1.1 Background to the study
Nigeria philosophy of education is based on the belief that education is an instrument for national development and social change, it is vital for the promotion of a progressive and united Nigerian, it maximizes the creative potentials and skills of the individual for self-fulfilment and general development of the society as well as being compulsory and a right of every citizen irrespective of gender, social status, religion, ethnic background and any peculiar individual challenges (National Policy on Education, 2013).
The importance of science in the technological economic and political development of nations globally explains why technologic
al attainment is often used to determine the level of developments of every nation. Mathematics, science and technology are important tools for socio-economics and cultural development of any nation (Usman, 2006). Because of this, every nation is strategizing on how to develop science and technology to earn national recognition. The world is becoming a global village with every nation struggling to control the global market through technology innovations with capacity to attract global acceptance. Lawal, (2007) stated that, Science and technology provides the foundation for wealth creation and advancement of quality life. Also Ajewole, (2005) stated that science and technology have for long been recognized as the instrument par excellence for nation building and wealth creation which made every country today craves for their advancement. Shu-nu-Chang, (2007) stated that, the increase of scientific literacy in these years and therefore in the current science and technology dominated society shows that scientific literacy is considered an important goal of science education. By careful understanding of the above statements, science education, can be considered a fundamental component of basic education, which prepares children to live in a world that is increasingly defined by science and technology. Because of its promising role in promoting self-reliance through the provision of employment opportunities, it teaching as a course offering in our schools and colleges has been made compulsory by the Federal Government to students in the junior secondary schools level.
Scholars all over the world have now recognized that there are better ways of learning than through the conventional ways of instruction. Teachers in secondary schools are beginning to realize the relevance of utilization of appropriate methods through which students learning Basic Science and Technology can be enhanced. Cyril (2012) stated that the introduction of Basic science and Technology in school curriculum implies an attempt for a radical change in emphasis and focus. Cyril further stated that innovation in Basic primary and Junior Secondary schools in Nigeria is characterized by features of the national core curriculum which is the incorporation of concept formation and process skill acquisition. One of the objectives of Basic Science and Technology education is to develop students’ interest in science and technology, as today’s society depends largely on development in science and technology. Teachers are expected to devise ways of making their students to develop positive attitudes towards science and science-related disciplines. Like the name implies basic science, it is the fundamental subject for students that wish to embark on science as their field of study. Basic Science may be viewed as an embodiment of the core sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics and so on. It aims at training the students on the general knowledge that they need to know about sciences and improve their knowledge about the present day technology at large. A good basic science course enables student gain the concept of the fundamental unity of science, such a course should also aid students’ understanding of the role and function of science in everyday life, and the world in which they live. Basic Science and Technology, in particular, is central to many of the scientific fields of human endeavors; therefore, the teaching of Basic Science and Technology should be given serious attention. Science teachers should always recognize the importance of practical work as a means of introducing learners to the scientific process of experimentation.
For any educational system to be effective, the role of teachers in imparting the needed knowledge is very important. Teachers should therefore device means of imparting knowledge, one of which is applying preferred teaching method. Various methods of teaching have been developed by scholars each based on given subject matters, content, objectives of the lesson, available learners and the skill of the teacher involved. As Basic Science and technology is one of the subjects which is important in every aspect of life, it must be taught using the appropriate method of teaching to make teaching and learning effective. Various studies such as those of Akale, (2012) and Usman, (2007) have shown that teachers of Basic Science are not qualified and this in turn affects academic performance. One major problem of the teachers is their inability to use appropriates teaching strategy. They often resort to lecture method that has been shown to lead to poor academic performance in Junior Secondary Schools, (Usman, 2007). In spite of the Federal Government of Nigeria’s encouragement in the teaching of science in Nigerian schools by providing both moral and financial support. Science is still presented to pupils as facts that young people are expected to memorize, thus less emphasis is placed on science processes and practical application of science which makes science more relevant to the needs and aspiration of the society. Fisher (2001) feels that science suffers from pedagogical deficiency as a result of which most people cannot see the connection between the scientific knowledge they learn and daily life.
According to Inekwe (2002), Group-Based learning is the method that enables students to learn with the same vigor that marks their natural activity. David (2007) said it introduces element of joy, team spirit, respect for each other’s’ opinion and it reduces the abstractness in science concepts. Mari (2001) said that in this method, the work is carried out in friendly manner, gladly with motivating spirit and activeness throughout the whole lesson, even to an uninteresting topic. Group-Based learning is in-line with Piagetian tasks as it affords the students a variety of activities and experiences that involve the use of concrete objects. This hastens the learners’ ability to order events through application, knowledge and predict changes. According to Mari (2004) adequate and appropriate use of this method through a rich variety of stimulating experiences, progress from concrete to abstract and then a powerful conceptualization maybe achieved. Thus, the learner will reason or make hypothesis with symbolic ideas rather than needing objects, in physical world as the basis for thinking. The learner according to him can therefore use a hypothetical, deductive procedure that no longer ties his thought to existing reality but could consider all possible explanations to problem and can evaluates alternative explanations or solution to the problem.
In the Group-Based learning, local resources are effectively utilized in the teaching process. Group-Based is a type of research-oriented teaching technique recommended for Basic Science instruction by National Policy on Education, Federal Ministry of Education (2008). Group-Based learning enables students to handle concrete materials which reduce the abstract nature of the concept learned. This makes learning more meaningful and when concepts are meaningfully learned, it enhances and heightens students’ performance and achievement. Groups given to students help to widen the mental horizon of the students. Students begin to see that many other matters, besides those of purely scientific interest are involved when scientific knowledge is used to benefit a community. Besides, the Nigerian Integrated Science Project (NISP) is built around activities that are expected to encourage the development of science process skills in the learners, (Shaibu and Mari, 2002).
The Group-Based learning encourages group interactions among pupil, and if properly used, the spirit of teamwork, exchange of ideas and respect for each other’s point of view will be enhanced at early stages of learning. Another feature of Group-Based learning is that local resources can be effectively utilized in the teaching process. In typical students group, costly scientific equipment is often substituted with locally available teaching aids. David (2007) opined that though science teaching facilities are available but many teachers of science are ill-equipped and ill-prepared to guide students towards inquiry. They seem to find group-oriented instruction difficult to manage.