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Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

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This study examine problem-solving on academic achievement and retention of students in Biology in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area. Two research hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The quasi-experimental research design was adopted for the study.

Random sampling was used to select two hundred students from three intact class of SS2 Biology students which form the sample size of this study. The instrument used for data collection was Biology Achievement Test (BAT). Data collected were analyzed using independent t-test statistical tool.

It was revealed among others that, problems solving approach significantly enhanced students’ academic achievement in biology more than the lecture method. Also, male biology students benefited more from problems solving approach than their female counterpart. Based on the finding, it was recommended among others that teachers should be encourage and enlighten on the need to use problem solving approach in the teaching /learning of Biology.   


1.1    Backgrounds to the Study

Effective science teaching is the gateway to attainment of scientific and technological greatness. Science and biology teaching can only be effective when students are willing and the teachers make use of appropriate approaches or methods and resources in teaching the students.

Modern science teaching and learning stress students participation in the learning process through exposure to diverse learning experiences (Abuseji, 2007).

However, the learning of biology on the part of the learners depends on the way it is presented and the way the learners actively interacts with the learning experiences presented to them.

It has been noted that the goal of teaching and learning of biology is to bring about desirable learning in students. In this process, the learner is expected to received information, understand it and use it later when the need arises.

Education is the bed rock of every nation. Education is a path way of fostering a nation economy and a way of sustaining a peoples’ culture which is transfer from one generation to another. Then teaching methods becomes an important path-way that should not be under mind by Science teachers and should be apply appropriately in order to enhance learning outcomes of students.

The problems the educational system is facing, it’s not because the schools lack professional teachers alone, professional teachers may be there but how do these professional teachers teach? That is, what approach or Methods do they use in teaching? Teaching methods is considered as most important aspect in teaching science subjects (Biology) especially, in senior secondary schools.

The status of science education in Nigeria schools in terms of scientific concepts and development methods of teaching, learners interest in the subject continues to dwindle (Adediwu and Tayo, 2007, Ugwuadu, 2011) several researcher reports indicate that learners perform poorly in science subjects (Agbi, 2006. Hassan, 2010).

Several factors have been identified as the objectives of science instruction but the commonest factor documented by researchers is inappropriate and uninspiring teaching methods adopted by science teachers (Aremu, 1999; Jimoh, 2003; Ezeoba, 2010).

These researchers express their views that teachers shy away from inquiry method, discovery method, problem solving method, concept mapping and others, which are known to be effective and rely on teaching methods that easy to implement in the classroom but must time inadequate and inappropriate.

Problem-solving has been an aspect of science (Biology) teaching and learning that has attracted the attention of educators. Problem-solving has long been recognized as a skill that also fosters a better understanding of Physics and Chemistry concepts. It can be an excellent tool to encourage the learning process (Danjuma & Arshatu, 2010). Problem-solving is the highest form of learning (Babatunde, 2008).

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Oneshakepokaiye (2011) cited Kolawole and Oluwatayo (2005) that effective teaching implies productive, purposeful, result oriented, qualitative, meaningful and realistic teaching. The essence of being an effective teacher views on what to do to foster student learning.

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Physics teachers should therefore adopt teaching methods that will enable the students to understand whatever concepts topic or principles being taught. Various methods of teaching Physics are known, such include guided discovery problem solving, discussion, expository individualistic methods.

These methods depend on various forms of teacher –student-activities through some methods are more activity oriented than others. Problem-solving is a systematic approach that reviews learning competencies, comprehending and composing critical and creative thinking these features are most important dimensions of thinking and learning in regardless of the acknowledgement of the importance of developing problem-solving skills, relatively little research has been conducted on the theme in the field of instructional design (Jonalsen, 2004)

By way of definition, an approach refers to the way a learner or a teacher uses in solving problems. Poor academic achievement  among students has been attributed to poor approaches in the teaching learning process.

According to 6th edition of an oxford advance learners dictionary problem- solving refers to the act of finding ways of dealing with problems. Problem- solving can also be viewed as the ability of a teacher or a learner to provide solution to the problem using diverse ways. Pollyn (2006) sees problem- solving as an approach which stand for every positive and active way students can be engaged in their learning to learn meaningfully.

Biology is one of the core science subjects taught in Nigerian secondary schools. It is the backbone of science as it is the study of life and therefore plays an essential role in harnessing interaction between living things and its environment.

Thompson (2006) observed that no science subject forms a binding force among various science courses like biochemistry, pharmacy, veterinary etc, as biology. Biology gives students the opportunity to relate with some of the most important ecological issues affecting the environment. These include the influence of human activity in altering human ecological relationship and difficulties arising from the stress of modern day life.

In secondary school biology curriculum, it was observed that Biology concepts play very important role in scientific advancement that affects the lives of mankind. Despite its importance in the society, available statistics from the West African Examination Council (WAEC 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016) on senior secondary school students’ academic performance in biology revealed that although biology had the highest enrolment relative to other science subjects, it recorded very poor performance at Senior School Certificate Examination (Anyanwu, Obochi and Isah 2015)

According to Nwagbo and Chukelu (2011), the poor performance as attributed to Biology concept with evidence from Chief Examiners Report was traced to one of the questions asked in WAEC 2008. The students were asked to state five important uses of water to organism in the rainforest.

The Chief Examiner’s Report shows that in stating uses of water to rainforest organisms, most students wrote on the uses of water to man example “drinking, washing and cooking”, rather than maintaining body temperature, essential for plant turgidity, necessary for photosynthesis etc. In 2010 WAEC question, students were asked to describe three ways each by which animals in arid habitat are adapted to drought and high temperature.

The examiner’s report shows that students could not attempt the questions satisfactorily, Nwagbo and Chukelu (2011). The senior secondary school Biology curriculum is designed to serve the needs and interest of the students of different abilities.

Consequently, upon the introduction of the 6-3-3-4 system of education, the curriculum recommended among others that experimentation, demonstration, problem-solving and even field trip resting on practical activities of the students should be used in the teaching of science subjects (FME, 2005 in NPE, 2013). The expectation could be that a successful implementation of the curriculum objective is based on the recommended teaching techniques.

The learner would be equipped with adequate knowledge, positive attitude and science process skills that would enhance his performance, sustain his interest and also serve as springboard for the nation’s scientific and technological breakthrough. Contrary to these expectations, the level of performance among secondary school biology students has not been encouraging.

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However, review of literature reveals low performance of students at S.S.C.E levels of education in science subject and biology in particular. (Nwosu, 2004, Moore, 2006 and Uza, 2014). The objectives of biology education curriculum as provided in the National Policy of Education (NPE, 2013) include the following among others. Adequate laboratory and field skills in biology; inculcate in the learners’ meaningful relevant knowledge in biology and functional scientific attitudes.

However, in spite of these objectives and numerous efforts aimed at improving students’ performance in biology, the subject has continued to witness low rate of academic performance. The poor performance has been attributed to the methods the teachers use in teaching the subject. Researchers like Moore, (2006), Uza, (2014) stated that lecture method is the most commonly used method by science teachers. Low ability level: In a normal science class, the entire population of the students has varieties of learning abilities. Their abilities are referred to as varied abilities.

It is well known that every student has a different way of learning and progresses at different speeds. Thus, while some students may find the learning task easy to complete, others may find it difficult to understand. The weakness of candidates in biology generally was linked to the fact that candidates lack basic concepts and not able to link biological concepts to real life situation (Lakpini, 2006, Lakpini and Atadoga 2012).

According to Lakpini, (2006) varied ability can be determined in three levels (i) High achievers, (ii) middle/average achievers and (iii) low achievers. Gender is also one of the factors interacting with performance, gender issues both on the part of the teacher and the students have been documented to affect academic performance and some other learning outcomes (Erinosho, 2005, Obochi, 2016).

Abdulraham (2012) observed that gender inequalities are interwoven with social class, ethnicity, sexuality, disability and other factors identified as influencing attainment. Adebanjo (2014), linked gender and academic achievement with patterns of behavior.

He noted that there are signs of boys being vulnerable to becoming disaffected. He stated further that boys tend to be less careful about rules and more indifferent to being reprimanded. Thus, this study investigated the Problem-solving Strategy on Retention and Academic achievement in Biology among male and female of low ability in Senior Secondary School in Ikot Abasi local government area of Akwa Ibom

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

1.2   Statement of the Problem

Many studies have shown that there is an alarming crisis in relation to students’ retention and academic performance in science subjects and especially Biology (Adeniyi, 2009). According to Adeniyi, (2009) biology is one of the major core science subject taught in senior secondary school level.

Thus, poor performance of students in the subject has been a major concern to many stakeholders in the subject. Like any other science subject, the syllabus of this activity based subject emphasis the use of activity-based method of instruction. Unfortunately, as reported by researchers such as Lakpini (2006) and Lawal, (2009) teachers shy away from activity-based teaching method and rely mostly on easy goes lecture method which in most cases are often inadequate and inappropriate for meaningful learning to take place.

However, students continue to perform poorly in science subject and Biology in particular. Hence the question of how students’ academic performance in biology can be improved is still a pedagogical problem. It is on this note that the present study is aimed at investigating whether problem-solving strategy would have any effects on the academic performance and retention in biology among senior secondary school students of low ability level.

1.3   Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to determine the effect of problem solving approaches on academic achievement of students in biology in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Specifically the study sought to:

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(i)  Determine the difference in the academic achievement  of students learned biology with problem solving approach and those learned using lecture method.

(ii)  Determine the academic achievement  of students learned biology with problem solving approach by gender.

1.4   Significant of the Study

 It is the researches view that findings from this study will:

(1)  Assist teachers on the area of adopting appropriate strategies and approaches in the teaching/learning of biology.

(2)  To promotes scientific skills acquisition, help students to see the need to embrace problem solving approach in biology learning process as it enhance the discovery of new knowledge and skills.

(3)  Enlighten school managers and education planners on the need to provide adequate instructional facilities and quality instructional personals for effective teaching and learning of biology.

(4)  The result of this study will also help teachers to employ recommended scientific methods in the teaching of science subjects at all level of education.

(5) The study will also through mere light to future researchers as it will provide relevant information on problem solving approach as the mean to effective teaching/learning of biology.

1.5    Research Hypotheses

Three null hypotheses were formulated as a guide to the study at 0.05 level of significant.

i   There is no significant difference in academic achievement  between biology students taught using problem solving approach and those taught using lecture method.

ii  There is no significant difference in academic achievement   of male and female students taught using problem solving approach.

1.6    Limitation of the Study

The study would have covered all the secondary schools in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area, but due to some factors which threatened the successful completion of this study, the study was therefore limited to some selected secondary schools in the study area.

 Prominent among these factors were lack of sufficient finances and inadequate time frame to purchase and transport necessary materials required for the study.

 1.7   Delimitation of the Study

The study was delimited to Ikot Abasi Local Government Area to investigate problem-solving approach and academic achievement  of students in biology. The study was also restricted to all secondary schools in the study area, especially senior secondary two students (SS2) for 2014/15 academic session.

1.8     Definition of Terms

(i)     Problem-Solving Approach: This refers to the ways, strategies or methods

through which a teacher or a student use in solving scientific problems or facing any challenge.

 (ii)   Lecture Method:                    It is a teaching method where the instructor

                                                      acts as the primary information giver.

(iii)    Gender:                                 This is a psychological term describing beha-

                                                       viour basis of being born either male or  female.

  (iv)  Academic Achievement :        This refers to the grade obtained by the

                                                       students in continuous assessment or

                                                        examination biology.

(v)    Biology:                                 This can be defined as the branch of science.

                                                     concerned with the nature and properties of

                                                       matter and energy. It is also the study of

                                                       all forces and their impact on environment.

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Problems Solving Approach and Academic Performance and Retention of Students in Biology

Mr. Harrison

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