1.1 Background to the Study
The laboratory in the school has been defined by several authors in different ways. Maduabum (2000) sees a laboratory as a place where scientific exercises are conducted by the science teachers for the benefit of the students (learners). The laboratory exercises include; experiments, and other activities which help the students in acquiring scientific skills. Ezeliora (2001) defined science laboratory as a workshop where science is done or where scientific activities are carried out under a conducive environment. She also sees the laboratory as a place where science equipment, materials or instruments are housed for security and safety.
Igwe (2003) observed that a laboratory can be indoor such as the sufficiently designed and equipped room found in most schools or outdoor involving such places as riverside, workshop, field and even market for carrying out scientific studies. He further stated that whatever the type of laboratory employed in science teaching, the same laboratory experience should be attained, and that is a participation in the series of experimental, observational and demonstrating activities which provide opportunity for students to develop understanding of practical and theoretical concepts through solutions of problems.
According to Omiko (2007) “A laboratory is a room, or building or a special period of time equipped and set apart for practical or experimental studies to take place”. He sees the laboratory as the heart of a good scientific programme which allows students in the school to have experience which are consistent with the goals of scientific literacy. This implies that science teaching and learning cannot be completely done in a secondary school where there is no equipped laboratory.
Ufondu (2009) observed that the laboratory is an indispensable organ of the school if effective teaching and learning of the science subjects are to be achieved. Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary Special Price Edition (2004) defined laboratory as a room or building used for scientific research, experiments, demonstration, testing and analyzing of data etc. However, whatever is done in the science laboratory is to obtain or acquire skills that would help to advance scientific knowledge which subsequently would lead to the development of the human society. Dienye and Gbamanja (2003) observed that laboratory method of teaching is an activity involving a two-way approach carried out by one or more persons through the exercise and experimental approaches both of which are useful in science teaching. The experimental approach provides an opportunity for students to seek information using experimental procedures. These procedures call for careful observations and interpretation of data. It has the qualities of questioning, investigating and confronting the unknown.
Udonfu (2009) and Omiko (2015) observed that the use of the laboratory in science teaching has the following benefits: Laboratory teaching makes the students/learners to learn about the nature of science and technology in order to foster the knowledge of human enterprise of science and thus enhance the aesthetic and intellectual understanding of the child. Dienye and Gbamanja (2003) opined that science is known to be a way of doing certain things by the observation of natural phenomena, quantifying the observed thing, integration of such quantities and interpretation of the results in order to make useful meaning out of the exercise. The students can identify cause and effect relationships and in this process develop important skills. Educators believe that the laboratory is an important means of instruction in science since late 19th century. According to them laboratory instruction is considered essential because it provides training in observation, supplies detailed information, and aroused pupil’s interest. It also goes further to say that “developing and teaching in an effective laboratory requires as much skill, creativity, and hard work as proposing and executing a first-rate research project.
They also listed the following number of possible goals that can be achieved through a developed laboratory programme: develop intuition and deepen understanding of concepts, apply concept learned in class to new situations, experience basic phenomena, develop experimental and data analysis skills, learn to use scientific apparatus, learn to estimate statistical error and recognize systematic errors, develop reporting skills (written and oral).
Omiko (2015) and Ufondu (2009) were of the same opinion where they observed that laboratory teaching is sometimes used in conjunction with large lecture courses so that students may acquire technical skills and apply concepts and theories presented in the lecture. Omiko (2015) stated that “hands-on experience encourages students to develop a spirit of inquiry and allows them to acquire scientific skills and the right attitude to handle scientific tools and materials. Science laboratory provides students with the richest experiences which they will transfer to the society and their various places of work. It helps in providing the students the opportunities to practice science as the scientist do. Science educators have believed that the laboratory is an important means of instruction in science since late in the 19th century. Laboratory instruction was considered essential because it provided training in observation, supplied detailed information, and aroused pupils’ interest.
These same reasons are still accepted almost 100 years later. In a laboratory, students work individually or in small groups on a question, problem or hypothesis. Agbogun, (2005) reported that; Laboratory method is a unique source of quality teaching and learning in science because science students are able to observe and manipulate materials to demonstrate certain aspects of the subject matter which has been learnt in class through lectures, discussions and textbooks. Hence, laboratory method provides students with opportunities to engage in processes of investigation and inquiry which is believed to enhance quality education. The problem of student’s academic performance in physics is not with the subject as it was but a lack of interest as a result of teaching method being used. Interest in the subject will critically influence students’ attentiveness, degree of commitment and concentration on learning. Relevance of subject matter to one’s concept of life and aspiration plays a major role in being interested and motivated while learning is taking place. Methods for learning physics should therefore be made stimulating and attractive to students in addition to being the means of preparing and selecting the next generations of students of higher education who in turn become the nation’s professional teachers or leaders (Okocha, 2006).The roles of physics teachers according to Moore (2000), is to be knowledgeable in his area of specialization and should be able to communicate his knowledge to his students by using appropriate methods to specific content, teaching and learning strategies to impart the physics content. Physics teachers, just like any other in different works of life must also possess many different qualities such as personal qualities, professional qualities, command of subject and teaching materials, planning for instruction, managing instruction, establishing a satisfactory classroom climate in order to impart his knowledge to his students to perform well academically. In the same vein, it has been discovered that prevailing teaching methods predominantly employed by secondary school teachers at secondary school level in Nigeria is the teacher-centered, involving showing, telling and observing (Ngada 2004, Moore 1996 and Agharuwhe&Ogborubo 2010).
Ideally, an effective method of teaching physics subject must integrate the nature of the subject into it, with the mode of inquiry, strength of the knowledge, theory, practice, and models used. By this, students are made to participate both mentally and practically in the teaching and learning activities in the class or laboratory. Many of our standard methods of teaching have been shown to be comparatively unproductive in the students’ ability to master and then retain vital concepts. The traditional methods of teaching (lecture, recitation, and laboratory) do not tend to foster collaborative problem-solving, critical thinking and creative thinking (Wood and Gentile 2003; Costa 2014). With regard to the prevailing scenario in physics, in general, students are taught memorization and routine application, and not reasoning methods, analysis, synthesis and evaluation (Somalingam and Shanthakumari 2013). Employers complain that today’s college graduates are severely lacking in basic skills particularly communication, problem-solving, the ability to prioritize tasks and decision making (Selingo 2015).Teaching strategies are decisions about organizing people, materials and ideas to provide learning (Nwachukwu 2005). Weston and Cranton (2001) viewed teaching strategies as both the teaching method and the materials used in the process of teaching. Some of these teaching strategies include inquiry, discussion, lecture and demonstration; among others (Vincent and Akpan 2014).Lecture strategy contains a verbal presentation of ideas, facts, concepts and generalizations. The practice of this method is that of spoon-feeding the learners with facts or information. The students remain passive and obtain information from their teacher (Umoren 2001; Vincent and Akpan 2014). Demonstration strategy is a method of teaching concepts, principles of real things by combining explanation with handling or manipulation of real things, materials or equipment (Akinbobola and Ikitde 2011). “In the matter of physics, the first lessons should contain nothing but what is experimental and interesting to see. A pretty experiment is in itself often more valuable than twenty formulae extracted from our minds.” A famous quote by Albert Einstein (Moszkowski 1970).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The laboratory has been identified as the heart of a good scientific programme which allows students in the school to have experience which are consistent with the goals of scientific literacy. Practical physics constitutes a major part in physics education, if it is not taught properly the education of the students in the other science courses will be affected negatively. Therefore secondary schools require properly equipped and functional laboratories. Students’ persistent poor performance has been partly ascribed to inadequate teaching and instructional methods adopted by science teachers. Physics as a science subject is bulky in nature. The subject teachers usually adopt lecture method in teaching in order to cover the syllabus within the stipulated time and this do not give room for proper understanding of the subject. Learning methods that adopt the students-centered activities concept of development capability for developing skills and knowledge are conspicuously lacking. This trend of development could adversely affect the overall educational system if not checked and the Nation’s quest for industries, technological and economic development might be an illusion or mirage pursued. Therefore it becomes imperative to explore by means of empirical data, the most effective instructional methods between Lecture and Demonstration methods of teaching and learning concepts in physics among Secondary schools students in Mkpat Enin Local.
1.3 Purpose of the study
Generally, the purpose of the study was to explore laboratory teaching, demonstration learning strategy and students’ academic performance in physics in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Specifically, the study sought to:
Determine the difference between laboratory teaching and demonstration learning strategy and students’ academic performance in physics.
Access the academic performance of male and female (gender) students taught the concept of light wave in physics using laboratory and demonstration learning strategy
Ascertain the retention ability of students taught the concept of light wave in physics using laboratory and demonstration learning strategy?
1.4 Research Questions
What differences exists between the academic performance of student taught using laboratory and demonstration learning strategies?
What differences exist between the academic performance of male and female (gender) students taught the using laboratory and demonstration learning strategy
What differences exist in the retention ability of students taught the concept of light wave in physics using laboratory and demonstration learning strategy?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses will guide the study:
There is no significant difference in the academic performance of student on the concept of light wave taught using laboratory and demonstration learning strategies?
There is no significant difference in the academic performance of male and female (gender) students taught using laboratory and demonstration learning strategies.
There are no significant difference in the retention ability of students taught using laboratory and demonstration learning strategies?
1.6 Significance of the study
The findings could also influence the curriculum innovation programmes in physics. The findings from this study would therefore shed light on the instructional strategy that is most suitable for teaching the student. The findings from this research work is also hoped to provide a teaching/learning strategy that teachers’ of physics could adopt so that students in their classes will benefit maximally, thereby meeting the needs of individual students in the class.