1.1 Background to the Study
Education has been acknowledged as a process of imparting knowledge, abilities and attitude to the learners. It is an act which includes the process of transferring, reforming and maintaining the collective values embedded in the culture of the society. Education according to Mark (2015) can be defined as the sensible, hopeful and respectful cultivation of learning carried out in the belief that ought to have the chance to share in life. Education enhances the quality of life and the method to acquire wealth of knowledge is via education. Developing countries see education as the key which will unlock their national resources, the study growth and presence and the most effective antidote to their problems and lack of knowledge.
Science as postulated by Okorie (2002) is the study of nature and environment whereby people can develop both enquiry and disciplined sensible power of reasoning. Science is differentiated from other areas of knowledge by its use of experimentally verified concepts and predictions. Science was the key to technological take off and has played an important role in enhancing the great deals of mankind via transportation, agriculture, communication, technology and education. Science is the system of understanding the universe with information gathered by observation and controlled experimentation (RAO, 2008). Science is a dynamic human activity concerned with understanding of the working of our world. This understanding helps man to understand more about the universe.
However, biology is the science which studies living things and focuses mainly on the study of the structure, behaviour, distribution, the origin of plants and animals and their connection with their environments. Biology pervades essentially every area of human endeavour. Science Education provide unique acknowledgment to biology amongst science students due to its close connection to man as a living organism, its peculiar field of experimentation and interrelationship with the other science subjects. Biology entails a great deal of practical work that can stimulate and arouse learners' intent and promote long-term memory that theory cannot do. Therefore, there is need to validate the exposition of students to biology practical activities with experimental method.
This regular poor achievement of students in biology shows that majority of the students that enroll for biology in public examination graduate without grasping the basics of the subject. Research records (Agba, 2004) have revealed that many teachers prefer using traditional teaching methods in curriculum delivery. This inevitably results in poor achievement particularly in biology. It is being advocated that teachers ought to use varieties of innovative teaching techniques such as problem-solving in delivering biology lessons to serve as intervention, Efe and Efe (2011).
In spite of the emphasis on innovative method to the teaching of science generally and biology particularly for acquisition of science process and problem-solving abilities, biology is still taught in conventional methods (Agba, 2004). The poor methods of teaching and learning of biology make up an issue in the learners' acquisition of practical understanding, science process skills and development of capacity to solve problem.
In the solving of this issue, education seek more dependable and efficient methods of instruction for students, so as to produce in learner abilities that will allow them to compete effectively in technological and scientific dominated society. In explaining a new vision for teacher and educator, Long, (1991) recommended that teachers will have to be versatile, dynamic, thoughtful and able to deal with change. He also recommended the hallmark of proficient teachers will be the capacity to reflect on teaching techniques as to satisfy the demands of their students. These innovative techniques have not been used when compared to the conventional technique preponderantly used by science teachers in Nigeria (Owolabi, 2006). Owolabi further reiterated that the state of biology teaching in our schools has continually been of worry as teachers might not properly use this innovative teaching technique in some areas in biology.
Problem solving is an investigative task by which the solver explores the solution path to reach a goal from given information. The problem-solving strategy is implemented to help students to solve issue by moving in a rational step sequence from a problem state to a solution state. No surprise, Alabi and Lasisi (2015) thought that Problem Solving might be any type of action involving channeling the cavity between the expected solution and the issue itself. Nbiti and Neji (2018) disclosed in their research on impact of problem-solving method on students' academic performance that, the experimental groups taught with guided problem-solving strategy had a higher mean score compared to the controlled group taught with traditional groups. Likewise, Mandina and Ochonogor (2018) submitted that there was statistically considerable difference in the performance of students taught using two problem solving strategies and those taught with traditional technique. Among the millennium development goals (MDGs) is gender equality. Fatokun and Odagboyi (2011) disclosed that in most societies the role of women is knocked to the floor, preventing women from taking part in any benefitting development initiatives. They added that some subjects such as science where Biology is not exceptional branded masculine. Abubakar and Oguguo (2011) in their comparison, discovered no significant difference between the performance of boys and girls. Abdulraham (2012) observed that gender inequalities are intertwined with social class, ethnicity, sexuality, disability and other elements recognized as influencing achievement. Adebanjo (2014), connected gender and academic achievement with patterns of behavior. He disclosed that there are indications of boys being vulnerable to becoming disaffected. He mentioned further that boys have the tendency to be less careful about rules and more indifferent to being reprimanded. Therefore, this study examines the effects of problems solving strategy on biology students’ academic achievement secondary school.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The different techniques for teaching biology in secondary schools has been a significant issue to lots of teachers. Despite all the curricular innovation and other efforts targeted at promoting science teaching in schools, it appears little success has been achieved. Teachers have to be conversant with various teaching techniques which they make use of in teaching a concept. Sadly, many teachers do not go to workshops and seminars where new innovations and techniques might be discussed. Teachers appear not to believe that education is dynamic, things are changing every day. They still rely on using traditional technique of teaching which might not provide for all round learning, in addition to the advancement in science and technology. A few of the teachers think that they are victims of traditional techniques of teaching and they can still raise their heads in society. They fail to remember that a lot of facts such as maturity, commitment and determination contributed to their success which students of nowadays view as time wastage. The students seem to believe that the traditional technique of teaching is coming to be "old school", as it makes the teachers the only source of knowledge with little or no contribution from the students which might have negative impacts on student performance. Therefore, there is need to try experiential learning strategy and problem-solving strategy and find out whether it might influence better academic achievement in biology. It is on this foundation that this study seeks to determine the effects of problems solving strategy on biology students’ academic achievement secondary school.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to examine the effects of problems solving strategy on biology students’ academic achievement secondary school. The specific objectives however, include;
i) To understand the effects of problem-solving strategy and learning method on the students’ academic performance in Biology.
ii) To establish the difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught Biology using problem-solving teaching method and those taught using discussion methods.
iii) To study the difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students of different ability levels taught Biology using problem-solving teaching method and those taught using discussion methods.
1.4 Research Questions
The following statements will be considered to be the research questions for this study:
i) What are the effects of problem-solving strategy and learning method on the students’ academic performance in Biology?
ii) Is there any difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught Biology using problem-solving teaching method and those taught using discussion method?
iii) Is there any difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students of different ability levels taught Biology using problem-solving teaching method and those taught using discussion method?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following statements are the research hypotheses formulated for this study:
i) There is no significant relationship between problem-solving strategy and learning method on the students’ academic performance in Biology.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be beneficial to the students, teachers and curriculum developers especially in understanding the effects of problems solving strategy on students’ academic achievement. The results of this study will provide guidelines for use in the teaching and learning of biology as a science subject in secondary school. This study explored the strategies and the approaches currently under use in the teaching and learning of biology and the extent to which the teachers use the problem-solving strategy and the perceived outcomes. This research provides a better understanding on the instructional practice and the use of problem-solving strategy and its effects on the academic achievement of biology students in secondary schools. Lastly, the study will also contribute to the existing research on the effects of problems solving strategy on biology students’ academic achievement secondary school.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study examines the effects of problems solving strategy on biology students’ academic achievement secondary school. Therefore, the study will be carried out among five public and private secondary schools in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, Nigeria.