This study investigated the effect of Problem Solving and Guided Discovery instructional strategies on JSS Students performance and attitude in Kaduna state. A qausi-experiment with pretest-posttest control group design adopted the 3×2 factorial analysis was employed for variable matching. The sample consisted of 381 Government JSS II students made of 195 males and 186 female students drawn from a population of six thousand four hundred and thirty one students of GJSS using stratified random sampling by balloting in thirty (30) junior secondary schools in Kaduna state. The research instruments used were: Ecology Performance Test (GPT) and Students Ecology Attitude Questionnaires (SGAQ). These instruments were validated and reliability coefficient estimated as r=0.98 and r=0.86 respectively. The five hypotheses were tested and analyzed using t-test ANOVA, ANCOVA and Kruskal Wallis Statistics. Post Hoc Scheffe and Least Significant Difference (LSD) were used to detect the source, magnitude and direction of such significant variations. All hypotheses were tested at P<0.05 level of significance. The findings showed that: (1) there is significant difference among three groups of students when exposed to Problem Solving, Guided Discovery and Lecture Method (ii) there is significant difference in performance between male and female student when exposed to problem solving, guided discovery and those expose to lecture method. (iii) significant difference exist among the three groups in mean attitude score toward ecology when exposed to problem solving, guided discovery instructional strategies and those taught using lecture method . (iv) There is significant mean difference between male and female attitude towards ecology when exposed to problems solving, guided discovery and those in lecture method. Based on this finding, it is recommended that problems solving instructional strategy should be adopted in teaching the JSS student because this strategy produced higher mean score in performance among the students. This implies that mathematics teachers should be trained through seminars and workshops on how to effectively design and use the problem solving and guided discovery strategies in teaching geometric concepts. Conclusively, the problem solving and guided discovery strategies are viable alternatives to the lecture method particularly in teaching abstract geometric concepts among the JSS students.
1.1 Background of the study
Education is a systematic training and instruction designed to transmit knowledge and develop skills in individuals. This involves a continuing development of relevant knowledge, skills and habit whose broad understanding and application enable individual to contribute meaningfully towards the growth of their society (Mbah, 2012). It is believed that the quality of a nation‟s education is proportional to the level of its prosperity. Nigeria having realized the effectiveness of education as a powerful instrument for national progress and development, adjusted her educational philosophy and methodology to march the ideals and challenges of charging economics and social structure of modern society (FME, 2013). The policy is geared towards producing individuals who will not only possess the capability to solve his problems but also contribute to the development of his society. A number of several subjects can be identified in the curriculum of schools at all levels of Nigerian education, the subjects are included with the expectation that when properly taught, a more effective learning will be the result and this will bring about realization of the goal of Nigerian education as stated in the National Policy on Education (Oche,2012).
There are certain subjects that are classified as core subjects, while others are known as electives (FME, 2013). Core subjects are those subjects which students compulsorily offer while electives subjects consists of subjects from which students can freely make their choice. At the junior secondary school level, Mathematics is a core subject which should be taught well. This is because; the concept of Mathematics plays an important role to an individual day-to-day life and also to the nation at large.
Mathematics is a leading logical science upon which other science depends. Mathematics can be defined as the communication system for the concepts of shapes, size, quantity and order used to describe diverse phenomena both in physical and economic situation. Mathematics is a tool use in science, technology and industries. The definition connotes that all sciences draw their aspirations from Mathematics and in fact implies that Mathematics is a language of sciences. Ezeugo and Agwagah (2000), in their study looked at Mathematics as a scientific tool in realizing the nation scientific and technological aspirations. Also Usman (2002) considered Mathematics as a subject that encroaches into all aspects of human endeavor and further describe Mathematics as the life wire in the studies of various disciplines. It is this importance of Mathematics that compelled the Federal Government of Nigeria to make Mathematics a compulsory subject from the primary school through to the end of the senior secondary school education. However, literature reviews constantly the low performance of students at all levels of education in the subject (Suleiman, 2010; Serkan 2011; Hassan, 2014, Bello, 2014; Adamu, 2014). Other reports on the same subject matter have over the years indicated poor academic performance and general negative attitudes of students towards the subject (Tali, 2012; Sherax, 2014; Jackson and Martins2014).
Ecology contributes immensely to helping students develop the skills of critical thinking, problem-solving ability, conjecturing, deductive reasoning, logical argument and proof. Geometric representation can be used to help students make sense of other areas of Mathematics.
Ecology is an important source of Mathematical thinking. It helps to sharpen man‟s intuition and ability to think logically as well as kindle his interest in observations. It comprises of theories and logical proofs which could be very interesting if wellunderstood.
To stress on the importance of teaching geometric concepts effectively, Ogunkunle (2000) opined.