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RELATIVE EFFECTS OF TEACHER – DIRECTED AND STUDENT – DIRECTED INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES ON STUDENTS’ ENVIRONMENTAL KNOWLEDGE IN BIOLOGY

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RELATIVE EFFECTS OF TEACHER – DIRECTED AND STUDENT – DIRECTED INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES ON STUDENTS’ ENVIRONMENTAL KNOWLEDGE IN BIOLOGY

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 

1.0BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Mankind’s encounter with the environment is as old as man himself. Since the evolution of man on the earth he has been dependent on the very nature and reality of his environment. Initially the needs of man were limited and small; therefore, his activities did not really affect the environment. But slowly human being settled down and civilized himself and learnt to cultivate. Over recent decades, global problems relating to degradation of natural resources and pollution have increased dramatically (Larijani, 2010). Natural resources are depleted by excessive use which in fact begs for better and more understanding of it.

 

The Environment is the sum total of all conditions and influences of the development of the life of human beings and other organisms (Hema & Jamal, 2004). It includes air, water, land and dynamically the interrelationship that exists between these and human beings; other living creatures, plants, microorganisms and property (Hema & Jamal, 2004). The word environment embraces the conditions or influences under which any organism or thing exists, lives or develops. All these may be placed into three divisions such as the set of physical conditions affecting and influencing the growth and development of an individual and community; the social and cultural conditions affecting the nature of an individual or community; and the surroundings of an inanimate object of intrinsic social value (Gilpin, 1995). Therefore, environment includes all the conditions, circumstances and influences surrounding and affecting an organism or a group of organisms (Trivedi & Raj, 1992). So, it may be stated that the concept of environment in its totality is a complex one, far ranging in its implications and challenging to our understanding.

 

However, over the last 50 years, environmental awareness, education or knowledge as the case may be, has been one of the main interests of school organisations, local communities, the private sectors and local governments (Monroe, Day, Grieser & Green, 2000). These organisations have been demanding that schools should include such in the curriculum of education. Many authors name the 1960s as the decade when Environmental Education started to develop in response to the world’s growing awareness about environmental problems (Monroe et al, 2000). Others believe that Environmental Education grew from the movement that existed from the beginning of the last century such as nature study, conservation and outdoor education (NACD, 1998).

 

One of the most widely accepted definitions of Environmental Education was given in the Tbilisi Declaration which was developed at the international conference of environment educators, sponsored by UNESCO in 1977. Environmental education was defined there as “learning process that increase people’s knowledge and awareness about the environment and associated challenges, develops the necessary skills and expertise to address the challenges, and fosters attitude, motivations, and commitments to make informed decisions and take responsible action” (UNESCO, 1978). According to this declaration, environmental education is seen as a life-long process that is interdisciplinary and holistic in nature and application. It concerns the interrelationship between human and natural systems and encourages the development of an environmental ethic, awareness, understanding of environmental problems, development of critical thinking and problem solving skills. MacGregor (2003) believes that the Tbilisi definition was based on the definition developed by Stapp, Swan, Wall & Havlick. (1969), because William Stapp influence in creating and shaping the Tbilisi Environmental Education conference (Bartosh, 2003).

 

The term environmental awareness or knowledge has a broad meaning. It not only implies knowledge about environment but also values and necessary skills to solve environmental problems. Moreover, environmental awareness is the initial step ultimately leading to the ability to carry on responsible citizenship behaviour (Sengupta, Das & Maji, 2010). Environmental education is a process of identifying values and clarifying concepts in order to develop skills and added tools necessary to understand and appreciate the inter-relationship among man, his culture and his bio-physical surroundings.

 

A number of research works have been taken up in this respect (Banerjee & Das, 2014). But being a location specific issue, research on environmental education should be undertaken in different parts of a country for developing a clear understanding and perspective of the issues involved. Rajput et al. (1980), made an attempt to identify the awareness of children of primary level, towards the scientific and social environment. The study revealed that only one of the four group (2 schools X 2 Class) were significantly different on Environmental awareness at pre-test stage, whereas at the post test stage two experimental group were significantly better than the control group. Paramjit (1993)conducted a study on “Environmental Awareness among the student of Different Socio-Economic status”. The finding revealed that environmental awareness was more among boys of better socio-economic status whereas among girl, it was observed that the girls of lower socio-economic status had more environmental awareness as compared with boys. Study of Sebastian & Nima (2005)showed that science students have more awareness of biodiversity and its conservation than other students. Fisman, (2005), Study Showed that the local environmental awareness found only among students living in high socio-economic neighbourhoods.

 

As aforementioned environmental knowledge is an ongoing process in our lives and is influenced by family, school and societal factors. The major aim of environmental education is to increase individuals’ environmental awareness and sensitivity; this can improve one’s standard of living by fostering a healthier and safer environment (Altin, Bacanli, & Yildiz, 2002).

 

There has been a variety of research on environmental education. For example, Kuhlemeier, Van Den Bergh, & Lagerweij (1999) studied more than 9,000 ninth grade students in 206 individual Dutch secondary schools about their environmental knowledge, environmental attitudes and environmentally responsible behaviours. Students were generally willing to make financial sacrifices and apply environmentally responsible behaviour in their daily lives. While nearly half of the students had a high level of positive attitudes toward the environment, all students had incorrect and/or insufficient knowledge about environmental problems and inadequate environmentally responsible behaviour in general.

 

Similarly, Pe’er, Goldman, & Yavetz (2007) examined the attitudes, knowledge and environmental behaviour of 765 first year students in three teacher training colleges in Israel. They reported that students’ attitudes toward environment were positive, but their environmental knowledge was limited.

 

Students environmental attitudes may differ based on several variables such as grade level, gender and socioeconomic level, though there does not appear to be a consensus (Sama, 2003; Erol & Gezer, 2006; Ulucinar Sagir, Aslan, & Cansaran, 2008; Carrier, 2009; Coertjens, Boeve-de Pauw, De Maeyer, & Van Petegem, 2010). For example, Sama (2003) stated that the university students’ grade levels, whether their first year or final year, did not have any impact on their environmental attitudes; yet, there was a significant difference in the attitudes of the students in the department of foreign languages.

 

The study results of Uzun & Saglam (2005) revealed that there was a significant difference in the average environmental consciousness among the socioeconomic status of 258 high school students: The middle socioeconomic group showed more environmental consciousness than the high and low socioeconomic groups. Erol & Gezer (2006) illustrated that 225 prospective elementary school teachers often had weak attitudes toward the environment and environmental problems. Students’ environmental attitudes changed with age, and girls had better attitudes toward to environment than boys. Students’ environmental attitudes did not change with their fathers’ occupation, parent education level or their socio-economic status. The study of Ulucinar Sagir et al. (2008) reported that there was no significant difference between males and females or among the students’ environmental knowledge with regard to their parents’ education levels.

 

Toili (2007) found that few students within 22 secondary schools in Kenya participated in civic activities dedicated to improving the quality of their communities’ environments. Many students expressed that insufficient environmental awareness contributed to their lack of enthusiasm or even to their ability to make a difference. Therefore, an environmental education curriculum that promotes environmental knowledge and environmental issues and/or problems would be quite beneficial in meeting the needs of its students and their communities.

 

An effective environmental education requires qualified teachers with adequate knowledge. If the teacher lacks sufficient knowledge and responsibility, then environmentally illiterate students cannot be trained (Cabuk & Karacaoglu, 2003; Denis & Genc, 2007).

 

Campbell, Medina-Jerez, Erdogan, & Zhang (2009) made a comparison among 171 seventh and twelfth grade science teachers from the U.S., Bolivia and Turkey, according to their attitudes toward environmental education and instructional practices. They concluded that while the teachers’ knowledge about global environmental issues and the teachers’ rationales related to environmental education in their science classroom instruction showed a significant difference among three countries, technological and/or environmental problems in science classroom instruction did not show any significant differences among three countries. Therefore, teachers should be well-trained regarding environmental issues as they are a model to students of how to protect the environment for tomorrow; in addition, it would be best to integrate the importance of education for sustainable development in teaching of biology in schools (Noziran, 2010).

 

In order to raise environmentally-aware individuals, who can take responsibility to overcome environmental problems, students from the preschool level and above should be educated about these issues. Students could acquire the necessary awareness and responsibility about the environment by implementing instructional approaches, which make students more active, saves them from an unnecessary knowledge burden and improves their brain power (Sahin, Cerrah, Saka, & Sahin, 2004; Turkish Environmental Atlas, 2009).

 

Students’ environmental knowledge and/or attitudes could be increased by several instructional techniques. For example, while instruction based on a conceptual change approach increased students’ environmental understanding, it did not increase students’ attitudes toward the environment and biology (Cetin, 2003).

 

Students’ environmental knowledge and attitudes could be increased by computer-assisted instruction (Aivazidis, Lazaridou, & Hellden, 2006). Paleoecology, the study of ancient ecosystems as a teaching tool can be used in a science curriculum to teach global environmental education quite effectively (Raper & Zander, 2009). Outdoor activities can also be useful to increase students’ environmental awareness (Carrier, 2009).

 

1.1       STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

 

The predominant conventional teaching strategy adopted in teaching biology, a science subject and indeed all subjects in the secondary school is devoid of giving Students adequate knowledge and understanding about their immediate environment and the ecosystem in general. Premised on this observed defect, our school leavers generally lack the basic knowledge of their environment. Environmental knowledge is necessary in our daily lives and students can start learning to know about it from a very young age, this is necessary in knowing about their bodies, their environment, people, animals et cetera. More so, knowledge about ones environment enables him or her to be conscious of the pros and cons of the ecosystem – for instance, a knowledgeable student who has basic knowledge of his or her environment would immediately know how to keep it clean and the repercussions if he or she does not. This and many more forms the basic necessity behind the rationale for students to have adequate knowledge of their environment through biology. But as it is students barely know what goes on in their ecosystem.  However, this study investigated the relative effects of Teacher – Directed and Student – Directed Instructional Strategies on Students’ Environmental Knowledge in Biology. The teacher-directed approach provides students with a step-by-step process for tackling complex tasks. (Tanner, Bottoms, Ferragin and Bearman 2007). In this study, a combination of lectures and reading, recalling and relating prior knowledge, with elaborating and extending information involving high participation by students are used to investigate the effectiveness or otherwise of the teacher-directed instructional strategy. Student-directed learning on the other hand, is based on the belief that active students’ involvement in the learning process increases learning and motivation. According to Tanner, Bottoms, Ferragin and Bearman (2007), good student-centred learning values the students’ role in acquiring knowledge and understanding. This approach empowers students to ask questions, seek answers and attempt to understand the world’s complexities. The teacher and students share the responsibility of instruction and assessment but the students are more actively involved.

 

1.2     PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

 

The purpose of this study is to investigate the Relative Effects of Teacher – Directed and Student – Directed Instructional Strategies on Students’ Environmental Knowledge in Biology. The specific objectives of this study are as follows:

 

  1. To determine the relative effects of the teacher’s instructional strategies on students’ environmental knowledge in biology

 

  1. To examine the influence of gender on students’ environmental knowledge in biology.

 

  1. To examine the adequacy of the teacher-directed, student-directed    instructional strategies used in the teaching of biology in Secondary                 schools

 

  1. And also identify solutions to the problems that hinder students’ environmental knowledge in biology.

 

1.3     RESEARCH QUESTIONS

 

The following research questions were raised to guide the study:

 

  1. Is there any significant difference in students’ environmental knowledge in SSS biology based on treatment?

 

  1. Does gender influence students’ environmental knowledge in SSS biology?

 

1.4     RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

 

Ho1: There is no significant main effect of treatments on students’ environmental knowledge in Senior Secondary School Biology.

 

Ho2: There is no significant main effect of gender on student’s environmental knowledge in Senior Secondary School Biology.

 

Ho3: There is no significant interaction effect of treatment and gender on students’ environmental knowledge in Senior Secondary School Biology.

 

1.5     SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

 

This research work will benefit the parents, teachers, government and the entire society. If the result of this research is properly utilized, it will.

 

(i). Promote students environmental knowledge through effective and efficient teaching of Biology.

 

(ii). Motivate the parents to provide basic requirements of practical lesson for their children in secondary schools.

 

(iii). Convince the teachers that both instructional strategies are mostly essential for effective teaching and learning of science subjects like biology.

 

(iv). Make the government through the ministry of education realize the need for the inclusion and implementation of these instructional strategies in secondary schools.

 

(v). Help the Nigeria society in the quest for the need to promote environmental awareness.

 

1.7     SCOPE OF THE STUDY

 

The essence of this research work is to primarily study the Relative Effects of Teacher – Directed and Student – Directed Instructional Strategies on Students’ Environmental Knowledge in Biology. The research intends to focus on Senior Secondary Students in selected private and public Senior Secondary schools in Alimosho Local Government area of Lagos state.

 

This population of study would comprise of Six (6) selected senior secondary schools in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State. The scope is also limited to SS1 biology student as regards knowledge of their environment. The contents of SS1 biology scheme of work are Living Things, Classification of Living Things, Ecosystem,Population Studies, Functioning Ecosystem et cetera and shall be considered in the research instrument for this study.

 

1.8     LIMITATION OF STUDY

 

Although the researcher tried as much as possible to reduce a number of limitations during the course of the research but factors like time, schools being on holiday and also at resumption trying to quickly meet up and cover their syllabuses as a result of time made delayed the experimentation process. Nevertheless, the researcher was able to create time for the experiment.

 

1.9       DEFINITION OF TERMS

 

Gender; Male and Female students of SS1

 

Teacher-directed instruction; the teacher directed instructional strategies is initiated and guided by the teacher. It’s includes the lecture method used in the study. Here, the teacher presents a verbal discourse on the topic being taught to the SS1students. The lesson is delivered pre-planned to the students by the teacher with little or no instructional aide.

 

Student-directed instruction; is based on having ss1 students construct his\ her own understanding of the lesson. It has its roots in constructivism. And, among these strategies is the cooperative learning instructional strategy. Using Cooperative learning instructional strategy, the ss1 students are deliberate grouped into small heterogenous groups. Each group work together to maximize each other’s learning. Heterogeneity in grouping can be achieved by combining students of different sexes, academicability level, ages, religion among others, so that students can get beyond their initial stereotypes and be able to treat each other as other science students’ and fellow group members.

 

Place-based education; its   focuses on the use of the local environment as the place to investigate nature. In placed-based education, the ss1 student are provided with the opportunity to carry out guided investigations into the environment and environmental issues, they generate knowledge and also develop observation, recording and interpretation skills, which are important in understanding the environment (Stevenson, 2008; Van Kannel-Ray, 2006).

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