratory resources. They would see the need to report inadequacy of laboratory resources to appropriate authorities  for subsequent provision and management.


Scope of the Study

The study will be limited to South Eastern Zone of Nigeria comprising of 5 states namely: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states. Out of these five states, the researcher selected two states namely Anambra and Enugu states. Federal and state colleges of education will be considered. This study will determine the provision and management of biology laboratory human and material resources in some colleges of education in the south eastern states of Nigeria. The study is also limited to human and material resources provision and management.

Research Questions.


The following research questions have been formulated to guide the study.


1)      What learning resources are available for teaching and learning of biology in biology laboratories of colleges of education in South Eastern Nigeria?


2)      To what extent are these biology laboratory resources provided for in colleges of education adequate in South Eastern Nigeria?


3)      To what extent do lecturers and students in biology departments of colleges of education utilize biology laboratory resources in teaching and learning in South Eastern Nigeria?


4)      What factors militate against effective utilization of biology laboratory resources for teaching and learning of biology in colleges of education in south eastern Nigeria?


5)      Are biology laboratory resources effectively managed in colleges of education in South Eastern Nigeria?











In this chapter, related literature to the topic will be discussed under the following sub-headings:

Conceptual Framework

·         Nature of Biology.


·         Biology Laboratory Resources (BLR).

  • Classification of Biology Laboratory Resources (CBLR).


  • Provision of Biology Laboratory Resources (PBLR).


  • Factors militating against the effective utilization of biology laboratory resources.


  • Management of Biology Laboratory Resources (MBLR).


  • Factors that militate against effective Management of Biology Laboratory Resources (MBLR).


  • Strategies for enhancing Management of Biology Laboratory Resources (MBLR).

Theoretical Framework

·         Taylor’s Theory of Scientific Management

Empirical Studies

·         Effects of utilization of biology laboratory resources on students’ performance in biology.


·         Effects of poor management of biology laboratory resources on students’ and teachers.


·         Factors that militate against the effective utilization of resources for teaching and learning biology.



Summary of Literature Review



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