ACHIEVEMENT AND INTEREST IN BIOLOGY AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN NIGERIA

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EFFECT OF INTERACTION PATTERNS ON ACHIEVEMENT AND INTEREST IN BIOLOGY AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN NIGERIA

ABSTRACT

The problem of low attainment in biology has been a matter of serious concern to the nation as a whole. As part of the measures to arrest the situation, this study was therefore designed to determine the effect of interaction patterns on achievement and interest in biology. To carry out the study four research questions and four hypotheses were formulated. The study was conducted in four single senior secondary schools within Obollo Afor Education zone drawn through a purposive random sampling technique. Out of the three male schools in the Education zone, two schools were selected and from four female schools in the zone, two schools were equally selected. Biology Achievement Test (BAT) was used to collect data using three intact classes which were assigned to co-operative, competitive and individualistic groups. The sample consisted of one hundred and fifty four (154) SSII students from four out of 44 Government own secondary schools in Obollo Afor Education zone of Enugu State. Means and standard deviations were used to answer the research questions while ANCOVA statistics was used to test the null hypotheses at the 0.5 level of probability. The study among other things revealed that the three interaction patterns, co-operative, competitive and individualistic patterns are all good in enhancing achievement and interest of students in biology. It also showed that male students’ achievement and interest scores were higher than their female counterparts when exposed to these three interaction patterns. Recommendations were made based on the findings of the study.

CHAPTER ONE

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

Background of the Study

            Science and technology have proved significantly useful in man’s daily struggle to control his environmental and build a virile world. Specifically, Jegede and Brown (1998) have stressed that effects of education on national development emanate mainly from the areas of science and technology. Most developing nations are making 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 ratio for science and arts-related courses respectively (Federal Ministry of Education 2004). 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.

Biology is one of the basic sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) that is essentially needed for a nation’s technological breakthrough. To develop a sound basis for modern technology, the study of biology which enhances understanding of nature is important. 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 manufacturing and processing industry medicine, pharmaceuticals, food stuffs, insecticides.

Unfortunately, research reports show that students perform poorly in biology (Adeniyi, 1985; Abimbola, 1981; Fakunle, 1986; Okeke and Ochuba, 1986). Poor performance in biology, however, has been attributed to a number of factors by several researchers. For instance, Ikan in Iloputaife (2000) blamed the poor performance on the state of science education enterprise in Nigerian schools. Ette (1980) reported that science is presented dogmatically in most schools as a series of disjointed facts and concepts which students find difficult to relate to the real world. Ezewu in Kalu (1997) has identified three areas of deficiency namely deficiency in teaching-learning process occasioned by lack of laboratory equipment and materials; deficiency inherent in the learners and deficiency associated with poor teaching of biology or science generally. Nwosu (1998) reported that most teachers lacked the knowledge of the curriculum objectives as indicated by their failure to implement them. To motivate students to learn, the teacher must make biology real and relevant by adopting those teaching strategies in which students participate actively in lesson and using local familiar examples to illustrate scientific concepts.

Similarly, the poor achievement of students in biology may be related to their level of interest in the subject. This implies that the poor achievement in biology may be an indication of lack of interest by students. Any effort to tackle the problem of poor achievement in biology will prove abortive if the student’s interest is not taken into consideration. Interest is an important variable in learning because when one becomes interested in an activity, one is likely to be more deeply involved in that activity. Interest is the preference for particular type of activity, that is the tendency to look out for and participate in certain activities (Agwagah 1993). It is a subjective feeling of intentness or curiosity over something (Habour-Peter, 2001). Students seem to learn more efficiently those things that appear to interest them.

Gender is also considered to be an important factor (Obiekwe 2008). Difference in academic achievement due to gender has caused a lot of concern to educationists.  Adegboye (1989) explained that many parents do not want to spend as much on female education as that of the males because of their social or cultural environment. This preferential treatment dampens students’ interest and subsequently achievement in sciences (biology). The school also provides a platform for channeling children into prescribed gender related activities. For instance, the grouping of subjects in our schools encourages stereotypical choice of subjects. Example, food and nutrition grouped with technical drawing, physics/home management, e.t.c. Such grouping  of subjects will enable female to choose food and nutrition and home management whereas their male counterparts will more likely choose physics and technical drawing. Opinions are that girls tend to shy away from science subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, etc. which by performance are regarded as men’s (Ogbe, 1998). Work on gender difference in students’ achievement by Okeke and Ochuba (1986), however, shows that gender seem not to be a relevant factor to be associated with school achievements. Although it is expected that boys and girls will perform differently because the African culture provides differential experiences to the two sexes, this seems to have no influence on students’ achievement in biology .What influences students’ achievements is the way they were taught (Iketuonye (1986) Dowdeswell (19 81) and Oloke (1981) opined that the way students were taught could contribute to their level of achievement.

Okoye (1994) stressed that science teachers should make science real, interesting and enjoyable by using different motivating techniques in teaching science. Such innovative techniques should be tailored as much as possible to meet the personality characteristics of the learner. Further more, Akpan (1985) asserts that students interest can be fostered if teachers make science lessons more interesting through the use of appropriate instructional modes. The researcher stressed that appropriate teaching methods in science would enhance interest and better achievement. Such appropriate teaching methods ought to be interactive. Inamullah (2005) stated that interaction between the teacher and student is an essential part of all the teaching-learning process.

Uzuegbunam (1995) defined classroom interaction as the sum total of all the teaching-leaning activities taking place in the classroom between the teacher, the learner and the learning materials during the teaching process. The researcher further stated that interaction between the teacher and students during teaching-learning process modifies behaviour, helps students to socialize, develop desirable attitude and interest, help in identification of problems and create an atmosphere to develop problem solving skills. Interaction patterns have been designed and used by many educators in teaching and learning process (Johnson and Johnson 1987).   Interaction patterns of interest to the researcher in this study include co-operative, competitive and individualistic interaction patterns.

According to Johnson and Johnson (1987), a cooperative social situation is one in which the goal attainment of an individual is positively correlated to the goal attainment of the members of the group. That is , the individuals rewards are directly proportional to the quality of the group work. The individuals work in group of four or five members, having a common goal and seeking help and clarification from members rather than from the teacher, with the teacher praising and rewarding the group as a whole.

Johnson and Johnson (1987) defined a competitive social situation as one in which the goals of separate individuals are negatively correlated. Here an individual can attain his goal provided the other participants cannot attain the same goal. In other words, students work individually or as a group such that the individual or group goals are negatively correlated.

In individualistic interaction pattern, there is no correlation among the goal attainments of the participants (Johnson, Maruyama, Nelson and Skon, 1981). Whether an individual accomplishes his or her goal has no effect on whether other participants achieve their goals. The workability or otherwise of these approaches in the teaching and leaning biology in Nigeria schools need to be empirically documented. Besides, the review of some of such research studies by a number of social and educational psychologists  show contradictory conclusions and these have created controversies.  Hay in Ahaneku (1998) reported that individual reward structure promotes higher achievement than group reward structure. Others like Murphy and Murphy in Ahaneku (1998) concluded the opposite.

The second controversy is whether inter-group competition is necessary for cooperation to be effective. Sharah (1980) believes that it is the inter-group competition that promotes higher achievement, while Johnson and Johnson (1987) maintained that inter-group competition is not necessary for co-operative situation to be effective. The question is – what type of interaction pattern exists in biology classrooms? Are these interaction patterns dependent on sex? The study therefore seeks to explore these determinants of interaction patterns in biology classrooms.

Statement of the Problem.

Principals of schools, parents, as well as science teachers have expressed great concern about the poor achievement of students in biology in Enugu state. Poor achievement in biology has caused unfulfilled dreams among students, created extra financial burden on parents resulting to low rate of man-power development to the nation.

Several studies have identified wide range of factors responsible for the low achievement of students in biology which include lack of  understanding of basic scientific concepts by students (Adeniyi, 1989; Otuka,1990) and teachers’ incompetence (Akpan,1985). However, little is known about the effect of interaction pattern on students’ achievement and interest in biology. Based on the foregoing, the major issue of academic concern for this study posed as question is: What is the effect of interaction patterns on achievement and interest of students in biology?

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study is to determine the effect of three interaction patterns on mean achievement and interest of students in biology. Specifically, the study will achieve the following objectives:

  1. Determine the effect of interaction patterns on students’ achievement in biology.
  2. Determine the effect of interaction patterns on students’ interest in biology.
  3. Compare the mean achievement of male and female students in biology when taught using interaction patterns.
  4. Determine the differential effects of interaction patterns on the interest of male and female students in biology.

Significance of the Study

The reviewed theories in this study are capable of providing insight on science (biology) teaching and learning. Understanding of these theories as presented in the study eg. their application, postulation, implications, could help science teachers point out situations where factual knowledge, skills, ideas and principles can be transferred.

The result of the study could help in improving the quality of science teaching, especially that of biology in our schools. This is because this study shades more light on the relative effectiveness of various class room interaction patterns in teaching and learning biology

It is expected that biology teachers may benefit from the results of this study as they now become aware or more conscious of some vital interaction patterns they aught to display during biology lessons. The findings will  have an added advantage of not only making the teachers enjoy the work of teaching, but also lightens the problem of the teaching as students are expected to be more actively involved  in the teaching-learning process.

The result of this study will enhance achievement and interest of student in biology as students are actively involved in the teaching – learning process.

Finally, the result of this study may provide the basis for decision on the effective instructional approach to be recommended and adopted by the curriculum developers.

 

Scope of the Study

The scope of the study was limited to senior secondary (SSII) biology in Obollo Afor education zone of Enugu State. The focus of the study was restricted to the concept of nutrition in plants and animals. The content scope include the following:

 

 

 

  1. Photosynthesis

b).     Mineral requirements of plants

  1. c) Food substances
  2. d) Test for food substances

 

Research Questions.

The following research questions were used to guide the study:

1) What is the effect of interaction patterns on the mean achievement scores of students in biology?

  • What is the effect of interaction patterns on the mean interest scores of students in biology?
  • To what extent do the mean achievement scores of male students differ from that of their female counterpart due to interaction patterns?
  • To what extent do the mean interest score of male students differ from that of their female counterpart due to interaction patterns?

 

Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were tested in this study at 0.05 level of significance.

  1. There is no significant effect of interaction patterns on the mean achievement scores of students in biology.
  2. There is no significant effect of interaction pattern on the mean interest scores of students in biology.
  3. There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students due to interaction patterns.
  4. There is no significant difference in the mean interest scores of male and female students in biology due to interaction patterns.

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