EFFECTS OF TWO INSTRUCTIONAL SCAFFOLDING STRATEGIES ON SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS ACHIEVEMENT AND INTEREST IN BIOLOGY
This study investigated the effect of two Instructional Scaffolding Strategies on Secondary School Students’ Achievement and Interest in Biology in Udi Education Zone, Enugu State. The study adopted a factorial research design which helped the researcher to determine the main effects of two treatments in one single experiment. Six research questions and six null hypotheses guided the study. A sample of 140 students from four intact classes purposively selected from government co-educational secondary schools in Udi Education Zone, were used for the study. The main instruments for the study consisted of Biology Achievement Test (BAT) and Biology Interest Inventory (BII) which were developed, validated and used for data collection. The instruments (BAT and BII) were trial-tested on 30 SS 2 students of Nsukka education Zone. The data collected from BAT and BII were tested for reliability using Kuder-Richardson (K-R 20) and Cronbach Alpha statistics. Reliability indices of 0.89 and 0.86 respectively were obtained which guaranteed the use of the instruments for the study. Mean and standard deviation were used to answer the research questions while Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was used to test the null hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The results showed among others that Cueing Questions strategy has more effect on students’ mean achievement scores in Biology than the Concept Mapping strategy; Cueing Questions strategy has more effect on students’ mean interest scores in Biology than the Concept Mapping strategy; The posttest and adjusted mean achievement scores were greater than the pretest mean achievement scores with the male students having higher mean score than their female counterparts; There was a significant effect of Cueing Questions and Concept Mapping as instructional scaffolding on students’ achievement in Biology with those taught using Cueing Questions strategy having a higher mean achievement score. There was a significant effect of Cueing Questions and Concept Mapping as instructional scaffolding on students’ interest in Biology with those taught using Cueing Questions strategy having a higher adjusted mean interest score. There was no significant interaction effect of gender and strategies on students’ mean achievement score in biology. There was a significant interaction effect of gender and strategies on students’ mean interest score in biology. Based on the implications of the study, it was recommended among others that curriculum development bodies such as the National Research and Development Council (NERDC) and other curriculum bodies should focus towards preparing Biology teachers to acquire appropriate skills in instructional strategies such as Cueing Questions and Concept Mappings. Based on the findings of the study, conclusions were drawn, the limitations of the study and suggestions for further studieswere equally made.
Background of the Study
Biology is a branch of natural science that deals with the study of living organisms, their structures, functions, evolution, distribution and interrelationships. 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’ investigation into natural phenomena, deepen students’ understanding and interest in biological sciences and to encourage students’ ability to apply scientific knowledge to everyday life. Biology is one of the science subjects taught at the senior secondary school levels in all Nigerian secondary schools today which attracts the greatest patronage of both science-oriented and arts-based students (Nwachukwu and Nwosu, 2007), Nwagbo (2008) pointed out that the structure of the Nigerian secondary school requires a student to do one science subject, and Biology is the science subject most of the science students opt for on the false premise that it is the easiest of the sciences. For this reason, Biology has a very high enrolment of students in the external examination (West African Examination Council, 2011). Biology as a school subject is expected to help students understand and deal with their natural environment and the organisms living within it. Biology also deals with the interactions between living and non-living components of the environment (Nwagbo, 2008). A sound knowledge of Biology is pre-requisite for entrance into such professions like Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Biochemistry, Genetics and Agriculture that are of great economic importance to the nation.
Despite the importance of biology as a school subject, available statistics from the West African Examinations Council (WAEC, 2009-2013) revealed that candidates achieve poorly in the examination. For instance, an average of 82.4% of the candidates that sat for Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (S.S.C.E) in Biology in 2009 failed to obtain grades at credit level and above, which could qualify them for university admission in Biology and other science-related disciplines (West African Examinations Council Chief Examiner’s Report, 2009). An analysis of the result of the performance of candidates in Biology at WAEC SSCE (2009-2013) as seen in (Appendix A), page 150 showed that the majority of the candidates scored below credit level or failed to obtain the grades A1-C6. By implication, most students cannot gain admission into tertiary institutions to study Biology or its related disciplines. This leaves one in doubt about the effectiveness of instructional approaches employed by the Biology teachers for the teaching and learning of Biology.
The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Chief Examiners’ Report for Biology II in Nov/Dec, 2013 showed that the candidates’ performance was slightly poorer than that of the previous years with a mean score of 17 and a standard deviation of 8.77. The observed weaknesses include shallow knowledge of the subject matter and poor performance in questions on cell and its environment, genetics, ecology and feeding relationships among others.
Researchers have shown that Biology teachers do not always employ effective instructional approaches in teaching the subject (Nwagbo, 2001 and Nwosu, 2007). This has led to situations where students cannot apply the knowledge of Biology in real life situations. Agama (2009) posited that in most secondary schools, teaching methods are mainly based on inappropriate instructional approach, which requires teachers to give explanation or demonstration while students usually focus on textbook reading, note taking and memorization of facts. Evidence has shown from WAEC Chief Examiners’ Report that there is high rate of failure in Biology, which could be traceable to the quality of teaching (More, 2003). To buttress this, Nwagbo (2008) had earlier asserted that the quality of any educational programme in any country is the function of those who teach it. Nwagbo opined that even a good curriculum and a well stocked laboratory would still not give the desired result in the hands of incompetent Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) teachers.
Nwokelu and Afe as cited by Nwakonobi, (2008), revealed that complaints abound from students, teachers, parents, West African Examination Council (WAEC), and even Ministry of Education officials about the inability of some students to perform creditably in some subjects like Biology, Chemistry and Physics, to name a few. These poor academic achievements could be as a result of ineffective teaching methods adopted by the teachers.
Some researchers have indicated that underachievement in science subjects such as Biology is linked to inappropriate methods of teaching in senior secondary schools (Okoye & Okeke, 2007; Nwagbo, 2009). For instance, classroom observations in many Nigerian secondary schools during teacher supervisions showed that the majority of the teachers do not apply appropriate science strategies as identified and recommended to be effective for science instruction (Norom, 2009). Biology classroom activities are still dominated by teacher-centered instruction which has been found to be ineffective in promoting Biology learning at senior secondary school level (Uzoechi, 2008). Nwagbo (2006) observed that such teacher-centered approach, which places the teacher as the sole possessor of knowledge and the students as passive recipients of knowledge, may not enhance achievement or promote positive attitude to Biology in particular and science in general.
Science learning is expected to produce individuals that are capable of solving their problems as well as those of the society. Such individuals are expected to be autonomous (that is independent; not relying on anybody before explaining the materials learnt when the need arises), confident and self reliant. Obiekwe (2008) reported that all is not well with science instruction in Nigerian secondary schools, and noted that science teaching lays extreme emphasis on content and the use of “chalk and talk” method neglecting the activity-oriented method which enhances teaching and learning. This negligence and ‘shy away’ attitude from activity method of teaching has led to abstraction which makes the students less active and more prone to rote memorization (Obiekwe, 2008).
The ineffective teaching strategies used in Biology teaching have been the most important factor in underachievement (Okoye and Okeke, 2007). Some of the other factors include: incompetent mode of teachers’ delivery, inadequate use of instructional materials, students’ attitude, ill-equipped Biology laboratories and vast nature of Biology curriculum (Umeh, 2008). Ukaegbu (2006) proffered reasons for the poor performance to include ineffective teaching strategy, careless drawing and labeling, incompetence and laziness on the part of teachers. This situation has created the need for more effective teaching strategies. It then becomes necessary to explore the efficacy of other alternative strategies of redressing this situation. Research findings have indicated that the use of innovative teaching strategies such as co-operative learning, games and simulation and peer teaching could enhance interest and achievement in science. This study therefore investigated the effect of two instructional scaffolding strategies (cueing questions and concept mapping) on students’ achievement and interest in Biology. The effects of these two instructional scaffolding strategies on the achievement and interest of male and female students were also investigated.
Scaffolding is a learning process designed to promote a deeper level of learning. Scaffolding is the support given during the learning process which is tailored to the needs of the students with the intention of helping the student achieves his/her learning goals. Scaffolding is a teaching technique whereby the teacher models the desired learning strategy/ task, then gradually shifts responsibility to the students. In literal terms, scaffolding refers to poles and wooden boards that are joined together to make a structure for workers to stand on when they are working (Vygotsky, 1978). It is used when building high structures such as storey building. Scaffolds are pillars for support to both the building and the builder. Scaffolding as an educational concept is the assistance (parameters, rules, or suggestions) a teacher gives to the students during the instructional process to achieve learning. Vygotsky added that scaffolding instruction is the “role of teachers and others in supporting the learners’ development and providing support structures to get to the next stage or level”. As a learner gains control of these new learning, the teacher withdraws the support gradually as the learner becomes increasingly able to complete the task alone. The teacher then plans and provides further support on new learning. In using scaffolding, the teacher’s job is to help bridge the gap between what a student already knows and what he will learn next. A ‘scaffold’ ensures that children are not left to their own devices to understand something. The support is removed when the student is ready, like the scaffolding that support workers who have been constructing or repairing a building. The scaffolds provide the workers with both a place to work and the means to reach work areas that they could not access on their own which is removed when construction is complete (Olota, 2015)
In instructional scaffolding, the instructor initially provides extensive instructional support, or scaffolding to continually assist the students in building their understanding of new content and process. Once the students internalize the content and/ or process, they assume full responsibility for controlling the progress of a given task. The temporary scaffolding provided by the instructor is removed to reveal the impressive permanent learning that has taken place (Hartman, 2002).
Instructional scaffolding involves three major levels.The content, task and material scaffolding. At the content level, the teacher breaks instructional plans to lead the students from what they already know to a deep understanding of what they do not know (Turn, Turnbull, shank and Leal, 1999). Scaffolding plans must be written carefully, such that each new skill or bit of information that the students learn serves as a logical next step based upon what they already know or are able to do. The instructor must prepare both to continuously assess students’ learning and to connect new information to the students’ prior knowledge.
The second level of instructional scaffolding is task scaffolding; the instructor provides support to the learners at every step of the learning process (Turnbull etal, 1999). At the beginning of the process, the instructor models the task in its entirety. Having observed their instructor’s model, the students begin guided practice by performing parts of the task independently. The instructor assists the learners with their early practice and continuously assesses their learning. As the students gain experience with and understanding of new information or task, the instructor increases the complexity of guided practice activities and gradually reduces his or her support. By the end of a well-executed scaffolding plan, the students perform the entire task with little or no support from their instructor (Turnbull etal, 1999).
The third level is material scaffolding which involves the use of manipulatives, verbal or physical prompts and cues to help the learner perform a task or use a strategy. This may take the form of cue or guided examples that list the steps necessary to preform a task. They can use this example to reduce confusion and frustration. The cues and prompt must be phased out over time as learners master the steps of the task or strategy (Piper, 2005). There are actually five different instructional scaffolding techniques identified in research study by Hogan and Pressley, (1999) and they include: Modeling of desired behaviours, advanced organizer worked examples, offering explanations, inviting students to contribute cues, inviting student participation, verifying and clarifying student understandings. These techniques may either be integrated or used individually depending on the material being taught. The instructor’s goal in employing scaffolding techniques is offering just enough assistance to guide the learners toward independence and self-regulation.
Scaffolding techniques are used in conjunction with scaffolding instructional materials. These materials fit into one of the following categories: reception scaffolds, transformation scaffolds or production scaffolds (Hartman, 2002). Reception scaffolds help learners to effectively gather information from available sources. They keep the learners attention focused on important information, and they prompt the learner to organize and record what they see. For example, a web-like graphic organizer called concept map prompts the students with focus questions, and provides them with a framework for organizing their answers. Whereas reception scaffolds help the student to identify structure already present in a given source, transformation scaffolds help the learner to impose structure on information, for example, a student who is studying the mechanism of inhalation or exhalation might be asked to represent this on a chart. The transformation scaffold is the blank chart which prompts the learner to categorize information logically. Finally, production scaffolds are tools that prompt the student to convey what they have learned in an effective way. For example, an instructor might prepare an outline or template to help her students organize their book. The three different kinds, of scaffold may either be integrated or used individually to support students’ learning. With the right techniques and materials, an instructor can provide the temporary support that students need to grow intellectually.
In education, scaffolding refers to a variety of instructional techniques used to move students progressively toward stronger understanding and, ultimately, greater independence in the learning process. Teachers provide successive levels of temporary support that help students reach higher levels of comprehension and skill acquisition that they would not be able to achieve without assistance. Like physical scaffolding, the supportive strategies are incrementally removed when they are no longer needed, and the teacher gradually shifts more responsibility over the learning process to the student. Scaffolding can be used at any level of education and in any discipline including Biology, but it requires detailed planning on the part of the teacher. In using scaffolds, the teacher helps in breaking down complex tasks into manageable bits, motivates learners, brings clear direction and reduces students’ confusion. The teacher also clarifies expectation and incorporates assessment and feedback, and students understand why they are doing the work and why it is important. It points students to worthy sources to reduce frustration and time. In educational setting, there are many instructional strategies that can be used to break down complex tasks into manageable bits that will lead to acquisition of new knowledge. Such strategies enable students to breakdown topics or concepts into smaller units and help students acquire skills needed to link inter-relationship among concepts (Mang, 2003). Such strategies could include the use of cueing questions and concept mapping.
Concept mapping originates from concept maps. Rao (2015) refers to concept maps as diagrammatic representations which show meaningful relationships between concepts in the form of propositions which are linked together by words, circles, and cross links. A concept map is a diagram showing relationships between concepts. A concept map presents the relationship among a set of connected concepts and ideas. Concept maps are identified as two-dimensional, hierarchical, node-linked diagrams that depict verbal, conceptual or declarative knowledge in succinct, visual or graphical forms (Rao, 2015).
In concept maps ideas are arranged hierarchically with the superordinate concepts at the top of the map, and subordinate at the bottom which are less inclusive than the higher ones (Ejimonye, 2015). Concepts are connected with labelled arrows, in a downward branching hierarchical structure. The relationship between concepts is articulated in linking phrases, e.g “give rise to”, ‘helps’, “results in”, “is required by” or “contributes to” (Novak and Canas, 2008). A concept map is a special form of a web diagram for exploring knowledge, gathering and sharing information (Olaniran, 2004). Concept mapping is the strategy employed to develop a concept map. It is an instructional strategy that presents key concepts as knowledge maps that act as scaffold to facilitate learning. It was developed in 1972 by Novak and his associates at the Cornell University. The primary objective of novak’s research effort was to develop a model for overcoming the problem of students’ rote learning of concepts in science (Novak and Canas, 2008).
Concept mapping seems to be a promising strategy for meaningful learning since it enables the learner to consciously connect new knowledge with relevant concepts already known. Several studies such as Pankratius, Udeani, Markor and Loaning as cited by Ahiakwo (2001) have reported that concept mapping could be a viable strategy that can help teachers to be more effective, foster curriculum development and promote students’ hands-on activity. Use of concept mapping in facilitating hand-on-task learning is explained by the constructivist theory (Vygotsky, 1978), which states that hand-on-task learning enhances experiential learning. In concept mapping new knowledge is integrated into existing structures in order to enhance understanding (Stoica, Moranu & Miron, 2011). It makes learning process explicit and requires the learner to pay attention to the relationship between concepts. It helps in presenting diagrammatically and in hierarchical order the relationships or inter-relationship of a new concept/idea with existing or already known concept/idea (Rao, 2015). According to Ejimonye (2015) hierarchical presentation of ideas usually from simple to complex could enhance students’ achievement and interest in a subject and Biology is not an exception.
Concept mapping is an instructional scaffold for it provides support through diagrammatical representation and orderly presentation of the relationship between concepts or components of a concept using links, lines, and nodes for meaningful learning. Concept maps are helpful as a tool to gauge students’ understanding because they make the knowledge construction process visible (Sungur, Tekkaya and Gebban, 2001). Concept mapping enable learners to focus on fine details, experiencing a structured step-by-step approach, representing their knowledge structures graphically and visualizing programming concepts and procedures as a network of interrelated ideas (Association for Computing Machinery, 2015). Students through the links shown by the concept map on a concept could easily understand the concept without much explanation by the teacher. When the students through the concept map understand the links among components of a concept or the relationship between one concept and another, they can reason beyond the framework when the concept map is removed. Thus, concept map as instructional scaffold could enhance students’ understanding of concepts towards a better academic achievement.
Concept mapping as instructional scaffold provides learning environment that appeals to students’ sights (visuals) and teachers’ explanation of the concept maps appeals to the students’ hearing, just like cueing questions that appeal to students’ sight and hearing to promote learning. Cueing from the researchers point of view is giving somebody a hint that will enable him grasp/ understand the idea the teacher is trying to convey or cueing is a hint that offers additional useful information to the students in a way that pushes the student to follow the correct thinking process. Cueing is giving somebody a signal so that the person is reminded of something that aids correct responses. Mayer (2009) defined cueing as the addition of cues to the verbal or visual content to direct the learners’ attention to the essential elements of the presentation. Cueing questions are questions posed as a hint to direct the learners’ attention to what they are expected to learn or series of questions that will help the teacher to elucidate or throw light in the subject matter with a view of assisting the students to have a better understanding. Each question takes you a step further towards the realization of stated objectives.
A teacher's overall instructional effectiveness depends heavily on how that teacher uses instructional cues. A cue consists of a word, phrase, or sentence that describes a particular aspect of a concept or skill. While cues most often focus on motor skill development in physical education, they may also target fitness, strategy, character
development, or any other aspect of lessons teachers deem appropriate. A growing body of research suggests that cues enhance learning by improving student attention, comprehension, and retention. Cues enhance the attention or focus of learners by restricting what they need to think about. Since learner's capacity for attention is limited, it is important to enhance this capacity with relevant, rather than irrelevant (or perhaps, less relevant) stimuli. Consequently, cues play an important role in directing students’ attention towards the most critical information, and away from less critical information. As Buchanan and Briggs (1998) posited that while having more than one cue for the same movement is useful, the teacher should be careful not to confuse students by bombarding them with endless variety of hints.
Verbal cueing is adding non-content cues to the verbal information such as underlining, bold-face or headings, etc. Non-content cues are signs/signals, or symbols that can help in better understanding of main ideas of a concept. Visual cueing is adding non-content cues to the visual representations (Lin and Atkinson, 2011) such as, increasing the luminance of specific objects, adding arrows, changing the colour among others. In educational context cueing is providing guides to students on the most effective and efficient way to process the material (Mautone and Mayer, 2011). Cues do not add new information to the content or change the content of the instructional material (De-Koning, Tabbers, Rikers and Paas, 2009). Cueing guides the learner’s cognitive processing and helps the learner to select the relevant information, organize the information logically and integrate the information with prior knowledge by providing responses (Mautone and Mayer, 2011). De-Koning, Tabbers, Rikers and Paas (2009) propose three functions of cueing: guiding learner’s attention to facilitate the selection and extraction of essential information, emphasizing the major topics of instruction and their organization and making the relations between elements more salient to foster their integration.
Cues and questions are strategies that help students to use teachers’ hint and their prior knowledge to enhance their learning about new content. Cue is a hint that offers additional useful information to the student in a way that pushes the students to follow the correct thinking process. A hint, by contrast, could offer any information that will help students provide the correct answer to a question. A question is any sentence which has an interrogative form or function (Cotton, 1988). The author opines that in classroom settings, teacher questions are defined as instructional cues or stimuli that convey to the students the content elements to be learned and directions for what they are to do and how they are to do it. The benefits of cueing questions include to develop interest and motivate students to become actively involved in lessons; to evaluate students’ preparation and check on homework or classwork completion; to develop critical thinking skills and inquiring attitudes; to review and summarize previous lessons; to nurture insights by exposing new relationships; to assess achievement of instructional goals and objectives; to stimulate students to pursue knowledge on their own.
A teacher's questions impact on students’ achievement, retention and participation. They fulfil numerous instructional purposes including: assessing understanding, reviewing and summarizing, developing critical and creative thinking skills and inspiring interest and motivation. Research has shown that an absence of questioning during teaching results in lower achievement levels than instructions that feature questioning (Cotton, 1989). Questions should focus on the important content to be learned in order to maximize understanding and not distract from it (Marzano, Pickering and Pollock 2001). Teachers need to be aware of the level of questions they ask according to the revised version of Bloom's Taxonomy Nwagbo (2008). Teachers also need to cue their questions in order to strengthen students’ critical thinking especially for questions they have little or no understanding.
Ideas may be expressed creatively through several types of cues, including, but not limited to acronyms, alliteration, rhymes, slogans and similes or word pictures. Cue may be instrumental in helping learners connect new learning to old learning. When learners get stuck, teachers may respond so that they can improve understanding, correct an error, or address a misconception. The way a teacher responds can leave the students feeling either successful or helpless. In this phase of the teaching and learning process the teacher and students share responsibilities between them. Teachers, however, can use questions before a learning experience to establish a “mental set” with which students process the learning experience. Again, higher-level questions tend to produce deeper levels of learning.
Cues can be straightforward ways of activating prior knowledge. Using cues, teachers can provide students with a preview of what they are about to experience. For example if a teacher asks the students questions about what they use to breathe, how they breathe, and what happens to their ribs’ region when they breathe, the teacher gives students cues on ideas about respiration and respiratory system. These questions will provide support for students’ understanding of the concept of respiration and respiratory system. It is probably safe to say that cueing and questioning are at the heart of classroom practice. Knowledge of cueing questions and appropriate use of cueing questions as instructional scaffolding could facilitate students’ achievement. It might be possible that the use of innovative instructional strategieslike concept mapping and cueing questions could enhance achievement in Biology. However, it appears that most teachers of Biology are not aware of cueing question strategy and do not use it during instruction and this may have some effects on students’ academic achievement in Biology.
Students’ academic achievement deals with the extent students have gained from a particular course of instruction. From the researcher’s view achievement can be viewed as the extent to which knowledge has been grasped by a student or the extent to which a student has internalized what has been taught and this can be demonstrated by his score when he is tested. According to Johnson (2002) and Shaibu and Usman (2002) students’ achievement refers to students’ intellectual attainment or performance in a subject. Omachi (2000) defined achievement as the scholastic standing of a student’s performance at a given moment. It has to do with the successful accomplishment of goals. The purpose of testing achievement is to help the teacher and the students evaluate and estimate the degree of success attained in learning a given concept. It is also useful in testing the extent of students’ interest in the teaching learning process. It is equally appropriate in determining the efficiency of instruction. One of the issues at stake in education today is students’ achievement measure in relation to teaching and the overall success of learning outcome. Hassan (2006) pointed out that effective learning and sound academic achievement contribute to national development. It is something of great importance to parents, teachers and students themselves. The larger society is aware of the long term effects of high and low academic achievement since the products of schools are expected to shape the destiny of the society. Ahiakwo (2001) opined that this is possible if the students are focused in what they are learning for proper acquisition and they can only do this if they are interested in what is being taught in school. To buttress this, Adesoji (2008) indicated that students who develop positive interest in school subjects usually perform better than those who do not have interest in studying.
The researcher views interest as what somebody has developed a passon for. According to Anaekwe (2006) interest can be seen as the feeling one has in the course of wanting to know or learn more about something or somebody. Okebukola (2002) perceives interest as a learned response of liking or preferring. To Okebukola, the aim of emphasizing interest is to motivate students towards actions which aid learning. Interest can be intrinsic when it comes from within and extrinsic when it comes from external influences. Nwagbo (2006) states that students’ interest in Biology is jeopardized by the teacher’s authoritarian and introverted styles. Nwagbo advocated the use of self- learning devices as a way of getting students interested in Biology. There is need therefore to teach Biology in an inspiring manner in order to achieve meaningful learning. Interest is an important variable in learning because when one is interested in an activity, one is likely to be deeply involved and inspired to learn. Offorma (1994) opined that to neglect the learner’s interest while selecting the content implies neglecting a very strong motivational factor in the teaching learning process which can mar learning. Therefore, teachers should use instructional strategies that arouse students’ interest in Biology in order to enhance better achievement in the subject. Hence, there is the need to investigate if the use of cueing questions and concept mapping as scaffolding could lead to changes in students’ achievements and interest in Biology. Since the use of cueing questions and concept mapping as instructional strategies engages both male and female students actively at the same time, there is need to investigate if the two could help to streamline gender differences in science.
An issue of contention in Nigeria today is the issue of gender in the society including the educational system. From the reseachers view, gender roles are roles which society assigns to a man or woman in accordance with the culture and tradition of that society. Gender is a set of characteristics distinguishing between males and females, particularly in the case of man and woman which, depending on the context, may vary from sex to social role to gender identity (Bland, 2003). According to Okeke (2004), gender is a social or cultural construct, characteristics, behaviour and roles that vary from place to place or culture to culture. It is not like sex, which is biologically determined and universal too. The issue of closing gender gap in sciences has remained elusive. In recent times gender related issues in science education have continued to receive serious attention judging from the number of studies done to that effect. Babajide (2010) opined that science subjects which include Physics and Chemistry are given masculine outlook by educationl practioners. In addition to this, studies by Ogunleye (2002), Ezirim (2006), Okwo and Otuba (2007), show that academic achievement in science subjects depends on gender. However, Nwosu (2001) found out that students’ acquisition of science process skills is not gender specific. In addition, studies by Ogunleye and Babajide (2011) and Agomuoh and Nzewi (2003) lend credence to significant gender differences in science achievement. Madu (2004) and Agomuoh (2010) found out that gender influences students’ conceptual shift in favour of male students. Therefore, the issue of gender and students’ academic achievement has been inconclusive. While there are some views that male students perform better than females, others disagree with this view, arguing that achievement is a factor dependent on several factors such as socio- economic background, cognitive ability, type of exposure and appropriate teaching strategies, among others. Therefore, one sees that the issue of gender has not yet been resolved particularly in relation to students’ achievement and interest in Biology, hence the need for further study in that regard, especially when trying out new instructional scaffolding strategies.
Researchers over the years have developed or employed several teaching methods or strategies to improve students’ learning. Most of the methods or strategies have been empirically proven to enhance learning and in turn improve achievement. But the reality on ground indicates that students’ achievement in most subjects especially Biology needs urgent attention. Therefore, a strategy that will help students to correctly answer any question asked by their instructors/teachers is very pertinent. Thus, this study investigated the effects of two instructional scaffolding strategies on secondary school students’ achievement and interest in Biology.
Statement of the Problem
Biology as a branch of science and a prerequisite for many fields of learning, contributes immensely to the technological growth of the nation. Over the years, the achievements of students in Biology in Nigerian secondary schools have been very poor. WAEC Chief Examiners’ Reports of 2009-2013 depict poor achievement of students in Biology. This, in addition to research findings, could be attributed to teachers’ use of inapproriate teaching strategies and lack of use of innovative teaching methods by teachers. Of all the causes of under achievement of students in Biology, traditional teaching method has continued to receive a major condemnation. This could be because of its ineffectiveness in arousing the interest of students, thus leading to constant underachievement and lack of interest by the students. To overcome the problem of underachievement of students in Biology, researchers have advocated the use of innovative teaching methods as opposed to traditional methods of teaching Biology. Innovative instructional scaffolding strategies could be a solution to the problem of poor achievement and interest of students in Biology. The innovative teaching strategy requires students to be active participants in the process of teaching and learning. This attribute of innovative teaching strategy is near absence in most schools and could be responsible for lack of understanding which in turn leds to poor achievement. Hence, the problem of this study was to find out the effect of two instructional scaffolding strategies on secondary school students’ achievement and interest in Biology.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of two instructional scaffolding Strategies on secondary school students’ achievement and interest in Biology. This study specifically sought to determine the:
1. Effects of two instructional scaffolding strategies on students’ mean achievement scores in Biology.
2. Effects of two instructional scaffolding strategies on students’ mean interest scores in Biology.
3. influence of gender on students’ mean achievement scores in Biology.
4. influence of gender on students’ mean interest scores in Biology.
5. interaction effect of gender and instructional strategies on the mean achievement scores of students in Biology.
6. interaction effect of gender and instructional strategies on the mean interest scores of students in Biology.
Significance of the Study
The results of this study have both theoretical and practical significance. It is expected that the findings of this study will lend credence to the effectiveness and authenticity of the tenets of Jerome Bruner’s cognitive view of discovery learning, Ausubel’s assimilation theory and Vygotsky’s constructivist theory. The findings will help to strengthen the application of these theories in teaching and learning of science subjects, specifically in Biology. Bruner’s cognitive learning theory believes that learning does not occur as a result of perceptions of events that happen to the learner but rather occurs as a result of the learner’s construction of perceptions (both emotional and intellectual) into schema upon which concepts are organized and networked. The theory postulates that learning could be enhanced when the learner is engaged in the teaching learning process towards personal discovery of facts. Ausubel’s theory of assimilation advocates meaningful learning. It postulates that learning occurs when there is an interaction between the students’ prior knowledge and the materials to be learned. These theories explain how students learnt through interaction with materials in the environment so that the students can use the experience gained in learning process in another situation. The primary idea of Ausubel’s theory is that learning of a new knowledge is dependent on what the learner already knows. Vygotsky’s constructivist theory believes in learning through personal construction of knowledge and ideas. In other words, construction of knowledge begins with the observation and recognition of events and objects through the concepts that are already possessed. This theory grew out of the learner’s knowledge of how best they learn during the learning process. The teacher’s use of instructional scaffolding strategies could help the learners to construct their own knowledge during the learning process following the scaffolding strategies it is possible for students to practice by themselves and share ideas with others. These theories are useful to the present study in terms of learner’s ability to construct knowledge by themselves. Ausubel’s assimilation theory is related to the present study because sound knowledge of biology is demonstrated when students can transfer what has been learnt in one situation to another so as to enhance meaningful learning, that is building sound knowledge based on already existing knowledge. The result of this study would therefore add credence to the tenets of Bruner’s cognitive view of discovery learning, Ausubel’s theory of assimilation and Vygotsky’s constructivist theory. However, this study hinges more on Ausubel’s assimilation theory and Vygotsky’s constructivist theory. Apart from the theoretical significance of the study, the result of this study also has practical benefits.
Practically, the findings of the study will be significant to the following groups: students, teachers, Post Primary School Management Board, Ministries of Education, teacher training institutions and other reearchers.
The findings of this study could enhance student’s participation in science activities that will increase their acquisition of knowledge, interest and achievement in Biology. It could also help students to spend their leisure wisely by engaging in activities that pertains to science, thereby improving the functionality of science. The activity oriented nature of concept mapping for instance could help the students in the organization of incoming information, build mental bridges between what was already known and what would be learnt.
For the teachers, apart from adding to the number of instructional strategies at their disposal, it will make the teaching of Biology more interesting and thus improve teachers’ effectiveness. It will equally make the Biology teachers to be flexible in changing their teaching strategies to suit the needs of the learners at a particular period, thus, making teaching and learning of Biology to be student-centred instead of teacher centred.
The study would help the Post Primary School Management Board to have some basis for encouraging their teachers to try different instructional strategies in their classrooms, so as to give award to teachers who actually apply the innovative strategies when they move round the schools for supervision. It can equally motivate them to sponsor some researchers on investigating the effectiveness of other teaching techniques thereby adding to the frontier of knowledge.
The study could be helpful to Ministries of Education to periodically organize seminars and workshops on Biology education for both qualified and unqualified teachers to update their knowledge and professional skills. It will equally enable the ministry to train more qualified Biology teachers who can utilize effectively the modern teaching techniques and equally distribute them relatively to all senior secondary schools.
The findings of this study could provide information to the Teacher- Training Institutions such as Colleges of Education, Faculties of Education in Nigerian Universities on the need to incoperate these strategies into their course and programs and it could also help them to organize seminars, conferences and workshops for their lecturers on how to teach them to students. Such pre-service training programme will expose student- teachers to innovative strategies to the teaching and learning of Biology.
Finally, the results of this study could provide empirical evidence on the efficacy of cueing questions and concept mapping as instructional scaffolding on senior secondary school students’ achievement and interest in Biology. This could form a basis for further research in Biology education. The findings of this study could also serve as empirical evidence to other researchers.
Scope of the Study
The study was limited to SS II Biology students and was carried out in Udi Education Zone in Enugu State, South East Nigeria. Udi Education Zone consists of two Local Government Areas (Udi and Ezeagu). Udi education zone was chosen for the study because there is poor performance of students in biology and Udi Education Zone of Enugu State is not an exception, secondly, proximity to the researcher is equaly considered for effective monitoring since the researcher is equally a biology teacher in the zone and can testify the report frow WAEC concerning the poor performance of students in the subject. The choice of
SS II class for the study was because they have learnt Biology for a period of one year and are not preparing for any external examination like the SS III class. The topics treated which includes: respiratory system in animals, respiratory system in plants, transport mechanisms (diffusion and osmosis etc.) and the principles behind them, transport system in plants, transport system, circulatory system in animals was taken from SS II biology curriculum and based on the WAEC chief examiners’ report 2009-2013 students perform poorly in the topics.
1. What are the effects of two instructional scaffolding strategies on students mean achievement scores in Biology?
2. What are the effects of two instructional scaffolding srategies on students’ mean interest scores in Biology?
3. What is the influence of gender on students’ mean achievement scores in Biology?
4. What is the influence of gender on students’ mean interest scores in Biology.
5. What is the interaction effect of gender and instructional strategies on the mean achievement scores of students in Biology?
6. What is the interaction effect of gender and instructional strategies on the mean interest scores of students in Biology?
The following null hypotheses guided the study and were tested at 0.05 level of significance.
H01: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught Biology topics using the two instructional scaffolding strategies.
H02: There is no significant difference in the mean interest scores of students taught Biology topics using the two instructional scaffolding strategies.
H03: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students in Biology.
H04: There is no significant difference in the mean interest scores of male and female students in Biology.
H05: There is no significant interaction effect of gender and instructional strategies on the mean achievement scores of students in Biology.
H06: There is no significant interaction effect of gender and instructional strategies on the mean interest scores of students in Biology..