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EFFECTS OF COMPUTER-BASED INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES ON THE PERFORMANCE OF PHYSICS STUDENTS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
This study examined the effects of computer-based instructional strategies on the performance of physics students in secondary schools in Kaduna state. The study was guided by six research questions and six null hypotheses which were tested at 0.05 alpha levels. The comparative effects of the spider and hierarchical modes of computer-based concept mapping strategies was explored. The study also examined the influence on gender on students’ performance in physics when taught using the two modes of computer based concept mapping strategies. All literatures reviewed in the study were duly acknowledged. The instrument used in the study was: researcher adapted Physics Performance Test (PPT), Computer-Based Concept Mapping Instruction Packages (CBCMIP) and Computer Based Instruction Package (CBIP), which were validated by experts. The instruments were pilot tested using students who are part of the population but not in the study sample and reliability coefficient of 0.9 was obtained using Kuder-Richardson formula (K-R 20). The study employed pre-test-post-test control group quasi experimental research design. The sample population comprises of 110 SS2 Physics students drawn from three private secondary schools in Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Three intact classes were selected through simple random sampling technique from each of the selected schools and were later sub-divided into two experimental and one control groups respectively. From the data collected, mean and standard deviation were used to answer the three research questions while ANCOVA was used to test the three null hypotheses. Findings of the study revealed that students taught with computer-based concept mapping strategies have almost the same level of performance with those taught using just computer based instruction. The findings also revealed that gender has no significant effect on the academic performance of students when taught using computer-based concept mapping instructional strategies. Finally, it was recommended that physics teachers should be exposed to seminars, workshops, and trainings; they should be encourage to use ICT tools in teaching while students should be given access to computer usage with necessary facilities and other researchers can replicate the study in a wider geographical scope or other subjects and/or units in physics.
1.1 Background to the Study
The growth and development of most nations are dependent on science, technology and mathematics education. Science is an organized body of knowledge, which enhances the ability to acquire skills. It is a search for meaning or exploration of events in nature (Ifeakor, 2006). Science and technology related subjects that would enable students have a substantial understanding of science and be able to apply scientific knowledge in solving problems in their ever changing society are mathematics, chemistry, biology, healthscience, introductory technology and physics.
Physics is one of the compulsory subjects for one to study science and technology related courses in tertiary institutions. It is a science that uses quantitative measurement and experimental observations in order to understand natural events. It can explain natural events mathematically and can relate these events to daily life events (Eren&Gurdal, 2010; Tekbiyik&Akdeniz, 2010). Of all the sciences, Physics is the one that students experience the most difficulties with because most of the physical notions are abstract. Also, when compared to other lessons, although there are many relationships between main subjects and number of the subjects to be learned, simply knowing definitions is not enough to learn the subject (Karaca, 2013). Theories and numerical expressions also make it difficult to understand Physics and to make a connection between the subjects (Arvind& Heard, 2010; Ergul&Cigrik, 2013; Jian-Hua & Hong, 2012; Bakac, Tasoglu&Akbay, 2011).
The technological development of any nation lies in the study of science especially physics. The role of physics in national development is acknowledged in the whole world. The significance of physics in all fields of science and technology has made physics imperative to be included in the curriculum of senior secondary school to be offered by science oriented students. With the importance of physics and provisions made by the Federal Government of Nigeria for effective teaching and learning of physics, the objectives of its teaching and learning as stated in the Nigerian secondary school Physics curriculum is yet to be achieved.
The Federal Government of Nigeria made special provisions and incentives through the provision of laboratory facilities, instructional materials, training and retraining of teachers, provision of research grants and adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the teaching and learning of science (physics inclusive) in the secondary schools (FRN, 2015). Part of the requirements for any school to be enrolled for WAEC and NECO is that the school must have science laboratories. Also, schools are expected to be provided with computer systems. Furthermore, the Federal Government stated that “In recognition of the prominent role of information and communication technology in advancing knowledge and skills necessary for effective functioning in the modern world, there is an urgent need to integrate information and communication technology into education in Nigeria (FRN, 2015). Despite all the efforts made by the Federal government, physics students perform very poorly (WAEC, 2016).
All around the world, teachers are becoming more aware of new teaching strategies and tools that can be used in the classroom with initiatives in teaching-learning that integrates the inquiry based learning with information communication technology, audio-visual interactivity packages, visual models and concept-mapping instructional strategies in an effort to aid and effect student-centred learning (Dean, 2008). Several research in education show the efficacy of these new teaching strategies (Cañas, Novak & Gonzalez, 2004; Hay, Kinchin&Lygo-Baker, 2008; Kathy et al, 2006). Despite these advances, physics teaching and learning in Nigeria still retain the old and conservative approach to teaching and learning.
A concept map is a description of how propositions are organized(Novak, 1998). Concept maps reflect how ideas, opinions, and propositions are organized in the knowledge structure of students who construct the concept maps, and give observations on students’ states. From the observations, teacher can assess the knowledge structure of students.They are forms of graphical organizers which allow learners to perceive the relationships between concepts through diagramming of keywords representing those concepts. These concepts are usually enclosed in circles or boxes of some type and relationships between concepts indicated by connecting lines linking two or more concepts. The process of using these graphical tools for organizing and presenting knowledge is referred to as concept mapping (Novak, 1998).
Computer-based instructional strategy refers to instruction or remediation presented on a computer. These modes of instructions are interactive and can illustrate a concept through attractive animation, sound and demonstration. It allows students to progress at their own pace and work individually. Computers provide immediate feedback, letting students know whether their answer is correct or not. If the answer is not correct, it shows how the students can get the correct answer. Many researchers have used computer-based instruction indifferent subject areas to improve effective teaching and learning. For instance Yusuf andAfolabi (2010), investigated the effects of computer assisted instruction on secondary school students’ performance in biology. The findings of the study showed that the performance of students exposed to Computer Assisted Instruction either individually or cooperatively were better than their counterparts exposed to conventional classroom instruction. Also, Tapscott (2008) investigated the effect of computer-based instruction on academic achievement in sciences; the result was also positive in favour of the students engaged in the computer assisted instruction.
Computer-based concept mapping instructional strategy incorporates the use of computer instruction and other ICT tools with concept mapping. With computer-based concept mapping, concept representations and their respective links are not static; both can be expanded as knowledge or elaboration of an idea increases. Errors in describing ideas can be easily corrected and adapted. Most computer-based concept mapping tools allow the user to point and drag a concept or group of concepts to another place on the map and automatically update all the appropriate links (Anderson-Inman &Zeitz, 2013)
Gender in relation to performance has been an issue of interest and concern to researchers in education. There are varying opinions on which gender (either males or females) achieves better than the other. On this, there are those that claim that males performed better than females, yet others claim that females achieved higher or better than their male counterparts (Ofoegbu, 2008). On the debate, the widely held view that females were superior in language use (acquisition and performance) was based mainly on studies in foreign countries especially English speaking ones and that this position is not tenable in Nigeria. She concluded that her survey on research studies on gender influence on achievement in language in Nigeria indicate that many studies did not establish enough evidence to support the claim that females are better than males in language (Azikiwe, 2009).Furthermore, Njoku (2009), in his study on enhancing the relevance of chemistry curriculum delivery using science, technology and society (STS), stated that female students underachieve in science, technology and mathematics education relative to their male classmates. The issue of gender becomes crucial in this present day because the schools in the research are co-educational. Also, the contradictory evidences in academic performance due to gender have necessitated the need to verify how computer-based concept mapping instructional strategies can influence students ‘performance in physics. This study therefore,
will examine the effects of computer-based concept mapping instructional strategy on students ‘performance in physics.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The performance of students in science generally has been quite unsatisfactory over the years (Olorukoba, 2007). The external examining bodies such as West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) have repeatedly reported poor performance in physics. The report of the Chief Examiner, West African Examination Council, WAEC(2015) revealed that candidates’ performance were poor. Furthermore, a critical look at the statistics of candidates’ enrolment and performance in physics in Kaduna state for the years 2011 to 2016 shows that the performance of the candidates were poor. The percentage failure of physics students in the West Africa Senior Schools Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for the years 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 are 50.78, 53.61, 38.33, 51.65, 40.05 and 33.58 respectively (Appendix A).
The persistent poor performance, according to the Chief Examiner for the year 2015-2016 was as a result of: Poor understanding of general principles and concepts, heat, energy changes, matter and motion (WAEC, 2016).This poor performance as indicated by the results can be attributed to many factors which include; ineffective teaching methods, unqualified and inexperienced teachers teaching the subject, lack of appropriate and effective use of media among others(WAEC, 2016). This persistent poor performance also implies that a larger percentage of science students will not be admitted to study science and technology related courses in higher institutions since physics is one of the subjects that must be passed at least at credit level in SSCE in order to study science and technology related courses in higher institutions. Despite all that has been done to improve students’achievement especially in physics, students still perform poorly. The researcher is of the view that an alternative teaching method like the computer-based concept mapping strategies if employed might improve the performance of physics students. Therefore, this study seeks to determine the effects of computer-based concept mapping instructional strategies on students’ performance in physics.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of two modes of computer-based concept mapping instructional strategy on the performance of physics students in secondary schools in Kaduna State. Specifically, the study found out the:
(i) Difference between the performance of students taught physics usingcomputer-based concept mapping strategies and those taught using computer assisted instruction.
(ii) Difference between the performance of male and female students taught physics using hierarchical mode of computer-based concept mapping instructional strategy.
(iii) Difference between the performance of male and female students taught physics using spider mode of computer-based concept mapping strategy.
1.4 Research Questions
The study was guided by the following questions:
(i) What is the difference between the performance of students taught physics using computer-based concept mapping strategies and those taught using computer assisted instruction?
(ii) What is the difference between the performance of male and female students taught physics using hierarchical mode of computer-based concept mapping instructional strategy?
(iii) What is the difference between the performance of male and female students taught physics using spider mode of computer-based concept mapping instructional strategy?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 alpha level:
HO1: There is no significant difference between the mean performance of students taught physics using computer-based concept mappingstrategies and those taught with computer assisted instruction.
HO2: There is no significant difference between the mean performance of male and female students taught physics using hierarchical mode of computer-based concept mapping instructional strategy.
HO3: There is no significant difference between the mean performance of male and female students taught physics using spider mode of computer-based concept mapping instructional strategy.
1.6 Significance of the Study
It is expected that the teaching and learning process, students, teachers, teacher trainees, curriculum developers, policy makers, parents, government and the nation at large would benefit from the findings of this study in the following ways:
The result of this is expected to have positive impacts on teaching and learning of physics in secondary schools, as it should re-emphasize the need for teachers to always enrich the teaching and learning process with instructional media. This should encourage head, hand, eyes and heart co-ordination and promote harmonious interaction between learners and materials to be learnt. This in turn would relieve passivity, monotony, excessive verbalism, thereby preventing physics from being taught in a manner that produces in the mind of learners a feeling of boredom and distaste for physics.
The results of this study is expected to be useful to the learners as it should provide opportunities for students to practice basic skills, learn some basic computer concepts on their own and at their own pace. Also it can lead to arousing students interest in science especially physics, make them to be creative and help in the generation of ideas to solve world problems. Since students learn differently and at different pace, abstract concepts are simplified and individualized learning will be encouraged.
The result is expected to encourage teachers to use multiple media (especially ICT media) in presenting instructions to students.It will also help teachers to save time and energy in delivering instruction, vary their instructional approaches, develop creative skills and help in making their lesson interesting as well as making their instructional objectives to be effectively achieved. Theoretically, the findings of this study should help teachers to give students task in hierarchical order. It will help teachers to move from simple to complex task. It will also enhance and broaden the ICT skills of the teachers as they use the package for teaching.
The findings could hopefully assist curriculum planners to include in the curriculum for secondary level the instructional materials/strategies such as the computer-based concept mapping that would help in bringing about meaningful learning. It may also provide locally produced computer-based instructional package, the use of which would consequently build up teacher’s and learners confidence in the subject matter and to be information and communication technology (ICT) compliant. This is to give direction and confidence to the teacher whose job it is to put the curriculum into use and to ensure the attainment of specific objectives of learning science.
The findings of this study would be of immense benefit to the nation as it could lead to the turnout of learners with solid foundation in science (physics) and ICT to meet the demands of science and technology of the new millennium. This study may be a spring board for future researchers who might wish to embark on a similar study in physics or other discipline such as chemistry, biology or mathematics.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This research examined the effects of two modes of computer-based concept mapping instructional strategies on the performance of students in physics. The two modes were the “hierarchical” and “spider” modes respectively. The reason for choosing these two modes is that although both modes are easy to read, the spider mode has all data radiating outward and organized around a unified theme while the hierarchical mode follows a definite pattern with the data arranged vertically and central theme on the top.Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State was used and threeco-educational schools were covered. Kaduna South Local Government Area was chosen because it is an area where students’ difficulties and poor performance in physics have been identified and most of the schools in the Local Government are in the urban area where there is access to computer education and other ICT facilities. One of the schools served as the control group while the other two served as the experimental group. The study was limited to Senior Secondary School II (SSS II) students of the Secondary Schools selected in Kaduna. The choice of SS II was based on the fact that the National curriculum for secondary school (Federal Ministry of Education FME, 2009) provides that the aspect of senior secondary school physics upon which the treatment was based be taught at the second year of senior secondary. The choice of SSII students is also based on the following premises: That the proposed students must have been selected and enrolled for physics subject; That they have been exposed to the teaching of the SSCE physics syllabus and are not pre-occupied with any major examination; That they are expected to have been exposed to some pre-requisite of physics concepts at SSI level. This is important because certain prerequisite skills need to be acquired before the complex ones. The topics or subject matters covered are “Newton’s laws of motion” and “Centre of gravity “which are topics in Senior Secondary II Physics syllabus. The reason for choosing these topics is because they are two critical aspects of “motion” which has been identified as one of the areas of students’ weaknesses as reflected in their results performances by the examination body (WAEC).
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
The following concepts are operationally defined in relation to the study for clarification purposes:
- Concept Mapping: This refers to information in form of graphics and animation used to teach concepts in physics by creating a visual representation of the text structure and associated personal knowledge within that display.
- Instructional Strategy: It is a medium adopted by a teacher to teach a lesson, this includes the use of games, computers, text books, ICT tools that stimulates learning.
- Hierarchical Concept Map: This is a concept mapping mode that presents information in a descending order of importance, with the most important information placed on the top.
- Spider Concept map: This is a map organized by placing the central theme or unifying factor in the centre of the map, with outwardly radiating sub-themes surrounding the centre of the map.
- Computer-based concept mapping: This is an instructional strategy which incorporates the use of computer instruction and other ICT tools with concept mapping.
- Computer Assisted Instruction: It is a form of instruction that employs the use of computer and other ICT tools in teaching and learning.