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Background of the Study
The need and relevance of effective teaching and learning of Biology education cannot be over emphasised, with the current academic ills being experienced all over the nation. Biology is a branch of natural sciences that deals with the study of living organisms, including their structures, functioning, evolution, distribution and interrelationships. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, 2009). Biology occupies a unique position in the secondary school education curriculum because of its importance as science of life. In Nigeria, the secondary school Biology curriculum is designed to continue students’ investigations into natural phenomena, to deepen students’ understanding and interest in biological sciences, and also to encourage students’ ability to apply scientific knowledge to everyday life in matters of personal, community, health and agriculture among others (Federal Ministry of Education, 2009).
Biology is a very important science subject and stands as the bedrock upon which are based many other science courses like Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Biochemistry, Genetics, Agriculture, etc., that are of great economic importance to a nation (Ukegbu, Mezieobi, Ajileye, Abdulraham, & Anyaocha, 2000).
However, these academic problems/ills in Biology students’ performances could be attributed to teachers’ poor usage of active instructional approaches in instruction which makes learners active not passive. Perhaps the challenges of integrating active teaching and learning at the classroom level are compounded by the traditional structures and culture of the teacher-centred approach that perpetuates the one-way teacher transmission of ideas but encouraged limited engagement in teaching (Njoku, 2012). Popular methods of teaching comprises of lecture method, inductive, discussion but other innovative methods that encourage critical thinking, creativity and productivity such as use of problem solving are rarely used in instructional delivery in secondary schools in Nigeria (Adediran, Ibrahim and Adelegun, 2012). It could probably be that Biology Education teachers don’t use active learning approaches either because they lack knowledge of such method or because they are not fully aware of its efficacy to solving scientific problems in the society. It then follows that, something drastic should be done to encourage the use of new instructional strategies based on constructivism needed to make learners active and encourage construction of new knowledge. One of such innovative active teaching method is the use of problem solving method.
According to (Awodi, 1984; Bichi, 2002), Problem-solving method is a method found to be effective in science teaching by combining several teaching methods (activity based) that encourages inquiry, gives room for discovery, facilitates process skills, leads to acquisition of knowledge and science learning. The use of problem solving as a strategy and method in teaching can be effective, especially at the secondary level of education (Davis, 2009), as it serves as a supplement to traditional methods (Moore and Dettlaff, 2005). Weisskirch (2006) reported that using a specially designed problem solver can provide an easy and engaging way for students to review concepts. It can be used to reinforce skills and actually only takes a little creativity (Smith, 2010).
One of the greatest strengths of using problem solving for learning is that they are excellent tools for connecting learners to knowledge, key concepts, facts and processes in a way that is fun and purposeful. Because they are often fun, they help learners to construct meaning and discover things about subject areas in a more personal way and in a safe environment. Problem solving allows learners to apply what they have learnt, restores enjoyment, healthy competition, cooperation and discipline to teaching and learning. Depending on the design, it improves teamwork in teaching and learning and encourages experience based learning which fosters greater diversity in approaches to learning opportunities which in turn facilitates interactivity, collaboration and peer-to peer learning (Sugar, 2012).
Psychologically, problem solving correctly create a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom. In a relaxed atmosphere, real learning takes place and this make students remember things faster and better. Problem solving is highly motivating and entertaining and can give shy students more opportunity to express their opinions and feelings (Sugar, 2012).
Problem solving can also be a vehicle to differentiate instruction that will address different students learning styles, ability and interest (Smith, 2010). It is important to note that problem solving can add flexibility to the classroom; allowing students to adjust to the way in which they learn best (Moore & Dettlaff, 2005). They allow students to work in groups or alone, to be competitive or not, to be creative, and to have fun while learning. These methods are desirable learning strategy, as they can make studying more enjoyable (Crossman & Crossman, 1983, Franklin, 2003; Weisskirch, 2006).
Franklin (2003) reported a number of benefits to using problem solving in the classroom, including teaching students alternative techniques to studying, impacting cognitive development, motivating students to learn instead of simply memorizing, and boosting students’ confidence when they get a correct response. Problem solving games formatted like the Olympics Jeopardy-type games (Rotter, 2004), web-based quiz- zing discussion games (Franklin, 2003), and word search puzzles (Weisskirch, 2006, Franklin, 2003) have all been used by instructors to review course materials.
Reinforcement of critical information can be done through the novel use of problem solving instead of rote practice (Rotter, 2004). This can increase the amount of attention students give to the material, thus increasing retention (Klepper, 2003). Another positive outcome of using problem solving in the classroom is that participation in them makes learning a matter of direct experience and research has shown that students prefer hands-on learning such as the use of problem solving (Moore & Dettlaff, 2005).
Studies carried out by Crossman (1983) and Hossein (2009) have lent credence to the ability of problem solving strategy to provide an avenue for students to think critically, collaborate, be creative and communicate. Similarly, Hoelwarth & Moelter (2011) investigated the influence of active learning strategies like problem solving method on a set of 100 students who were struggling to cope in their science classes. The result showed that when instructors switched their science classes from traditional instruction to problem solving, students’ learning improved 38 percent points, from around 12% to over 50%, as measured by the Force Concept Inventory, which is up to the standard measure of student learning and understanding science courses.
Afurobi (2008) investigated the impact of lecture method and active learning strategies on academic performance of slow learners in home economics students. The result showed that students’ performance improved exponentially when the teachers switched from lecture method to active learning strategies. Ali, (1998) and Njoku (2012) also led to the credence that academic performance of some mathematics students in WAEC exams improved tremendously after the normal traditional learning strategies were replaced with learner centre methods.
On the other hand, little work has been done to address the problems of teachers not utilizing problem solving method to improve academic performances in the Nigerian context (Afurobi & Eke 2008). It is against this background that the researcher is set to determine the impact of problem solving and lecture methods of Biology students’ performance in secondary schools.
Statement of the Problem
Despite the recommendation for the use of active learning strategies for teaching and learning sciences including Biology by the federal ministry of education’s 6-3-3-4 curriculum reform, and suggestions by many science educators, reports from educators and researchers indicate that students’ Performance in Biology is still poor. Hitherto, the prevalence of teacher centred practices such as lecture method is a challenge and has compounded the integration of innovative teaching strategies at the classroom level (Njoku, 2012).
The poor achievement of students in Biology has been associated with the use of poor methods of teaching, lack of interest and sometimes influence of gender. In view of these, researchers in science education have continually sought for better teaching methods that will enhance students’ performance, promote their interest and bridge the gender gap in male and female students’ performance and interest in Biology (Opara, 2011).
The problem of this study therefore, is to seek answers to the question: what is the impact of problem solving and lecture method on Biology students’ performance in secondary schools?
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to determine the impact of the use of problem solving and lecture method in teaching biology education in secondary school student’s performance.
More so, the other objectives are specifically to determine:
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be relevant to teachers, curriculum designers, students and the society in general.
To the teachers, it is hoped that the findings of this study will help classroom teachers to determine how to handle students’ academic needs. It will educate the teachers to make classroom instruction fun, enjoyable and student cantered.
To curriculum designers, it is expected that the findings of this study will be of immense help on probable innovative techniques in designing and carrying out instructions that can facilitate learning of biology Education.
In addition, the findings of this study, is expected to provide empirical basis for effective training of teachers on active learning strategies which makes the learner an active member during instruction process.
Planners of teacher education programmes could be provided information on the relative efficacy of use of problem solving in instruction.
Inculcation of use of problem solving into teacher education programme may equip trainees with necessary skills and techniques for teaching.
To the students, it will lead to learning motivation, retention and high academic performance. Also it will inculcate long lasting and practical knowledge to Nigerian students. It will be significant to students as it will expose them to the values, skills and knowledge necessary for full participatory in the labour market.
The following research questions are formulated for this study:
The following null hypotheses will be addressed and tested at 0.05 levels of significances:
Scope of the Study
This study will cover the impact of the use of problem solving teaching method and lecture method in secondary school student’s performance in biology education. The study will be delimited to senior secondary year two (SS11) Biology Education students in all public schools. Of all teaching methods, the problem solving and lecture method will be considered. The School of study will be Owerri city school, in Owerri Municipal Council, Imo State.
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