This study was carried out to investigate the effects of two modes of advance organizers and cognitive style on students’ achievement of senior secondary school students in Christian religious knowledge. This also investigated influence of gender and location on achievement of SS II students taught with two modes of advance organizers and cognitive style. Seven research questions were generated and seven null hypotheses were tested in this study. The study adopted a pretest, posttest control group non-randomized quasi-experimental design. Intact classes were used. Two hundred and sixty seven students from six secondary schools in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. The instruments used for the study were Christian Religious Knowledge Achievement Test (CRKAT) and Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT). Internal consistency reliability for the essay section of the test was obtained through scorers reliability using three raters. A coefficient of concordance (W) of 0.85 was determined for the essay test. Data collected were analyzed using Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA), mean and standard deviations. Among other findings of the study show that Students taught with audio-visual organizer had better achievement in CRK than students taught with written organizer and without organizer, though no significance effect. The educational implications of the study were extensively discussed. It was recommended that the use of audio-visual advance organizers in teaching CRK in secondary schools should be encouraged. Schools in rural areas should be equipped with school plants and infrastructure, like stand by generators, television sets, etc. to enable teachers present audio-visual organizer.



1.1 Background of the Study

Religion is a system of belief in and worship of one or more gods. Christian religion is revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ (Fawole, 1981).  Christian Religious knowledge (CRK) has been in the curriculum of educational institutions in Nigeria since the introduction of formal education.  Christian religious knowledge is the understanding of Christian about their belief.  Okafor (1988) states that education without religion which Christian religion is part of helps to create a vacuum in the life of citizens and to live the young frustrated and confused about life when they are not provided with ultimate and transcendental values to guide their life.

Christian religious knowledge is an agent of good morality that produces love, justice, truthfulness, fair play, and good government that leads to nation building (Agha, 1995 & Njoku, 2008).  Religious laws, Christian religion inclusive are made for guiding and strengthening human conducts.  They lead people to the fear of God and constituted authorities in the society.  A noble man in Olatona (1980:107) states ‘educate men without religion and you make them clever devils.  Religion including Christian religion inculcates in the learner by precepts the quality of truth, honesty, purity, self-control, obedience, loyalty, dignity of labour, humility, kindness, consideration for others etc. 

Christian  religious knowledge guide students in such a way that they can attain intellectual and moral perfection, discipline themselves both mentally and morally and face their daily and futures challenges armed with the tradition of the past. CRK has to do with man’s daily activities, his relationship with God and man.  According to Obilo (1995), CRK contains rich variety of concepts that enhance better and meaningful life.  It provides answer to every question life asks.  It cultivates the mind and provides moral consciousness and commitment to one’s duty towards his neighbours and society; and which Nigeria and the whole world at large need most.

Notwithstanding the importance of this subject to human race, students perform below average in the subject at external examinations.  The West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) Chief Examiners’ Reports show that the performance of students from 1996 – 2006 in CRK is below average.  The reports note candidates’ inadequate knowledge of the subject matter with particular reference to section C of the question paper: ‘Themes from selected epistle’.  From experience as CRK teacher, this poor achievement and inadequate knowledge of the subject matter can be attributed to many variables.

These include learners lack of interest, inattention while the lessons are going on, not being ready for the lesson, poor study habit, teacher’s method of teaching and the abstract nature of the themes. Varieties of methods of teaching exist.  In teaching of Christian religious knowledge, there are different methods available for teachers like discovery method, discussion method, dramatization, project, questioning (Socratic), field trip, role-playing, comparative, play, analytic, narrative, memorization, lecture, story etc. (Summar, 1956; Fawole, 1981; Aina, 1982; Olatona, 1980; Onwuka, 1990; Uchegbu, 1990, Ughamadu, 1992, Ike, 1995).

But most of the time, teachers of CRK use lecture method, story telling method and memorization which are more of teacher-centred.    This is in support of Eze (1999), that the methods mostly used by CRK teachers are lecture method and storytelling.  These methods seem to make students passive participants in the teaching – learning situation.  According to Mkpa (1987), lecture method does not allow teachers to adapt learning to the level of students’ understanding.   Consequently, the use of

these methods to teach abstract themes such as justification by faith, faith as a condition for justification, faith and work, the second coming, (Parousia), resurrection, Jesus the son of God/Christians are also children of God, law and grace has made these aspects of CRK difficult to students.  There is every need then to seek ways of making the teaching of these themes more effective, interesting and motivating in order to enhance students’ achievement.

For effective teaching and learning to take place, learners have to be actively involved.  This can be done by arousing and arresting the attention and interest of learners; and creating in the learner a genuine interest and desire to learn.  These lead to getting more accurate information, receiving and understanding abstract concepts and issues, and retaining what they have learned.  Hass and Packer (1965) state that attention can be arrested by preparing the learner to be ready to learn, making learning pleasant and interesting and helping the learner to assimilate what has been learned.

One of the ways of preparing learners to learn is by the use of advance organizers.  Advance organizers are model of teaching (Joyce and Well, 1972).  According to Chauhan (1979), a model of teaching is an instructional design which creates a particular environmental situation which cause the students to interact in such a way that a specific change occurs in their behaviour.  It is developed to help a teacher to improve his capacity to reach more children, and create a richer and more diverse environment for them.

Advance organizer was developed by David Ausubel.  His aim was to enhance learning and retention of verbal materials. He declares that organizers give the learner a general overview of the more detailed material to be learned.  They consist of introductory materials that are more abstract, general, and inclusive than the learning task itself.  Advance organizer activates a general organization from the learner’s existing knowledge that would not have normally been used to assimilate the new material. 

Advance organizers are tools or techniques that provide identification and classification along with possible relationships or connections among ideas, concepts, and issues.  Organizers are useful to the learner when given in advance of instruction and often serve as clues to ideas that the instructor plans to introduce, ( callisan 2000 v 16 nsp 36.html retrieved 9th April, 2009).  Organizers have positive influence on the learner’s ability to focus on new information. 

There are different types of advance organizers.  The following forms of advance organizers, among others, exist according to Gay and Mazur (1991), Herron (1994), Jones, Farquhar, and Surry (1995), Herron, Hanley and Cole (1995), and Kang (1996): summaries, maps, pictures, graphics, basic themes, short texts, terms, audio-visual.  Marzano, Debra, Pickering, Pollock and MCREL, (2001) and Mayer, (2003) identify the following types of advance organizers: graphic, narrative, expository, skimming, concept mapping, Brainstorm, Comparative organizers.        

Graphic organizers take the form of pictographs, descriptive patterns, concept patterns. It combines the linguistic and non linguistic modes of information storage.   Narrative advance organizers present new information in a story format to students.  Skimming advance organizers look over the new material and gain a basic overview.  While expository advance organizers describe the new content. Audio-visual organizers synchronize pictures with words in presenting new content. 

Audio-visual organizers appeal to the senses of hearing and seeing.  This type of organizers create room for the students to see and hear the learning content   While written organizers present new content in written form.   This type of organizers appeals only to the sense of seeing.  Students read the learning content.  This study is on audio-visual and written organizers because much study has not been carried on them. This study investigated which types of advance organizers (audio-visual or written) should be more effective in improving the achievement  of students in CRK.

A primary process in learning is subsumption in which a new material is related to relevant ideas in existing cognitive structure.  Cognitive structure refers to the pattern of physical or mental action that underline specific act of intelligence and correspond to stages of child development.  There are four primary cognitive structure.  This is known as development stages in understanding the world. According to Piaget (1958) each of the stage is age related and consists of distinct ways of thinking.

The child’s cognition is qualitatively different in one stage compared to another.  He gave the development stages of cognitive growth as: sensory motor, preparations, concrete operations, and formal operations.  In the sensory motor stage (0-2 years), intelligence takes the form of motor actions.  Intelligence in the preparation period (3-7 years) is intuitive in nature.  The cognitive structure during the concrete operational stage (8 – 11 years) is logical but depends upon concrete referents. 

In the final stage of formal operations (12-15 years), thinking involves abstractions. Cognitive structure represents the residue of all learning experiences; forgetting occurs because certain details get integrated and lose their individual identity.  Cognitive structures change through the process of adaptation to assimilation and accommodation.  Assimilation involves the interpretations of events in terms of existing cognitive structure; where as accommodation refers to changing the cognitive structure to make sense of the environment. 

Generally, learning demands certain qualities which have to do with the ability to process abstract materials for learners who are to benefit from it.  One of those qualities is cognitive style. Cognitive style is a term used in cognitive psychology to describe the way individuals think, process, perceive and remember information, or their preferred approach to using such information to solving problems. (; retrieved 13 Feb., 2008).   Cognitive style is a system of processing information. 

Cognitive style according to Gane (1985) is the skill by which the learner regulates his internal processes of attempting, learning, remembering and thinking subject matter of instruction.  In this case, cognitive style is learners’ action and not ability.  Achor (2001) observes that students’ cognitive style could be a source of difficulty to them, especially with regard to how they process information on the concepts as well as make meaning out of such concepts. Since themes from selected epistles concern problem solving, in the affective domain, it may be necessary to find out what type of cognitive styles help students to understand these themes better.

There are different types of cognitive style.  Messick (1976) identifies over nineteen cognitive styles.  The cognitive styles have important influences on an individual’s psychological factors and achievement.  How ever, no scientific proof that one type of cognitive style is academically superior over others (Dunn, and Dunn, 1992). Of all the dimensions of cognitive styles, field dependence and field independence has generated considerable number of research (Sacrcho, 1997). 

Field dependence-independence cognitive style was proposed by Witkin (1962).  According to him, field dependence-independence is value neutral and is characterized by the ability to distinguish key elements from a distracting or confusing background.  Field dependency represents the tendency to perceive and adhere to an existing externally imposed framework, while field independency represents the tendency to restructure perceived information into a different framework (McGee, 1979). 

Field independence (FI) students clarify objects on the basis of shared characteristics properties and have their ability to disembed relevant information from irrelevant background.   Field dependent (FD) students perceived materials to be learned holistically to stimulus environment and thus are very poor at separating out parts of the perceptual field from the whole.  Field dependent students find it difficult to disembed figures in a complex design.  Field independence students prefer individualized learning, while field dependent students prefer co-operative learning.

There are research reports that increased learning gains can be achieved when instructional exercise is designed with student’s cognitive styles in mind (Dunn, Bruno, Sklar, and Beaudry, 1990; Gordon, 1993; William, 1994). Douglass and Kahle (1978) report that field independent subject taught with lecture method experience a higher level of achievement with formal operation materials and field dependent subjects taught guided discovery method experience a higher level of success with concrete

operation materials in biology, Skymansky and Yore (1980) found that field independent students achieved better than field dependent students when they are taught with guided discovery method that involved individualized learning in general science (integrated science).  The cited findings were not reported in C.R.K. Field dependent learners are known by the following features: They are able to separate figures from background, excel at remembering faces, have trouble understanding visual

cues, fear example, recognizing icons on a computer screen, prefer well-structured learning environment with much positive feedback, enjoy the social aspects of learning and are more likely to be females. While field independent learners are identified by the following characteristics:  they are able to break up an organized visual field and keep part of it separate, excel at remembering names, understand visual cues and are better at math, prefer learning environments that require minimal interaction, enjoy discovery learning and individualized self-paced learning and are more likely to be males.

Field dependent learners mostly prefer group projects and need more assistance from the instructor.  These types of learners benefit or achieve more if diagrams and illustrations used as visual aids contain verbal information explaining them.  But on the side of the field independent learners, they prefer situations that allow them freedom in working toward their goals and solving problems.  These learners like to work individually.  Field dependent– independent is useful in this study because it has important implications for an individual’s cognitive behaviour and his or her interpersonal behaviour.  

Therefore, this study revealed how field dependence-independence cognitive style affected students’ achievements in themes from selected epistles, which by their nature may require cognitive restructuring. It is believed that environment influences man and man influences environment.  This is applicable to teaching and learning environment.  Location of a school may contribute to the achievement of the students.  It is believed that those schools in urban areas are likely to have more resources, human and material, than those schools in rural areas, just as every order activities suffer because of the remoteness and inaccessibility to social amenities like good road, power supply, pipe-bone water etc.

These may make students in schools in urban areas to achieve better than those in rural areas.  This study will determine whether the achievement of students in CRK will depend on location of school. Findings of research studies which demonstrated differences between sexes in various academic achievements have become popularly and generally accepted by scholars. According to Itsuoko (1989) girls and women tend to score higher on verbal tests and always do better than boys and men on coding tests, which call for short memory, speed and draftiness.  The males on the other hand, he contends, invariably achieve higher scores on arithmetic, blocks design, and the visual spatial tests.

To Hutt (1972), although there is little evidence that males and females differ in average intelligence, the constitutions of intelligence in the two sexes are far from similar.   Nwobodo in Madueme (2002) notes that gender plays a very important role in the performance of students in any subject.  Bacchus (2004) in his analysis of man and woman believes that woman’s tendencies are towards the emotional and psychic, while man’s are towards intellectuality and materialism.  Ones gender may determine choice of course of study and performance in any given subject.   How gender will influence achievement in CRK which is more emotional and psychic than intellectual was determined in this study. 

Therefore, this study investigated how two modes of advance organizers, cognitive style, gender and location will affect students’ achievement in CRK. When one succeeds in getting what he or she desires, it is regarded as achievement.  Achievement is the accomplishing whatever goals you have set for yourself, not necessarily earning a lot of money.  (htt://, retrieved 8th April, 2009).  Achievement is the realization of a dream fulfilled.  In teaching learning process, feed back from learners are used to determine their achievement.  Method applied by the teacher while delivering his or her lesson contributes much to high or low achievement by the learners.  How two modes of advance organizers and cognitive style affect students’ achievements was determined by this study.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Teaching methods in use by CRK teachers no doubt contribute to the poor achievement and retention of students.  It is believed that if teachers prepare students and arouse their consciousness before actually presenting their lesson, students’ achievement in CRK, especially in section C that contains abstract materials will improve. No study has been done on the effect of two modes of advance organizers on achievement and retention in CRK. Although studies such as Lorchugh (2004) have shown the superiority of field independent cognitive style over the field dependent in science subject, no study has been done to determine the influence of cognitive style on achievement in CRK.

The problem of the study put in question form is: what are the effects of two modes of advanced organizers (audio-visual and written) and cognitive style on students’ achievement  in CRK?

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The aim of this study is to determine the effect of two modes of advance organizers (audio-visual, written) and cognitive style on students’ achievement  in CRK.

To be specific, the purpose of the study is to:

  1. Find out the effect of advance organizers on the mean achievement scores of the students.
  2. Determine the influence of cognitive styles on the means achievement scores of the students.
  3. Ascertain the influence of gender on the mean achievement scores of the students.
  4. Determine the influence of location on the mean achievement scores of the students.
  5. Determine the interaction effect of mode of teaching and cognitive style on the mean achievement scores of the students.
  6. Find out the interaction effect of mode of teaching and gender on mean achievement scores of the students.
  7. Determine the interaction effect of mode of teaching and location on the mean achievement scores of the students.

 1.4 Significance of the Study

Christian religious knowledge develops man morally, spiritually, socially and academically. It is therefore necessary to find means of making its instruction more effective, interesting and motivating for the benefit of humankind and nation building. For any instruction to be effective, students should be ready and prepared for the instruction.  This study therefore will help teachers to know the type of organizers that will be effective in CRK instruction.  The teacher will then be better informed on the selection of appropriate techniques for the facilitation of CRK instruction.

This study will be of great importance to textbook authors and publishers of audio-visual instructional materials. The results will provide guidelines for presenting advance organizers in text and audio-visual materials. Human beings differ in their ways of doing things. The findings of this study will help instructional designers in designing instructional programmes that will suit students of different personality characteristics in terms of their cognitive styles. Curriculum development centres will benefit greatly from the findings of this study.

The findings will help them to plan suitable curriculum and instruction that will enhance students’ understanding of CRK.  Furthermore, the findings will help them create and recommend different modes of teaching and learning CRK in the curriculum with respect to the individual differences of the learners on the basis of gender and cognitive styles. This study has touched such variables as gender and location and its influence on achievement a CRK: The findings of this study will likely generate researches in these areas or conferences and seminars for the improvement of CRK instruction. Finally, the results of this study will provide the basis for further study in advance organizers, cognitive style and learning of CRK in secondary schools.

1.5 Scope of the Study

This study is centred on the effect of audio-visual and written advance organizers and cognitive style (field dependent/independent) on students’ achievement and retention in CRK. This study investigated the effect of audio- visual and written organizers on field dependent-independent learners. The study used senior secondary II students. This study determined students’ achievement and retention in “themes from selected epistles”, based on the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) curriculum.  The topics covered are: Justification by faith: meaning and fruits of justification (Romans 3:21-24, 10:1-13) Law and Grace: The purpose of law and the significance of law and grace (Romans 4:13-25, 5:18-21, Galatians 3:10-14). The Study was conducted in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State in the South-East Zone of Nigeria.

1.6 Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

  1. What are the relative effects of audio-visual and written organizers and the conventional lecture mode without organizers on students’ means achievement scores in CRK?
  2. What is the influence of cognitive style on students mean achievement scores in CRK?
  3. What is the influence of gender on students’ mean achievement scores in CRK?
  4. To what extent does location influence students’ mean achievement scores in CRK?
  5. How does mode of teaching and cognitive style interact to influence students’ mean achievement scores in CRK?
  6. What is the interaction effect of mode of teaching and gender on student’ mean achievement scores in CRK?
  7. What is the interaction effect of mode of teaching and location on students’ mean achievement scores in CRK?


 1.7 Hypotheses

These null hypotheses were tested at probability level of 0.05.

Ho1: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students when audio-visual and written organizers and no organizers are used in CRK instruction.   

Ho2: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students who have field dependent and field independent cognitive style.

Ho3: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students in CRK.

Ho4: There is no significant difference in the means achievement scores of students in urban and rural schools.

Ho5: Model of teaching and cognitive style do not interact significantly to affect students’ mean achievement scores in CRK.

Ho6: The interaction of mode of teaching and gender do not significantly affect students’ mean achievement scores in CRK.

Ho7: The interaction of mode of teaching and location do not significantly affect students’ mean achievement scores in CRK.


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