Effects Of Collaborative Learning And Individualized Instructional Methods On The Academic Achievement And Retention Of Secondary School Biology Students


ABSTRACT

This study investigated the effects of collaborative learning and individualized instructional methods on the academic achievement and retention of secondary school Biology students in Abia State. The study was guided by six research questions and six null hypotheses. The related literature for this study was reviewed in four sections; conceptual framework, theoretical framework, empirical studies and summary of literature review. Quasi experimental research design was adopted for this study. Specifically, non-equivalent control group research design was used. The study was carried out in Abia State. It is one of the five South Eastern States in Nigeria with 17 Local Government Areas. Abia State is located approximately within latitude 4040ʹ and 6014ʹ North and longitude 7010ʹ and 80 East. The population of the study comprised 13,306 SSII Biology students (6,415 males and 6,891 females) in 2020/2021 academic session. A sample of 115 SSII Biology students consisting of 54 males and 61 females was drawn in multi stages using purposive and simple random sampling techniques. Biology Achievement Test (BAT) adapted from past WAEC questions was used for data collection. The instrument was validated by three experts; one in measurement and evaluation and two in Biology education, all in the Department of Science Education, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike. The instrument was subjected to reliability test using Kuder Richardson 20 (KR20) test statistics, and a reliability coefficient of 0.78 was obtained. Mean and standard deviation were used to answer the research questions while the null hypotheses were tested using Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) at 0.05 level of significance. Findings from the study showed that students taught Biology using collaborative learning method achieved higher than those taught with individualized instructional method. Students taught Biology with individualized instructional method recorded higher level of retention than those taught using collaborative method. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in the academic achievement of male and female students exposed to collaborative learning method. However, significant difference existed in the academic achievement of male and female students taught Biology with individualized method in favour of the males. The findings also indicated that there was no significant difference in the retention of male and female students taught Biology with both collaborative learning and individualized instructional methods. Based on the findings of the study, it was recommended that Biology teachers should use collaborative learning and individualized instructional methods in the process of teaching and learning for high academic achievement and retention. It was also recommended that male and female students be encouraged to study together in groups so as to learn from each other.

 

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

  • BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Biology is one of the science subjects offered at the post basic level of education in Nigeria. It provides knowledge about organisms and their environment. It is the study of plants and animals and their interactions with their physical environment (Ozoemezinem, 2015). Michael (2012) posited that Biology is the study of life. From the foregoing, Biology can be said to be the study of organisms and the relationship with their environment. Freeman, Quillin, Allison and Black (2019) stated that Biology has numerous branches which include genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, histology, physiology, anatomy, microbiology and ecology. The knowledge of these branches helps in the study of very important fields in the society such as medicine, nursing, agriculture, pharmacy among others. The foundations of these disciplines are given at the senior secondary school Biology as stipulated in the objectives of Biology curriculum.

The objectives of Biology curriculum at senior secondary school compiled by Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2009) are to prepare students to acquire:

adequate laboratory and field skills in Biology;

meaningful and relevant knowledge in Biology;

ability to apply scientific knowledge to everyday life in matters of personal and community health and agriculture; and

reasonable and functional scientific knowledge.

These objectives explicitly show the importance of the subject. Furthermore, in the National Policy on Education published by Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2013), Biology at the secondary school level provides preparatory ground to provide trained manpower in the applied sciences, technology and commerce at sub professional grades as well as to provide entrepreneurial, technical, vocational job – specific skills for self – reliance, and for agricultural, industrial, commercial, and economic development. Agboghoroma and Oyovwi (2015) opined that Biology provides a platform for teaching students to develop the ability to apply science concepts and principles in solving everyday life problems. Based on these assertions on the importance of Biology, there is need for it to be properly taught in secondary schools to improve students’ achievement and create an atmosphere that will enable them to respond positively in the subject (Paul, 2016).

Academic achievement refers to outcomes that indicate the extent to which a person has accomplished specific goals that were the focus of activities in instructional environments, specifically, in school, college and university (Steinmayr, Meibner, Weidinger & Wirthwein, 2017). For Azubuike (2014), academic achievement is the knowledge attained or skills developed in school subjects usually designated by test scores or marks assigned by the teacher. Similarly, Saima and Sufiana (2017) stated that academic achievement is the progress students make in relation to set goals and objectives. Academic achievement therefore is the accomplishment in a particular subject area indicated by grades, marks or scores.

Academic achievement of Nigerian students in Biology has not been stable in recent years in standardized examinations such as West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). The analysis of Biology students achievement in WASSCE (2015 – 2019) shows that only 47.39%, 46.89%, 44.93%, 50.52% and 46.48% passed Biology at credit level in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively (appendix VII, page 174). This further indicates that for the period of five years, the pass rate of Biology students in WASSCE remains 47.24%. This is below average and it calls for concern among Biology educators. A research by Nwakolo, Adejoh and Okwara (2019) on comparative effects of individualized and cooperative video based instructional strategies on secondary school students’ achievement in Biology indicates that there is poor academic achievement among Biology students in Benue state. This poor achievement in Biology experienced over the years could be that the students did not retain much of the lessons taught by the teacher as stated by Adegun and Adegun (2013).

Retention is seen as having information stored in long term memory in such a way that it can be retrieved in response to standard prompts (Kyado, Abah & Samba, 2019). Similarly, Olarenwaju (2012), states that retention is the ability to store information which can be easily retrieved from the short and long term memory. In his contribution, Bichi (2012) posits that retention of what is learned is a product of meaningful learning when instruction is effective to the students; hence, retention of learned material is the aspiration of every student. It can be deduced that retention is simply the ability of a learner to remember what is learned. A study conducted by Sangowawa (2019) on effects of scaffolding instructional strategy on attitude, retention and performance in ecology among secondary school students in Kaduna State showed that there was poor retention among secondary school Biology students. The study also indicated that there was no significant difference in the retention of male and female students exposed to scaffolding instructional strategy.

Gender refers to whether one is born male or female. Bello and Famakinwa (2014) defined gender as the social and cultural construct, characteristics, behaviours and role which society ascribes to males and females. Our physical characteristics such as penis and vagina determine male or female respectively (Federal Ministry of Education, 2016). Some studies show that gender influences academic achievement and retention. Amedu (2015) in a study on performance of male and female students taught Biology with jigsaw instructional strategy stated that males performed higher than the females in biological associations. Aniodoh and Egbo (2013) reported significant differences between male and female students taught ecology with collaborative strategies in favour of females. However, Udosoro (2011) stated that gender has no significant effect on achievement and retention in science. The researcher further stated that generally, the academic achievement of students in Nigeria is low.  Adegun and Adegun (2013) attributed students’ poor retention and consequent low achievement in sciences to poor teaching methods which fail to inspire students’ learning.

Teaching method is a process or a way of operation or teaching adopted to bring about the attainment of curricular objectives (Maikano et al., 2012). There are different methods used in teaching Biology in secondary schools. Dorgu (2015) classified teaching methods into teacher centered and learner centered methods. An example of teacher centered method is lecture method, while learner centered methods comprises discussion, field trip, role playing, project, collaborative learning and individualized approach among others.

Collaborative learning is an instruction that involves students working in teams to accomplish a common goal (Johnson & Johnson, 2009). For Gokhale (2015), collaborative learning refers to an instructional method in which students at various performance levels work together in small groups toward a common goal. In collaborative situations, students work together, teaching themselves and this helps them to improve their achievement (Zakaria, Chin & Daud, 2015). Chandra (2015) stated that collaborative learning gives opportunity for learners to relate with their peers as they work together. This is very helpful for learners that have challenges with social skills. Collaborative learning can be said to be a teaching method in which learners study in groups; thus, learning from each other. Srinivas (2010) posited that collaborative learning method comprises strategies such as think – pair – share, three – step – interview, number heads and jigsaw. The form of collaborative learning used for this study is jigsaw instructional strategy. In this strategy, the students are grouped and each is given information that comprises only one part of the lesson. Each student in the group has a different piece of information. All students need to know all information to be successful. Students leave their original groups and form “expert” groups in which all persons with the same piece of information get together, study it and decide how best to teach it to the peers in their original groups. After this is accomplished, students return to their original groups and each teaches his/her portion of the lesson to others in the group. Students work collaboratively in two different groups; original and expert groups. Collaborative learning ensures interdependence and status equalization unlike individualized instruction where each learner seems to be independent.

Individualized instruction according to Olatoye, Aderogba and Aanu (2017) is an instructional method in which the content, instructional materials, instructional media, and pace of learning are based on the abilities and interests of each individual learner. Mbakwem (2011) opines that individualized instruction is an instructional mode that is tailored to the need and ability of an individual learner. Nnamani and Oyibe (2016) stated that individualized instruction helps learners to learn at their own pace, be creative, enjoy learning activities, and be independent and more actively involved in their own learning. Individualized instruction makes the learner to proceed in a subject as far as his capability can permit. Cox (2016), states that individualized instruction consists of multisensory approach, scaffolding and tailoring instruction to suit students’ interests. Other forms of individualized instruction include personalized system of instruction, Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI), audio tutorial and distance education. The form of individualized instruction used for this study is scaffolding. Scaffolding is what is known in education as a bridge that is used to build upon what students already know. In other words, it is a structure that allows students to gradually reach higher levels of understanding (Cox, 2016). In scaffolding, learning progresses from known to unknown (Maikano et al., 2012). It also helps to break down the content to be learned into chunks and providing a concrete structure for each (Alber, 2014). Scaffolding is a learner centered approach unlike teacher centered approach such as lecture method.

Lecture method according to Akpoghol, Ezeudu, Adzape and Otor (2013) is one of the conventional methods of teaching which involves oral presentation of ideas. The researchers further stated that the teacher does most of the activities in form of talking while the students are passive listeners or slightly involved. Iornem (2016) posited that lecture method is a process of teaching whereby the teacher tells the students his planned facts while the students listen and take notes. Major, Harris and Zakrajsek (2015) stated that lecture method helps the teacher to teach a large group of learners at the same time, cover a wide topic within a short time and students are provided with facts so as to save their time and effort. Lecture method enables the teacher to give uniform information to the learners as they are taught using the same technique and material at the same time. There are different forms of lecture method which include formal lecture, Socratic lecture, semi formal lecture, lecture discussion, and interactive lecture (Major et al., 2015). The form of lecture used for this study is formal lecture. Here, the lecturer delivers a well organized and polished presentation. In formal lecture, students hold questions until the conclusion of the lecture.

There are divergent views on the effects of the various teaching and learning methods on the academic achievement of learners in different subjects. A number of researches have been conducted on various teaching methods in Biology but none has been seen to give a conclusive end to the poor academic achievement. Some researchers have worked on collaborative learning method while others have worked on individualized instructional method, but the present study sought to determine how both methods affect academic achievement and retention of Biology students in Abia State.

1.2       STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Biology is one of the science subjects offered in senior secondary schools. It is a pre – requisite to the study of other science disciplines such as medicine, nursing, agronomy, pharmacy, environmental studies and so on. Biology students in secondary schools are therefore expected to achieve very high in Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) such as West African Senior School Certificate Examination.

In spite of the relevance of Biology in the society, the academic achievement of Nigerian students in Biology has been poor over the years. The result of Biology students in West African Senior School Certificate Examination shows that only 47.39%, 46.89%, 44.93%, 50.52% and 46.48% passed Biology at credit level in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. Hence, Biology students’ pass rate in WASSCE for the period of five years is 47.24% which is below average. This poor performance has been the major concern of Biology educators for many years.

Several teaching methods have been investigated to foster solution to the poor academic achievement and retention among secondary school Biology students but none has been seen to give a conclusive end to the poor performance in the subject. Some studies investigated the effect of collaborative learning while others focused on the effect of individualized instruction on academic achievement of Biology students. This study therefore sought to find out the effects of collaborative learning and individualized instructional methods on academic achievement and retention of secondary school Biology students in Abia State.

  • PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of collaborative learning and individualized instructional methods on the academic achievement and retention of secondary school Biology students in Abia State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. determine the mean achievement scores of students taught Biology with collaborative learning, individualized instruction and lecture method.
  2. determine the mean retention scores of students taught Biology with collaborative learning, individualized instruction and lecture method.
  3. ascertain the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught Biology with collaborative learning method.
  4. ascertain the mean achievement scores of male and female Biology students exposed   to individualized instructional method.
  5. determine the mean retention scores of male and female Biology students taught            using collaborative learning method.
  6. determine the mean retention scores of male and female Biology students taught using individualized instructional method.

 

1.4       RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The following research questions were posed for the study.

  1. What are the mean achievement scores of students taught Biology with collaborative
    learning, individualized instruction and lecture method?
  2. What are the mean retention scores of students taught Biology with collaborative
    learning, individualized instruction and lecture method?
  3. What are the mean achievement scores of male and female Biology students exposed to collaborative learning method?
  4. What are the mean achievement scores of male and female Biology students exposed to individualized instructional method?
  5. How are the mean retention scores of male and female Biology students exposed to collaborative learning method different?
  6. How are the mean retention scores of male and female Biology students exposed to individualized instructional method different?

1.5       HYPOTHESES

The following null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance.

Ho1: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught Biology with collaborative learning, individualized instruction and lecture method.

Ho2: There is no significant difference in the mean retention scores of students taught Biology with collaborative learning, individualized instruction and lecture method.

Ho3: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught Biology with collaborative learning method.

Ho4: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught Biology with individualized instructional method.

Ho5: There is no significant difference in the mean retention scores of male and female students taught Biology with collaborative learning method.

Ho6: There is no significant difference in the mean retention scores of male and female students taught Biology wit h individualized instructional method.

1.6       SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The findings of this study may be of benefit to students, teachers, school supervisors and professional bodies.

The students may benefit from this study when the findings are published. Thus, the findings from this study may expose the better instructional methods which the teachers should use in teaching Biology so as to improve the students’ achievement and retention in Biology. This might bring the problem of poor results in the WAEC and NECO senior school certificate examinations to an end.

Teachers may benefit from this study because the findings may reveal the best of the three instructional methods they can use so as to make their teaching more meaningful to the students. The approaches to collaborative learning, individualized instruction and lecture methods employed in this study may be discussed in conferences and workshops. This would enable the teachers not only understand what each of the methods mean but also how to employ them correctly. The efficacy of the three instructional methods as revealed by the findings of this study may equip the teachers with better and more effective methods of teaching the students. This would help the students to achieve better results in Biology in their senior school certificate examinations. As the students achieve higher, the credit goes to the teachers and they will derive joy and satisfaction for the job well done, and put in more efforts. The teachers may also earn better assessment from their employers.

The findings of this study may be beneficial to school supervisors. It would enable them to be aware of many instructional methods at their disposal and direct Biology teachers to use more effective instructional methods for better achievement and retention in Biology. The findings of the study may be available to the school supervisors when they attend conferences and when the findings are published in journals.

Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) and other professional bodies who have interest in science education in Nigeria can suggest the instructional methods of this study to science teachers during workshops and seminars. This may help the professional bodies to retrain teachers on how to apply these methods in the process of teaching and learning.

Theoretically, the study was anchored on cognitive theory by Jean Piaget, Theory of social constructivism by Lev Vygotsky, humanistic theory of personality by Carl Rogers and theory of subsumption by David Ausubel. Piaget’s theory of cognitive development states that human knowledge is innate and learning is attained through construction of knowledge. In the same vein, Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism opines that a learner benefits much when he/she co – construct knowledge with other learners. Collaborative learning method authenticate both Piaget theory of cognitive development and Vygotsky theory of social constructivism. This is because in this study, students taught Biology with collaborative learning achieved higher than those taught with individualized instructional methods. This could be due to the fact that the learners co-construct knowledge together in group, with the teacher as a guide. Rogers’ humanistic theory of personality sees the teacher as a facilitator to learning rather than a conveyor of knowledge, as the learners are in control of their learning. Furthermore, Ausubel’s theory of subsumption emphasizes that what the learner already knows is a necessary factor that affects learning. The work of the teacher here is to guide the learner to connect the known and the unknown. The finding of this study on the effect of individualized instruction on retention of Biology students is in line with Roger’s humanistic theory of personality and Ausubel’s theory of subsumption. The finding indicated that Biology students exposed to individualized instruction retained higher than those taught with collaborative learning and lecture method. Individualized instruction requires a learner to study based on his/her capability, pace and interest, while the teacher serves as a guide, and learning proceeds from known to unknown. Therefore, the findings of this study which are in line with the theories that anchored this study may help teachers to see the need to use learner centered methods in the process of teaching and learning.

1.7       SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This study was restricted to the effects of collaborative learning and individualized instructional methods on the academic achievement and retention of secondary school Biology students in Abia State. The content scope of the study was delimited to ecological management. This is because ecology is one of the concepts in Biology most students fail during external examinations as reported by WAEC chief examiner in 2019. Similarly Agboghoroma and Oyovwi (2015) stated that in spite efforts through research on strategies to improve performance in Biology, WAEC chief examiner’s annual reports have continued to highlight students’ weaknesses in answering questions relating to concepts in areas such as genetics, ecology and evolution. The study was delimited to public co – educational secondary schools in Abia State. The choice of Abia State was because there was seemingly limited works of this nature in the state within the limits of accessible literature to the researcher. Public secondary schools were chosen in order to work with schools that have almost the same characteristics in terms of teachers’ qualification and teaching facilities. Co-educational secondary schools were used because gender is a moderator variable in this study.

 

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