AVAILABILITY AND UTILIZATION OF LABORATORY RESOURCES IN TEACHING AND LEARNING BIOLOGY IN ENUGU NORTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ENUGU STATE
Background of the Study
Biology is the science of life it studies organisms, their interactions with one another and their environments. All living organisms share several key properties such as order, sensitivity or response to stimuli, reproduction, growth, development, regulation, homeostasis and energy. Biology is related to many things in human's daily life, it is a preliquisite for certification at the senior secondary school level (SSCE) and for admission into the tertiary institution for most science oriented courses that will pursue careers in science related fields such as medicine, nursing, pharmacy, nutrition, medical laboratory etc.
Biology as a science subject is studied or taught by using different methods which employs the use of all sense organs including olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), auditory (hearing), kinesthetic (skin),and optical (seeing) of which only the application of theory in teaching and learning could not yield 100-percent accuracy without the use of laboratory resources. Thus, effective teaching and learning of biology in secondary schools with the use of laboratory resources is very necessary if biology teachers must gainfully achieve stated objectives.
Laboratory is a room, building or part of a building that is specially built for teaching by demonstration of theoretical phenomenon into practical terms. The laboratory experience enables students to translate what seems to be abstract into practical realities, thereby enhancing their understanding of the learning process. The study of biology in secondary schools takes place in laboratories. This is to enable easy access and usage of material resources stocked in the laboratories for teaching and learning, not only during practical classes but also during normal classroom teaching. Biology adopts laboratory method of teaching. The laboratory method is an individual or group activity involving two-way approach namely: the exercise approach and the experimental approach. Okoli & Osuafor (2010) pointed out that this method offers students the opportunity to develop scientific skills and attitude such as objectivity, communication, questioning, formulating hypothesis, analyzing data, critical thinking, carefulness, open-mindedness, making inference and analyze data. Scientific skills can only be effectively developed if biology laboratory resources are effectively utilized.
The study of Biology provides students with basic life skills and processes that helps to prepare them become productive members of the society Azuka (2015) for this reason there is need for teachers to teach it effectively. This can only be achieved when teachers are
favorably disposed to using the appropriate methods and resources in teaching and learning the subject. For science teachers to play their roles in teaching biology effectively, laboratory facilities should be made available and utilized appropriately, this would also improve the performance of students. The poor performance of students in Biology especially at Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) level has become a source of concern to all stakeholders in education in the country (Imogie, 2010). One of the major reasons for this is the unavailability of or in appropriate utilization of laboratory facilities in the teaching of Biology by secondary school teachers (Orji &Ebele Asiyai, 2012). According to a review of student’s performance in Biology in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) from 2005 to 2013 in Nigeria, it was revealed that there was a fluctuation and downward trend in the students’ performance (Daluba, 2012). This has attracted a lot of concern among science educators. In order to achieve the objectives, aspirations of the government, and to improve the performance of students in Biology, efforts need to be made towards improving teaching and learning of the subject. Effective teaching and meaningful learning of Biology at secondary school level depends to a large extent on the availability, utilization and management of both human and material resources.
Resources according to Hornby (2008) are supplies of something that a country, organization or an individual has and can use especially to increase wealth. According to National Teachers Institute (2010) report, resources in the classroom can be classified into two broad categories, which include those that appeal to the sense of sight, are classified as visual resources and those which appeal to the sense of hearing, are classified as audio materials. other resources also combine both features these are classified as audio-visual (A-V) materials. Isola (2010) referred to instructional resources as objects or devices, which help the teacher to make a lesson much clearer to the learner. Instructional resources are also described as concrete or physical objects, which provide sound, visual, or both to the sense organs during teaching (Agina-obu, 2005).
Teaching of Biology cannot be effective without interaction between the teacher, students and the environmental resources. The Biology curriculum is planned to enable the teacher use activity oriented, child-centered approach (guided inquiry) to teach Nzewi and Nwosu (2010) laboratory resources can therefore be said to be supplies of teachers, learners, laboratory assistants/technologists, instructional materials and other necessary devices made available to the school in order to increase the wealth of knowledge, which gives help, support in the teaching and the learning process in secondary schools.
Laboratory resources are categorized into two namely: human and material resources.
Human biology laboratory resources comprise all human beings or resourceful individuals who in one way or the other aid effective utilization of material resources in biology laboratories. These human resources include teachers, learners, resource persons, laboratory assistants and technologists together with other non-professional personnel (Okoli and Osuafor, 2010).
Laboratory material resources also bear educational terminologies like: instructional materials, teaching materials, educational media, teaching aids, instructional facilities and instructional media. Chimezie, Ike and Iwu (2002) pointed out that these are devices which present a complete body of information and largely self supporting rather than supplementing in the teaching learning process. Educational material resources are things which are manipulated, seen, heard, read or talked about plus instruments which facilitate such activity (Okafor, 2000). Such material resources Okafor continued are both tools for teaching and avenues for learning. They include textbooks, chalkboards, model/mock-ups, television, radio and other projected as well as non-projected devices. This study therefore seeks to investigate the availability and the extent to which the available laboratory resources are being utilized in Teaching and learning Biology in Enugu North Local Government Area, Enugu State.
Statement of the Problem
Teaching and learning of biology ought to be simplified, comprehensive and concrete. Extensive use of laboratory resources makes biology interesting, stimulating and understandable to the learners. The success of biology students in secondary schools largely depends on the availability and effective utilization of available human and material resources.
Biology as a science subject is faced with some problems, such as: the increasing number of students’ enrollment in science subjects in secondary schools which puts pressure on the limited qualified teachers available to reduce the time allotted to practical classes to the minimal or even omit practical activities .Teachers find it difficult during laboratory activities to supervise and teach large classes and combine the practicals effectively with normal class lessons. Students on their part have the problem of comprehending what is taught without the complementary laboratory activities in biology. Most laboratory resources are either lost, damaged or carelessly stored. Storage facilities are not even available in some secondary schools. In some cases, students are not allowed to make use of biology laboratories due to fear of losing valuable materials through stealing in the laboratory, the number of professional teachers in secondary schools are limited whereas competent and experienced teachers cannot give hundred percent of their time, energy and resources to biology practicals due to limited quantity of materials .Most biology laboratories are dilapidated. Some biology laboratories were built since 1970s with maximum occupancy limit of twenty students in view, at present occupies more than two hundred students which can only be managed for instructional delivery without practicals. Evidence from Researchers testify that most biology laboratories are not equipped with science facilities, seats and demonstration tables. Even when these resources are available, their management becomes questionable. These anomalies no doubt affect students’ performance in biology examinations. Most research works reveal the reformation of teaching methods without delving into what effects the management of material resources would have on students’ performance. In addition, scholars have been researching on the physical facilities/equipment in secondary schools without assessing the extent by which teachers utilize the available resources. The challenge to improve the teaching and learning of biology in secondary schools through adequate provision and effective utilization of biology laboratory resources in secondary schools prompted this study.
Consequently, based on the problems so far listed, this survey investigates the Availability and Utilization of Laboratory Resources in Teaching and Learning Biology in Secondary Schools in Enugu North Local Government Area, Enugu State, Nigeria.
Purpose of Study
The purpose of this study is to carry out a survey on the availability and utilization of Laboratory Resources in teaching and learning biology in secondary schools in Enugu North Local government area of Enugu State Nigeria. Specifically, the study intends to:
1) identify laboratory resources available for effective teaching and learning of biology in secondary schools in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State Nigeria.
2) determine the adequacy in the provision of these laboratory resources in secondary schools in Enugu North Local Government Area, Enugu state. Nigeria.
3) determine the extent to which teachers utilize laboratory resources in secondary schools in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu state, Nigeria
Significance of the Study
This study has both theoretical and practical significance. Theoretically, this study is anchored on Piaget’s cognitive constructivist learning theory and Vygotsky’s Social Constructivist learning theory. Piaget emphasized that students should learn by doing. Piaget’s cognitive constructivist learning theory is related to the present study which is a survey on availability and utilization of laboratory resources in teaching and learning biology, because, laboratory activities requires student’s active engagement in practical activities. In social constructivist theory, Vygotsky emphasizes on learning in a social context which is what group laboratory activity is associated with. Vygotsky’s theory is related to the present study which is a survey on the availability and utilization of laboratory resources in teaching and learning biology because it supports the view that in the laboratory, students interact with the materials or with one another in the course of practical work. Hence the result of this study will help to validate the theories.
Practically, the findings of this study will be beneficial to following persons: biology teachers, biology students, education administrators, policy makers, researchers, curriculum planners and textbook writers.
The result of the study could enable the biology teachers to see the need for effective and efficient utilization of available laboratory resources provided to schools. In the same way, students will appreciate the need to manage and improvise laboratory resources in secondary schools.
Biology students would realize the importance of group and individual laboratory work situations in the effort of learning biology concepts. It could also help the students to become knowledgeable in the following areas: communication, problem-solving, self-confidence and critical thinking. These are knowledge they are expected to acquire from practical activities which could lead to students’ improvement on their academic achievement.
To education administrators as the recommendations will enhance educational growth. It will also furnish them with the quantity and quality of laboratory resources that are available in secondary schools the extent to which they are utilized for effective and efficient dispensation of lessons. They will also appreciate the need to plan, direct, control, co-ordinate and supervise institutions of higher learning to actualize national educational objectives.
The findings of this study will help policy makers to work out effective means of providing and managing resources in biology laboratories in secondary schools. This could be achieved through the establishment of resource centres where laboratory resources could be purchased, observed and experimented with at subsidized rates.
Researchers on assessing this study would find it useful since it will provide them with documents and reference materials.
To the curriculum experts the findings of the study could form a basis for introducing laboratory innovations in teaching at all levels to promote practical based learning in schools.
The textbook writers on assessing the findings of this study would upgrade the content of the textbooks to include fifty (50) percent practical and fifty (50) percent theoretical work on all science and its related subjects.
Scope of the Study
The scope of the study is to investigate the availability and utilization of laboratory human and material resource in some secondary schools. The study will determine the extent to which to which available resources in biology laboratories in secondary schools are being utilised. The study will be limited to senior secondary schools biology teachers in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The following research questions have been formulated to guide the study.
1. What extent are laboratory resources available for teaching and learning of biology in biology laboratories of Secondary Schools?
2. To what extent are these laboratory resources adequately provided for Secondary Schools?
3. To what extent do teachers utilize biology laboratory resources in teaching and learning biology?.