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Background of the study

The current shift in emphasis in science curricula objective reflecting student-centred process approach to science is a radical departure from the traditional emphasis on teacher-centred product approach. This new trend requires that the students should be actively involved in the learning process through adequate and meaningful hands- and- minds – on activities during every classroom instruction in science. However, research reports show contrary to the demands of the new science curricula in Nigeria, our science teachers still decide to split science instructions into theory and practical (Njoku, 2004 and Uzoechi, 2004). The results have been students’ persistent poor performance in science subjects, which necessitate laboratory teaching and Basic Science and Technology as a core science subject at the Basic Education level is not an exception.

The teaching of science in the laboratories has been a controversial issue. Laboratory work is both times consuming and expensive compared with other methods of instruction. Hence, the efficiency of such a method of learning should justify the additional time and cost of using it, especially in primary and secondary education (Sabri and Emuas, 2006). In other words, the increase in the educational budget for using laboratories as a model of teaching should be more efficient in accomplishing the objectives of teaching science through laboratories needs, therefore to be constantly evaluated using one or more of the following methods stated below according to Sabri and Emuas (2006).

There should be a comparison of the academic achievement of students who are taught through the laboratory method compared with the achievement of students taught with other models. Harty and Al-Felah (1983) in Sabri and Emuas (2006) indicated that students exposed to laboratory- based education exhibited significantly greater chemistry achievement than students in comparable lecture/demonstration groups on both immediate and delayed post tests. Zitoon and Al-Zaubi (1986) in Sabri and Emuas (2006) concluded that the laboratory teaching method is more efficient compared with traditional method in developing the skill of scientific thinking for science secondary school students. Low achieving students using laboratory method performed better than their counterparts who received the lecture method (Odubunmi and Balogun, 1991). In opposition to this, other studies have not found any significant differences in achievement between laboratory and lecture methods.

There should be emphasis on the availability, functionality and accuracy of laboratory equipment in other to achieve the aims of using the laboratory. The Basic Science and Technology for instance, is facilitated by adequate supply of functional laboratory equipment. It requires practical to enhance conceptual understanding as this is crucial to students learning. The quality of functional laboratory equipment a school has is an important aspect for facilitating the knowledge of Basic Science and Technology among learners (Etiubon, 2010). As Wasagu (2008) puts it- “laboratories, workshops and studies blistering with technology and state of art equipment assisted with multimedia technology will boost academic progress”. Aladejana (2007), Balogun (2000) and Mayer (2004) in Etiubon (2010) opined that available functional laboratory equipment promote students’ participation during laboratory activities which in turn enable them identify problems, pose relevant questions, perform efficient and effective experiments, make judgements on alternative hypotheses and interpretation of data. Students therefore learn to discover, learn from discovery and learn by discovery.

The extent to which laboratory instruction, experiments, and textbooks are congruent with expected objectives of teaching sciences should be investigated. Tamir and Lunetta (1981), in Sabri and Emuas (2006) reported that laboratory handbooks do not provide students with expected opportunities to investigate and use the scientific inquiry method of teaching. Lunetta (2003) reported that laboratory instruction may play an important part in the achievement of some science teaching goals, but not incorporated laboratory goals in their instruction and evaluation systems. The discrepancies between teaching goals and laboratory handbooks instructions also were shown by Fuhrman (1982) in Sabri and Emuas (2006).

There should be investigation on gender inequality in science. Over the years, there exists gender inequality in science achievement among secondary school students (Olatoye, 2008). Chyton (1986) in Utuk (2006) reported that boys achieved better than girls in examinations involving laboratory work. Tamir (1988) in Utuk (2006) says that in Israel, boys performed better than girls only in Physics while their achievement in Biology and Chemistry were similar.

The management of student groupings and tasks in laboratory experiments should be examined for their effect on students’ performance. Niaz (1995) in Sabri and Emuas (2006) concluded that students who perform better on problems requiring conceptual understanding also perform significantly better on problems requiring manipulation of the data in chemical experiments. Lawrenz and Munch (1984) in Sabri and Emuas (2006) showed that grouping students in the laboratory on the basis of their formal reasoning ability affected the science content achievement of students and the relationship between individuals in a particular group. On the other hand, Kyle (1979) in Sabri and Emuas (2006) concluded that there is significant difference in the behaviours of students (listening, observation and writing notes) enrolled in introductory level and advanced laboratories in five science disciplines at the University of Iowa from the behavior of their cohorts who did not enroll in laboratory class.

Statement of the study

There is a general paucity on research information on the influence of laboratory method on students’ academic achievement in Basic Science and Technology and science in general. The phenomenon of poor performance in Basic Science and Technology examination has become a source of worry to education stakeholders and the general public (Igba, 2009). One of the leading causes of students’ poor performance in Basic Science and Technology and science as a whole according to Igba (2009) has to do with instructional models used by teachers. Eze (2009) also found that many Nigerian Basic Science and Technology teachers and science teachers in general mostly use the expository/lecture method that centres on the teachers, textbooks, chalk and the blackboard. The expository or lecture method of teaching has been largely criticized because it is incapable of promoting activity based inquiry and interactions in the classroom (Adekoye, 2008). The need for adoption of innovative teaching methods to enhance students’ performance in Basic Science and Technology therefore becomes imperative.   This study therefore centre’s on the influence of laboratory method on students’ achievement in the concept of Heat Flow in Basic Science and Technology.

Purpose of the study

The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of laboratory method on students’ achievement in the concept of Heat Flow in Basic Science and Technology. Specifically, this study seeks to:

1.  Compare the academic achievement of students taught the concept of Heat Flow using lecture method and laboratory method.

2.  Compare the academic achievement of male and female Basic Science and Technology Students taught the concept of Heat Flow using laboratory.

Research questions

The following research questions were posed to guide the study:

1.  Do students taught the concept of Heat Flow using lecture method perform significantly better than students taught using laboratory method?

2.  Do male students perform significantly better than their female counterparts when taught the concept of Heat Flow using laboratory method?

Research hypotheses

The following research hypotheses were formulated to guide the study:

Ho1:  There is no significant difference between the academic achievement of Basic Science and Technology students taught the concept of Heat Flow using lecture and laboratory methods.

Ho2:  There is no significant difference between the academic achievement of male and female Basic Science and Technology students taught the concept of Heat Flow using laboratory method.

Significance of the study

The study is significance in the following ways:

It will enable Basic Science and Technology teachers in secondary schools to appreciate the possible influence of laboratory on students’ academic achievement in Basic Science and Technology. The findings of this study would also shed light on the instructional strategy that is suitable for both sexes. The empirical evidence from this research work is expected to guide both curriculum designers and classroom teachers on their development and implementation process. It would help parent/guardians to know the problem encountered by their children and help them to correct these challenges. The result of this study will assist school administrators, government, parents and supervisors to encourage Basic Science and Technology teachers on the need to adopt and effectively use the laboratory in the teaching-learning process.

Delimitation of the study

This study was delimited to the use of laboratory in teaching the concept of Heat Flow in Basic Science and Technology and all Junior Secondary Two (JSS2) Basic Science and Technology Students in Ibesikpo/Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

Limitation of the study

The study is limited by constraining factors such as financial and time constraints with which to cover large sample area. It is also limited by poor road network and high cost of transportation to and from the selected schools.

Definition of Terms

The following terms were defined operationally:

STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT: This is the scores obtained by the students using the Basic Science and Technology Achievement Test (BSTAT) on the concept of Heat Flow.

GENDER: This refers to either being a male or female.

LABORATORY: This is a room or building equipped for scientific experiments, research or teaching activity based concept such as Heat Flow in Basic Science and Technology.

LECTURE: This is a talk or speech given to a group of people to teach them about a particular concept or subject.

BASIC SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: This is a beginner science at the junior secondary schools which deals with scientific inquiry and application of scientific discovery for the benefit of man.


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