THE EFFECTS OF SIMULATION AS AN INSTRUCTIONAL METHOD IN THE TEACHING OF BIOLOGY IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN OHAUKWU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE
Background to the Study
Biology Education is the study that combines knowledge of biology with pedagogy for the purpose of equipping the learners with relevant skills in the production of manpower for teaching biology (Dictionary.com, 2013). The main target of the program is to produce competent biology teachers. Biology education enhances capacity building in science and technology and provides students with employable skills and opportunities, which could lead to employment and sustainable living. This is true because knowledge of biology is applied in various fields like agriculture, medicine and industry. The major objectives of biology education are:
- To produce well qualified graduate teachers who would be competent in teaching biology.
- To produce graduate biology teachers who will be able to teach with the laboratory (Experimental) and discovery methods.
iii. To produce biology teachers and graduates who can work in science related industries.
- To produce teachers who can teach their students how to discover new things, especially as it concerns the life sciences and sustainable environments with emphasis on those things that make life better, bearing in mind the ethical responsibilities.
- To provide teachers and graduates with general education that would help them understand and face the challenging world of science and information technology.
Vi. To produce highly motivated and competent biology teachers for all the levels of our education system. Biology generally is the science of the life of animals and plants (Hornby, 2004). It also has to do with the studies of the inter-relationships between the living organisms and their immediate environment. In all spheres of human activity, biology plays a prominent role. It is indispensable in the fields of medicine, agriculture, brewery and petro-chemical industries and even in geology and mining. Because of the indispensability of biology, much emphasis has been placed on biology instruction especially at the secondary school level. This is to ensure full realization of the objectives of biology education as stipulated in the National Policy on Education (F.M.E. 2007). Education was then conceived as a process of transmission of factual knowledge only. The teacher adopted an authoritarian attitude. The facts learnt by children were tested from time to time but such tests were neither concerned with conceptual understanding nor effective performance. The main emphasis was on testing memory. A long time intervened between the child’s response and the teacher’s reinforcement. The teacher very often used the lecture method which was not much effective for meaningful learning. The teacher did not use other visual material to supplement his oral teaching. The teacher of today does not consider the child as a vessel waiting to be filled up with facts nor as a pliable plastic material, which can be transformed into any shape enabling him to project his ideas on it. Educationists are of the opinion that the educational problems relating to quantity and quality could be tackled by the proper utilization of instructional technology which is composed of modern instructional materials. Instructional technology is a systematic way of designing, carrying out and evaluating the teaching learning process. Instructional technology makes instruction more effective, understandable and meaningful. Traditional teacher-centered approach in the classroom has been shifted from teaching to learning. It is called student centered or resource-based approach, the student being the resource. Bilbao (2006) pointed out that learning through hearing alone proves to be the least effective means of learning. One learns eleven percent by hearing as against eighty-three percent by seeing. As far as retention of hearing is concerned, learning through hearing again stands at the lowest ebb because after three days, we recall only ten percent of what we learn through hearing as against fifty percent of what we learn through both hearing and seeing; and ninety percent of what we acquire by applying three of our senses i.e. seeing, hearing and doing. Good (2003) considers each child as akin to a plant and helps the child to grow according to its abilities and aptitudes. He helps the child to learn. He realizes that “to teach is to nourish or cultivate the growing child or to give him intellectual exercise or to train him in the horizontal sense of directing or guiding his growth”. The modern teacher sees education as a process of interaction between the child and his environment.
As indicated earlier, simulation is the use of a powerful tool, the computer, to emulate or replicate an object in a real or imagined world. Abdo, and Semela, (2010) categorized simulations into the following four different types:
- physical simulations, in which a physical object, such as a frog, is displayed on the computer screen, giving the student an opportunity to dissect it and learn about it, or when a student is learning how to operate a piece of laboratory apparatus which might be used in an experiment;
- procedural simulations, in which a simulated machine operates so that the student learns the skills and actions needed to operate it; or when the student follows procedures to determine a solution, as when a student is asked to diagnose a patient’s disease and prescribe appropriate treatment;
- Situational simulations, which normally give the student the chance to explore the effects of different methods to a situation, or to play different roles in it. Usually in situational simulations, the student is always part and parcel of the simulation, taking one of the major assigned roles;
- Process simulations, which are different from other simulations in that the student neither acts as a participant (as in situational simulations) nor constantly manipulates the simulation (as in physical or procedural simulations) but instead, selects values of various parameters at the onset and then watches the process occur without intervention.
Ogbondah (2008) categorized simulations into two different types. Experiential simulations, the first category, provide students with a psychological reality in which students play roles within that reality by executing their responsibilities and carry out complex problem-solving in that knowledge domain. Experiential simulations are intended to assist students in situations that are either too expensive or too dangerous to experience in a real world. “Four major types of experiential simulations are data management, diagnostic, crisis management, and social-process simulations” Ogbondah (2008). According to Abdo, and Semela, (2010) experiential simulations are assumed to provide opportunities for students to develop their cognitive strategies because the exercises require that students organize and manage their own thinking and learning. A second type of simulation is a symbolic simulation, which is dynamic in nature and represents the behavior of a system, or phenomena, on a set of interacting processes. The students’ role in symbolic simulation is that of principal investigator. Students construct their own learning experiences. Abdo, and Semela, (2010) argued that when computer simulations are compared to other media such as videotapes or traditional lectures, transfer of learning is greater for the computer simulation group. With transfer of learning, students can apply what was learned from previous instruction to a new situation. But simulations may still be preferred for other reasons, notably cost and safety (Hopkins, 1975). According to Duffy & Jonassen (1992) “simulation is a cognitive tool for accessing information and interpreting and organizing personal knowledge.” He claimed that simulation can potentially engage and enhance thinking in learners in science. Children learn by doing and learn how to learn in groups and also individually. Increase in population and explosion of knowledge are affecting the pattern of human life and also inflicting its full impact on education and this is possible by the use of instructional materials which can be considered as the development of educational technology. However, there’s some discrepancies occur especially the accomplishments of students whether the main factor of learning is the self or merely due to this instructional materials. This study will be testing this prevalence whether the instructional materials used private schools affects the educative elements of the high school students. Hollman (2007) said “Children who learn science by the discovery approach will discover for themselves the true structure of the discipline in complete harmony with modern philosophy of science education” The new trends toward biotechnology again are increasing and the students at the secondary level are at the threshold of selecting biology based careers for themselves. The objectives of Science Education are; to introduce students to a body of knowledge investigating living things and studying work of Scientists, to develop in students the habit and ability of independent study. The teaching learning resource material on secondary school biology consists of textbook, pupil’s manual and teacher’s guide for secondary school students. There is no denying the fact that knowledge is a universal commodity but the matter of its presentation is an individualized effort. The teaching of biology is very important because the knowledge of biology helps in improving the quality of life, biology covers all aspects of life: so if goes without saying that biology should be taught in order to succeed in life. Knowledge of biology helps in solving many social problems relating to health, poverty, food shortage and crop production and environmental conservation. Moreover in addition to increased class participation, it has also been suggested that simulations lead a greater participation in the wider learning process, through shared reflection and discussion amongst students outside of the classroom. In addition to the increase in course engagement scholars such as Newmann and Twigg (2000) have suggested that simulations can also promote better relations between the student and the teacher. By creating a more open, relaxed and collegial atmosphere in the classroom, the increased interactions improve student satisfaction with the teacher..
Statement of Problems
It has been observed that students have low performance in secondary schools in Ebonyi state. This poor state of affairs may be linked to ineffective utilization of good instructional strategies into teaching and learning processes in secondary school studies. Though teachers do teach effectively with the chalk and talk method, how has this brought a change in interest? This researcher feels that the teaching of biology in secondary schools in Ebonyi state would be hindered seriously if good teaching strategies were not encouraged. Again would the good strategies of teaching biology actually produce the desired influences in the teaching and learning of biology to necessitate its adoption by biology teachers? Biology as one of the science subjects offered in secondary schools tends to be a problem disturbing the society due to the way students’ fails it. It was observed that teachers teach well and after students fail biology more than other subjects. Now are trying to say that the faults are from the students or the teachers? Then this calls for the research of this kind. Through understanding, commitments and zeal of students in learning and widening the knowledge of the students in learning biology. This is the rational behinds the choice of the topic, strategies for improving secondary school performance in biology in Ebonyi state.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to ascertain the effects of simulation as an instructional method in the teaching of Biology in Secondary Schools in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Specifically, the study is designed to find out:
- The effect of simulation as an instructional method for teaching biology in secondary schools in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State
- The differential effects of simulation as an instructional method on the mean achievement of students in biology in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State
- The interaction effect of gender and method on students’ achievement in biology in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State
- The extent to which Simulation as an instructional method has been used in improving secondary school students’ performance in biology in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State
Significance of the Study
The problem on the improvement of Science Education especially Biology could be the immediate recipient of the result. The students, teachers, future researchers, parents, administrators, curriculum planner and the secondary school could benefit more on the findings of this study.
Students- The results of this investigating study will be a great help to the students in learning and acquiring knowledge or skills in biology since this study focuses to the effects of simulation strategy which are meant to be used to concretize the abstract ideas stated in the books and finally change the behaviors that the aforesaid subject is intended to be measured.
To the Teachers- This study would certainly benefit the teachers in teaching the aforesaid subject since they could be more aware of the role of simulation strategy in making the teaching process more effective and efficient.
Parents- The findings could serve as an eye-opener for them to realize their significant roles as parents as well as a deeper understanding to the efforts given by the teachers and schools in making their children become functionally literate in the field of Biology and indeed are a dignified participant in the nation building.
Schools Administrators- The result of the study will provide them the whole picture of the advantage of simulation strategy hence, it will serves as a basis in formulating policies for better quality of teaching Biology. This could also be useful in identifying the kind of instructional materials needed for more effective and efficient biology class.
Curriculum Planner- The findings of the study would be a basis for them to identify the most appropriate teaching strategy and objectives based on the topic and the instructional materials used.
Government- serves as an eye-opener to be very sensitive to the needs of Schools to have sufficient instructional materials and varying teaching strategies for avoiding putting the quality of education in the Nigeria to catastrophe.
Future Researchers- The result will give in formations which would be relevant to the future researchers who would pursue a study similar to this.
Scope of the study
This study is geographically limited to the public secondary schools in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi state. The content scope focuses on the effects of simulation as an instructional method in the teaching of Biology. In terms of geographical scope the study was restricted to Ohaukwu Local Government Area Educational zone. The topics that were taught during the experiment are energy relationships in ecological management. The following topics within the unit were covered: Principles of Energy relationships in Ecological Systems, symbiosis, parasitism and commensalism
The study was restricted to senior secondary class 2 only. The reason is because the topics that were taught during this experiment are in SS 2 curriculum. Moreover, SS3 class is an examination class and is not allowed to be used for experiments while SSI class is just being introduced to biology field having just graduated from junior secondary with basic science knowledge.
The following research questions guided the study:
- What is the effect of simulation as an instructional method for teaching biology in secondary schools in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State?
- To what effect has simulation as an instructional method on the mean achievement scores of students’ performance in biology in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State?
- What is the interaction effect of gender and methods on students’ mean achievement scores in biology in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State?
- To what extent does Simulation as an instructional method be used in improving secondary school students’ performance in biology in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State?
The following null hypotheses guided the study and were tested at an alpha level of 0.05.
HO1: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of student taught biology using simulation as an instructional method and those taught using conventional as an instructional method in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
HO2: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students (male and female) who were taught biology using simulation method as an instructional method in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
HO3: There is no significant interaction effect of gender on simulation as an instructional method on students’ mean achievement in biology in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.