The study investigated the provision and utilization of laboratory facilities as a function of students' performance in practical biology among the senior secondary school in Gombe State.
Three hundred and seventeen (317) SSIII students and their biology teachers were used assample for the study. Three instruments, Biology Laboratory Facilities Inventory, Biology
Laboratory Facilities Utilization Scale and the Students' Test of Practical Biology were used tocollect data. The data collected were expressed as percentages (%) and analyzed using analysisof variance (ANOVA) with the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). The resultsrevealed that there is a deficiency in the availability and utilization of biology laboratoryfacilities. It also revealed that there is significant relationship between availability and utilization of facilities with students' performance in practical Biology at the 0.05 level of significance. Thestudy recommended that the state ministry of education need to provide the necessary neededpractical facilities for schools offering biology and also encourage the training of teachers and support them to attend and participate in workshops and seminars.
1.1. Background to the Study
Science subjects have become a very important part of the school curriculum in Nigeria.
The three most popular branches studied in Nigerian secondary schools are Biology, Chemistry
and Physics. Practical work is the backbone of effective science teaching and learning. It has
been repeatedly emphasized that scientific enterprise is an activity packed one, involving
continuous exploration and verification of facts (Alebiosu, 2003).
Science is learnt by doing, dealing with investigation of nature, so the different schools
curricular adequately provide for practical activities at every stage of learning experiences.
Science is experimentation and its teaching especially focuses on making students learn through
the workings of hands, brain and the heart (Alebiosu, 2003). Biology however is known to have
the largest population of students. This is obvious from the students' enrolment for their final
examinations in Nigerian secondary schools (Ndu, 1980). The students' performances at external
examinations organized by both West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and National
Examinations Council (NECO) do not however show a positive relationship between the desire
to study biology and the students' competences at the end of their studies (Sadiq, 2007).
However, education the world over has been identified as one of the vehicles for the
development of any nation. It is also an instrument for creating awareness and instrument for
future development of any individual, while school is a formal place where learners are being
taught and inculcated with various knowledge and skills necessary for capacity development
which eventually lead to national development (Yakubu, 2005).
The structure of Biology as a science subject is made up of two components namely content and
methods or practical techniques (Mogbo, 1992). In learning this subject therefore, a pupil is said
to be familiar with, and have a good grasp with the basic scientific concepts and principles. Also
abilities and skills with respect to basic scientific processes of observation, classification,
measuring, collection and interpretation of data, inferring, application, hypothesizing and
experimentations are supposed to be acquired in the course of learning Biology (Abdullahi,
1982). It is in the domain of methods of learning the science of Biology that these scientific
processes are learned.
Science and technology which are often recognized as the basic tools for industrialization
and national development could bring economic and social happiness by providing employment
and improving the welfare of the citizenry (Oyekan, 1993). For the development of individuals
and social life natural sciences were included in secondary education for specialized professional
studies which will also have a positive effect on technological growth The instructional value of
graphical illustrations lies generally in their capacity to attract attention and convey certain types
Mamlok-Naaman (2007) pointed out that: Both the content and pedagogy of science learning and
teaching are being scrutinized and new standards intended to shape and rejuvenate science
education are emerging. In Biology, theory and practical demonstration of knowledge are closely
linked in that deficiency in one aspect adversely affects competence in the other.
Science has become a very important part of Nigerian secondary school curriculum. The
more popular subjects are Chemistry, Physics and Biology. Over the years the enrolments of
students in public examination conducted by the West African Examination Council (WAEC)
shows that Biology is most preferred to the other science subjects (Sorunke, 1982).
The examinations organized by the two bodies that organize SSCE examinations West
African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO)
demand that the candidates should respond to questions on both theoretical knowledge and
practicals. The results of such examinations have shown that the candidates probably lack the
competence expected of them since the rate of failure in the two organized exams is relatively
high (Sadiq, 2007).
It is necessary to note that mastery of practical techniques in Biology has a relationship
with availability of equipment and ability to use such equipment and other laboratory facilities
(Mogbo, 1992). This is so because the processes and skills in Biology can be carried out and
mastered by appropriate and adequate laboratory facilities (Pritchard, 1990).
The role of science is being threatened by poor performance of students in practical tasks in
internal and external examinations (Balogun, 1986). People however, have given various reasons
for this poor performance of students and these range from inadequate resources, non availability
of laboratory facilities, large classes, in adequate time allocation, poor science teaching due to
teachers' incompetence and poor commitment to students' poor attitude to learning (Sorunke,
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There is a relationship between theoretical knowledge (concepts, principles) and practical
techniques (methods) in Biology. The performance of students in Biology in SSCE over the past
few years in the study area has not been impressive. This is shown in the WAEC results of the
years 2008, 2009 and 2010 for Biology which has shown a considerable rate of failures in the
grades obtained during the years in review (see appendix F).
It is against this background that this research examined the levels of availability and
utilization of laboratory facilities for teaching Biology in senior secondary schools in order to
determine the effect of availability and utilization of laboratory facilities on students'
performances in practical Biology in Gombe State.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study are to:
1. Establish whether the secondary schools in the area of study possess sufficient
Biology laboratory facilities.
2. Establish the extent to which teachers make use of laboratory facilities.
3. Find the relationship between utilization of laboratory facilities and students
performance in practical Biology.
1.4 Research Questions
The study sought to answer the following questions:
(a) What is the level of availability of Biology laboratory facilities in senior secondary
schools in Gombe State?
(b)To what extent are the available Biology laboratory facilities utilized in senior secondary
schools in Gombe State?
(c)What is the relationship between availability of Biology laboratory facilities and students
knowledge of practical Biology?
(d)What is the relationship between utilization of Biology laboratory facilities and students
knowledge of practical Biology?
1.5 null Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses were formulated for this study:
(a) There is no significant difference in the level of availability of Biology laboratory
facilities among the selected schools.
(b)There is no significant difference in the level of utilization of Biology laboratory facilities
among the selected schools.
(c) There is no significant relationship between availability of laboratory facilities and
students performance in practical Biology.
(d) There is no significant relationship between the utilization of Biology laboratory facilities
and students performance in practical Biology.
1.6 Significance of the Study
It has long been observed that effective science teaching required adequate laboratory
facilities and utilization of those facilities. At this crucial point of Nigeria's development, it is
very pertinent to establish whether in fact Nigerian Secondary Schools posses' sufficient
laboratory facilities and to what sort of use those facilities are put. Researchers and science
educators have spent a lot of time and energy trying to find ways of improving science learning.
Stone (1958), indicated in a survey of science teaching that equipments are inadequate, and that
some were not widely used in the science teaching in Nigerian schools. The study is aimed at
improving students' performances in Biology laboratory practical activities. Laboratory
practicals are considered as an internal representation of experience that are characterized by
unique strategy to solving scientific learning problems. Science laboratory is an important
component in learning science subjects but it depends upon the degree to which it is efficiently
used. Only the availability of science laboratory is not a guarantee of students' performance until
both the students and teachers actually use science laboratory facilities efficiently (Lewin, 2000).
The proper use of laboratory and demonstration of experiments are the indicators of student
performance. Science laboratories are important only when they are used in the school setting. If
science laboratories are provided to schools, there are three possibilities that they remain unused,
used inefficiently and used efficiently. Still, the standards of efficient utilization of resource
inputs have not been formulated.
Also, one could expect the level of equipment in the schools to affect examination
performance, but currently, there is no data available to confirm this expectation. This study sets
out to provide such data as it relates to Biology.
In a country where there is a drastic shortage of people trained in biologically related
Professions, for example Doctors, Vetenarians, Agriculturists, Biochemists, Medical technicians,
the need to encourage for establishing Biology science laboratory, provision of adequate
materials and utilization cannot be over emphasized.
This study aimed to go along way at improving the teaching of Biology and Biology
laboratory practical activities in Gombe State and in Nigerian Secondary Schools in general.
– It is also hoped that the study will facilitate a change of attitude of educational
administrators in providing apparatus and materials relevant for practical.
– Expose Biology teachers to realize the importance of practical laboratory Biology
activities in relation to students' performance.
– It is also of great importance to educational resource centers and educational technology
centers to live up to their expectations.
– It is hoped to provide an insight to both educational planners and science curriculum
designers to modify where necessary the present system of conducting Biology practical
Notwithstanding, researchers have found shortages in the number of laboratories in
Nigerian schools (Alebiosu, 2003; Onipede, 2003). They argued that many schools do not have
required laboratory facilities. Hence, students often fail to acquire science laboratory skills
because their teachers were unable to conduct practical as they would like to and this always had
inevitable consequences for students learning (Keister, 1992).
These shortages of laboratory facilities could have serious implications on the quality of schools
output. All these show the importance attached to science laboratories in schools. It is this
importance that prompted the researcher to examine the availability and the level of utilization of
Biology laboratory facilities in Gombe State as it influence the quality of output in terms of
students' performance in the senior secondary school examinations.
The study will help students to develop a healthy attitude toward learning of Biology, and
will expose students to the importance of laboratory work.
1.7 Scope and Delimitation of the Study
The study in way attempts to cover all the Local Government Areas in Gombe State but
only six local councils are going to be considered for the study. Similarly, the study did not
attempt to consider all arms of senior secondary schools but the final year class, as it is the
WAEC and NECO evaluation class.
The study did not in a way carry out in-depth investigation into other variables relating to
the use of Biology laboratory facilities such as their relevance, maintenance, etc. rather it
considered the importance of the facilities towards practical Biology performance.
The study is limited to the provision and utilization of laboratory facilities and the performances
of students in practical Biology of senior secondary schools in Gombe State. Wider approach
could have been adopted but for several other factors like time constraints, financial constraints and transportation problems to conduct research work, the work could have cover the whole of Gombe State. The work however, was limited to the six selected local government areas.
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