August 29, 2008

Teachers’ Quality, Instructional Strategies and Students’ Performance in Secondary School Science

By Okoye, Nnamid S Momoh, Solomon O; Aigbomian, Daniel O; Okecha, Rita Ebele

The study examined the instruction between two independent variables of Teacher Quality and Instructional Strategy on Students Performance in Secondary School Science. In trying to examine the problem of this study, three null hypotheses were generated for testing at 0.05 level of significance Factorial Analysis of variance design with one dependent variable and two independent variables at two levels. The t-test was used in the analysis of the result. One hundred and twenty Senior Secondary School Three (S.S.S. III) Students and Twelve Biology Teachers randomly selected from six Schools in Ethiope East and Ukwuani Local Government Areas of Delta State were used as subjects for this. The result showed that the variables of teacher quality and instructional Strategy had positive significant relationship with achievement in science. Moreover, it was found that Teacher quality and Instructional strategy were two non-separate interactive independent variables in science Education. Thus, efforts should be made by all concerned with teachers' recruitment, training, certification, and science Education in general to ensure that these two variables are properly integrated into the teaching and learning of Science subjects in Secondary Schools.

Teachers are important in any educational system. This is because the quality of teachers in any educational system determines to a great extent the quality of the system itself. Professional teachers in particular are crucial to the formulation and successful implementation of education policies in any country. This has explained why our National Policy on Education N.P.E. (2004) stressed the need to accord Teacher Education a prominent place in educational planning. The policy further maintains that among other things the goal of teacher education should be:

1. To produce highly motivated, conscientious and efficient classroom teachers for all levels of our educational system.

2. To provide teachers with the intellectual and professional background adequate for their assignment....... (N.RE., 2004).

To Peters (1977), quality is the basic and indispensable feature of a thing, which differentiatesitfromothertnings. Thepresence of that characteristic feature to a high degree marks it out as a "thing of high quality". On the other hand, the absence or the thing to a low quality status. For example, the characteristicofahigh quality science teacher relates to those attributes that enhance the fitness and efficiency of that teacher in performing the duties that are associated with science teaching. That is, a high quality science teacher is one who can competently achieve the objectives of science education.

At this point it will be pertinent to state that a professional Science Teacher is a professionally prepared teacher in contents and methods of teaching any of the Science subjects (Le Biology, Physics, Chemistry) thereby acquiring a professional degree in Science Education with special reference to any of the science subjects. For example, a professional University degree Biology Teacher is expected to have a B.Sc. in Education with Biology as the major subject of specialization. Other acceptable qualifications are B.Sc. (Hons) Biology with a post - graduate Diploma in Education (P.G D E.), and Nigeria Certification of Education (N.CJj.) with Biology in combination with any other Science subjects (such as Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics etc). Any other teacher with qualifications outside the above one can be categorized as a non- professional Biology Teacher. The classroom efforts of these two categories of teachers will be examined in this study.

Peretomode (1992) quoting Unachukwu (1990) Clark and Star (1967), stated that a teacher in professional usage is a person trained or recognized and employed to help learning in classroom situation in order to achieve set educational goals. In most developing countries like Nigeria, the past thirty years has witnessed an unprecedente increase in the number of students enrolled in all levels of our educational system. Hence it can be stated that all levels of our educational system have witnessed population explosion in terms of students' enrollment.

With this sudden increase, it become difficult for the trained professional science teachers as defined above to cope with increasing number of students reading science and science-related courses in secondary and Tertiary institutions respectively. Hence, non-professional science teachers were recruited as "auxiliary teachers" to help teach the science subjects especially at the secondary school level. With this development, it is a common feature to see teachers who major in Biology ,Agriculture.Biochemistry.Zoology, Botany and Microbiology at the University level coming to teach Biology in secondary Schools without any pedagogical training. These categories of teachers are recognized and employed to teach side by side with the professionally qualified science teachers in our secondary Schools and in this study effort was made to examine the performance differentials of these two categories of teachers at the secondary school level.

AccordingtoOkoye(1998)andNwagbo (2001), during the early 70s, the rational for science teaching shifted as discovery strategy was adopted worldwide. This was because students tended to memorize facts and concepts, most of which they did not understand. This resulted in a lack of retention andapplicationofconcepts. They maintained that there was a great burst of interest as the guided discovery strategy was adopted in the Nigeria Curriculum. The guided discovery strategy is activity oriented and involved practical demonstration, discussion and experimentation. During such instruction the students employed the processes of science likeobservation,classification,investigation and critical interpretation of findings. But Okebukola (2002) and Okoye (2002) believe that learning is known to take place not only through observation alone but also through organization, structuring and reconstructing of concepts. Hence they believe in agreement with Bajah (1986) that despite the huge amount invested in the discovery strategy implementation, there seems to be no appreciable change in chemistry performance. They also believe that today, students' aversion towards key chemistry concepts is on the increase. In Biology, it is possible for guided discovery strategy of teaching to be enhancing students' performance. This is because of the activity- oriented nature of the guided discovery strategy. This study is also designed to examine the performance levels of students exposed to this strategy bearing in mind that choice of methods or strategy in teaching is a function of many variables among which are teachers knowledge, ability and bias which are indices of teachers quality used in this study.

In the search for methods of improving science instruction, researchers have come up with strategies based on the restructuring of knowledge by the learner from their individual experience. These strategies are summed up as the construct!vist view "or the generative learning model" (Grossfied, 1989 Kola-Olusanya,1997). This model maintains that knowledge is not merely accumulated by largely passive listeners or by mere observation alone but in an active process in which the learner is engaged in constructing or generating concepts on existing conception. Some of the proposed instructional strategies based on the "constructivist views are Analogy, Concept Mapping, Metaphor and Similes. One of the strategies that have gained ground in the search for improving performance in science education is Concept Mapping. Some research reports have show that Concept Mapping may bring about meaningful learning in science (Okebukola, 1990; Novak 1987, and Olayiwola 1999).(Abonyi, 2002, Okonkwo 2000). Concept is the key to learning. (Abonyi, 2002, and Okonkwo, 2000).

Aconcept according to Kola - Olusanya (1997) is regularity in even or objects designated by some label. " Wind" for example is the label used for the event that involves air in motion. Concept mapping instruction involves class discussion, practical demonstration and concept mapping activities. During such lesions, concepts are organized in a hierarchical manner, and related concepts linked in such way as to make learning meaningful through logical interpretation of individual experiences. Though concept- mapping strategy of instruction is relatively new in Nigeria , Okebukola (1990) studies the utilization of concept mapping in Biology and other works were done overseas by initiators of the programme (Novak, 1987, Watt, 1985; Panleratius 1990; and Libuch, 1987). All these studies were all in agreement that Concept mapping might bring about meaningful learning. In this study, attempt was made to examine the differential performance of secondary school students exposed to guided discovery and concept mapping strategies of instruction by the two categories of teachers.

Research Problem

Performance hi science is a function of both human and environmental variables; Teachers quality is displayed as a kind of knowledge. Ability and bias affect the strategy he adopts during classroom instruction. Hence the present study was carried out to find the interaction effects of teacher quality, instructional strategy and performance in science . Arising from this, three null hypotheses were generated for testing at the 0.05 level of significance. The hypotheses are:

Ho.1 -There is no significant difference between the Biology mean scores of students taught by professional and non-professional teachers.

Ho.2 -There is no significant difference between the Biology mean scores of students taught using concept mapping and guided discovery strategies.

Ho.3- There is no significant differences between the Biology mean scores of students taught by professional teachers using Concept Mapping and non-professional teachers using Guided Discovery Strategies.

Research Methodology

Design: The study utilized a "2x2" Factorial Analysis of variance design (Kerlinger, 1964) with one dependent variable (i .e. performance in science) and two independent variables (i.e. Teacher quality and instructional strategy) each at two levels:

Subjects: The subjects forthis study consisted of 120 S.S.S. III (Senior secondary tree) students and 12 Biology teachers randomly selected from 6 secondary schools in Ethiope East and Ukwuani Local Government Areas of Delta State. The students were assigned to four groups of thirty students per group. Instrument: Four research instruments were developed and used for this study.

They were:

1) 2 Lesson Notes on concept - mapping method

2) 2 Lesson Notes on guided discovery method

3) Teacher Quality Questionnaire; and

4) Genetic objective achievement test.

The lesson notes were read by a panel of seven experts in the field of science education Biology methodology and University Graduate Biology Teachers in selected secondary schools in the target population for both face and content validity. After the consensus of the experts was got, necessary corrections were made to reflect their opinions.

The researchers developed the teacher quality questionnaire with a scale designed to Measure respondents' feelings and to seek information on:

i) The educational qualifications of the teachers;

ii) The number of years of teaching at the secondary school level,

iii) Subject being taught by the teachers;

iv) The level of students being taught by the teachers; and

v) The number and type of in service training received since teaching in the secondary schools.

Three experts in the fields of science education and science methodology validated the questionnaire. The genetic achievement objective test items consisted of twenty multiple choice test items covering the genetic section of the approved senior secondary school science syllabus in Nigeria. The test was intended to measure students ability to comprehend, analyze, synthesize, and apply the content of standardized materials in ordinary level genetics to which the students had been exposed. The achievement test items were read by a panel of judges made up of five experts each in the fields of science education (Biology), test and measurement, and plant and animal genetics for content and face validity. Test-items were finally given the necessary modifications and correction in line with corrections and suggestions made by each member of the panel. A reliability coefficient of 0.71 was obtained using split half technique, stepped up by Spearman Brown Prophecy Formula.

Administration of the Instrument:

The researchers to all the science teachers in the six selected schools first administered the Teacher Quality Questionnaires. The results were analyzed to get one professional and one non- professional Biology teachers used for this study from each of six schools. The teachers so selected were trained by the researchers on the procedure for the administration of the instruments. The selected professional biology teacher from each school taught 10 randomly selected S.S.S III Students ordinary level genetics using the concept mapping method for two weeks while the selected non- professional biology teacher from the same school taught 10 other randomly selected S.S.S. III students using school discovery method with the same two lesson notes on the guided discovery method for the same weeks. At the end of the teaching period, all the 20 randomly selected S .S .S. III students were exposed to the Genetic Objective Achievement Test for 30 minutes within the same appointed period and date in all the six schools by the two selected teachers from each school. From these, the data for the study were obtained.


The result of the one hundred and twenty students selected from the six schools on the Genetic Achievement Test was analyzed as shown in tables I and II below using the t-test.

Table I

The Means, Standard Deviation, and T-test of the Mean scores of Students

The T-value of 4.04 above could be seen as statistically significant at 0.05 levels. Therefore.the hypothesis Ho 1 above was thus rejected. Hence students taught by professional trained Biology teachers performed significantly better than those students who were taught by the non-professional biology teachers on the genetic objective achievement test. This is in line with the findings of Harris (9181),Odunsi (1981) Alli(1985) and Ossai (2004) showing that these professionally trained science (biology) teachers who are well grounded in the subject matter, posses professional training and experiences and participate actively in professional development activities. A combination of these qualities has placed them hi a better position than the non-professional biology teachers.

Table II

The Means, Standard Deviation, and T-test of the Mean Scores of the Students exposed to the Concept Mapping and Guided Discovery Teaching Strategies on the Genetic Achievement Test

The T-value of 5.74 above can also be seen as statistically significant at 0.05 level. Hence, the hypothesis Ho2 above was rejected showing that students exposed to concept mapping strategy of teaching achieved significantly higher scores in the science of genetic objective achievement test than students exposed to the guided discovery strategy. This result was seen as consistent with the findings of Okebukola's (1990), which found that concept mapping strategy was significantly better in improving the overall achievements of students.

A close look at HO .3 above showed that it was first order interaction between the two main variables of Teachers' quality and instructional strategies, thus a two -way analysis of variance was used to test the hypothesis. The result is shown in table III below.

Thus the F-value of 3.29 was not statistically significant at 0.05 level. Therefore, the hypothesis Ho3 was then accepted implying that there was no significant difference between the Biology mean scores of students taught by professional teachers using the concept mapping discovery method. Nevertheless , it should be noted that students taught by professional teachers using the concept mapping techniques had superior mean scores in the objective achievement test. Kola - Olusanya (1997) believed that Concept Mapping was relatively new in Nigeria and a number of teachers both professionals and non-professionals were yet to be at home with the strategy. This must have given rise to the result got in this study.

Table III

The ANOVA of the Genetic Achievement scores of students for the Interaction Between Teachers Quality and Instructional Strategy.

Discussions and Conclusions

The present study was conducted within the framework of ascertaining the interactional effect ofTeachers.Quality and Instructional strategy on achievement in secondary school Biology. Eachofthemaineffectofteachers' Quality and instructional strategies had a positive significant relationship with achievement in science (Represented by an important area of genetics in this study). This means that each of these independent variables influences positively students' ability to learn important concepts in science and this should be noted by science teachers while teaching so as to produce the desired results.

The interaction of Teachers' Quality and Instructional Strategies did not produce the expected positive significant relationship with achievement in science. It has been stated earlier in this study that to be effective and efficient, science teachers must be well grounded in the subject matter, possess professional training and experience. They must be resourceful and participate actively inprofessionaldevelopmentactivities. Moreover, most science teachers in Nigeria tend to be at home with the guided discovery strategy being relativity oriented with its process approach to science teaching. At the same time, the concept mapping strategy is relatively new in Nigeria. A look at the above listed qualities of the effective science teachers shows that professional preparation is one out of other equally important ones. Hence, despite the observed advantage which professionally prepared science teachers seemed to have over their non-professional counterparts as also shown from the findings of this study, exposing such professional teachers to the concept mapping strategy did not actual place them at any relative advantage over their non-professional counterparts ,exposed to the widely accepted guided discovery strategy.

The fact that the Biology students exposed to concept mapping strategy of teaching performed significantly better than those exposed to the guided discovery in this study shows the science effect of this concept mapping strategy on student learning. This is quite in agreement with the submissions of Kola-Olusanya (1997) that mapping activities require the student to think in multiple directions and to switch back and forth between different levels of abstraction before a meaningful concept map can be shown. Hence these mapping exercises and elicitation of prior knowledge of concept accounted for better achievement. This implies that this newly introduced concept mapping strategy in teaching needs to be popularized among science teachers through workshop seminars and other in-service training procedure so as to pass the significant advantages of this teaching method to all category of teachers. References

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Nnamid S. Okoye, PhD., Solomon O. Momoh, Ph.D, Daniel O. Aigbomian, Rita Ebele Okecha, Doctoral Student.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Solomon O Momoh, Institute of Education, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Nigeria

Copyright Journal of Instructional Psychology Jun 2008

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