The various ways of approaching learning are generally termed learning strategies. Students adopt different types of learning strategies during the process of learning in other to attain the objectives of learning. Learning strategy has a considerable effect when explaining science achievement; this study investigated the effects of collaborative and competitive learning strategies on students’ interest and achievement in Basic Science. It was guided by six research questions and six hypotheses. The study adopted quasi-experimental design; it was specifically a non-equivalent control group design. The population of the study comprised all upper basic II students in all the government junior secondary schools in Takum and Wukari Local Government Areas of Taraba state. The sample comprised of students from eight intact classes from four schools in the study area. Out of these schools, two schools were exposed to collaborative learning strategy while the remaining two were exposed to competitive learning strategy. Two instruments were used for data collection namely Students’ Interest in Basic Science (SIIBS) and Basic Science Achievement Test (BSAT) which were developed by the researcher. The validity and reliability of these instruments were established. For the validity of SIIBS, construct validity was established using factor analysis while the validity of BSAT was established using face and content validity. The reliability of the instruments was established using Cronbach Alpha for SIIBS and Kudder Richardson formula 20(K-R20) for BSAT. Mean and standard deviation were used to provide answers for the research questions while analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to test the hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The result of the study among others revealed that collaborative learning strategy enhanced students’ interest and achievement in Basic Science as well as reduced the gender gap that existed between male and female students in Basic Science interest and achievement. Finally, the result of the study also showed that the interaction effect of learning strategy and gender was statistically insignificant for students’ interest and achievement in Basic Science. Based on these findings, the researcher among others recommended that Basic Science students should be encouraged to develop and adopt the use of collaborative learning strategy in learning basic science. Also government should endeavor to organize regular workshops to train Basic Science teachers on the development and use of collaborative learning strategy. This research will enable teachers to acquire innovative pedagogical capability with respect to handling issues concerning students’ interest and achievement in Basic Science.    



Background of the Study 

Science Education in Nigeria dates back to the pre-independent days. It is the training given to individuals in order to enable them appreciates their environment and how to become useful to themselves and the society at large.  According to Anegbe and Adeoye (2006) the Nigerian child is introduced to science right from the primary school. The essence is to enable the learner to develop interest in science, learn science, ‘do’ science and contribute effectively to the scientific and technological development of the nation. The foundation of science is presented to the learner at the basic level of education.

The name Basic level of education was introduced into the Nigerian educational system under the Universal Basic Education (UBE) program. UBE is a reformed program in Nigeria’s basic education delivery system, (from primary one to junior secondary  3) designed to reinforce the implementation of the National Policy on Education (NPE) in order to provide greater access and ensure quality learning throughout the federation as it is free and compulsory (Adomeh, Arhedo & Omoike, 2007). The structure of the UBE program is made up of three levels in the following sequence; lower basic education (primary 1-3), middle basic education (primary 4-6) and upper basic education (junior secondary school (JSS) 1-3).

Following the declaration by the Federal Government of Nigeria for the introduction of 9year free and compulsory basic education structure which cover the primary and junior secondary school, strategies have been put in place by the Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) to re-structure and re-align the school curricula for the 9-year basic education.

(Obioma, 2006). A total of 19 curricula have been produced to cover the Lower basic (years 1-3) middle basic (years 4-6) and upper basic or Junior Secondary School (JSS) (years 7-9).

One of the core and compulsory subjects in the new curriculum is Basic Science and Technology. The subject is presented to the learner at the lower basic level as Basic Science and Technology while it is taught at the middle basic level as Basic Science. However, at the upper basic level, the subject is presented to learners as separate entities in the form of Basic Science, and Basic Technology. The aim of separating the two concepts, according to Obioma, Adeniyi, Lawal, Odumuh, Ikegulu, Nwabueze, and Chijioke (2008) is to specially emphasize and strengthen technology and entrepreneurship. However, these science concepts cannot be fully achieved without learners having adequate knowledge of Basic Science.

According to NERDC (2007), the overall objectives of the Basic Science and Technology curriculum are to enable learners to:

-Develop interest in science;

-Acquire basic knowledge and skills in science;

-Apply scientific knowledge and skills to meet societal needs;

-Take advantage of the numerous career opportunities offered by science;

-Become prepared for further studies;

The enumerated objectives, among other reasons, are supposed to prepare upper basic students for the study of science at the senior secondary school level. This could be one of the reasons why the contents of the Basic Science and Technology curriculum are sequenced in spiral form beginning with the simplest to the most complex. According to Hamza & Mohammed

(2011), it was aimed at sustaining the interest of the learner. This assertion is however yet to be realized considering the fact that research reports revealed students’ achievement in secondary school science to be low.

Science educators have identified some of the factors responsible for students’ low achievement and lack of interest in science. According to Dajal & Rinmark (2002) and Danjuma (2009), solutions have been proffered but the problem is yet to be solved. The issue could probably be related to the inability of the students to develop interest in the learning of basic science which is the foundation of science in Nigeria. This is because it is likely that without developing and sustaining the learners’ interest, the objectives of Basic Science might not be achieved. If that is the case, then it may be difficult to achieve the objectives of senior secondary school science whose pre-requisite is Basic Science. Developing and sustaining students’ interest in science is necessary for meaningful achievement to occur.

Interest, as defined by Obodo (2002), is the attraction which forces or compels a child to respond to a particular stimulus. It could also be considered as the feeling of an individual towards a particular object or an activity. It means that a child will develop interest in any object or activity that is found to be attractive or stimulating to him. Therefore, in a classroom situation, the learner will be attentive during a lesson only if the instruction is of interest to the learner. According to Trumper (2006), interest is a term that refers to preference to engage in some types of activities rather than others. It is a fact that a child   usually performs classroom activities in order of preference. The child takes pleasure in doing what he/she is interested in. The learning that occurs after indulging in such activities is, in most cases, permanent. Interest is an important aspect in the learning process because the learners’ interest is a fundamental factor in inculcating the right knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that the curriculum seeks to attain. It helps in sustaining concentration, purpose and commitment to learn and co-operation with the teacher in the learning process. It is therefore the duty of the teacher to identify and use the appropriate learning strategies that will make students develop interest in learning. In the opinion of Alao & Adeniyi (2009), the teacher can motivate children to develop interest to learn in the following ways:-

-By identifying and catering for the needs of the students.

-acknowledging their success no matter how little.

-Making the classroom student- friendly, the students will always be eager to participate in classroom activities thereby finding learning interesting and fun.

-recognizing and respecting students’ views thereby boosting and developing confidence.

When students are motivated, they participate actively in the learning process. The curiosity and interest of the students, according to Aydin & Coskun (2011) manifest itself in the performance of the students. The authors reiterated that students whose interests have not been developed, do not attend class regularly. Such students do not listen to the lesson carefully neither do they do their homework. For the learner to be interested in class activities, appropriate learning strategies should be in place because such type of learning strategies have the tendency of developing students’ interest to learn thereby enhancing achievement.