THE EFFECT OF BIOLOGY PRACTICAL ACTIVITIES ON SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENT’S ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN BIOLOGY
The Study’s Background
Science is a great enterprise on which nations rely to advance technologically. As a result of its importance and relevance to life and society, science is receiving a lot of attention in education. Science is a process (the scientific method) as well as a product (knowledge, facts, and principles) (Ezeh, 2013). Education provides both the process and the product of science, and this is a specialized type of education such as science education.
Science is important in society because it affects our daily lives and careers. The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Education, introduced science subjects in the nation’s secondary school curriculum due to the importance of science in our society. Biology is one of the subjects that has been introduced.
Biology is the study of life and the structure of living things. Biology is the study of living things and is concerned with the structural, behavioral, distribution, and origin of plants and animals, as well as their relationship with their environment (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 2009).
According to Abugu (2007), biology is a natural science that studies living organisms such as plants and animals. Biology knowledge aids in the prevention of environmental degradation such as desertification, erosion, water hyacinth, and land, air, and water pollution.
Biology education’s primary goals are to prepare students to acquire: adequate laboratory and field skills in biology; meaningful and relevant biological knowledge; the ability to apply scientific knowledge to everyday life in matters of personal and community health and agriculture; and, finally, reasonable and functional scientific attitudes (Federal Ministry of Education 2004).
Biology studies in senior secondary school can provide students with useful concepts, principles, and theories that will help them face challenges both before and after graduation. Rather than focusing on theory and ideas, practical biology is the scientific study of the life and structure of plants and animals, as well as their relative environment, in a real or experimental setting (Opuh, Eze, & Eze Magu, 2008).
Practical activities in biology allow students to actually do science rather than just learn about it. According to Nzewi (2008), practical activities can be viewed as a strategy that can be used to make the task of a teacher (teaching) more real to students as opposed to abstract or theoretical presentation of fact principles and concepts of subject matters.
Nzewi maintained that hands-on, mind-on activities should engage students in a variety of instructional materials/equipment to drive the lesson home. According to Nwagbo (2008), the use of practical activities (approach) to the teaching of biological concepts should be a rule rather than an option for biology teachers if we hope to produce students who have the necessary knowledge, skills, and competence to meet the nation’s scientific and technological demands.
Practical work stimulates learners’ interest in the science subjects they are studying when they are made to personally engage in useful activities, knowledge obtained through practical work and experience promote long-term memory that theory alone cannot do, for this reason, it is obvious that learners acquire more in any science lesson if they are given the opportunity to do activities ranging from manipulating apparatus, classifying, designing, experimenting, hypothesizing, and so on.
As a result, there is an urgent and serious need to justify the presentation of biology practical activities as well as research its impact on students’ achievement in biology. Unfortunately, the majority of our secondary schools have an ugly situation in which students are not exposed to practical activities. This contributes to persistently poor biology performance.
According to Nwagbo (2008), a number of factors have been identified as contributing to secondary school students’ failure to acquire skills, which invariably leads to poor performance, and one of these factors is the teacher variable, that is, the teacher method of teaching.
Furthermore, Okoli (2006) indicates that many science teachers prefer the traditional expository/lectures method of teaching, which is a teaching technique in which one person, the teacher, presents a spoken discourse on a specific subject, over activity-oriented teaching methods that are student-centered, such as the inquiry method, discovery method, and investigative laboratory approach.
According to Nwagbo (2006), a teacher-centered approach in which the teacher is the sole possessor of knowledge and the students are passive recipients of knowledge may not improve achievement or promote a positive attitude toward biology. Aside from teaching methods, gender influences students’ academic achievement in biology. Gender refers to the roles and responsibilities that men and women are assigned in their families, societies, and cultures.
Gender expectations in society are held about the characteristics, attitudes, and likely behavior of both men and women (masculinity and feminity) (Ezeh, 2013). Nigerians generally believe that boys are superior to girls in terms of physical build, intelligence, and reasoning. According to Okeke (2007), gender and gender stereotyping have resulted in academic achievement discrimination, which is of great concern to educators.
Okoli, Iwuozor, and Obioma (2011) demonstrated that gender has no bearing on scientific achievement. Because the gender findings are inconclusive, the researcher is interested in investigating the impact of biology practical activities on senior secondary school biology academic achievement.
Students’ performance in secondary school biology in Nigeria has not been encouraging. Despite the desire for technological development, which necessitates biology education, students’ academic achievement in the subject, particularly in practical biology, remains persistently low.
There are numerous factors that can be attributed to students’ poor performance in biology practical, including teachers’ use of inappropriate instructional approaches, a lack of adequate laboratory facilities, poor organization of laboratory activities, a lack of commitment to laboratory work by both teachers and students, a partial or total absence of laboratory, a lack of qualified biology teachers, and the mode of laboratory activities used in biology laboratories.
According to studies, teachers mostly use a teacher-centered approach when carrying out laboratory activities. The ineffective instructional approaches used by secondary school biology teachers cast doubt on the possibility of achieving the objectives of biology education in Nigeria secondary schools, as stated in the National Policy on Education (Federal Ministry of Education, 2004).
Most instructional approaches used in teaching biology in the classroom or laboratory, such as lecture and demonstration, promote rote learning and provide little opportunity for students to manipulate materials and reflect on what they do during the teaching and learning processes. Student interaction during laboratory activities may play an important role in concretizing learning.
Among the many issues that contribute to students’ poor performance in practical biology, the researcher is particularly interested in the impact of biology practical activities on students’ academic achievement in biology.
The Study’s Purpose
The primary goal of this research is to determine the impact of biology practical activities on the academic achievement of senior secondary school students.
The study’s specific goals are as follows:
determine the impact of biology practical activities on the academic achievement of senior secondary biology students
Determine how the teacher’s inability to use laboratory equipment affects student achievement in biology.
Determine how students’ attitudes toward biology affect their performance in biology.
determine the impact of gender on biology students’ academic achievement
The Study’s Importance
In practice, the findings of this study will benefit students, biology teachers, and the government. The study’s findings may help students understand the significance of group and individual laboratory work situations in the effort to learn biology concepts.
It may also assist students in developing skills in the following areas: communication, problem solving, self-confidence, and critical thinking. These are the skills they are expected to learn through practical activities that will help them improve their academic performance.
The findings of this study will benefit science teachers by allowing them to understand the proper mode of laboratory work in teaching and assisting students in understanding biology concepts with the ability to successfully carry out practical work. To maximize achievement, the teacher will recognize that biology concepts should not be taught in isolation but should be integrated into practical work.
The study will make the government, through the ministry of education, realize the importance of providing science equipment to schools and posting qualified biology teachers to secondary schools; it is not a case of jack of all trades master of none, but of professionalism and specialization.
The Study’s Scope
The research focuses on the impact of biology practical activities on the academic achievement of senior secondary school biology students. The study is only open to students in the Enugu East Local Government Area of Enugu State’s senior secondary school. The scope is limited to the achievement of senior secondary two biology students.
The study was guided by the following research questions:
How much influence do biology practical activities have on student academic achievement in biology?
To what extent does teachers’ inability to use laboratory equipment affect students’ biology achievement?
To what extent do students’ attitudes toward biology practical affect their biology achievement?
Gender influences student academic achievement in biology to what extent?
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