LABORATORY FACILITIES AND ITS IMPACT ON STUDENTS’ LEARNING OUTCOME IN AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE
1.1 Background of the study
We currently live in a world of science and technology, in which humans face concerns and problems that have their origins in science. Science and technology have grown in importance as economic and social development tools. Nature has been properly utilized and transformed into valuable resources for a better life in the globe thanks to science. Man enjoys a pleasant living inside society thanks to the huge rising trends in science education. (FGN,2004). Trends in the agriculture industry indicates a need for agricultural education to teach scientific problem solving, prompting the United States Department of Agriculture to recommend that students seeking future employment in the agriculture industry have “basic science skills and the ability to solve problems with scientific applications,” which can be obtained through laboratory experience (USDA, 2005). This is because, as long as science is both a product and a process, the laboratory will be at the center of scientific research. The extent of optimal laboratory practices that will enable learners’ learning of science process skills and proficiency in science ideas is determined by the availability of laboratory equipment, facilities, and materials. Several scholars have exerts the importance of school laboratory in different ways.Those interested with improving science understanding through practical learning should be positive, given the prevalent notion that secondary agriculture instructors use agricultural laboratories. Agricultural education, by its very nature, is well suited to teaching scientific content in an agricultural context (Enderlin & Osborne, 1992; NRC, 2009; Thompson, 1998; Washburn & Myers, 2008). Many of the exercises created for use in agricultural laboratories, on the other hand, are geared on improving psychomotor abilities rather than academic reinforcement (Franklin, 2008; Johnson, Wardlow, & Franklin, 1997). Agricultural laboratories, which include mechanics labs, greenhouses, livestock facilities, land laboratories, and aquaculture laboratories, among others, are currently thought of as a way to give students practice applying theories learned in the classroom (McCormick, 1994); however, the emergence of scientific agricultural education may provide an opportunity for these labs to become a keystone in the teaching of scientific skills and problem solving.
Laboratory practicals are determined by the level of preparation of appropriate instructional materials in the laboratory and the teacher’s ability to use them effectively and efficiently. Hence, the difficulties of completing practical work in under-equipped laboratories have led some teachers to divide science classes into practical and theory sections, or to postpone practical work until the second or third term. Agricultural laboratory empowers teachers to improve student experiences by designing laboratory instruction to focus on scientific problem solving. This will better prepare them for scientifically based employment in agriculture.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Academic achievement of students in practical subjects (physics, chemistry, biology, and agriculture) has generally declined in secondary schools over the last decade due to insufficient science facilities in laboratories. According to Epo (1999), any attempt to divide science into practical and theoretical lessons perpetuates the dichotomy, which is the polar opposite of what science is. As a result, the quality of laboratory facilities and exposure may have an impact on students’ performance in practical science subjects. The laboratory has been identified as the heart of a good scientific program, allowing students in schools to gain experience that is aligned with scientific literacy goals. Agriculture practical subjects make up a large part of hands-on learning, and if they are not taught properly, students’ education will suffer as a result of a lack of exposure to laboratory instruction. This leads to a low level of understanding of the subject matter, half-baked students in science subjects, and students’ imaginative perceptions that science subjects are difficult to achieve. Students will not learn properly if they are taught Agriculture subjects theoretically without having the practical aspects instilled and done in the laboratory. This implies that the impact of agriculture laboratories and their facilities on students’ academic achievement in science subjects is overlooked. According to Doerfert (2011), determining the relationship between instructional strategies and student achievement is a top priority initiative in the Agricultural Education and Communication National Research Agenda in order to increase the value of agricultural education on student achievement in science. However, little research has been done on how agricultural laboratories are currently used. In light of this, the purpose of this study is to investigate.
1.3 Objective of the study
The broad objective of this study is to examine laboratory facilities and its impact on students’ learning outcome in agricultural science. Specifically the study seeks to:
1. Examine the current availability and use of agricultural laboratories in secondary school.
2. Investigate if there is significant difference on students’ performance in adequately equipped laboratories and to those in inadequately equipped laboratories.
3. Explore if the efficiency of utilization of existing laboratory facilities by science teachers will enhance teaching of science subjects.
4. Determine the impact of theoretical teaching of agricultural studies without laboratory exposure.
1.4 Research Questions
The research is guided by the following questions:
1. What is the extent of availability of agricultural laboratories in secondary school?
2. Is there any significant difference on the performance of students’ taught with adequately equipped laboratories and to those in inadequately equipped laboratories?
3. What is the efficiency of utilization of existing laboratory facilities by science teachers will enhance teaching of science subjects?
4. What is the impact of theoretical teaching of agricultural studies without laboratory exposure?
1.5 Significance of the study
Findings from the study will be relevant to government, teachers and parent and academia. It would also make the government through the ministry of education to realize the need for provision of science equipment to schools and posting of qualified science teachers, technicians and technologists to secondary schools.It will motivate parents to provide basic requirements of practical lesson(s) for their children in secondary schools and also this convince the science teachers that practical lessons are mostly essential for effective teaching and learning of other science subjects like biology, chemistry, physics, agriculture and to say mathematics. Finally, the study would contribute empirically to the body of existing literature and it would serve as a reference source to students or other researchers who might want to carry out their research on the similar topic.
1.6 Scope of the study
The scope of this study is to examine laboratory facilities and its impact on students’ learning outcome in agricultural science. The study will examine the current availability and use of agricultural laboratories in secondary school.It will Investigate if there is significant difference on students’ performance in adequately equipped laboratories and to those in inadequately equipped laboratories. It will further explore if the efficiency of utilization of existing laboratory facilities by science teachers will enhance teaching of science subjects. The study is however delimited to Ogbomosho axis of Ibadan State.
1.7 Limitation of the study
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing to the nature of the discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. More so, the choice of the sample size was limited as few respondent were selected to answer the research instrument hence cannot be generalize to other secondary schools outside the State. However, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.
1.8 Definition of terms
Laboratory: A laboratory is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific or technological research, experiments, and measurement may be performed.
Agriculture:Agriculture is the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock.
Academic achievement: Academic achievement represents performance outcomes that indicate the extent to which a person has accomplished specific goals that were the focus of activities in instructional environments, specifically in school, college, and university.
Enderlin, K. E., & Osborne, E. W. (1992). Student achievement, attitudes, and thinking skill attainment in an integrated science/agriculture course. Proceedings of the 1992 National Agricultural Education Research Meeting,, pages 37-44.
Franklin, E. A. (2008). Description of the use of greenhouse facilities by secondary agricultural education instructors in Arizona. Journal of Agricultural Education,49(3), 34-45. doi: 10.5032/jae.2008.03034
FRN (2013), National Policy on Education,Abuja NERDC Press
Johnson, D. M. (1989). Agricultural mechanics laboratory management competencies: Perceptions of Missouri agriculture teachers concerning importance and performance abilitv (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.
Lawal F K (2013), Resource utilization for teaching biology towards achieving mellenium development goal’s objective in selected secondary schools in Zaria Metropolis. 54th Annual Conference Proceedings of Science Teachers Association of Nigeria, 197-202.
National Research Council. (2009). Transforming agricultural education for a changing world. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Ogunniyi M B (1983), Analysis of laboratory Activities in selected Nigerian secondary schools. European journal and science education,Vol 5 (2)
U. S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative Research, Education, and Extension Service & Purdue University. (2005). Employment opportunities for college graduates in the U.S. food, agricultural, and natural resources system (Publication No. 2004–38837–01875). West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.
Washburn, S. G., & Myers, B. E. (2010). Agriculture teacher perceptions of preparation to integrate science and their current use of inquiry based learning. Journal of Agricultural Education, 51(1), 88-98. doi: 10.5032/jae2010.01088