Science is the bedrock on which modern day technological breakthrough is hinged. Different authors according to their own understanding have defined Science. Igwe (2003) defined science as a systematic study of the nature of the behaviour of the material and physical universe through observation, experimentation, measurement and recording. In addition, Esu (2004) defined science as a systematic, precise, objective way to study the natural world. Science is often an exciting and satisfying enterprise that requires creativity, skill and insight based on this fAPE (2007) defined science as rationally structured knowledge about nature, which embraces systematic methods of positive attitudes for its acquisition, teaching, learning and application.
The major goal of science education is to develop scientifically literate individuals that are concerned with high competence for rational thoughts and actions. The objectives of science education in this country according to Maduekwe (2006) include the need to prepare students to observe and explore the environment, explain simple natural phenomena, develop scientific attitudes including curiosity, critical reflection and objectivity, apply the skills and knowledge gained through science to solve everyday problems in the environment, develop self-confidence and self-reliance through problem solving activities in science.
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 otherBiology 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.
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.
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
(Nzewi&Nwosu, 2010). 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, 2010). This has been a major source of concern to the school administrators, parents and the government at large.
Bassey (2002) opined 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.