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EFFECT OF USING COMPUTER-AIDED INSTRUCTION IN TEACHING BASIC SCIENCES IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL
1.1 Background of the Study
Science and technology have greatly contributed to the convenience and comfort of man. Every manufactured good seen at home and place of work is a product of science and technology. For instance, mobile phones, radio and television sets, PC tablets, iPads, iPhones, iPods, laptops, desktops among other devices are products of science and technology (Tunde & Anthony, 2010). In the same way, the fruit juices and soft drinks consumed daily, the cars, the motorcycles and bicycles, the clothes and shoes are all products of science and technology. In view of these contributions, Ashiker (2012) opined that concrete steps should be taken to get the Nigerian citizens well groomed in science and technology for the country’s scientific and technological advancement.
As the world is constantly changing and ways in which human beings function at home, place of work and school are also changing. The speed at which technology is developing plays a major role in these changes. From offline to on-line classes, computers are influential in human life, and can enhance the learning process in schools in various ways. This may be the reason why Keziah, (2011) asserted that, with the increasing popularity of computer technology, it is essential for school administrators to support and encourage computer technology in our education system as it has become an important medium in instructional delivery. In recognition of the importance of computer in the teaching/learning process in Nigeria, the National Council on Education introduced computer education in 1987.
Computer-aided instruction involves the use of computers to supplement classroom instruction. Computer-aided instruction does not fully replace the teacher in a classroom environment. The computer is simply an electronic device or machine that accepts data, processes data and gives out output with great speed and accuracy. Computer-aided instruction uses a combination of texts, graphics, sound and videos in the learning process. Computer-aided instruction system is designed to automate certain forms of drill and practice instruction in delivering basic skills (Tinto, 2007). There are different types of computer-aided instruction software in science education including drill and practice, tutorial software, instructional games, simulations, problem-solving software and discovery environment.
However, this study is anchored on drill and practice software. This software provides opportunities for students to work on problems or examples one at a time and then receive feedback on performance. It is used as a mean to learn or review new content. It is made up of flashcard activities, branching drills and extensive feedback activities. Many of these programs are smartphone friendly so students can access the activities anywhere.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004), in release of educational objectives for secondary schools, emphases the need to equip students to live effectively in this modern age of science and technology. The major goal of science education is to develop scientifically literate individuals that are concerned with high competence for rational thoughts and actions. The objectives of science education in this country according to FRN (2004) include the need to prepare students to observe and explore the environment; explain simple natural phenomena; develop scientific attitudes including curiosity, critical reflection and objectivity; apply the skills and knowledge gained through science to solve everyday problems in the environment; and develop self-confidence and self-reliance through problem-solving activities in science.
In an effort to attain these objectives, several strategies and resources have evolved for science teaching and learning. The resources range from human to materials including the audio-visual and media materials that can be used to sustain the attention of the students during the lesson. Towards the end of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century, it became apparent that national development depends on educational advancement which in turn depends on technological progress (Onasanya, Shehu, Ogunlade & Adefuye, 2011). It is in respect of this, that Samba and Eriba (2011) opined that teaching must go beyond the chalk-and-talk method and it must involve the totality of the student, the instructions must be prepared in such a way that at any time, students’ learning must make use of more than two senses.
The roles of computer-aided instruction in science education are varied and these include fostering students interest and motivation; promoting students commitment to learning; making lessons more exciting and interesting for both teachers and students; making students to do science effectively and conducting experiments as viewed on screen; and facilitating the process of learning through interaction with drill and practice software and simulations. The most important feature in computerized instruction is that it permits a high degree of individualization. This means that students can proceed at their own pace, following a path through the curriculum as suited to their particular interest and talent.
In view of the relevance of computer technology in science education, the study of effect of computer-aided instruction on junior secondary basic science students’ achievement and retention in Benue State is undertaken. Two groups of learners studying the same curriculum will be compared; one group will use computer-aided instruction; and the other will use modified lecture method.
Achievement is the performance of students in a test or examination. In determining the students’ achievement using computer-aided instruction, Ash (2005) found that computer-aided instruction packages enhanced students’ academic achievement in an aspect of mathematics in middle schools. Study conducted by Kingsley and Boone (2008), revealed that students who used computers in addition to textbooks in instruction scored higher on a standardized State test. Computer-aided strategy could expose science in active data based form and allow students and teachers to fully participate in the teaching-learning process. This may help to reduce the long time stigma of the chalk-and-talk approach to science teaching.
As the growth of educational programs continues to rapidly accelerate, concern over the retention of the students’ knowledge is increasing. Retention is the ability of a student to hold and bring to mind a memory of the previously learned skills, knowledge and experience during and after examination. Retention is significantly important, not just for student success, but also for the success of academic institutions. Nnaobi (2013) found that computer-aided instruction has the ability to sustain students’ interest, encourage them to participate actively in the lesson and retain concepts learnt for a long time.
Astin (2006) asserted that the higher the school Grade Point Average (GPA) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) examination scores of a college student, the stronger the chance that the same student will retain knowledge in schools. Deducing from this, school managers should benchmark their students’ scores and GPA higher to increase students’ retention abilities. The true art of memory and retention is the skill of attention (Tinto, 2007). For effective retention of the learnt concepts, principles, theories, laws, ethics and assumptions of science in students’ short and long term memories, science teachers should get, use, link and picture the learning experience through the use of the computer.
Gender issues in students’ achievement and retention have caused a lot of concerns to educationists. Gender is the biological anatomy that differentiates a male from female. Gender issues have been linked with students’ achievement and retention in academic tasks in several studies without any definite conclusion. But there is a general conclusion that there is a little or no gender imbalance in computer use, access, career and attitude. This is why Davies, Klawe, Ng, Nyhus, and Sullivan (n.d.) suggested that the role that technology will play in the future should be a concern for men and women, practitioners, policy makers and parents. This study is out to compare the achievement and retention of male and female students in basic science exposed to computer-aided instruction.
The integrated science (now basic science) curriculum is a broad field curriculum in which subject matter from different subject areas of biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology and environment are synthesized to provide a holistic and unified nature of science (Adejoh, 2006). It is a three-year course developed in spiral to form themes whereby topics get increasingly more detailed as the year progresses. The aim of basic science is to begin to teach students what science is and how a scientist works. To realize this objective, it is expected that students carry out the kind of activities scientists carried out in their works, which is the beginning of the acquisition of series of skills, attitudes, principles, knowledge, assumptions and ethics of science.
Conventional teaching methods such as chalk-and-talk known as a traditional teaching method in which teachers address students by using board to provide examples or illustrations have been continually used by the science teachers despite its criticisms by the experts in science education. It is an oral presentation intended to teach students about concepts, theories, history, background and equations which places students in passive rather than an active role.
Nevertheless, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC, 2007) stipulates the use of activity-based and guided inquiry approaches to basic science teaching, but the adoption and application of these methods are still an illusion because of paucity of instructional materials and unwillingness of the science teachers to improvise alternative materials locally to improve instructional delivery. Consequently, teachers resort to conventional lecture method, walk into the classroom with a key-point text for one-way communication; and copy a few points on the chalkboard. Lessons are rarely been planned and instructional materials are hardly been used by these teachers.
Computers are capable of improving and contributing to growth in students’ achievement and retention in basic science. The interest of this study is the input of computer-aided instruction to enhance students’ achievement and retention in Nigerian schools.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Studies have shown that students’ achievement and retention in basic science are unimpressive (Ibraheem, 2004; & Ncharam, 2008). Instructional strategies and cognitive factors have been identified majorly as being responsible for poor achievement and retention in the sciences. Factors such as absence of computers and software packages, fluctuating internet connectivity, arbitrary charges of data bundles, epileptic power supply, computer illiterate teachers and students and gender are hindrances to the use of computer in schools.
Researchers, educators, administrators, Science Teacher Association of Nigeria (STAN) and other relevant educational agents have tried to develop various teaching strategies, yet schools have continually produced students with poor results in basic science as well as other science subjects. These efforts have not yielded desired results in students’ achievement and retention as conventional teaching methods have been used in teaching sciences. This has been attributed to the use of inappropriate teaching strategy in teaching science subjects. Both male and female students of basic science perform poorly.
Mofeed (2011) opined that computer-aided instruction has the ability to empower teachers and learners, and transform teaching and learning processes from being highly teacher-dominated to student-centered. This transformation will result in increased students’ performance; create opportunities for learners to develop their creativity, problem-solving abilities, informational reasoning and communication skills. Consequently, computer-aided instruction could be an adequate strategy in teaching and learning of basic science. Specifically, the problem of this study is how could computer-aided instruction affect JS II students’ achievement and retention in basic science?
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of computer-aided instruction on junior secondary basic science students’ achievement and retention in Benue State. It would aim at the following objectives:
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions will guide the study:
This study will be guided by the following null hypotheses which will be tested at 0.05 level of significance:
Ho1. There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught using
computer-aided instruction and those taught using modified lecture method.
Ho2. There is no significant difference in the mean retention scores of students taught using
computer-aided instruction and those taught using lecture method.
Ho3. There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female
students exposed to computer-aided instruction.
Ho4. There is no significant difference between the mean retention scores of male and female
students in basic science exposed to computer-aided instruction.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The widening gap between developed and developing nations in terms of overall development and wealth creation could be traced to the acquisition and utilization of scientific skills and principles. For Nigeria to close this gap with priority and vigour, the result of this study may serve as a useful tool for students, teachers, policy makers and administrators, for a functional and impact-oriented computer-aided instruction in science education programme.
The study could allow students to study basic science concepts while advancing at their own pace, enabling them to spend the necessary time on each concept. The teacher’s role in this environment is to provide targeted help to students when they need additional assistance. The computer program covers many administrative aspects such as lesson planning, grading, homework and assignment so that teachers may spend more time on individual instruction with struggling students.
The study could allow for more individualized instruction, then it could be more beneficial for struggling students who may not keep up with the pace of the lectures in traditional classrooms or for more advanced students who could progress faster at their own pace. In a traditional classroom, students missing class will miss all the material covered in class that day. In contrast, the computer would pick up where the student left off the last time he/she was in class regardless of whether it was the day before or 5 days before.
The study could help the policy-makers and school administrators to evaluate the use of computer-aided instruction. This includes the cost of hardware and software, the cost in training teachers, and the time that students devote to computer-aided instruction that they would otherwise spend in other forms of instruction. It would be an eye-opener for the school administrators to equip the schools with necessary CAI packages and ICT facilities in all subjects and also train manpower to produce software for science education.
The findings of this study are expected to encourage teachers to adopt appropriate teaching technique like computer-aided instruction which would improve teaching and learning of science subjects. This strategy could expose science in a concretized form and allow students to fully participate in teaching/learning process. This could be achieved through making learning software available in schools and at homes.
It is expected that the findings of this study would bring about understanding and retention which are products of meaningful learning when teaching is effective and meaningful to students as the use of computer-aided programs might be a source of excitement and motivation to Nigerian students in their courses.
The findings would motivate educational administrators to keep abreast with the paradigm shift in pedagogy that is at the heart of education reform in the 21st century. Thus, a shift from conventional chalk-and-talk to computer-aided instruction. This would promote the acquisition of knowledge and skills that would empower students and teachers for lifelong learning.
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