Nations all over the world, whether developed or developing nations recognise the vital role of science and technology in national development. It is in undisputable fact that no nation can advance scientifically and technologically without a sound science education programme. It is realization of this fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria in her National Policy on Education (2008, 29) stated that the goals of science education in Nigeria shall be: “to produce scientists for national development; and to provide knowledge and understanding of the complexity of the physical world, the forms and the conduct of life”. In further pursuance of these goals, the Federal government stated that: Special provisions and incentives shall be made for the study of the sciences at each level of the national education system. For involved in the promotion of the study of Government; and Government shall popularize the study of the sciences and the production of adequate number of scientists to inspire and support national development (FGN, 2008).
To achieve the above goals and fulfil the promises made by the government, a number of Federal Government secondary schools (unity schools), technical colleges, special science secondary schools, and universities of science and technology were established in different states of the country by the Federal and various State Governments in Nigeria. In addition, government is sponsoring the teaching of science subjects in the secondary schools through building and equipping of science laboratories in schools, and staffing the schools with qualified science teachers. Unfortunately, all these efforts by the Federal Government and various state governments do not seem to be yielding the desired result judging by the persistent poor performance of secondary school students in biology in public examinations.
This under achievement in science; particularly in biology is worrisome to the governments, educationist and science educators bearing in mind that it is at the secondary education level that a sound foundation for further study in science and science related disciplines is laid. Sound biology education therefore is inevitable in order to produce the desired scientists and technologist needed for the scientific and technological advancement of this country.
Biology is one of the science subjects studied at the senior secondary education level. It lays foundation for further study in biology and other biology related course at a higher level. Biology is a practical oriented subject that requires a lot of practical work using biology laboratory equipment.
Biology laboratory equipment must not only be adequately provided in schools; but must be optimally utilized for effective teaching of biology by biology teachers and for meaningful leaning of biology by students.
Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case judging from several research reports (Ajetumobi & Bashorun, 2000; Oladare, Abiodun & Bajulaiye, 2006; & Lawal, 2006) which indicated that man and material resources for effective teaching and learning of science subjects are grossly inadequate in most secondary schools in Nigeria. Ivowi (2000) opined that standard and well equipped biology laboratories are imperatives for effective teaching and learning of biology in secondary schools.
Dahar and Faize (2011) buttressing this point further, stated that most biology teachers do not expose their students to practical work, instead they prefer to teach only theory aspects of biology concepts and neglect the practical/Laboratory activities that are expected to accompany the theory lessons. According to Nwosu (2000) the failure to organize practical work for student by their biology teachers can be attributed to unavailability of biology laboratory equipment, absence of biology laboratory, poor motivation on the part of biology teachers and biology teachers deficiency in practical skills required to put the available biology laboratory equipment into productive use.
This lack of exposure to laboratory work makes it difficult for biology students to identify and use simple biology laboratory equipment during public examinations. Hence they perform poorly in senior secondary school certificate examinations.
Biology laboratory equipment are those instructional materials in the form of scientific equipment, materials and chemicals found in biology laboratories which are use for laboratory or practical work in biology. Laboratory or practical work in biology is those contacts or interactions of students with scientific equipment, materials and chemicals which make direct contributions towards understanding or learning of biology concepts. The value of utilizing biology laboratory equipment in teaching biology lies in involving students in concrete experiences with objects for meaningful learning of biology concepts and for enhancing achievement in biology.
Achievement is a measure of the extent to which a person has acquired certain knowledge or mastered certain skills usually as a result of planned instruction or training. In this study students’ biology achievement refers to the scores of students in a teacher-made achievement test designed to test their knowledge in biology and their ability to identify and state the usage of some biology laboratory equipment in school.
Bruner’s theory which shows that learning is an active process is the basis of this study. Facts of the process in this Bruner’s theory include selection and transformation of information, decision making, generating hypotheses and making meaning from information and experiences (Bruner, 1960). Bruner’s theories emphasize the significance of categorization in learning. To perceive is to categorize, to learn is to form categorizes; interpreting information and experiences is a key concept.
From the above discussions, the need has therefore risen to look into the effects of absence of functional laboratory in biology students’ performance on SSCE examinations in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.
The persistent poor performance of secondary school students in biology in senior school certificate examination is causing serious concern in education circles. This is because of the vital role of biology education for scientific and technological advancement of this country.
According to WAEC chief examiners report (2010) students under achievement in biology can be attributed to their lack of familiarity with common biology laboratory equipment or apparatuses and poor knowledge in the fundamental principles and procedures for practical biology. This implies that senior secondary school students are not sufficiently exposed to biology laboratory equipment through practical or laboratory exercises prior to senior school certificate examinations. Hence, students are unfamiliar with biology laboratory equipment and are unable to use them during biology practical examinations.
Consequently, they performed poorly in biology in senior school certificate examinations. This study therefore, investigated the effect of absence of functional laboratory in biology students’ performance on SSCE examination in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of absence of functional laboratory in biology students’ performance on SSCE examination. Specifically, the study will:
The following research questions shall guide the study:
The findings of this study will likely be of benefit to both the Federal and State governments of Nigeria. It will sensitize the government on the urgency of building and equipping biology laboratories in all the senior secondary schools in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State. This is necessary so that biology students can be exposed to relevant practical skills which students must acquire for problem solving and enhanced performance in senior school certificate examinations.
The findings of the study may awaken in biology teachers the need to conduct biology laboratory exercises for their students by utilizing available biology laboratory equipment or improvised equipment where necessary to ensure that students acquire the necessary science process skills and to enhance the biology achievement of their students in external examinations.
The outcome of this study could provide school administrators/ school principals some useful information or clues on possible causes and solutions to students’ under-achievement in biology. Armed with this information, they will be better disposed to promoting the teaching and learning of biology in schools by providing some pieces of laboratory apparatus, materials and biology for the conduct of biology practical lessons in their schools. In addition, the findings of this study likely prompt the school administrators to monitor or supervise more closely, biology lessons in their schools to ensure that biology teachers conduct biology laboratory exercises for students utilizing the available biology laboratory equipment.
The findings of this study will sensitize the biology students on the importance of biology laboratory work and its possible link with their overall biology achievement in senior school certificate examination. This will make them give biology practical lessons more attention than they may have been doing.
The study cover the effect of absence of functional laboratory in biology students’ performance in SSCE examination. The study will be limited Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Effects: This is a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause
Absence: This is the non-existence or lack of something
Functional: Capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed
Laboratory: a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific or technological research, experiments, and measurement may be performed
Biology: This is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy
Students: These are individuals studying in a school meant for young people
Performance: This is the accomplishment of a given task
SSCE: This is a senior secondary school certificate examination meant for secondary school students
Examination: This is an assessment intended to measure a student’s knowledge or skill.