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Topic Description




1.1            Background to the Study


Biology is the study of living organisms, divided into many specialized fields that cover their morphology, physiology, anatomy, behaviour, origin, and distribution (Wikipedia, 2016). Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution, identification and taxonomy. Modern biology is a vast and eclectic field, composed of many branches and sub-disciplines such as anatomy, entomology, ethology, veterinary science, mammalogy, primatology, zoology, entomology, etc. However, despite the broad scope of biology, there are certain general and unifying concepts within it that govern all study and research, consolidating it into single, coherent field. In general, biology recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the synthesis and creation of new species. It is also understood today that all the organisms survive by consuming and transforming energy and by regulating their internal environment to maintain a stable and vital condition known as homeostasis (Wikipedia, 2016).

Biology is a science subject being taught at the senior secondary school. Biology teaching helps learners to understand  biological concepts,  principles  theories  and  laws. Among others,   the   objectives   of   teaching   biology   at secondary school level as stated by National Policy on  Education (2004)  involve  ability  of  the learners’  to  development  of  an  awareness  of  the environment,  to  have  meaningful  and  relevant knowledge in biology necessary for successful living in a scientific and technological world and to make room for technological advancement.

In view of the above, it would be observed that the  schools  are  not  only  to  equip  learners  with  basic  knowledge of biology content but also the practical  skills  needed  for  enhancing  self  development.  In  order to achieve this, the pedagogical approach which  is centred on teachers’ method of imparting facts  and  concepts  of  the  subjects  is  important. The  implication is that biology teaching must be effective  and   meaningful   to   achieve   this   goal. The conventional instructional methods are not able to achieve these goals.   NTI (2008) remarked that the conventional instructional method is teacher centred while Adeyemi (2012) also commented  that  theconventional instructional method is characterized by emphasis   on   instructor   behaviour   rather   than students’ behaviour, minimal responses of students to the instructional materials and delayed feedback on students’ performance.

In order to facilitate the achievement of such goals,the  recent  moves  of  information  revolution  and knowledge  explosion  in  technology  have  brought about changes in the educational system. Technology is utilized in enhancing instruction thus shifting from teacher centred conventional methods attitude have increased across many countries and have proved tobe effective. Ochoyi and Ukwumunu (2008) reported that   the use and increasing growth of technology in the classroom provides new opportunities for deliveryof instruction. Educators  utilizing  technology  to enhanced instruction have increased in number across a  variety  of  disciplines  and  the  method  has  beenproven to be effective. Research has indicated that technology  in  the  classroom  can  be  useful  in pedagogy  management  and  an  effective  teachingenhancement.  Technology  has  been  described  by Abimbade, Aremu & Adedoja (2003) as a systematic and integrated  organization  of  man,  machine,  ideaand procedure to achieve a desire goal. Over the years, various machines have been invented by man in  technology. The  major  and  most  influentialtechnology in the last millennium is the introduction of computer.The introduction of computer in education has not only being found to improved access to learning by all and quality knowledge delivery; its  applicationhas also being in the teaching-learning process.   This may improve students’ achievement in some subjects such as biology where students’ performance is very low. Students’   performance   in   biology   hasconsistently been reportedly low over the years in Nigeria especially in  public  examinations  such  as senior  secondary  school  certificate   examination (WAEC Chief Examiners’ Report, 2010).

Hayes and  Robins (2010)  found  that  the  use  of computer  based  instruction  is  effective  on  the achievement of pre-service teachers as well as their attitude  towards  computer  instruction.  In similar study, Ogunleye (2007) also noted that computer in expands pedagogical resources available to teachers in science classroom thus supporting teaching.   The implication  of  this  is  that  the  introduction  of computer in the delivery of biology instruction as a science subject in classroom may improve the quality of  pedagogical  delivery and  students’  learning outcome.

It has also been commonly accepted and proven that information and communication (ICT) is the engine of the 21st century and beyond as it will chart the economy of developing countries.  Therefore,  the  integration  of computer  which  is  the  major  and  most influential technology  in  the  last  millennium  into  education especially in  the  classroom  could  be  beneficial  in building  students’  capacity  in  technology.  Human capacity building  has  been  described  by  Tachiki (2012) as the process of equipping individuals with the understanding, skills, and access to information,  knowledge and training that enables them to perform effectively in an information  society.  The use of Computer Assisted Instruction in sciences especially biology  would  encourage  exposure  and  capacity building  in  understanding,  skills,  knowledge  and access to information in the technology world. Such capacity building will encourage social technological relevance   and   sustainable   development   of   the country.

The potential benefits of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) cannot be underestimated in the contemporary world. CAI is defined as a teaching process directly involving the computer in the presentation of instructional materials in interactive mode to provide the controlled, individualized learning environment for each individual student. These interactive modes according to Splittger (2009) are usually subdivided into drill and problem solving. There is a plethora of established findings on the instructional value of computer, particularly in advanced countries. There are now several CAI packages on different subjects. It is obvious that the current trend in research all over the world is the use of computer facilities and resources to enhance students’ learning. This may be the reason why Handelsman, Ebert-May, Beichner, Bruns & Chang (2014) opined that “many exercises that depart from traditional method are now readily accessible on the web” (p. 521), even though teachers do not use these facilities. They further showed that the interactive approaches to lecturing significantly enhance learning.

Gender issues have been linked with performance of students in academic tasks in several studies but without any definite conclusion. But there is a general conclusion that general imbalance exist in computer use, access, career and attitude. Some studies revealed that male students perform better than the females in physics, chemistry, and biology (Danmole, 2008; Novak & Mosunda, 2011; Okeke & Ochuba, 2006) while others revealed that female students are better off than males (Kelly, 2008; Wonzencreaft, 2013). Some studies such as those of Bello (2010) did not find any form of influence being exerted by gender on students’ academic performance in the sciences. Gender factor on the use of CAI has also been of interest to researchers. Collazos, Guerrero, Llana, and Oetzel, (2007) examined gender influence on collaborative use of computer based communication. They found that group with minority women had low index of collaboration compared to homogenous group and group with majority women.

Spence (2014) found no significant influence of gender on the achievement of college students in mathematics when they were exposed to mathematics courseware in online and traditional learning environment. However, female online learners were significantly less likely to complete the course compared to their traditional female counterpart or male online counterparts. In a review of studies on access, use, attitude, and achievement with computer, Kirkpatrick and Cuban (2008) concluded that when female and male students at all levels of education had the same amount and types of experiences on computers, female achievement scores and attitudes are similar in computer classes and classes using computer.

Inspite of the benefits of the introduction of computer in presenting  science  learning/materials, studies have shown that it is not yet widely used in Nigerian science classrooms. This study therefore seeks to investigate the effects of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) on the achievements of secondary school students in Biology in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

The appalling condition of students’ achievement in biology may be attributed to lack of interest on the part of the learners which is as a result of poor method of teaching adopted by the teacher (Eze, 2006). Despite the outstanding positive effect of educational aids to instructional activities, teachers still insist only on the use of conventional approach to instruction, which has led to students lack of interest, attention and active participation in the teaching and learning exercise which might be responsible for the poor academic performance of students generally. Hence they have not been able to impact fully on biology achievement. This situation therefore, calls for exploration of the effectiveness of other teaching-learning techniques, which have been found effective in some other subjects like physics, mathematics, and chemistry. One of such techniques is the use of computer assisted instruction (CAI) package.

Therefore, the problem of this study posed as a question is: how would CAI affect the academic achievements of students in biology in secondary schools?

1.3     Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of the study was to ascertain the effects of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) on students’ achievement in Biology. Specifically, the study sought to determine:

  1. The effects of CAI on secondary school students’ achievement in biology.
  2. The effects of CAI on the achievement of male and female students in biology.
  • The interaction effects of teaching method and gender on students’ achievement in biology.

1.4     Significance of the Study

The results of the study will be of utmost importance to students, teachers, biology educators, curriculum planners and the Ministry of Education.

To the students, the findings of this study will be useful as it will enable them to develop manipulative skills which will reinforce their comprehension of Biology concepts, improve their achievement in Biology, as well as develop in them an appreciation for computer. It will also expose them to varieties of teaching methods, which also reinforces learning.

The results of this will also guide teachers on whether to separate instructional techniques for male and females. This study would contribute empirical research information through provision of an insight into other subject areas as to know whether to use CAI or not. This would motivate teachers that are computer literate to strive and equip them with the knowledge of computer usage in education.

The findings of this study when published would also guide the Ministry of Education and curriculum planners/developers on whether to recommend CAI for biology instruction in Nigerian secondary schools.

1.5     Scope of the Study

This study is focused on determining the effects of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) on students’ achievement in biology in Abakaliki Education Zone of Ebonyi State. The study also sought to investigate the effects of CAI on the achievement of male and female students in biology, as well as the interactive effects of treatment (CAI) and gender on the achievements of students in biology.

1.6     Research Questions

The following research questions guided this study:

  1. What are the effects of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) on students’ achievements in biology?
  2. What are the effects of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) on the achievements of male and female students in biology?
  3. What are the interaction effects between teaching method and gender on students’ achievements in biology?

1.7     Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were test at 0.05 level of significance:

HO1: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement of students exposed to Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) and the conventional classroom instruction (CCI) in biology.

HO2: There is no significant difference in the mean achievement of male and female students in biology exposed to Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI).

HO3: There is no significant interaction effect between teaching method and gender on the mean achievement of students in biology.

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