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THE EFFECT OF LABORATORY IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS ON STUDENTS PERFORMANCE IN SCIENCE SUBJECTS
1.1 Background to the Study
Science had been of great importance worldwide for suitable and socio-economic development as well as for technological advancement of the nations. Knowledge of science education is therefore required in all countries globally due to the numerous challenges that are facing them.
The emphasis on teaching and learning of science is on ensuring that teachers not only teach the process of science but also are able to subject scientific concepts to the sensory experience of the learners. By this, the ‘hands’ and ‘minds’ of learners must be on scientific activities such that learners will be able to learn actively and thereby participate in knowledge construction. In essence, the focus is on activity based science lesson which entails both best classroom and laboratory practices. This direction of teaching and learning of science subjects in schools is viewed to lead students to acquiring the required science process skills, life skills and competence as enshrined in the revised edition of (National Policy on Education (NPE) (FRN, 2013) National core curricular for Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics etc. However, the efforts of teaching in achieving the goals of NPE 2013, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS), EFA, Science Education for all, NEEDS, Vision 20:2020 faces great challenges. The challenges facing science teaching and learning includes the use of teacher-centred approaches to teaching, lack of adequate and relevant instructional materials, inadequate classroom and laboratories and laboratory equipment etc. Laboratory is at the centre of scientific studies and/or sciencing so long as science remains both a product and process. The availability of laboratory equipment, facilities and materials play a vital role in determining the extent of best laboratory practices that will ensure acquisition of science process skills and competence in science concepts by the learners. According to Abimbola (2001) one major aspect of Science education that is of great concern is in the area of availability and effectiveness of use of specialized and relevant science equipment, facilities and instructional materials. The school laboratories that are well designed, stocked and safe for teaching and learning of science ensure active practical exercises (Katcha, 2005).
Science laboratory equipment allows students to interact directly with the data gathered. It is also found that school science laboratory equipment and supplies make teaching and learning easy both for the teachers, as well as for the students. There are several scientific theories and concepts that are difficult to explain directly from the books. Anatomy models, physics science kits, and chemistry science kits for instance make it easy to understand the otherwise complex theories of science. There are different scales which assess classroom environment. Each scale has been classified according to Moos’s (1974) scheme for classifying human environments. The dimensions of human environments include relationships, personal development, and system maintenance/change (Moos, 1987). Fraser (1998) later refined Moos’s (1974) work to make it more appropriate, initially to describe classroom learning environments and then science learning environments.
Laboratory teaching assumes that first-hand experience in observation and manipulation of the materials of science is superior to other methods of developing understanding and appreciation. Laboratory training is also frequently used to develop skills necessary for more advanced study or research. One major difference between elementary and middle or high schools are the nature of the classroom. Most elementary school classes are “self-contained,” and a single teacher is responsible for teaching all or most of the academic subjects to a single group of students. Thus, science is usually taught in the regular classroom, as opposed to specialized science laboratories, as is usually the case in middle and high schools; however, it is not unheard of for elementary schools to have separate laboratory facilities for science (Beihle, Motz, & West, 1999; Fehlig, 1996; Fox, 1994; Harbeck, 1985; Vorsino, 1992). Forty percent of schools nationwide reported that their facilities could not meet the functional requirements of laboratory science. More recent data from the 2000 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education suggests that along with lack of content preparation, inadequate facilities and equipment and lack of money to purchase consumable supplies are barriers to the effective and equitable teaching of science (Weiss et al., 2002).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The dwindling students’ performance in science especially has been a source of concern to all stakeholders - the parents, teachers, students, science education researchers, government and the general public. Despite the efforts by science educators the performance of many students in science is still at abysmal level. In essence there are still gaps in the efforts and results available. This situation is easily attributed to factors of laboratory equipment supplied, gender factors and attitudes of students to science teaching and learning among others. With laboratory equipment, the modern trend emphasizes laboratory practical’s as an integral part of classroom instruction in science with pre-and-post laboratory discussion if students have to learn Science as a process and product, and achieve to expectations of all the stakeholders and meet the demands of the vision 20:2020, NEEDS, EFA, and MDGS etc. As a result of conflicting research reports and its inadequacy, there is need to provide data on gender related differences in students’ achievement.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to find out the effect of laboratory in secondary schools on student s academic performance in science subjects, specifically the study intends to;
1. Find out the availability of laboratory facilities in secondary schools.
2. Find out the level in which secondary schools use laboratory in secondary school
3. Examine the effect of laboratory on student’s performance in science subject
4. Find out science teachers’ perceptions on effects of availability or non-availability of laboratories on students’ performance
1.4 Research Questions
1. Is there availability of laboratory facilities in secondary schools?
2. What is the level in which secondary schools use laboratory in secondary school?
3. Is there any significant effect of laboratory on student’s performance in science subject?
4. What is the perceptions of science teacher’s on effects of availability or non-availability of laboratories on students’ performance?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Ho: there is no significant effect of laboratory on student’s performance in science subject
Hi: there is significant effect of laboratory on student’s performance in science subject
1.6 Significance of the Study
Finding of this study are expected to be useful since science teaching and learning is essential for success of any nation, as there is a direct relationship between achievement in science and technology on one hand and economic growth of any given country on the other. Findings of these study will also benefit education stakeholders in planning and budgeting so as to provide enough funds to support science subjects in schools, building laboratories, train more science teachers, purchase adequate teaching and learning resources including books, teaching model, laboratory equipment, apparatus and chemicals. Furthermore, findings will hopefully influence further research on how use of laboratories may promote learning of science for development of the nation.