1.1 Background to the Study
Science and Technology have proved significantly useful in man’s daily struggle to control his environment and build a virile world. Specifically, Jegede and Brown (1998) opined that sound national development emanate mainly from the areas of science and technology. According to Okeke (2007), science and technology are like two inseparable twins. The author defined science as a systematic process of obtaining testable knowledge about nature and natural occurrences, utilizing careful observation and experimentation. Technology, on the other hand is the process of devising 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 other allied subjects in their schools. For example, in Nigeria, the national policy on education stipulates that admission into the nation’s tertiary institutions should be based on 60:40 ratios for science and arts related courses respectively (Federal Ministry of Education (FME) 2009). Furthermore, the 9-3-4 system of education in Nigeria which is focused on self reliance and sustainable national development is built around science and technology. Included among the basic science subjects is biology.
The study of biology is essential for the nation’s scientific and technological development. Without 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 areas of manufacturing and processing industries, medicine, food production and pharmaceuticals among others.
In recent times, countries all over the world, especially the developing ones like Nigeria, are striving hard to develop technologically and scientifically, since the world is turning Scientific and all proper functioning of lives depend greatly on Science. According to Ogunleye (2006), Science is a dynamic human activity concerned with understanding the workings of our world. This understanding helps man to know more about the universe. Without the application of science, it would have been difficult for man to explore the other planets of the universe. Science comprises the basic disciplines such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology.
Biology is one of the science subjects that senior secondary school students offer at the Senior levels in the Nigerian secondary schools, (FRN, 2004). Biology is a very important science subject and a requirement for further learning of a number of science-related professional courses like medicine, agriculture, pharmacy, etc. In contemporary Nigeria, greater emphasis is placed on science and technological development. As a result, students are being encouraged to take up science-related subjects. Today, Biology pervades literally every field of human endeavour, and plays a fundamental role in educational advancement. This is seen in all the technological advancement in the world today, which is because of scientific investigations. However, the issue remains that in most secondary schools in
Nigeria, there is high rate of failure in the subject.
Biology is a branch of science that deals with the study of living organisms. Biology is primarily concerned with the nature of organisms and their relationship to each other and to their environment. Biology as a subject endeavors to enable one understand himself/herself, understand major biological processes that take place within himself/herself; for example digestion, respiration, circulation, excretion and gaseous exchange. Through Biology organisms tend to appreciate the effect of these biological processes and the larger environment as a whole. Biology like other science subjects is a practical- oriented discipline which seeks to develop in a learner scientific inquiry and problem solving skills. The general goals of Biology Education is to equip the learner with the basic knowledge, skills and attitude that will enable one to lead an independent and useful life both to himself/herself and the larger community in which she/he lives.
Considering its fundamental characteristics and importance, biology is today a standard subject of instruction at all levels of our educational systems, from pre-primary to tertiary. It is the only core science subject at Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE), whose study is very relevant to man’s successful living (Akindele, 2009).
The Biology subject caters for the needs of a learner who may pursue his /her studies in the subject and its related disciplines. In many areas, biological knowledge can be applied in general improvement of man’s well-being as evidenced in Medicine, Agriculture and Industry. Success in life has so much been associated with ones performance in examination. Students who do well in examinations get a chance of proceeding to higher levels of studies and consequently, being a source to manpower in many biologically related careers. Failure in Biology means a general shortage of manpower in these Biology-related professions. This is because Biology forms the basis of important disciplines such as Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry, Agriculture and Forestry. Besides, Biology has played a very important role in providing knowledge for current biological issues such as Biotechnology, Genetic engineering, waste disposal and food security.
Research reports by leading educators indicated that achievement in biology education is determined by such factors as the quality of teaching staff, availability and effective use of instructional resources, time spent studying the subject, students’ attitudes, aspirations, school administration, teaching strategies and assessment (Anderson, Ryan and Shapiro”1989, Dunkin, 1989, Eshiwani, 1993, Khatete, 1995 and Orodho, 1996). The teachers have fallen victim of criticisms by parents and the society at large as being the cause of this poor achievement (Shiundu, 1990). Nevertheless, it is pertinent to note that these factors may not apply to Migori district.
According to Ajelayemi (1990) the knowledge of biology is the major potent source for social and economic changes in the contemporary history of mankind. It has contributed so much and still continues to contribute to make life comfortable for people, whether in urban or rural areas, both in developed and developing countries (Kumar, 2005). It has helped to promote health and control many diseases, increase in food production through genetic engineering and other modem family practices over famine, affluence over poverty, reason over superstition and education over ignorance (Tsuma, 1998).
Studies have shown that secondary school students are exhibiting low interest in Biology (Esiobu, 2005). This low interest of students in biology has been traced to poor achievement in examinations. In our match towards scientific and technological advancement, we need nothing short of good achievement in biology at all levels of schooling. Unfortunately, achievement of students in biology at the end of the secondary school has not improved in the last decade (Umoinyang, 1999). Folorunso (2004) has linked poor achievement trend in biology particularly to the lack of instructional resources in schools due to poor funding of schools. The poor funding of schools has hindered the principals from providing the teachers with adequate instructional resources.
The National Policy on Education (FME, 2004) emphasizes the need for teaching and learning of science processes and principles. The policy recommends practical, exploratory and experimental methods of teaching. In this regards, Okebukola (2004) stated that the basic tools that science uses in the learning of science processes are the instructional materials.
Araoye (2009) suggested that exposure to biology education offers the learners a wide range of relevance to all aspects of life. Biology is a key subject on the curriculum of Nigerian Colleges of Education under the supervision of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE).The philosophy behind the subject is to produce knowledgeable, highly motivated, professional and effective teachers of biology who will be able to develop in students, an appreciation and understanding of biological process and principles (NCCE 2008).
As a subject discipline, it is quite popular at all levels of Nigerian education. It has a large student enrolment than any other science subject especially at the upper basic level of the Nigerian education (Ofoegbu, 2003).This has been attributed to several factors including the students’ perception of the subject as simple and non- availability of other science subjects in some schools such that biology is made compulsory for both science and non-science students. In spite of the popularity of biology among students, the failure rate has remained very high (Akubuilo, 2004).
Within the words of Ajileye (2006), insufficient resources for the teaching and learning of science constitute a major cause of student underachievement. The insufficient resources include laboratories, science equipment, and specimens to be used as teaching aids. Onuoha (1997) identified shortage of qualified and dedicated teachers as the factor affecting student performance in science and that poor practical orientation will lead to poor understanding of the theory. In his opinion teachers are no more dedicated to their assignments. They give more time to trading, petty contracts, farming etc. They sneak in and out of the classrooms and laboratories at will.
Nwagbo (2007) observed that most biology teachers use all the biology periods for theoretical aspect of the subject neglecting the weightier practical aspect which has potential for developing critical thinking and objective reasoning abilities in the students. Research has shown that many teachers lack the competencies, skills and creativity to organize practical classes (Ofoegbu, 2003; Akubuilo, 2004 cited by Uzoechi, 2009). Students are rarely taught biology practical according to Ajala (2002), at the basic and secondary levels and this affects performance at the post-secondary level. Ukwuma (1990) in his investigation of factors that impair science education confirmed that more than 80% of failure in science is because of the lack of ability of students to do well in practical.
Ladanu (1991) observed that the majority of the books utilized in secondary schools are compiled by foreign authors. Languages utilized in a few of the texts are complex and ambiguous. Hence, it might be hard for students to understand. Garba (2004) carried out a study around the relationship between class control and students’ performance his findings says instructors who are sufficiently outfitted with methods that really help in class control adequately will instantly let the students have full concentration and result in positive academic performance from the students. Within the opinion of Ojo (2001) insufficient qualified instructors, insufficient facilities and poor teaching methods are factors that need consideration if this involves student performance in science.
To Araoye (2010),for better results at the basic education levels, teachers need to be more proactive, creative and committed and quoting UNESCO (2006),stated that, Nigerian teachers of youths, primary and secondary school pupils have the responsibility of making a paradigm shift from being instructors, expositors, fact givers and verifiers to facilitators, stimulators, proactive and productive.
According to Nakpodia and Urien (2011), the teacher stands out as one the most important factors determining the quality of education and its contributions to national development. At every level, people who go to school look on the teacher for the acquisition of the necessary skills to enable them become what they want to be. Thus, students often look on the personal qualities, their educational qualities and professional competence which are rewarding to the learners. It is on this note that the role of educational administrators in assisting teachers to help students achieve the objective of instructions in their various fields of endeavor stands paramount and a challenge in the 21st century.
Teacher commitment has been identified as one of the most critical factors for the future success of education and schools (Huberman, 1993). Teacher commitment is closely connected to teachers’ work performance and their ability to innovate and to
integrate new ideas into their own practice, absenteeism, staff turnover, as well as having an important influence on students’ achievement in, and attitudes toward school (Firestone, 1996; Graham,1996; Louis, 1998; Nias, 1981; Tsui & Cheng, 1999). The level of teachers’ commitment is considered to be as a key factor in the success of current educational reform agenda as it heavily influences teachers’ willingness to engage in cooperative, reflective and critical practice.
Akinduyo (2014) observed that developed countries would always trace their roots of success in all sectors to the quality of their teaching profession. The long chain of all other professions like medicine, law and engineering originates from the teaching profession. But the reverse is the case in Nigeria. Teaching has been seen as a mere activity, occupation and vocation for the academic losers. Some people even refer to teachers as substitutes on the bench of life, who are left with no option than to proceed and get employed into the teaching profession.
Parlak (2007) noted that biology is a continuously developing discipline which obtains information on the existence, development, modification and interrelations of the living things on earth. It also adds new information on the existing knowledge; health, diseases, marriage and family relationships. He further stated that even learning and memory can be solved only via biology education. Biology is very important subject; it has to be given more attention. It enables one to understand himself and his intermediate environment. In addition, the knowledge acquired in biology subject is applied in many fields as Medicine, Biochemistry, Pharmacy, Microbiology and Agriculture among others, hence the imperative of the biology teacher’s commitment status.
Oyeleke (2012) noted that there is a visible decline in the quality of education at the primary and secondary levels in Nigeria. Shaibu (2014) analysed the statistics of candidates’ achievement in biology in Kaduna state between the years 2005-2012, and noted fluctuation in the achievement of students in biology. This development is not healthy for a nation that intends to be among the twenty economic and technologically viable nations by the year 2020. Scholars have attached various reasons to this problem. This trend is not unconnected to the negative perception of teachers who are the key players in education and the school system. This development is not healthy for a nation that intends to be among the twenty economic and technologically viable nations by the year 2020. Scholars have attached various reasons to this problem. In Nigeria, teacher’s problems have always been treated with levity and foot dragging approach, a situation that is the mistaken notion of our leaders that teachers cannot constitute a formidable threat to the corporate policy. The Nigerian public had inherited from the missionaries, way back in the colonial days, the misinformed idea that teachers’ reward is secured for them in heaven, a notion, which has continued to negatively shape their view of the profession. However, in a materialistic society like ours has come to be, this situation can no longer hold ground. The result has been a constant class between teachers and their employers, leading to low performance on the part of the teachers.
Studies have shown that the use of instructional materials have improved achievement (George, 2008) and Nwagbo (2006). Instructional materials are wide varieties of equipment and materials use for teaching and learning by teachers to stimulate self-activity on the part of the students. The teaching of Biology without instructional materials may certainly result in poor academic achievement. Poor academic achievement in Biology could also be attributed to many factors such as, low interest of students in biology, inadequate motivation from teacher, poor incentives to biology teachers, lack of adequate supply of instructional material, lack of qualified teachers, and use of teacher centered instructional strategies, inadequate use of instructional materials and use of abstract standardized materials. Among these factors, teacher’s use of abstract standardized instructional strategy is considered as an important factor in this study.
This implies that the mastery of Biology concepts might not be fully achieved without the use of instructional resources that the students are abreast with. The teaching of Biology without instructional materials may certainly result in poor academic achievement.
Folorunso (2004) observed that there is lack of adequate and appropriate instructional resources for effective teaching of Biology in schools. For Ibitoye and Fape (2007), the poor achievement in biology was traced to poor usage of instructional resources for biology teaching and learning, poor state of infrastructure facilities, large class size, poor teaching, use of faulty assessment practice, and inadequacy of quality teachers. According to Okebukola (2004), the poor state of laboratory facilities and inadequate use of instructional materials has constituted a cog in the wheel of students’ achievement in Biology in the Senior School Examination. The verbal exposition does not promote skill acquisition, objectivity,
and critical thinking abilities that will enable the child to function effectively in the society. This according to the researcher leads to poor achievement of students in the subject.
Okebukola and Jegede (1986) stressed that a professionally qualified Biology teacher no matter how well trained, would be unable to put his ideas into practice if the school setting lacks the equipment and material resources necessary for him or her to translate his competence into reality.
On this note, resources are seen as materials, which help in doing something. For example, flour, sugar, water, and so on serve as resources for the preparation of bread or cake. In the classroom situation, resources are materials or devices that are used to facilitate teaching and learning. National Teachers Institute (2010) reported that resources in the classroom can be classified into two broad categories, those that appeal to the sense of sight which are classified as visual resources and those which appeal to the sense of hearing, classified as audio materials. There are also those that combine both features and are classified as audio-visual (A-V) materials. Isola (2010) referred to instructional resources as objects or devices, which help the teacher to make a lesson much clearer to the learner. Instructional materials are also described as concrete or physical objects, which provide sound, visual, or both to the sense organs during teaching (Agina-obu,2005). The teaching of Biology cannot be done effectively without interaction between the teacher, students and the environmental resources. The Biology curriculum is planned to enable the teacher use activity oriented, child-centred approach (guided inquiry) to teach (Nzewi & Nwosu, 2009). (Nzewi & Nwosu, 2009). However, evidence from research has shown that instructional materials, resources and equipments for science, especially biology are either in short supply or are completely lacking in schools to the extent that most teachers end up with verbal exposition of scientific principles, facts and concepts. Studies have also revealed that the achievement of Nigerian students in Ordinary Level Biology was generally and consistently poor over the years (Nwagbo, 2009). This has been a major source of concern to the school administrators, parents and the government at large.
Bassey (2002) stated that Biology is resource intensive, and in an era of poor funding or scarcity of resources, it may be very difficult to find some of the original materials and equipment for the teaching of Biology in schools adequately. A situation that is further compounded by the galloping inflation in the country and many at times, some of the imported sophisticated materials and equipment are found to be expensive and irrelevant ;hence the need to produce materials locally. Researchers such as Ogunleye (2002) and Obioha (2006) reported that there were inadequate resources for teaching biology in secondary schools in Nigeria. The authors further stated that the available ones are not usually in good conditions in most cases. According to Abolade (2004), some of the factory produced/imported instructional materials have also been discovered to be based on foreign ideas and culture. It is against this background that the need to fashion out ways by which local resources can be used for developing instructional materials becomes necessary. There is the need therefore, for improvisation.
National policy on Education (2004) further stated that the provision and use of available instructional materials for teaching will lay a sound bases for scientific and reflective thinking among students. The real materials that are the conventional instructional materials are imported or factory made laboratory equipments for science teaching. Examples of conventional instructional materials are: microscope, herbarium, laboratory reagents, laboratory glassware, Bunsen burner, tripod stand. However, if these conventional Instructional Materials are not available or inadequate, they can be locally made by using resources in the environment as alternative. These will include used electrical bulb for round bottom flask; beverage tins for convex and concave mirror; juices of unripe orange as acid, solution of ash from wood as base, candle or stove as burner, teaspoon for spatula (Okebukola, 2006). Improvised instructional materials may not be identical with the conventional one; therefore teachers should be skilful in their handling and using them (Igwe, 2003). Improvisation requires a considerable development through imaginative planning and good knowledge.
Several researchers have pointed out different reasons for students poor performance, some of which are due to the abstractness of certain aspects of biology, lack of understanding on the students’ part, certain biological concepts and terminologies, etc (Okeke and Ochuba, 1986; Nzelum, 2010). As a result of failure experiences, some students begin to doubt their intellectual abilities and come to believe that their efforts to achieve are futile .These feelings in turn, leads to a low persistence level; they give up quickly even as in learning as soon as something appears to be difficult . Hence, there is a great need for students to be motivated to develop positive attitude which is crucial to performance in any subject. Adedeji (2007) suggested that poor attitude of students and even of teachers to biology is a destabilizing factor to successful biology development. It is therefore necessary, at this juncture, to interface with the teachers, the students and some of the stakeholders to find out some of the reasons for these problems. This study is intended to examine the students’ academic achievement in biology in some selected secondary schools in Oyigbo Local Government in Rivers state.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Biology is generally conceived by most students as the easiest science subject and so, enjoys larger number of enrolment than other basic science subjects (Ajewole, 2006).
It has been observed that poor performance in the field of science is caused by the poor quality of science teachers, overcrowded classrooms and lack of suitable and adequate science equipment among others. Students perform poorly in biology because; the biology classes are usually too large and heterogeneous in terms of ability level.
Akiri and Nkechi (2009) are of the opinion that ineffectiveness of teachers in classroom interaction with the learners could be responsible for the observed poor performance of learners and the widely acclaimed fallen standard of education. Poor academic performance of learners can be linked to poor teachers’ performance in terms of accomplishing the teaching task, negative attitude to work and poor teaching habits which have attributed to poor motivation (Akiri & Nkechi 2009). However, in most schools, ineffective teaching is due to conditions such as lack of resources facilitating teaching and learning. That resulted into negative influence on the instructional quality in schools, translated into poor academic performance, attitude and values. The ways learners learn affect their academic performance.
Most learners perform below average due to lack of motivation. They are neither motivated to learn nor do they do what they are expected to do. Several researchers have suggested that only motivation directly effects academic achievement; all factors affect achievement only through the effect of motivation (Tucker et al. 2007). However, it is not easy to understand what motivates learners. Numerous studies have been conducted on this topic, which has led to the development of several theories of motivation.
The question therefore is what are the factors that are responsible for the fallen standard and poor academic performance of students in Biology? Is the fault entirely that of teachers or students or both of them? Is it that students of today are non-achievers because they have low intelligent quotient and a good neutral mechanism to be able to act purposefully, think rationally and deal effectively with academic tasks? Or is it because teachers are no longer putting in much commitment as before? Or is it in teachers’ method of teaching and interaction with pupils? Or is the poor performance of students caused by parents’ neglect, separation and poverty?
This problem, as a phenomenon, calls for intensive investigation to know the root causes of this abysmal performance so as to proffer a lasting solution to it.
- To identify methods used in teaching Biology in Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers State.
- To find out the extent to which variety of methods are applied in teaching Biology to students in Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers State.
- To ascertain the characteristics of Biology teachers in Secondary Schools in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
- To investigate the extent to which instructional materials are available for the teaching of Biology in Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers State.
- To examine student’s attitude towards Biology subject in Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers state.
- To identify the measures for improving students’ performance in biology in
Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers State.
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the methods used in teaching biology in Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers State?
- To what extent do teachers use this variety of methods in teaching biology in Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers State?
- What are the characteristics teachers should possess that will aid them in teaching biology effectively in Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers State?
- To what extent are instructional materials available for the teaching and learning of biology in Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers State?
- What are the attitudes of students towards the study of biology in Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers State?
- What are the measures for improving students’ performance in biology in
Oyigbo L.G.A of Rivers State?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Ho1: Teachers’ quality and characteristics does not have negative impact on the poor performance of Biology students.
Ho2: Teachers’ Method of teaching does not significantly influence students’ poor performance in Biology.
Ho3: Availability and Adequacy of instructional materials does not significantly influence students’ poor performance in Biology.
Ho4: Attitude of students’ towards Biology does not have a significant effect on their poor performance in Biology.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is of great significance as it will provide insight into how to improve students’ interest and performance in biology and by extension other related disciplines. The result of the study would help the teachers to find out the pit- falls which lead to the poor performance of students and to find ways of reducing the numbers of failures in Biology.
The findings of the study would also make the students compete favorably with their counterparts from other communities in the Biology. The students and the teachers would be able to discover some problem areas in the learning and teaching of Biology and finding ways of improving their performance.
This will also help the government to see reasons why the school system needs to be revived by putting in place necessary facilities for learning experience to be effective and also the need to motivate its employees (teachers) for them to perform their job effectively.
This could result in an improvement in the admission of students into higher institution of learning.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study aimed at identifying the factors that cause poor performance among biology students in some selected government secondary schools in Oyigbo.
It examined various factors which include; availability of teaching and learning materials which includes text books and other resources, attitude of students towards learning biology, frequency of practical science lessons in a well-equipped laboratory and the availability of these laboratory equipment as well as trained and qualified laboratory technicians, curriculum implementation, syllabus coverage and teachers’ qualification and training.