1.1   Background to the Study

Science has made countless contributions to the realization and advancement of the contemporary world and it has been attributed as the foundation for technological breakthrough in this modern world. It is therefore not a surprise to see the Nigerian government fighting to make all efforts to develop science and technology. Science is a dynamic human activity concerned with understanding the workings of the world we live in. This understanding helps man to know more about the universe. Man would have found it difficult to explore his immediate environment without the application of science to his day to day activities. Science comprises the basic subjects such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Agriculture and Biology.

Biology is a branch of natural science that deals with the living and not living organisms. It is concerned with how man reacts to his immediate environment (Umar, 2011).    It is a compulsory subject that must be offered in secondary school and a prerequisite for many fields of learning most importantly in the faculty of science and some departments in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. This includes medicines, pharmacy, nursing, agriculture, forestry, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and many other areas (Ahmed & Abimbola, 2011). Biology is regarded as one of the compulsory subjects in Nigerian secondary school curriculum. Because of its importance, more students enrolled for biology in the senior secondary school certificate examination (SSCE) than for physics and chemistry (West African Examination Council, 2011). The quality and quantity of science education received by secondary school students are geared toward developing future scientists, technologists, engineers, and related professionals (Kareem, 2003).

However, it has been observed over the years throughout the country that lack of instructional materials in many schools in Nigeria has brought about considerable drop in the academic performance of senior secondary schools students especially in some science subjects like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and vocational and technical subject like Home Economics. Instructional materials are teaching aids or materials used to illustrate the teaching process and make instruction more compressive to the learner. Instructional materials aid teaching and learning processes and consequently the attainment of the aims and objectives of the lesson. However, this depends on the availability of materials. Indeed instructional materials to be used should be carefully selected by the teachers. Brunner, (1961) in Mustapha (2002) also emphasized that oral reports require visual aids and improvisation. Improvisation is the art of providing the alternative or next to real thing when the real thing is not available or difficult to come by. It is therefore fundamental for Biology teachers to use teaching aids or improvise to make learning effective, enjoyable, easier and permanent. There is therefore, great need for the teachers of social studies who want to be effective at their work to be able to use all available instructional materials as well as improvise where they are not readily available. The obvious fact remains that people remember those they have seen, touched and even played with. The primary task of teaching is to facilitate effective learning and understanding of the content materials.

        Despite the importance and popularity of biology among Nigerian students, performance at senior secondary school level has been poor (Ahmed, 2008). The result of this lackluster performance in education is the shortage of manpower in the area of science and technology related disciplines in Nigeria. This may affect Nigeria’s vision of becoming one of the twenty industrialized countries in the world by year 2020. Poor teaching methods adopted by teachers at senior secondary school level in Nigeria have been identified as one of the major factors contributing to poor performance of students in biology subject. The usual teaching method by secondary school teachers is classroom-based which about lectures and direct instructions to students. This is referred to as teacher-centered method which makes emphasis on learning through the guidance of teacher at all times. Students are expected to listen to lectures and learn from them. The persistent use of this method makes students passive rather than active learners. It does not promote insightful learning and long–term retention of some abstract concepts in biology (Ahmed, 2008; Ahmed & Abimbola, 2011; Kareem, 2003; Umar, 2011). The picture today is that biology education is failing. This study will however study the use of Biology instructional materials in empowering Secondary School students in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

There has been significant interest in poor performance in Biology by secondary school students and this point to the fact that the most desired technological, scientific and economic application of Biology cannot be sustained. This makes it paramount to seek for a strategy for teaching Biology that aims at improving its understanding and performance by students. It is evident in the works of Srinivasa, (1978) and Ogunkunle (2000) that lack of mathematics laboratory and Mathematics teacher’s non-use of laboratory technique in teaching mathematics is one of the major factors that contribute to poor achievement in mathematics by secondary school students. The problem is not in mathematics alone but the same thing can also be said of Biology.

Good educational policies are backed with well designed programs which for part of adequate political will on the part of government and educational institution authorities are ineffectively and inefficiently implemented. Thus has led to learners not being adequately exposed to those experiences that will guarantee the total development of their being. At present we leave in a global village. Around the globe the latest and most complex technology is the area of information and communication technology. The growth in on-line technology and its application in education have brought great transformation in the world.

The use of audio visual aids will make teaching and learning more efficient and effective and result oriented by providing avenue for sharing idea and information. The level of development in any society is usually determined by the quality and quantity of knowledge in the various spheres of human activity available to and acquired by the citizens. Knowledge is acquired and sustained through efficient information and communication system based on the technology level attained, children in any country who fail to use and master new technologies would definitely lack behind. However, there are many constraints in delivering the ICT to the right people at the right time. In developing countries like Nigeria, there is frequently a shortage of qualified ICT teachers, and lack of fund. The rapid changes that have taken place all over the world pose a challenge to the educational sector. There is the need to enrich the present secondary schools which ICT program for effective teaching and process.

1.4   Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to investigate the Biology instructional materials in empowering Secondary School students in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. However, the specific objectives of the study are:

i)             To establish the efforts of the government in ensuring the availability of instructional materials for effective teaching and learning of Biology in secondary schools in Uvwie Local Government Area

ii)           To examine the importance of instructional materials for effective teaching and learning of Biology in secondary schools in Uvwie Local Government Area

iii)         To determine the effects of instructional materials for effective teaching and learning of Biology in secondary schools in Uvwie Local Government Area


1.5   Research Hypotheses

The research hypotheses to be tested include:

i)             There is a significance difference between secondary school students’ academic performance and the availability of instructional materials in the learning and teaching of Biology.

ii)           There is no significance relationship between instructional materials and senior secondary school teachers’ effective teaching of Biology

iii)         There is no significance influence of instructional materials and senior secondary school students’ effective learning of Biology

1.6   Significance of the Study

This study investigates the Biology instructional materials in empowering Secondary School students in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. Therefore, it will be of immense benefits to students, teachers, school authorities, curriculum planner, educational stakeholders and Ministries of Education at different level of government. The finding from this study will be of immense benefit because it will enhance the learning processes of the students and thereby improve on their overall academic performance, since it will increase the motivation of the students, add clarity to the topics taught and make learning more interesting. Also, the result from this study will help to re-emphasis the need for Biology teachers of secondary schools on importance of making the use of instructional materials a factor to be considered in promoting teaching and learning of Biology. And this in no small measure provides a basis that compliments and supports the use of teaching skills and enhances effectiveness.

Findings from this study will further help to reveal and create awareness among the school authorities of the importance or otherwise of the impact of instructional materials in teaching and learning of Biology in secondary schools. Furthermore, finding from this study will have much significance on the ministries of education at all government level in Nigeria. This is because it will serve as a source of information to the government that the non-provision of instructional materials to teaching and learning of Biology is one of the problems leading to poor academic performance in the subject.

1.7   Scope of the Study

This study investigates the Biology instructional materials in empowering Secondary School students in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria.  Therefore the respondents to be covered will be senior secondary school students from some selected schools within Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria.

1.8   Limitation of the study

This study faced limitation that need to be taken into consideration. Apart from the obvious time limit and the delicate subject matter, there were issues that arose from the methodological choices applied to the study. Some respondents were not willing to disclose accurate information needed for the validity of the study.

1.9   Definitions of Terms

The following terms were used in the course of this study:

Academic performance: is defined as successful completion, through effort, of the acquisition of academic content and skills mostly determined by the grades or scores that the student gets in a test.

Biology: it is concerned with the study of living and non-living things

Effective learning: is learning which develops understanding of learning in the changing world. Effective learning involves individuals moving beyond making connections of new ideas to old ones into restructuring their thinking radically by changing the connections among the things they already know or even discard some long-held beliefs about the world.

Learning: is the act of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledge, behaviours, skills, values or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information.

Teaching: teaching is the concerted sharing of knowledge and experience, which is usually organized within a discipline and more generally, the provision of stimulus to the psychological and intellectual growth of students by teachers.