The purpose of this study was to investigate the “integration of practical skills in teaching Biology among secondary school teachers.” The goal of education in Nigeria is to promote economic, technological and industrial development for national good. To achieve the vision 2020 in education, a number of initiatives have been started to enhance practical teaching in schools as a pedagogy .This included equipping school laboratories through government funding. This study sought to establish the gap that could be filled through the practical integration in Biology. Some related literatures that were reviewed among others include the following: the concept of assessment; the concept of practical assessment; science practical process skills; practical aspect in science education
Learning science involves investigation and measuring testable concepts. Laboratory work is the hallmark of science education. It requires skills in carrying out practical investigations regarding concepts like types of foods, or tissues and organs amongst others. A skill is a developed proficiency acquired through specialized training. The training is imparted to the students through practice over time. The Biology practical skills as well as coverage of the content ascribed in the curriculum are influenced by the teaching and learning undertaken in class. Globally, practical work has become a well-established part of secondary school science (Poppe and Markis, 2011). In fact, since 1988, the National Curriculum of England placed emphasis on practical’s (Wellington, 2002) and current science teaching involves students carrying out practical work as an entity of biology, chemistry and physics lessons. Since the 19th century practicals have been part of the science classes in the United States of America and European secondary schools. Practicals are of great significance in curriculum of any practical science such as Biology (Singer et al., 2005). Students claim to find practical work as an enjoyable and effective way of learning science (Hodson, 1993) and this has also been reported in many other studies (Osborne and Collins, 2001; Jenkins and Nelson, 2005). In Nigeria, since 1963, the Biology curriculum has gone through various revisions with each revision maintaining the emphasis on practical skills at both class and examination levels. In the School Science Project (SSP) syllabus, Biology was taught through heuristic approach consequently the students’ text books were more of work-books with brief explanations of concepts (Namuddu, 1989).
The term science has to do with nature; it is derived from the latin word scientia which mean knowledge. It is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. It can equally be defined as a field of study which tries to describe and understand nature of the universe in whole or part.
According to hyacinth(2004), science in its broad sense refers to all human activities involving organized knowledge of natural phenomena. It alsorefers to a system of acquiring knowledge to describe and explain natural phenomena
Science is a great enterprise which nations depend on, in order to advance technologically. Science therefore, is receiving much emphasis in education because of its significance and relevance to life and society.
Biology as a branch of science and prerequisite subject for many fields of learning. It contributes immensely to the Technological growth of every nation which include medicine and surgery, forestry, agriculture, biotechnology and nursing. The study of Biology in senior secondary school can equip students with useful concepts, principles and theories that will enable them face the challenges before and after graduating from secondary school.
Biology as one of the science subject is bent in making one to be conversant with the environment he/she lives in in order to appreciate the meaning of scientific life, to develop unbiased mind to serve as an ideal future citizen. Fortunately, it is a fact that biology is the commonly chosen science subject of most secondary students as confirmed by the West African Examination Counsel (WAEC).
Students who are not motivated will not learn effectively, they won’t be able to retain information, they won’t participate in the class and some may even develop phobia to the subject in question. A student may not feel motivated for a variety of reasons, among which are they may feel they have no interested in the subject which results from lack of motivation, or find the teacher’s method of teaching unengaging or maybe the student has difficulty in learning and thus need to be attended specially
In the absence of instructional materials and practical work as methods in teaching biology, motivating the students to develop interest in biology is a difficult task. Motivated students tend to be more excited to learn and participate in the class when the teacher is teaching biology.
Teaching biology in a class full of interested students, is by far more enjoyable for the teacher and the students. Though some student are motivated with a natural love for biology, but with the inclusion of practical work and the use of instructional materials in teaching biology, even the students who are less interested or at all not interested in biology, can be inspired by biology teachers to reach their full potential.
There are some effective ways to get the student excited by encouraging them to participate in the laboratory activities, getting them involved by using one of the students in the course of demonstration, by getting creative while teaching such as dissecting a flower with the class and asking the students to draw a diagram of the dissection, relating your teaching to real life by showing the class a liver, heart, intestines of an animal you dissect or by relating what you, the teacher taught with the students immediate environment such as trees, soil etc
A2. Background to the Study
The goal of education in Nigeria is to promote economic, technological and industrial development for national good (Gacheri 2014). There is no much research conducted to show whether the youth are prepared scientifically to play effective and productive role in development of the nation. Industrial and technological developments in Nigeria will depend on skills, knowledge and expertise in science hence appropriate training in sciences is necessary as envisaged in vision 2020. Science is a great enterprise which nations depend on, in-order to advance technologically. Biology in senior secondary school can equip students with useful concepts, principles and theories .Science therefore, should receive much emphasis in education because of its significance and relevance to life and society (Chinwe, Chukele, 2008). Biology as a branch of science and the prerequisite subject for many fields of learning contributes immensely to the technological growth of the nation. This includes medicine, forestry, agriculture, biotechnology and nursing. The study enable them face the challenges before and after graduation. In any curriculum, science education is acknowledged as means of providing knowledge and skills for developing various spheres of life. Biology is one of the key sciences that play great role in developing technological skills. The process for effective learning in Biology is generally the case in other sciences which require a practical input. But the use of practical approach to teaching and learning in schools is on decline in the belief that it is time consuming as teachers rush to complete the syllabus. Development of practical process skills requires well equipped laboratories in schools and trained manpower. In Warji where research was conducted most schools lack laboratory facilities and trained lab technicians necessary in teaching science to develop process skills.
Development of practical process skills are important in acquisition of twenty first century skills which include technological development. It is on this background that this study attempted to establish the effect of practical learning and assessment on learner achievement in Biology in Nigerian schools, (Edison, 2004).
Biology knowledge is important to equip the learner with knowledge to apply, improve and maintain the health of the individual family and community. Biology syllabus recommends teaching through discussion on practical activities, field trips, demonstration and project . This encompasses theory and practical work. Shiundu , Omulando (1992) notes teaching methods or strategies currently recommended process-based approach of teaching to help students learn science process skills. These include laboratory work, field and project work. The curriculum developers in Nigeria advocate for learner-centered approaches in teaching of science in secondary schools (Nigeria Institute of Education 2006). But most teachers in schools still use traditional written approaches, whereas practical and projects are rarely used.
To achieve the vision 2020 in education, a number of initiatives have started to enhance practical teaching in schools as a pedagogy .This included equipping school laboratories through government funding. This study sought to establish the gap that could be filled through the practical integration in Biology. Assessment is defined as a direct measure of what has been learned as a result of instruction on specific objectives (Gagne, Briggs, Wagner,1988). It is a process of collecting data by measuring /testing which helps to give value judgment. Assessment comprise of two components: measurement and evaluation. Measurement is a systematic process of developing a quantitative and qualitative description of student performance (Erickson, Wentling, 1978). Evaluation is concerned with the worth of particular performance. Suggested assessment methods in biology are: Practical Work, Project work, Field trips, Oral questions,. Quizzes, written tests and examinations. Practical work should be essential constituent of school science. This is important as practical work encourages science process skills.
Practical assessment mostly deals with acquisition of practical science process skills. The biology practical skills are science process skills. They are taught as part of the biology curriculum. These skills can be acquired and developed through activities involved in the biology practical sessions. According to Maundu, Sambili and Muthwii (2005), one of the ways of assessing the objectives of teaching biology is through practical work. In practical work, an opportunity is provided for testing application of scientific procedures, manipulative abilities as well as scientific skills. The Nigeria National Examinations Council (NECO) makes use of practical examinations to test students’ acquisition of various biology practical skills which in essence are science process skills. In these examinations, students are required to carry out biology practical activities following some given instructions. The basic science process skills in biology include measuring, drawing, observation, classifying, manipulating, inferring/conclusion. Integrated skills include experimenting and interpreting (Owino, Indoshi , 2013 ).
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