The study was carried out to investigate the effect of discovery learning strategy (DLS) on the academic achievement of senior secondary school students in Biology. This study emphasis on discovery learning pedagogy and its effects on students’ achievement and attitudes toward instruction in a lower-division biology course, entitled Structure and Function of Organisms. Instruction was primarily lecture-based but included four discovery learning activities. A quasi experimental design was adopted for the study. The study was carried out in Gwagwalada metropolis. The population of the study was 120 SS2 students from co-educational schools in Gwagwalada. The sample consisted of 50 biology SSS2 students which were randomly composed from two schools. Pre-test and Post-test were used for data collection. An expert validated the instruments. Mean score was used to answer the research questions and the research hypothesis was test using ANCOVA statistic at 0.05 level of significance. The major findings from the study revealed that the use of discovery learning strategy in teaching had significant effect on students’ achievement, gender was not a significant factor for the achievement of students in Biology though the female students scored higher than the male but was insignificant, location had no significant effect on the students’ achievement in Biology and type of school has significant effect on students’ achievement in Biology. It was recommended from the study that students should always be allowed to participate actively and interact freely with the teachers as this will improve their academic achievement gain in their subjects and that guided discovery approaches should be integrated into the curriculum of Biology as one of the effective teaching approaches for use apart from practical Biology.
1.1 Background of the Study
Discovery learning most often refers to pedagogy that exposes students to various situations, questions, or tasks that allow them to “discover” for themselves the intended concepts or material (Bonwell CC 2016). Learning occurs when the learner constructs an understanding of newly discovered information by associating it with prior knowledge in an organized and systematic way. Within this context, discovery learning is defined as student-based exploration of an authentic problem using the processes and tools of the discipline. Discovery learning in its many forms has been recommended as a means for instruction by major science education organizations (Entwistle N and Tait H. 2014). Research has demonstrated the potential benefits of active/discovery learning over traditional, passive learning. Specific benefits of discovery learning include learner involvement yielding more and different ways for the learner to experience the content, student activity, which increases attention to task(s) and creation of an episodic memory that aids reconstruction of knowledge, meaningful learning that involves deeper processing of ideas and confronting misconceptions, and higher-level learning, so that science is viewed as a dynamic process, not simply a static set of facts (Haukoos GD and Penick JE. 2018). The meaningful experiences provided by discovery learning result in students who are motivated, self-directed learners that may be better able to learn and recall information. Science is an intellectual activity carried on by human that is designed to discover information about the natural world in which this information can be organized to benefit human race (Gottlieb, 2005). Maikano (2007) also argued that science is both the systematic observation of natural events and conditions inorder to discover facts about them and an organized body of knowledge that is derived from such observations and that can be verified or tested by further investigations. From the foregoing, science can be defined as activities culminating into a testable and verifiable body of knowledge. It is important to mankind for his existence and development on earth. As such, it requires a solid foundation from the grassroots. Science is so important because it help students to explain events in nature identifying those beliefs that are superstitious, teach students to develop their physical skills through the proper handling of objects and equipment, teach students how to solve simple problems they encounter on a day to day basis, enable students develop social skills establishing friendship while working cooperatively in groups, and help students to satisfy their natural curiosity through opportunities to carry out scientific investigations (Yalwa, 2004). The knowledge of biology as a science oriented subject cannot be over emphasized owing to its importance towards human life and living in general. In every sphere of life, the contribution of biological knowledge towards living existence must be respected. Right from the creation of living things, biology has become a tool that has opened research doors in understanding the whole process of life development in living things. The general function of the body is vital as an organs system, owing to the nature and body function of living things including plants and animals. It has become common knowledge up to the extent that, the mal functioning of the body in terms of disease and sickness has been exposed and critically studied because of biology. Different researches are usually carried out in biological related topics in order to enhance the process of living on a daily basis in various institutions of learning and hospitals (Lakpa, 2011). The result of biological researches and scientific knowledge in the subject is very critical to life such that, all and sundry need to be taught elements of biology in order to enhance their understanding to life. The National policy on Education (NPE, 2013), in Nigeria emphasized the importance of science which includes biological knowledge as a seasoning tool. It prescribed that, schools assist pupils to lay a sound foundation for scientific and reflective thinking. It further stated that the relevant knowledge and skills acquired through functional education are geared towards the realization of overall philosophy of Nigeria which is based on building a true and democratic society, a just and egalitarian society, a united, strong and self-reliant nation, great and dynamic economy and a land full of bright opportunities for all citizens. Biology has become relevant to achieving some of these objectives in the provision of improved plant and animal varieties which will serve as raw materials for our industries, provision of skills for employment, improved research for health of the citizens among others. Therefore, it is important to look into the methods of passing the knowledge to pupils in order to improve the teaching and learning of biology. Afolabi and Adesope (2010) stated some of the methods of teaching to include; Lecture, Discussion, Demonstration, Discovery, Assignment/Project, Field trips (Excursion), Individualized instruction, Laboratory methods, among others.
Olutade (2009) with respect to learning strategystressed that learning strategyis important in the impartation of knowledge in teaching-learning processes and the type adopted determines to a great extent what the students assimilate. In actual fact if the appropriate method is adopted, knowledge acquired can be accelerated. Although studies have been conducted on different methods of teaching biology at the secondary school level, little has been done to determine which method is more suitable for biology teaching. The study is therefore, undertaken to determine the effect of discovery teaching method, using lecture learning strategyas a control, on biology students’ achievement. Lecture method of teaching is just one of the several teaching methods, though in schools it’s usually considered the primary one. The lecture method is considered more convenient especially with larger classroom sizes. This is why lecturing is the standard for most college courses, when there can be several students in the classroom at once; it allows teachers to convey information that he/she feels is most important, according to the lesson plan. Lecturing primarily involves an oral presentation given by an instructor to a body of students. Many lectures are accompanied by sort of visual aid, such as a slideshow, a word document, an image, or a film. Some teachers may even use a whiteboard or a chalkboard to emphasize important point in their lecture, but a lecture doesn’t require any of these things in order to qualify as a lecture. As long as there is an authoritative figure at the front of a room, delivering a speech to a crowd of listeners, this is a lecture (Udemy, 2014).
Lecture method is not sufficient because it is one way as information is dictated to students who have little to no opportunity to provide their own personal input, or protest the information being delivered, it is wholly a passive experience for students rather than an active role which hinders learning, it requires a considerable amount of unguided student time outside of the classroom to enable understanding and long-term retention of content, and requires the instructor to have or learn effective speaking skills. Discovery learning is a technique of inquiry-based learning and is considered a constructivist based approach to education. It is supported by the work of learning theorists and psychologists Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, and Seymour Papert. The label of discovery learning can cover a variety of instructional techniques, according to a meta-analytic review conducted by Alfieri, Brooks, Aldrich and Tenenbaum (2011), a discovery learning task can range from implicit pattern detection, to the elicitations of explanations and working through manuals to conducting simulations. Discovery learning can occur whenever the student is not provided with an exact answer but rather the materials and equipment to find the answer themselves. Discovery learning takes place in problem solving situations where the learner draws his own experience from or performing experiments as suggested by the Grauer School “Learn by Discovery’’ (Grauer, 2016). Discovery method of teaching is an instructional strategy that is useful in teaching biology because it is an activity designed in such a way that students perform certain mental processes in an attempt to find a lasting solution to a problem. Mental processes in this respect include observation, classification, measurement, prediction, description, inference among others. This method of teaching is an unstructured exploration of the environment in which the learner through his/her mental processes draws general conclusions from data gathered (Egwu, 2015). Discovery method can be of two types, “Guided” discovery and “Unguided” discovery (Ibenga, 2015). Guided discovery is that method of teaching which consist of an instructional mode, which can be inductive and deductive in nature. In guided discovery a general principle is given and the learner is required to use the principle in order to discover the solution to a specific problem. In this, the learners have no experience or relevant background on the principle given, knowledge is not established and there is need to save time. Thus, guided discovery is the only alternative. Undiscovery learning strategy of teaching can be employed as the learner gets matured relevant background or knowledge and time need not be saved. Advantages of using discovery learning strategyabound. From equipping learners with skills of obtaining knowledge on their own to allowing active participation of learners in the learning process. It also allows better memory retention of what is learnt or discovered, creating greater confidence in learners ability to find information for themselves. For discovery method to be effective there is the need to carry out a pre-activity discussion before the actual discovery activity, apply moderated guidance, breaking large class of learners into small groups for effective supervision and meaningful activity and provide all necessary resource material and equipment for the activity.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Biology at the secondary school level focuses on equipping the student with sufficient knowledge both theoretical and practical towards understanding the nature of living things as well as their environment. This knowledge is to be harnessed in order to target the achievement of national goals and objectives for self-sustainability. However, this appears far from what is obtainable in secondary schools as concerned the teaching of biology. The teaching of biology at the secondary school appears from been satisfactory. It has been observed that, most secondary schools in Gwagwalada metropolis neither involve students of biology on field work, field trips nor laboratory research and experimentation to discover things for themselves. Saka (2016) and Durmaz (2017) stated that biological science include many abstract concepts, events, topics and facts that students have to learn. This makes it hard for students to learn them if they are not involve in the learning process. Cimer (2017) highlighted teachers’ styles, techniques and methods of teaching may also be factors that affect students learning in biology. If students are not happy with the way biology is taught, they tend to show disinterest and negative attitudes towards biology which are some of the reasons for difficulties in learning biology (Zeidan, 2010). Thus, the teaching and learning of biology has to be encouraged in schools by adopting methods of teaching that allow the students explore the environment by themselves. Moreover, this neglect, no doubt has relegated this subject to the background in our senior secondary certificate examination. A close look at the 2010-2021 SSCE result records confirms that students’ performance has been very poor generally and particularly in biology practical, failure is a great problem as it affects the student achievement and furtherance to tertiary level of education and consequently hinder the nations dream for self-sustainability by the year 2030 as provided by the sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).The major problem here is to investigate and determine between discovery method and lecture method which is more effective on students’ achievement in biology.
- Research Objectives
- To investigate the effect of discovery learning technique on students academic achievement in senior secondary school biology in Gwagwalada.
- To investigate the effect of discovery learning strategy on students’ academic achievement due to gender.
- Research Questions
- What is the impact of discovery learning strategy on students academic achievement?
- Is discovery learning strategygender bias?
- Research Hypothesis
- There is no significant difference between the academic achievement of students who are taught biology using discovery learning strategy and those taught with conventional method.
- There is no significant difference between the academic achievement of male and female students who are taught biology with discovery teaching method.
1.6 Significance of the Study
It is hoped that, the results obtained from this research work will benefit the following; students, teachers, stakeholders, and parents.
Students; when students understand more the importance of discovery learning they will be able to learn on their own to have academic excellence as such will increase their interest in the learning of biology and other related subjects. Students will also be equipped with skills to contribute meaningfully to the development of the society.
Teachers; this research work will assist the teacher to teach the students through guided discovery and in proper organization of practical. It will also enable trained teachers to adopt multiple teaching methods that would aid them in organization of their subject matter before delivery to students.
Stakeholders; this study will help educational stakeholders to play their part of equipping secondary schools with the necessary equipment for the teaching of biology by discovery method.
Parents; this study will benefit the parents by revealing their role in the teaching and learning of biology by provision of the materials which will increase students achievement as it is the desire of every parent whose child is in this field of study.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study is limited to secondary schools Gwagwalada metropolis
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Teaching: Teaching used here refers to passing knowledge to a learner. Methods: The ways or means devised in passing biological knowledge to secondary school students.
Achievement: Achievement as used here refers to the extent or degree of performance in biology at the secondary school level.
Secondary School Students: In this study, secondary school students refer to all the students that offer biology as a subject.