Effective teaching is so crucial to learning that the products of teaching such as knowledge, attitude and skills acquisition are much dependent on the teacher’s effective teaching. Effectiveness of students learning can be enhanced through the appropriate strategy adopted in a learning situation. Effectiveness in teaching biology will bring about the expected change of behaviour and learning among biology students.

            Biology as part of science has been recognized as an instrument for economic and scientific development of any nation which an individual needs in order to be able to strive in the 21st century. Udoh and Etiubon (2016) opined that effective science teaching will enhance learners’ understanding and acquisition of basic science skills. A science teacher can achieve these through application of effective teaching methods, utilization of teaching materials/ resources and enabling environment. Furthermore, the Federal Government of Nigeria emphasizes the teaching of science in its National Policy on Education (FRN, 2013) for national development. According to Damar, et al., (2016), when a teacher teaches students with effective teaching technique, it will help the students to directly develop their skills and experiences and will also provide opportunity for students to actively participate in the teaching-learning process.

Despite the emphasis of science teaching in the National Policy on Education (FRN, 2013), there still exist some reports of poor academic achievement among secondary school students in public examinations in sciences (chief examiners’ report, 2016). Khan (2016) noted that these students’ poor achievement might be due to poor method of teaching used by the science teachers without students’ involvement. Udoh (2015) reported that the failure rate in sciences especially biology was a reflection of disconnect between teachers and their students. Khan (2016) is of the opinion that there is need for biology teachers to identify teaching approaches that are activity-based which students can relate with, share ideas and interact academically within themselves.

Jigsaw is one of the teaching techniques used in cooperative learning that may enhance science teaching. Aronson (2010) posited that jigsaw is a teaching technique that enables each student of a home group to specialize in one aspect of a learning unit and then meet with members from other groups who are assigned the same aspect and after mastering the concept, return to the home group and teach the concept to the group members. Jigsaw can be used whenever concept is segmented into separate components. Each group member becomes an expert on a different components or procedure and teaches it to the group. Doymus (2008) stated that in the application of jigsaw technique, students separate from their own groups and form new groups with other students who are responsible for preparing the same subjects. These groups called “group of experts” try to make other students understand the subject, they make plans about how they can teach the subject to their friends and prepare a report. Thereafter, they return to their own groups and teach their subjects to them with the help of the report they have prepared. In the last stage of completing, teachers can perform activities with individual small groups or the whole class in order to unify them.

Individual Strategy is another teaching strategy that is used in science teaching. Mbakwem (2001) opined that individualized instruction is an instructional mode that is tailored to the need and ability of individual learners. It s an individual-oriented method which seeks to identify the needs of individual, be it physical, social, emotional or intellectual. Individualized instruction means giving suitable instruction to each student. It is not teacher centered, and different students-centered and the purpose is helping students learn what they need using their own learning style and at their own pace (Altman, 1972). The use of individualized instruction in teaching in secondary schools enable the teachers to see each learner as a unique being that possesses certain peculiar traits, potentials and abilities. Therefore, it is expected that the teacher should ensure that the unique qualities are carefully put into consideration in the teaching/learning process.

Oyibe and Nnamani (2014) asserted that individualized instruction just like self directed learning is materialized when learners under the guidance of a teacher, direct and regulate their own learning process. Consequently, individual learner’s experiences self-actualization through deciding on the materials, methods, and goals of learning. Taking a great deal of initiative in their own learning, learners can choose learning strategies independently of their teachers. To develop self, it is highly recommended that learners manage their own learning process through engagement in individualized learning. According to Schangel and Smink (2001) individualized instruction provides the opportunity for students to learn at their own pace and their own way, and be successful.

Omoniyi (2012) asserted that the positive effect of individualized instruction could be attributed to the learning modes. The learning mode in individualized instruction allows for self pacing. Thus, the individuals learn at their own pace, taking their time to understand difficult materials, ask questions, and make inquiry. This kind of learning raises the motivation in the learner since the understanding of one concept sustains in them the motivation that they can learn the next related concepts since the learning is systematically planned. This therefore could affect performance positively. Olagunju (2004) stated that individualized learning has no significant difference between male and female performance of students in social science.

Gender difference in academic performance in science has been long debated issue. Various studies have found male students performing on the average better than their female counterparts. Boujaoude and Attieh (2008) found female students performed better than males in chemistry. Bilesani (2010) reported that female students performed better than males in biology. Cheema and Mirza (2013) found male students performed significantly better than female students in biology. Oludipe (2012), Mobark (2014), Udoh and Etiubon (2016) showed no gender differences in academic performance in science subjects.

Student’s poor academic performances in biology have not been greatly improved according to chief examiner’s report (2017). The poor academic performance of students in biology raises doubts on the efficacy of the instructional strategy used by the teachers. This affirms that a teacher-centered teaching strategy in the classroom does not effectively equip the students with enough knowledge to broaden their level of understanding. The  lecture-based  teaching  used  by  teachers  has  been  argued  to  have  created many  problems.  Firstly ,  many  students  display  little  initiative  when  learning,  so  that  they  are  more  reliant  on  the teacher as a source of knowledge rather seeking information from other sources and learning  from other students (Harman  and  Nguyen, 2010).  Secondly,  the  majority  of  students  tend  to  learn  the  subject  matter  by  memorization rather  than  by  understanding  (Pham,  2010).  Thirdly ,  many  students  lack  the  ability  to  enhance  their  academic performance  and  learning  skills  (Harman  and  Nguyen,  2010). Finally,  lectures  tend  to  focus  on  the  lower-order  level  of  thinking  (surface  learning) rather  than  the  higher-order level  of  thinking (deep  learning)  (Sherian,  2010).  Surface learning  mainly  depends  on  the  simple  recall  of information  rather  the  complex  assimilation  of  information  and  evaluation. Based on these, there is a great need to adopt innovative teaching strategies to enhance students’ academic performance in biology in both internal and external examinations in secondary schools. This study therefore centers on the effects of jigsaw and individualised strategies in teaching variation in population and biology students’ academic performance in Abak Local government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

1.2       Statementof theProblem

The performance of students in biology both in internal and external examinations has been on the decline. The annual WAEC chief examiners’ report (2014-2017) has indicated this. This phenomenon has constituted source of great concern to stakeholders in education-students, teachers, parents, school authority, government and the society at large. Many factors are responsible for this worrisome situation among which is ineffective method of biology instruction adopted by secondary school teachers. Teacher centered learning strategy does not bring about high academic performance in students due to lack of student interaction, friendless and teamwork. In teacher centered learning, students’ contribution to the instruction is minimal. Therefore, as part of the continuous search for improved students’ performance in biology in secondary schools, this current study seek to investigate  the relative effects of jigsaw and individualised learning strategies in teaching the concept of variation in population and biology students’ academic performance in Abak Local Government Area.