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The Effects of Crossword Puzzle and Flashcards on Students Academic Performance in Physics

The Effects of Crossword Puzzle and Flashcards on Students Academic Performance in Physics

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Abstract

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of crossword puzzle and flashcards teaching strategy on students’ academic performance in chemistry in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Introduction was done based on the background of the study.

In order to guide the study, two research questions and corresponding hypotheses were formulated. Review of related literature was done. The area of the study was Mkpat Enin Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. A quasi-experimental research design was adopted for the study.

The population of the study consisted of One thousand seven hundred and forty (1740) Senior Secondary Two (SS2) Chemistry students in all the Public Secondary Schools in Mkpat Eni Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State for 2020/2021 session.

A Sample of 104 Secondary School Two Students were selected as sample for the study. In each of the selected schools, one SS2 intact class was used to draw sample for the study. Since the research made use of Co-educational Schools Gender representation was ensured in each of the intact class used.

All SS2 Students found in each intact class used were drawn as Sample for the Study. The Instrument used in the study for data collection was Periodic Table Performance Test (PTPT). The instrument was validated by Chemistry Lecturer Department of Science Education Akwa Ibom State University, before handed over to the research supervisor for final vetting and content validity.

The reliability of the instrument was analyzed using Cronbach Alpha and the internal consistency was found to be 0.811. The researcher personally visited the schools sample for the study and administer the instruments following the due processes.

The data generated were analyzed using mean, standard deviation and ANCOVA. The result of findings revealed that there is a significant difference in the mean performance score of students when taught the concept periodic table using crossword puzzle and those taught using flashcards teaching strategies.

It was revealed that there is no significant difference in the mean performance scores of male and female students when taught the concept periodic table using crossword puzzle and those taught using flashcards.

 CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Physics is the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. The subject matter of physics includes mechanics, heat, light and other radiation, sound, electricity, magnetism, and the structure of atoms.

Godfrey-Smith, (2013) defines physics as a major science subject dealing with the fundamental constituents of the universe, the forces they exert on one another, and the results produced by these forces. Sometimes in modern physics a more sophisticated approach is taken that incorporates elements of the three areas listed above; it relates to the laws of symmetry and conservation, such as those pertaining to energy, momentum, charge, and parity.

Holzner (2016) defined physics as a natural science which is involved in the study of matter and its motion through space and time, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the study of nature in an attempt to understand how the universe behaves.

Physics is the branch of science that deals with the structure of matter and the interactions between the fundamental constituents of the observable universe. In the broadest sense, Kerr, (2009) posited that physics is from the Greek word, physikos, (meaning the knowledge of nature) is concerned with all aspects of nature on both the macroscopic and submicroscopic levels.

Its scope of study covers not only the behaviour of objects under the action of given forces but also the nature and origin of gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear force fields. Its ultimate objective is the formulation of a few comprehensive principles that bring together and explain all such disparate phenomena.

Krupp, (2013) is of the view that physics is the basic physical science. Until rather recent times physics and natural philosophy were used interchangeably for the science whose aim is the discovery and formulation of the fundamental laws of nature.

As the modern sciences developed and became increasingly specialised, physics came to denote that part of physical science not included in astronomy, chemistry, geology, and engineering. Physics plays an important role in all the natural sciences, however, and all such fields have branches in which physical laws and measurements receive special emphasis, bearing such names as astrophysics, geophysics, biophysics, and even psycho-physics.

Physics can at last, be defined as the science of matter, motion, and energy. Its laws are typically expressed with economy and precision in the language of science. Both experiment, the observation of phenomena under conditions that are controlled as precisely as possible, and theory, the formulation of a unified conceptual framework, play essential and complementary roles in the advancement of physics.

The Effects of Crossword Puzzle and Flashcards on Students Academic Performance in Physics

Physical experiments result in measurements, which are compared with the outcome predicted by theory. A theory that reliably predicts the results of experiments to which it is applicable is said to embody a law of physics. However, a law is always subject to modification, replacement, or restriction to a more limited domain, if a later experiment deems it necessary.

The ultimate aim of physics is to find a unified set of laws governing matter, motion, and energy at small (microscopic) subatomic distances, at the human (macroscopic) scale of everyday life, and out to the largest distances (e.g., those on the extra-galactic scale).

This ambitious goal has been realised to a notable extent. Although a completely unified theory of physical phenomena has not yet been achieved (and possibly never will be), a remarkably small set of fundamental physical laws appears able to account for all known phenomena.

The body of physics developed up to about the turn of the 20th century, known as classical physics, can largely account for the motions of macroscopic objects that move slowly with respect to the speed of light and for such phenomena as heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, and light.

The modern developments of relativity and quantum mechanics modify these laws insofar as they apply to higher speeds, very massive objects, and to the tiny elementary constituents of matter, such as electrons, protons, and neutrons (Cho, 2012).

Accordingly, Cho (2012) posits that mechanics concentrates not on motion as such but on the change in the state of motion of an object that results from the net force acting upon it. Newton’s second law equates the net force on an object to the rate of change of its momentum, the latter being the product of the mass of a body and its velocity.

Newton’s third law, states that when two particles interact, the forces each exerts on the other are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. Taken together, these mechanical laws in principle permit the determination of the future motions of a set of particles, providing their state of motion is known at some instant, as well as the forces that act between them and upon them from the outside.

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From this deterministic character of the laws of classical mechanics, profound (and probably incorrect) philosophical conclusions have been drawn in the past and even applied to human history.

Another branch of Physics is nuclear physics according to Cho, (2012). This branch of physics deals with the structure of the atomic nucleus and the radiation from unstable nuclei.

About 10,000 times smaller than the atom, the constituent particles of the nucleus, protons and neutrons, attract one another so strongly by the nuclear forces that nuclear energies are approximately 1,000,000 times larger than typical atomic energies. Quantum theory is needed for understanding nuclear structure.

Like excited atoms, unstable radioactive nuclei (either naturally occurring or artificially produced) can emit electromagnetic radiation. The energetic nuclear photons are called gamma rays. Radioactive nuclei also emit other particles: negative and positive electrons (beta rays), accompanied by neutrinos, and helium nuclei (alpha rays).

According to Fred (2019), the study of physics is relevant to the society as it provides a basis for understanding the dynamic interactions between the atmosphere and the oceans and for the study of short-term weather and long-term climate change. This understanding is essential to stewardship of the environment: for addressing problems like urban air pollution and lake acidification and for dealing with natural hazards such as floods and hurricanes.

Also, the society’s reliance on technology represents the importance of physics in daily life. Many aspects of modern society would not have been possible without the important scientific discoveries made in the past. These discoveries became the foundation on which current technologies were developed.

Discoveries such as magnetism, electricity, conductors and others made modern conveniences, such as television, computers, phones and other business and home technologies possible. Modern means of transportation, such as aircraft and telecommunications, have drawn people across the world closer together all relying on concepts in physics.

Physics seeks to find alternative solutions to the energy crisis experienced by both first world and developing nations. As physics help the fields of engineering, bio-chemistry and computer science, professionals and scientists develop new ways of harnessing preexisting energy sources and utilizing new ones (Fred, 2019).

The importance of physics to the society necessitates the present study in order to examine the level of teaching of the subjects in teachers’ training institutions. As a result of numerous importances of physics, it occupy a prime place in the senior secondary school curriculum.

The school is a privileged place to broaden the view of what physics are significance to the society. The classroom is an environment for construction of knowledge; teachers and students engage in the development of skills and competencies that are important for the education of students and citizens.

The Effects of Crossword Puzzle and Flashcards on Students Academic Performance in Physics

Considering the social historical psychology of learning which opined that learning is based on the development of mental structures that allow the student to use the “way of thinking” acquired in the classroom in another learning situation at school and/or in daily life (Roblyer and Doering, 2010).

As such, the students must actively participate in classes. However, this is not what that is observe in the real life is not as practiced. It is necessary that students studying chemistry should understand the subject so that they can apply their knowledge to their everyday interaction with people and their ever-changing environment as this will also enhance active participation in class (Ifeyinwa and Nweze, 2014).

It is imperative that secondary school students should be well-grounded in physics for Nigeria to attain the state of national development it desires and to rank favourably among the developed nations.

Despite the importance of physics, the performance of students in physics in our secondary schools have consistently remained poor in external examinations irrespective of the various teaching strategies, methods, aids, techniques, as well as necessary materials among others available for use by the teachers.

Several researchers such as Aliu (2011), Olorunyomi (2013) and Olorundare (2014) investigated the causes of students’ poor performance in SSCE physics and attributed this poor performance to inefficient teaching methods employed by physics teachers, unfamiliarity with the use of simple laboratory equipment, inadequate exposure to laboratory techniques, lack of observational skills, inability to understand the heat energy and even magnetism, inability to carry out simple calculations, simple tests/experiments, poor teaching methods/strategies among others.

Furthermore, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Chief Examiners report 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 confirm that students’ performance in physics is poor. This is shown in the result statistic of WASSCE examinations as presented by National Bureau of statistics for public schools which revealed that in 2017/2018 only 48.15% for public schools of the candidates that sat for the examinations had five (5) credits and above including Physics (WAEC Result Statistic, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 2016-2018).

Also, the high rates of failure recorded by physics students in schools and colleges in Nigeria have been a major concern to researchers. Consequently, this low achievement in Physics in external examinations had been traced to the use of conventional teaching method and other factors that does not put into consideration the students’ activities in teaching and learning processes (Ogbeba& Ayayi, 2016).

It is common in Nigerian classrooms to hear secondary school students referring to physics as being difficult, abstract, unnecessary, and other similar adjectives as a result of continuous use of the conventional method of teaching by teachers at the secondary school level.

It has been shown that physics concepts such as magnetism among others pose strong resistance to the conventional teaching methods use by teachers and this hinders the realization of physics objectives and as well as lesson objectives. This is because conventional methods may lack student to student help, interaction and cooperation needed for effective teaching and learning of difficult topics in physics (Mohammad, 2011).

In an attempt to facilitate the teaching of such content, teachers must adopt strategies, analogies, contextualizations, multimedia resources (slides), games and physical models (cards or plastic models to represent elements).

The Effects of Crossword Puzzle and Flashcards on Students Academic Performance in Physics

The combination of these strategies/resources can make learning concepts more significant, easy and meaningful to students and increasing the interest of the students in physics. Thus, in the present study the researcher developed crossword puzzle and flashcards to aid students in mastering and understanding of physics concepts and terminologies via meaningful learning.

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A crossword is a word puzzle that usually takes the form of a square or a rectangular grid of white and black-shaded squares. The game’s goal is to fill the white squares with letters, forming words or phrases, by solving clues, which lead to the answers.

In languages that are written left-to-right, the answer words and phrases are placed in the grid from left to right and from top to bottom. The shaded squares are used to separate the words or phrases (Berry 2015).These puzzles though may not completely replace the traditional way of obtaining theoretical knowledge but can be used as an adjunct to reinforce acquisition of content and enhance the problem-solving skills (Raines 2010).

According to Wiwat (2013) among many games, crossword puzzles seem to be more attractive than others. The crossword puzzle is a kind of word game. In order to finish a crossword puzzle, the player has to accurately fill in all the blank squares with letters that form words.

The words are based on the clues provided, which can be complete sentences, phrases, or words. Since crossword puzzles are usually considered as a game, it is something to be enjoyed rather than slogged through, they tend to be fun and learner-friendly. Apart from motivating student learning, these puzzles can help students to extend their understanding of concepts and terminological knowledge. Crosswords can be used to teach terminology, definitions, as well as pairing key concepts in physics.

Since students need to spell items correctly to complete the puzzle, they gain greater retention and development of positive attitude towards learning as this puzzle learning make the concept taught more simple than complex.

According to Mohammed, Razia, Mohammad, Mohammad, Waqas, Haroon & Sreekanth (2018) crossword puzzles provide a good break and learning atmosphere in the classroom situation as they are traditionally associated with recreational activity.

Additionally, the advantage of using the crossword puzzles is that it allows students to continue their learning. Involvement in a different activity might also improve the attention span of the students for the remaining part of the learning process and ensure that students review the key concepts covered in a teaching session.

Crossword puzzles have a unique feature of self-correcting due to the length of each word and overlap of each answer from the other answers. Crossword puzzle yields more advantages to students in terms of examination preparation when students worked together in class than when they worked separately. As well, students found it more pleasurable to work in groups and efficient as a tool for revision.

Similarly, in a study conducted by Davis, Shepherd and Zwiefelhofer (2010), crossword puzzles were used for reviewing for examinations and result obtained indicted that students taught with crossword puzzle perform positively.

Also, Olagunju and Babayemi (2014) opined that treatment especially crossword-picture puzzle teaching strategy account for the improved performance of students and then should be adopted by the practicing teachers. In a study conducted by Umoru, Adejoh & Iji (2016) revealed that puzzle based-learning strategy had a significant effect on students’ attitude and academic performance.

The Effects of Crossword Puzzle and Flashcards on Students Academic Performance in Physics

Duyilemi (2013) found out that puzzles are wonderful tool that can enhanced students’ attention and help them develop positive attitude towards learning. This implies that puzzle-based learning strategy enhanced students’ academic performance than the traditional teaching method which is deficient in meeting the learners need.

Wiwat (2013) in a study revealed that learning vocabulary through crosswords is one of the best ways to improve students’ vocabulary. Student motivation to learn can be increased if the teacher provides them with enjoyable learning environments.

Mohammed, et al., (2018) revealed that majority of the students agreed that the use of the crossword was an innovative method of learning, whereas few students suggested that more time should be allotted and these activities should be given individually rather than in small groups.

As such using crossword puzzles provides an opportunity for the students to develop approaches to critical learning for understanding chemistry. Students perceive the crossword puzzles as an active learning exercise. Hence, the present study is related to the above views as it sought to investigate the effect of crossword puzzles and flashcards on physics students’ academic performance in secondary schools.

Flashcard is a paper containing a picture and name of the picture. “Flashcard” is small cards that have picture, word, text or symbol for individual to study a particular topic or describe something (Siti, 2010). According to Astuti, (2015) flash card is a set of cards bearing information, as words or numbers, on either or both sides, used in classroom drills or in private study.

A flash card is a card that is used as a learning aid. Flash cards are widely used as a learning drill which can improve young learners’ interest in learning. Furthermore, Komachali and Khodareza(2012) stated that a flash card is a cardboard consisting of a word, a sentence, or a simple picture on it. The researcher further maintains that flashcards are widely used as a learning drill to aid memorization by way of spaced repetition.

Flashcards are useful for drilling new letters, syllables, words, and other information. They are normally used in a classroom, but can also be used more informally. Flashcards can bear vocabulary, historical dates, formulas or any subject matter that can be learned via a question and answer format.

Komachali and Khodareza (2012) opined that the use flashcards facilitates students’ involvement in the class work by sharing answers, trying to participate, paying attention, giving the examples, encouraging to takes part in the lesson, participating as volunteers, interacting with each other in a low-risk, warm-up activity, utilizing the new words in the example, working on the vocabulary and pronunciation.

The Effects of Crossword Puzzle and Flashcards on Students Academic Performance in Physics

They researchers further revealed that participants in the experimental group, who had received the treatments on vocabulary flash card, significantly perform better in a vocabulary test. Furthermore, Baleghizadeh and Ashoori (2011) investigated the effects of using flash cards and word lists on EFL students’ learning of foreign language vocabulary.

The result of their study indicated that there is no significant difference in the efficiency of flash cards compared to word lists and also offered partial support to the hypothesis that flash cards could lead to better learning than word lists. In addition, flashcards are also very useful for sequencing activities, pair work and group work irrespective of gender of students.

There has been a continuous call towards gender response to learning of science (physics inclusive) by stakeholders. This is because it appears that there is still a considerable bias against female students which impedes their participation and achievement.

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Olowe (2010) emphasized on the importance of examining instructional strategy in relation to gender is based primarily on the socio-economic differences between boys and girls. Traditionally, according to the author girls in our society are encouraged to conform to the norms of the societies whereas boys are expected to be active and dominant risk takers.

The influence of gender in learning of physics has been of great concern to science educators for a long time, yet no consistent result has emerged. Some researchers are of the opinion that male students perform academically better and develop positive attitude towards physics subjects than their female counterparts.

For instance, Oluyemi (2013) and Wiwat (2013) stated that both male and female students develop positive attitude towards learning of concepts and as such found on significant effect on academic performance.

On the contrary, Dogo (2016) found significant difference in the mean academic performance rating of male and female students. Olarewaju (2014) revealed that girls outperform boys while in a similar study Okoroafo (2014) found that boys achieve better academically than girls.

However, with the contradictions and lack of a clear trend in the gender of students towards physics, more investigation is imperative. Hence, it is based on this that the present study sought to investigate the effects of crossword puzzle and flashcards on students’ academic performance in physics.

The Effects of Crossword Puzzle and Flashcards on Students Academic Performance in Physics

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Despite the importance of physics, the performance of students in physics in our secondary schools have consistently remained poor in external examinations irrespective of the various teaching strategies, aids, techniques, as well as necessary materials among others available for use by the teachers.

Several researchers have investigated the causes of students’ poor performance in physics in external Examinations and attributed this poor performance to inefficient teaching methods employed by physics teachers, unfamiliarity with the use of simple laboratory equipment, inadequate exposure to laboratory techniques, lack of observational skills, inability to understand the simple basic experiments, inability to write and derive equation correctly as well as inability to carry out simple calculations, simple tests/experiments, poor teaching methods/strategies among others.

Furthermore, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Chief Examiners report 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 confirm that students’ performance in chemistry is poor. This is shown in the result statistic of WASSCE examinations as presented by National Bureau of statistics for public schools which revealed that in 2017/2018 only 48.15% for public schools of the candidates that sat for the examinations had five (5) credits and above including physics (WAEC Result Statistic, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 2016-2018).

It is common in Nigerian classrooms to hear secondary school students referring to physics as being difficult, abstract, unnecessary, and other similar adjectives as a result of continuous use of the conventional method of teaching by teachers in secondary schools. Physics concepts pose strong resistance to the conventional teaching method use by teachers and this hinders the realization of chemistry objectives and well as lesson objectives.

This is because conventional methods may lack student to student help, interaction and cooperation needed for effective teaching and learning of difficult topics in physics. As such, there is a need to ensure that physics is properly taught at the secondary school level. Hence, it is based on this that the present study sought to investigate the effects of crossword puzzle and flashcards on students’ academic performance in physics in Eket Local Government Area

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to investigate the effects of crossword puzzle and flashcards on students’ academic performance in physics in Eket Local Government Area. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Determine the difference in the mean performance score of students taught the concept “energy” using crossword puzzles and flashcards.
  2. Determine the difference in the mean performance score between male and female students taught the concept “energy” using crossword puzzles and flashcards.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the difference in the mean performance score of students taught the concept “energy” using crossword puzzles and flashcards?
  2. What is the difference in the mean performance score between male and female students taught the concept “energy” using crossword puzzles and flashcards?

1.5 Hypotheses

Ho1 There is no significant difference in the mean performance score of students taught energy using crossword puzzles and flashcards.

Ho2  There is no significant difference in the mean performance score between male and female students taught the concept “energy” using crossword puzzles and flashcards.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The findings of this study would be of assistance to; educational planners, policy makers, government, teachers, curriculum designers and students.

  1. To educational planners; the study would encourage them to integrate necessary innovation into the educational system in line with the changes and technological advancement of the world.
  2. Policy makers; the study would help in providing information needed for generating of good school policies, designing of educational technology classroom/studies by providing needed materials and how they could be produced locally to reduce cost of procurement.
  3. The study would also encourage government to be more committed to alleviating the backwardness being experienced in the educational sector. By making fund available for the provision of instruction materials and facilities.
  4. Teachers; the study would assist teachers in using crossword as well as flashcards instructional strategies as methods of teaching as it will enhance students’ academic performance.
  5. Curriculum designers; the study would help them pay more attention in curriculum design so as to enhance teaching and learning processes in chemistry.
  6. Students; the study would help enhance the academic performance of learners when strategies are adequately applied.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This research work focuses on the effect of crossword puzzles and flashcards on academic performance of students in physics in secondary schools in Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. This research work covers all public secondary school in Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

1.8 Definition of Terms

Crossword puzzle: A crossword is a word puzzle that usually takes the form of a square or a rectangular grid of white- and black-shaded squares. The game’s goal is to fill the white squares with letters, forming words or phrases, by solving clues, which lead to the answers. In languages that are written left-to-right, the answer words and phrases are placed in the grid from left to right and from top to bottom.

Flashcards: A flashcard is a set of cards bearing information, as pictures, words or numbers, on either or both sides, used in classroom drills or in private study. Flash cards can bear vocabulary, historical dates, formulas or any subject matter that can be learned via a question and answer format.

Gender: Is defined as the amount of masculinity and feminity found in a person.

Mr. Harrison

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