1.0 Background to the study
Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators; however learners may also educate themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. A right to education has been recognized by some governments and the United Nations. So, education is an essential and indispensable need to live in the modern world. Education could be divided into sciences (hypotheses and experiments) or arts (acting, music and literature).
Modern Science is the firm base upon which modern advances in technology depends. Many breakthroughs that man has recorded in the quest to improve his life were achieved through the knowledge of science; it therefore became pertinent that science be taught at all levels of education because science is the foundation upon which modern day technology would be built.
Igwe (2010) defined science as a systematic study of the nature of the behavior of the mental and physical universe through observation, experimentation, measurement and recording. One could say in a nutshell that the main difference between an under-developed, a developing and a developed country is seen and also rated by the advancement of science and technology in those countries. In transferring all these scientific knowledge from one generation to the other, there is a need for science education.
Science education is the field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community. The field of science education includes work in science content, science process (the scientific method), some social science, and some teaching pedagogy. The standards for science education provide expectations for the development of understanding for students through the entire course of their education .The traditional subjects included in the standards are physical, life, earth, space, and human sciences. In recent times, countries all over the world especially developing ones like Nigeria, are striving to develop technologically and this depend greatly on science. Science comprises of the basic disciplines such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology.
Biology is the science of life. Its name is derived from the Greek words “bios” (life) and “logos” (study). Biologists study the structure, function, growth, origin, evolution and distribution of living organisms. Adding to the complexity of this enormous idea is the fact that these fields overlap. It is impossible to study zoology without knowing a great deal about evolution, physiology and ecology. You can’t study cellular biology without knowing biochemistry and molecular biology as well because it serves as a pre-requisite to the study of other lucrative and challenging professions like; medicine, nursing, pharmacology, biochemistry, agriculture among others. The vital role of the study of this discipline in the economic, industrial and public life of the learners and the general humanity cannot be overstressed (Ibe & Ukpai 2013; Akambi & Kolawole, 2014).
Hence, Biology is one of the science subjects that senior secondary school students should offer at the senior levels in Nigerian secondary schools FRN (2004) and at such their academic performance must be tested. Thus, effective teaching and learning of biology in secondary schools with the use of laboratory resources is very necessary if Biology teachers must gainfully achieve stated objectives.
Teaching and learning of biology ought to be simplified, comprehensive and concrete. Extensive use of laboratory resources makes biology interesting, stimulating and understandable to the learners. The success of biology students in secondary schools largely depends on the availability and effective utilization of available human and material resources. Biology as a science subject is faced with some problems, such as: the increasing number of students’ enrollment in science subjects in secondary schools which puts pressure on the limited qualified teachers available to reduce the time allotted to practical classes to the minimal or even omit practical activities. Utilization of laboratory equipment defines the extent or how often the available science laboratory equipment are used during classes or laboratory sessions. According to Lawal (2013), such materials promote learning by doing, make the classroom lively, real, and meaningful and have the potential to make the content permanent thereby increase students’ performance.
Academic performance is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their short or long-term educational goals. Cumulative GPA and completion of educational benchmarks such as secondary school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees represent academic achievement. Academic achievement is commonly measured through examinations or continuous assessments but there is no general agreement on how it is best evaluated or which aspects are most important (procedural knowledge such as skills or declarative knowledge such as facts).
Furthermore, there are inconclusive results over which individual factors successfully predict academic performance, elements such as test anxiety, environment, motivation, and emotions require consideration when developing models of school achievement. Although these factors are inconclusive, laboratory based learning has been debated upon severally as the bedrock on which lasting scientific knowledge is hinged.
A laboratory (colloquially lab) is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific or technological research, experiments, and measurement may be performed. Laboratory services are provided in a variety of settings: physicians’ offices, clinics, hospitals, and regional and national referral centers. The national policy on Education FME (2009) place immense emphasis on the need for teaching and learning of science processes and principles. The policy recommends practical, explanatory and experimental methods of teaching. In this regard the basic tools that sciences use in doing practical experiment explanation are laboratory equipment. Science laboratories are very essential to good science teaching and learning as the study of science, in this case Biology to a greater extent involves the manipulations and other materials in organized activities within the laboratory. Biology has the potential to help the nation develop her agriculture, drugs, energy resources, health materials, stimulants and antiseptics, pharmaceuticals, foods and beverages, etc. Biology as a science, as stipulated in the National Policy on Education (2004) is to equip students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology. This goal can only become a reality if the theoretical scientific concepts are buttressed with practical or experiment demonstrated through the use of laboratory.
The laboratory has been given a central and distinctive role in biology education and biology educators have suggested that rich benefits in learning accrue from using laboratory activities. The success of biology education is associated with the use of laboratory facilities. A biology laboratory is a building where one can perform in actual the different reactions that have been learnt in the books or heard in lectures. Laboratory facilities are needed in all its ramifications for the purpose of achieving specific goals, and aid or facility can be used for instructional process and development. It is therefore imperative for teachers to use instructional aides to make their teaching more interesting, effective to arrest and sustain more attention of the students for effective learning to take place. For meaningful learning to take place, the environment where such activities are engaged in must be conducive in terms of type, quality, quantity, availability and storage of equipment and resources. Laboratories used for scientific research take many forms because of the differing requirements of specialists in the various fields of science and engineering, to this note, we have chemistry laboratory, physics laboratory and even biology laboratory which this survey is going to be focused on.
What really differentiate a biology laboratory from a chemistry laboratory and all other laboratories is its contents and this entails the availability of the biological laboratory together with its contents. By availability we mean, the degree to which a system, subsystem, apparatus or equipment is in a specified operable and committable state at the start of a mission, operation, experiment or practical when the mission is called for at an unknown, i.e. a random, time. One cannot legitimately make mention of availability without taking an inevitable pause at a particular juncture to deliberate upon utilization. Making available the experimental apparatus and not putting it to use is like giving a blind man a vehicle to drive because he would not be able to drive it.
According to Otu (2017), utilization has to do with the use of some materials for practical purposes. In this work, utilization of science laboratory equipment and models are associated with the functions and activities of the Biological science teaching during the teaching-learning process, assisted by other laboratory personnel like the laboratory assistant, attendance and or laboratory technician or technologist. The teacher can make use of equipment and models in laboratory in the course of lesson whenever the need arises. As opined by Bosede (2010), utilization procedure that a teacher should follow can be summarized as; previewing the materials, preparing the environment, preparing the audience and presenting the materials. In this case the science Biology teacher would be engaged in gathering the needed information regarding the procedure for the practical activities, setting up the practical activities and eventually presenting the materials (equipment and models) for the practical activities. The Biology curriculum is planned to enable the teacher use activity oriented, child-centered approach (guided inquiry) to teach Nzewi and Nwosu (2010) laboratory resources can therefore be said to be supplies of teachers, learners, laboratory assistants/technologists, instructional materials and other necessary devices made available to the school in order to increase the wealth of knowledge, which gives help, support in the teaching and the learning process in secondary schools.
For a laboratory to serve as a place for relevant and appropriate science, laboratory equipment and biological models such as whole organism, plants or animals or parts of the organisms example organs, tissues and specimen structures like the eye, ear, tooth, skeletal system should be readily available in large quantity.
This study therefore seeks to investigate the availability and the extent to which the available laboratory resources are being utilized in Teaching and learning Biology in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
1.1 Statement of the Problem
Teaching and learning of biology ought to be simplified, comprehensive and concrete. Extensive use of laboratory resources makes biology interesting, stimulating and understandable to the learners. The success of biology students in secondary schools largely depends on the availability and effective utilization of available human and material resources. Biology as a science subject is faced with some problems, such as: the increasing number of students’ enrollment in science subjects in secondary schools which puts pressure on the limited qualified teachers available to reduce the time allotted to practical classes to the minimal or even omit practical activities .Teachers find it difficult during laboratory activities to supervise and teach large classes and combine the practical effectively with normal class lessons. Students on their part have the problem of comprehending what is taught without the complementary laboratory activities in Biology.
Most laboratory resources are lost, damaged or carelessly stored. Storage facilities are not even available in some secondary schools. In some cases, students are not allowed to make use of biology laboratories due to fear of losing valuable materials through stealing in the laboratory, the number of professional teachers in secondary schools are limited whereas competent and experienced teachers cannot give hundred percent of their time, energy and resources to biology practical due to limited quantity of materials.
Most biology laboratories are dilapidated. Some biology laboratories were built since 1970s with maximum occupancy limit of twenty students in view, at present occupies more than two hundred students which can only be managed for instructional delivery without practical. Evidence from Researchers testifies that most biology laboratories are not equipped with science facilities, seats and demonstration tables. Even when these resources are available, their management becomes questionable. These anomalies no doubt affect students’ performance in biology examinations. Most research works reveal the reformation of teaching methods without delving into what effects the management of material resources would have on students’ performance. In addition, scholars have been researching on the physical facilities/equipment in secondary schools without assessing the extent by which teachers utilize the available resources. The challenge to improve the teaching and learning of biology in secondary schools through adequate provision and effective utilization of biology laboratory resources in secondary schools prompted this study.
Consequently, based on the problems so far listed, this survey investigates the influence of Availability and Utilization of science Laboratory equipment and students’ academic performance in Biology in Secondary Schools in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main intention of this study is to find out the extent to which availability and utilization of science laboratory equipment influence students’ academic performance in Biology in senior secondary schools. In explicit terms, the study mints at:
Determining the influence of the availability of Biological laboratory equipment on academic performance of students in Biology.
Ascertaining the influence of utilization of laboratory equipment on students’ performance in Biology.
Figuring out the influence of availability and utilization of Biology laboratory equipment on students’ academic performance in Biology.
1.4 Research Questions
This study was conducted under the auspices of the following research questions;
To what extent does availability of Biology laboratory equipment influence the academic performance of students in Biology?
To what extent does utilization of Biology laboratory equipment influence the academic performance of students in Biology?
To what extent does availability and utilization of Biology laboratory influence students’ academic performance in Biology?