LABORATORY TEACHING TECHNIQUES IN THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF BIOLOGY IRELE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF ONDO STATE

LABORATORY
TEACHING TECHNIQUES IN THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF BIOLOGY IRELE LOCAL
GOVERNMENT OF ONDO STATE.
CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Background of
the Study
Laboratory work is an integral part of
most science courses and offers an environment different in many ways from that
of traditional classroom setting. A good laboratory environment promotes
students’ curiosity, rewards creativity, encourages a spirit of healthy
questioning, avoids dogmatism, and promotes meaningful understanding, where
wait-time is essential in promoting thoughtful responses and dialog.   A good science classroom welcomes all
students and strives to enable all motivated students to be successful.
According to Akinbobola and Afolabi (2015), a productive laboratory environment
is a student-centered classroom, which is interactive, comfortable, and
collaborative learning is encouraged.
Biology is one of the core science
subjects offered in Nigerian secondary schools and it is the most highly
subscribed among the science subjects of the Nigerian senior secondary school
curriculum by both schools and students. Majority of the students offer it at
the Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) because the knowledge of
Biology is needed in the fields of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, agriculture,
engineering and other related disciplines. It is a subject that requires the
processes and skills of science, through laboratory experiences, to understand
its theoretical concepts and application of such concepts in practical and
similar situations in everyday life. Such practical experiences encourage
critical thinking which can enhance innovation and productivity (manufacturing)
that are highly needed in Africa as a developing continent. 
However, a significant proportion of
laboratory activities remain highly prescriptive and fail to challenge
secondary school students (Fisher, Harrison, Handerson, and Hofstein, 2008).
The laboratory has been given a central and distinctive role in science
education. Science educators have suggested that rich benefits in learning
accrue from using laboratory activities (Hofstein and Lunetta, 2003). According
to Hofstein, et al, (2008), science laboratory activities are learning
experiences in which students interact with materials and/or with models to
observe and understand the natural world. This leads to metacognition which
Gunstone and Champagne (1990) suggested is an elaboration and application of
one’s learning which can result in enhanced understanding. The challenge
therefore is to help learners take control of their own learning in the search
for understanding. In the process, it is vital to provide opportunities that
encourage learners to ask questions, suggest hypotheses and design
investigations. There is the need to provide students with frequent opportunities
for feedback, reflection, and modification of ideas (Barron, et al., 2008).
Research has not provided evidence that such opportunities exist in most
schools in Nigeria. 

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The teaching and learning of Biology
demands laboratory activities in an environment that is inspiring, encouraging
and challenging to learners to enable them acquire and utilize the necessary
science process skills in the subject. Such process skills which are either
generic or integrated include observing, classifying, measuring, reporting,
analyzing, communicating, using numbers and recognizing spatial relations.
Others are inferring, predicting, defining operationally, hypothesizing,
identifying and controlling variables, experimenting, interpreting data and
using models. Science process skills are fundamental to science, allowing every
category of learner to conduct investigations and reach conclusions. A good
laboratory environment, according to Aladejana and Aderibigbe (2007), promotes
curiosity in students, reward creativity, encourages the spirit of healthy
questioning, avoids dogmatism and also promotes meaningful understanding. In
line with the above, Metzenberg (2005) suggested that students need to develop
necessary social and learning skills so that they can collaborate effectively,
share, debate, defend their ideas and be able to work in groups. In this way
they can interact and help one another to acquire process skills needed in
learning especially the sciences like Biology.  
Science process skills are learnt and
acquired among learners in environments that encourage thinking and eagerness
to work and find out new things. In schools where Biology is compulsory for
students to offer as a core science subject, the class is made of different
categories of learners like males and females, science-oriented and non-science
oriented and high and low achievers. Such a class demands that lessons should
be conducted in an environment that can elicit from the learners the desire to
work with materials, manipulate equipment and carry out experiments. However,
all children who come to school can learn but some are slower at learning than
others. In a normal heterogeneous class, students grouped as lowest in
achievement in any subject constitute the slow learners and those highest in achievement
constitute the fast learners in that subject (Ekpo, 1991). Inyang and Ekpeyong
(2000) noted that one of the issues often debated in educational circles is
that of grouping secondary school students by ability. Sometimes some teachers
group their students according to their scores in a given test or examination
by fixing a certain mark as the grading point above which are the high
achievers and below which are the low achievers. 
Low achievers in one subject may be high
achievers in another. It is the duty of the teacher therefore, to make a lesson
as interesting and as involving to the students as possible by creating a
science learning environment. In Biology lessons, the teacher is expected to
provide working materials and equipment for the students to work with. The
students should be given adequate opportunity to work with the materials and
equipment under the teacher’s guidance. In this way some low achievers may
become high achievers in subsequent tests or tasks from retained knowledge gained
from active participation in the lessons. An encouraging learning environment
can also build in the learners a free, critical, innovative and productive
thinking which is vital to a developing continent like Africa. 
The use of the laboratory method of teaching
science has become a dogma among science educators and teachers. On the one
hand, they extolled the importance of the use of the laboratory method in
science teaching while on the other hand, they only pay “lip service”
to its use in practice. Science teachers do not usually find it convenient to
make laboratory work the centre of their instruction. They usually complain of
lack of materials and equipment to carry out practical work. At the same time,
it is possible that some of these materials and equipment may be locked up in
the school laboratory store without teachers being aware of their existence.
The conditions under which many teachers function do not engender any
enthusiasm to use the laboratory method of teaching science even where they know
that these materials and equipment are available. Class size in urban schools
is getting larger and this does not usually encourage teachers to use the
laboratory method to teach science. In some states of the country, teachers go
for months without salary owing to shortage of funds. Science teachers who fall
in this category cannot reasonably be expected to give off their best to their
students.
There is disparity in the ability of
students to perform specific tasks (Adesoji, 2008). Students are not the same
especially when we find out the rate at which facts and principles in sciences
are being assimilated. Several studies within the Nigerian environment have
however, shown that learners are quantitatively different in their ability
levels and in learning problems (Ehindero, 1980). Some studies have also shown
that method of instruction can influence the performances of low achievers
(Kempa and Dube, 1974; long 1981, Adesoji, 1992; Okebukola, 1992; Lavioe, 1993
and Iroegbu, 1998). However, achievements of low ability students have been
found to be lowest while that of high ability students was the highest (Kempa
and Dube, 1974; Roberts, 1995; Talca, 2001). It has also been observed that
outdoor laboratory instruction strategy was effective in teaching students of
different ability levels (Adesoji, 1995, 1997, 2008 and Usman, 2010). Very
human being has an element of curiosity in him or herself, this element of
curiosity when added to interest leads an individual to be involved in the act
of inquiry.
However, the degree at which this act of
curiosity develops in individual part of science. An American scientist; James
(1980) define science as an interconnected series of concepts and conceptual
schemes that have developed as a result of experimentation and observation and
are faithful of further observation and experimentation.
Oguntonade (2010) further defines
science basically as rational inquiry which is generated by a desire to explain
the phenomena of human experience, commenting further, he states that any claim
to a satisfactory or acceptable discipline in general.
However, whatever opinion people hold
about science, there is no doubt that science has come to stay as an integral
part of our wellbeing. It is therefore relevant for any nation to embrace science
in her educational pursuit.
As rightly noted by Professor Babs
Fafunwa “a nation that overtook the significant truism of science in our age
has her own peril. Science in our age has obviously become a necessary tool to
good living, to health, home making and to leisure add to national defense.
Curriculum planets over the years have
become aware of the importance of biology as an integral part of science and
there attempted to give biology as well as other sciences proper attention in
the secondary school education but sad however, is the fact that the teaching
of biology as a subject In our secondary schools is more of a theoretical
knowledge.
Indeed no attention has been directed
towards making biology as a way of thought of attitudes or as a product. One of
the ways in which biology teaching and learning could be seen as a way of
thought; attitude or as product is by emphasizing the importance of laboratory
and of course the need for the availability and use of the necessary science
equipment in the schools science laboratory.
The laboratory has been seen by Pinchas
Tamir as “a place where students are engage in hands on activities such as
observations and experiments” commenting further, he stated that a laboratory
must be used not only to verify but to find her investigation and enquiry.
This study on the “effects of the
availability of laboratory science equipment on students performances in
biology at the west African school certificate examinations (WASCE) will
attempt to offer a broad base for the need to making the teaching and learning
of sciences in general and biology in particular to be seen as a way of
thought, of attitude or of products.
Various activity-based teaching
strategies have been employed for the purpose of improving the teaching/learning
of Biology at (SSCE) level. These are inquiry method, demonstration, process
approach, cooperative learning and laboratory activity method (NCCE, 2008).
These teaching strategies usually took place within the classroom environment
but in biology of (SSCE) level, there are topics which demand the use of
outside classroom investigations in form of outdoor laboratory activities. For
example Ecological concepts the various studies cited the teaching strategy
employed by teachers is limited to the indoor laboratory investigations. The
aspect of the outdoor laboratory activities are often neglected, or in some
cases converted to the traditional lecture method as observed by Stanley (2008)
and Duniya (2009).
Stanley (2008) and Duniya (2009) claimed
that the outdoor laboratory is more effective than the indoor in the teaching
of biology concepts due to the facts that outdoor demands the students to
handle, observe and collect on the spot information of a particular concept
unlike the indoor in which the materials are brought to the classroom for
students to observe and make investigation within the limited classroom
environment. While Haruna (2008) and Usman (2010) claimed that both indoor and
outdoor laboratory strategies enhance students’ performance at senior secondary
chemistry and Junior Secondary Integrated Science respectively. These studies
were done at secondary school level. This study is therefore intended to
further investigate these claims with regard to biology at SSCE level.
Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of outdoor
laboratory teaching strategy on students’ academic performance in biology at
SSCE level in Ondo state.
On the issue of gender, Ogunkola (1999)
and Usman (2007) found out from their various studies that boys perform well in
any ‘rigorous’ work, while girls show to settle seated for less rigorous work.
While Mari (1994), Bichi (2008) believed that girls perform better than boy in
problem solving type of activities. Another dimension, if boys and girls are
given the equal opportunities, they will perform equally well (Yoloye, 2004,
Nworgu, 2005 and Usman, 2010). The issue of gender in science teaching seems to
be controversial. In this study therefore, there is need to investigate the
issue of gender difference on performance in biology using outdoor laboratory
activities at college of education level.
Statement of the
Problem

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Purpose of the
Study
            The
purpose of this research work is to study the impacts of laboratory teaching
techniques in the teaching and learning of biology Irele Local Government of
Ondo state. Specifically, the study tends to;
(i)               
Determine
if the use of the laboratory technique in teaching and learning biology,
develops scientific attitudes in students towards the learning of Biology.
(ii)            
Ascertain
if the use of the Biology laboratory in teaching the subject develops
scientific skills for problem solving in students
(iii)          
Find
out if the use of the Biology laboratory in teaching the subject, helps the
students to learn scientific methods.
(iv)          
Find
out whether the use of the Biology laboratory helps the students to match their
abilities through the laboratory experiences they are exposed to.
(v)            
Find out the
types of science laboratory use in our secondary schools and how they are
arranged
  Research
Questions
            The
following research questions guided the study;
i.      
Does
the use of the laboratory technique in teaching and learning biology develop
scientific attitudes in students towards the learning of biology?
ii.    Does the use of
the biology laboratory develop scientific skills in the students for problem
solving?
iii. Does the use of
the biology laboratory in teaching the subject help the students to learn
scientific methods for science learning?
iv.  Does the use of
the biology laboratory in teaching the subject help the students match their
abilities through the laboratory experiences they are exposed to?
v.     To what extent
are the safety meassures incorporated in both the design and management of
science laboratories?
Research Hypotheses
            The following Null Hypothesis will be
tested at p = 0.05 level of significance in this study.
i.       
laboratory
technique in teaching and learning biology has no significant effect on
students’ academic achievement in biology
ii.    
laboratory
techniques has no significant effect on students’ scientific skills in solving
biological problem
iii.  
laboratory
technique in teaching biology has no significant effect on students’ scientific
knowledge on science related learning?
iv.  
laboratory
technique in teaching biology has no significant effect on students’ exposure
to scientific knowledge.
Significance of the Study
The
use of the laboratory method of teaching science has become a dogma among
science educators and teachers. On the one hand, they extolled the importance
of the use of the laboratory method in science teaching while on the other
hand, they only pay “lip service” to its use in practice.
The study is intended to present the proper use of science laboratories
in secondary schools. The research would also make some recommendation to
government and individuals who own secondary schools in Irele and also could be
future reference to any study concerning laboratories and its proper used.
Though series of studies have been carried out concerning the
availability and importance of science laboratory in secondary schools Hemba
(2006). The availability and quality of science laboratories on academic
performance of secondary school students. Oguche (2005). Samba and Eriba (2011)
laboratory techniques and the art of improvisation and so on. None has been
carried out in comparative study of government and private secondary schools
with respect to how laboratories are used in Irele Local government area of
Ondo State.
The study would also help in broadening
pupils experience and developing initiative resourcefulness and cooperation.
Because of the reasons discussed above, practical work frames a prominent
features in Biology. The active learning is that which uses the laboratory and
traditional, which uses the teaching resources ordinarily available to the
teacher. In laboratory students gain more content knowledge and knowledge of
process skills compared to traditional instructions. The laboratory approach
enhances knowledge and process learning for students.
Scope of the Study
The
research work covers the effects of laboratory teaching techniques in the
teaching and learning of biology in Irele Local Government Area of Ondo
state. 
Irele is a Local Government Area in
Ondo State, Nigeria. Its headquarters are in the town of Irele. It has an area
of 963 km².
Ode-Irele is located 10 kilometres (6 mi) by road
west of the town of Okitipupa and a
population of 145,166 at the 2006 census. The local government owns 69 public
secondary schools. Out of which 10 were selected for this study. 
Definition of Terms
Laboratory: It is a place providing opportunities for experimentation
observation or practice in a field of study.
Science equipment: In this context, it refers to all the necessary materials
and supplies required for teaching and learning of biology in the secondary
schools.
Method:  A method can simply be described as the way
in which one does something
Biology: biology is the
scientific study of living things
Science: Science is the
study of the natural things around us
Skills: A type of art
and craft that comes about as a result of some special training.  
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