1.1 Background of the Study
Basic Science and Technology is one of the sciences subjects that senior secondary schools student offer at the junior levels in the Nigerian secondary schools, (FRN, 2013). Basic science is a very important subject, it comprises of Basic Science, Basic technology, physical and health education (PHE) Information and communication technology (ICT) serves as a requirement for further learning of science – related professional courses like Medicine, Pharmacy amongst others. In Nigeria, great emphasis is placed on the development of Science and Technology. Many studies have been conducted within and outside Nigeria on how to effectively improve the teaching and learning of Basic Science and Technology.
Osuafor (2008) reported that the level of achievement of secondary school students in science subjects has consistently remained low despite the fact that all researchers is focused on strategies to improving the standard of teaching and learning of science subject in secondary schools. According to the researcher, one of reasons for the low academic achievement might be the problem of teachers’ inability to put the findings of these researches into practice. Research in science education are increasingly needed in order to foster greater scientific literacy. Results from science education research and the additional technological resources now available are contributing to a change of view with regards to content, teaching/leaning processes and methods and the role of teachers in science classes. Challenges facing new ways of teaching and learning are becoming available but can only be implemented when teachers adopt them (Roser 2007).
The knowledge and skills of science education and technology are vital for the development of any nation. However, a well concerted and structured science and technology education will fail if those to implement it at the grassroots level are not adequately prepared to move with the changing trend (Olagunju, 2008). This led to the approval of more funding to research and development, as well as creation of a system that will retain and reward teacher’s, teaching and learning.
For decades now, lots of research works in Nigeria and beyond according to Akinsola and Igwe (2002) have been directed towards improving the standard and statuesque of science education in Nigeria with emphasis on scientific and technological advancement. For science education programme to be effective and success oriented, numerous researches have been focused on instructional strategies to improve the standard of teaching and learning of science in schools (Osuafor 2008). The Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) has to improve the standard of science education in Nigeria by bringing out strategies for promoting effective science delivery. For this reason, workshops, conferences, and seminars has been organized and the articles and proceedings published in STAN journals. In facts, most of these research works focus on strategic areas of science such as curricula, teaching methods, teaching and learning resources, learning strategies and assessment methods. (Raimi 2002 and Babaymi 2008). It is highly encouraging that quite an appreciable ground has been covered in Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) education in Nigeria yet the outcomes of all these robust findings are still not satisfactory. Ezekannagha and Ikegu (2004), lamented over persistent dissatisfaction with the rate of level of STM development in Nigeria since independence despite the substantial amount of studies that have been carried out. They wondered why the apparent rate of STM research growth is not enough to raise the scientific and technological literacy level of Nigerians to levels comparable with those in more developed countries.
Nwosu and Nzewi, (2009) Osuafor (2008) and Onyegebu (2004) have attributed the problem to non-utilization of research finding by science teachers in their instructional process. This situation may bring about a setback in the growth of science and technology and consequently the scientific and technological attainments in Nigeria. Research results are supposed to enhance student’s achievement in the sciences. One then wonders where the problem lies. Many factors could be responsible for this. Firstly, how often do science teachers attend conferences and workshops? because this will acquaint them with newly developed strategies and information? Secondly, how is their attitude to research finding?, are they even aware of these research findings?, do they have access to these research reports? What is the level of their knowledge of research findings?, how frequent do they utilize the research finding? Has the research finding been implemented and if it has, what is the level of achievement in the teaching and learning of science. It is the believe of the researcher that if the larger percentage of teachers are not sensitized and are not acquainted with the current research contributions and trained accordingly, then there will be a negative effect in the practice of teaching.
A study of this nature according to Desforges (2008) is to ensure that research findings have an impact on practice as long as teachers are involved in the identification of problems and are provided with the context in which they can learn the strategies for improvement. Teachers need to embark on professional development. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) advocated for an organized long-term research upon which to develop, assess, and maintain effective teacher preparation programs and collaboration among many institutions and individuals, as stated
Develop robust, higher science knowledge and skills than the levels they are preparing to teach, Teach science effectively and appropriately, Construct science concepts with understanding and reflect on the history and nature of science, Consider the applications of science in the society, the relationship of science to engineering, and the impact of cultural and personal values on science, Create a learning environment that encourages inquiry, Collaborate with a community of learners (expert science teacher, science teacher educators, etc.), Engage in meaningful laboratory and simulation activities using contemporary technology tools, Understand science – specific pedagogical knowledge grounded in contemporary scholarship and school environments, Observe diverse learners ideas of science and prepare teaching plans to help students develop more meaningful understanding of science, Implement their teaching plans, assess and reflect on the learning outcomes, and adjust their teaching to enhance their students understanding, Engage in data-based decision making regarding their teaching behaviours, strategies and the selection of topics, activities and materials, Understand how to find and use credible information on the school community, the curriculum, and on safe and effective use of laboratory activities, independent science projects, science fairs, field trips, simulations, computer tools, and alternative curriculum resources, Develop dispositions for effective science teaching, including a sense of responsibility to students and the community and the need grow continually in part through activities involvement in the larger science education community.
From the ongoing, therefore, there are greater tasks ahead of teachers in the areas of updating knowledge and skills, Collaborating with experts in science education, Getting acquainted with contemporary technology tools, Prepared lesson plans and adjusting teaching to accommodate students’ understanding of science, Understanding how to find and use credible information related to teachers’ all round performance, Developing dispositions for effective science teaching and dedication to grow continually. To promote the development of these needed skills, knowledge and attitudes, NSTA recommends that a research-based focus to develop professional knowledge and skills for teachers in science and science teaching is necessary (National Science Teachers Association, 2009).