EFFECTS OF CONCEPTUAL CHANGE INSTRUCTIONAL POLICIES ON SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS’ MISAPPREHENSIONS, PERFORMANCE AND PRESERVATION IN GENETICS IN KADUNA, NIGERIA

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EFFECTS OF CONCEPTUAL CHANGE INSTRUCTIONAL POLICIES ON SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS’ MISAPPREHENSIONS, PERFORMANCE AND PRESERVATION IN GENETICS IN KADUNA, NIGERIA  

ABSTRACT

The study examined the Effects of Conceptual Change Instructional Strategies on Secondary

Students‟ Misconceptions, Performance and Retention in Genetics in Rigachukun Education Zone of Kaduna, Nigeria. Eight research questions and six null hypotheses tested at 0.05 level of significance guided the study.  Quasi experimental research design was used for the study. The population of the study consisted 2854 (SSIII) Biology students in nineteen government secondary schools in RigaChikun Education Zone of Kaduna State comprising 1620males and 1234females. The sample of the study consisted of 182 Senior Secondary School three Biology students (105 males and 77 girls) drawn from four government secondary schools in RigaChikun Education Zone of Kaduna State. The sample was drawn using random sampling technique. Two instruments were employed for data collection namely: Genetic Misconception Test (GMT) and Genetic Performance Test (GPT). The reliability of both  instruments Genetic Performance Test and Genetic Misconception Test was determined using test retest method and  was found to be r = 0.81 for GMT and 0.82 for GPT respectively. GPT content validity was ensured by three senior lecturers in Science Education Department, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.  Mean and standard deviation was used to answer the research questions while Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to test the null hypotheses and Scheffe‟s Multiple Comparison Test to detect the source, magnitude and direction of significant variations. The findings showed that: 1. There was a significant difference between the pretest and posttest mean scores of the Genetic Misconception Test in the experimental groups and the control group in favour of the experimental groups. 2. There was a significant difference between the posttest mean scores of the Genetic Performance Test in the experimental groups and the control group in favour of the experimental groups.3. The genetic concepts post- posttest mean scores was significantly higher for those students taught using Conceptual Assignments, Conceptual Discussions and Enriched Conceptual Assignments with Conceptual Discussions instructional strategies than those taught using the traditional instructional strategy among other. Based on the results of the study the following recommendations were made: 1. Biology teachers should be encouraged to use conceptual change instructional model to improve the academic performance of Biology students among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    CHAPTER ONE

THE PROBLEM

Introduction

Biology is one of the science subjects offered in secondary and tertiary institutions. Basic knowledge of biology is a pre-requisite for the study of several disciplines in tertiary institutions, such as Medicine, Agriculture, Pharmacy, Biochemistry and Biotechnology amongst others. Genetics is the branch of biology that deals with heredity, especially the mechanisms of hereditary transmission and the variation of inherited characteristics among similar or related organisms. Genetics has unified the biological sciences and led to the modern synthesis of evolutionnary theory and biology by demonstrating that organisms share the same basic genetic materials and processes (Whitesides, 2011).

 

Genetics is very useful to agriculture, industry, psychology, medico-legal, molecular genetic engineering, medicine and ethics.  Genetics is one of the aspects of biology syllabus of West African Examinations

Council (WAEC) which most students scarcely study before completing their secondary education (Okpala, 2005). Genetic concepts have been identified as a difficult aspect of biology, the reason being the time and position given to it in the school curriculum (Ndubuizu, 2004).  Genetics is an interesting aspect of the biology curriculum but according to Ruiyong, (2004) it is a very difficult and analytical discipline. Nwaorgu, (2005) reported that the laboratory practical approach to the teaching of genetics is difficult as it involves a long term experimental work. She further explained that there is also the belief ofpeople in reincarnation which conflicts with the principles of molecular genetics. Other interpretations made on the laws governing inheritance were based on metaphysics and philosophy, preformationists, epigenesis and pangenesis. This division between the practical reality and what is learnt in the classroom is one of the major problems militating against the practical approach to teaching and learning of genetics in secondary schools. This conflict between reality and practice has been blamed to poor teaching method (Nwaorgu,

2005). Genetics is an area of biology students are finding difficult to understand. Fakunle and Smith (2005) also maintained that students had difficulty in understanding genetic concepts. The following concepts have been identified as difficultby both teachers and students, (i) Meiosis (ii) Variation (iii) Mendelian laws and latter developments (iv) Genetic crosses and symbolic representation(v) Structure and replication of DNA (vi) Genetic ratios, analysis and probability (vii) Abstract nature of genetics and non– relation of functions to structures (viii) Use of synonyms (Mang& Piwuna, 2005; Nzewi U.M., Etokebe I.J., Pati E.I. and Akpan B.A. 2003; STAN, 2005).

 

According to Ndubuizu, (2004) the cognitive status of a child determines to a greater extent the level of understanding of any given concept. Most students operate at Piaget‟s concrete operational stage (Ndubuizu, 2005) and find it difficult to cope with the abstract nature of genetic concepts. Other   problems of teaching and learning of genetics as identified by Deadman and Kelly and Mang and Piwuna  (2005) are usually traced to both teachers and students as follows: Abstract nature and inability to relate structure to function, use of synonyms or many terms for some concepts, lack of adequate time for practical work in genetics, lack of confidence and competence in teachers, lack of coherence and association with other concepts in biology, lack of prerequisite knowledge for genetics, wrong perception of relevance in the curriculum, student attitude towards biology and lack of laboratory equipment and apparatus. According to Ndubuizu, (2004) students generally perceive biology as an easy subject. This deceptive notion makes them to develop a nonchalant attitude to its study that few spend time to study other science subjects (Ajewole, 2005). This attitude according to Soyibo, (2005) is one of the reasons for students‟ poor performance in biology.

 

According to Cirfat (2005) Biology is generally conceived by most students   as the “easiest” science subject, thus it easily ranks as the most popular. The massive failure received in WASSCE and NECO SSCE does not testify to its being easy.  As rightly noted by Ladon (2005) efforts need to be geared toward removing the difficulties that contribute to the failures. One of such effort is in the area of the better learning and understanding of difficult concepts.  From available researches, genetics has been identified as one of the difficult concepts to learn in biology Johnstone and Mahmoud, Longden, Oyetunde and Okpala (2005).  Ladon (2005) identified eight areas of genetics that posed difficult to students and teachers. These include: DNA and RNA, Meiosis, Symbolic representation, Mathematics- bias of genetics, the concept of chance, Mendelian laws, Genes, alleles, chromatids and chromosomes, and Terminologies. He further explained that some terminologies are redundant e.g. chromatids/chromosomes (Longden 2005; Deadman & Kelly 2005; Pearson & Hughes 2005; Radford & Bid-Steward, 2005).

 

Okpala (2005) opined that a fundamental problem many students face in the study of genetics is mostly that of inability to conceptualise the principles, processes and the terms involved. He further explained that one of these terms are “gene and locus”. Lakpini (2009) observed that without students grasp of genetic concepts, performance of students will persistently remain low in biology. Research findings have shown that a number of topics in biology amongst which is genetics contain some concepts which pose difficulty for biology students (Esiobu & Soyibo; Okebukola; Nzewi, Etokebe, Pati & Akpan (2005).  It is clear that when concepts in genetics are not meaningfully understood by the students, they tend to shy away from questions set on them during Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE). Repeated reports (Okafor 2005; Chikodi 2005) of constantly poor performance in biology at Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) have attracted a lot of concern from science educators. Thus, research in science education in Nigeria has continued to seek better ways of teaching biology in order to improve academic performance (Esiobu, 2000, Kahindej, 2000, Ajaju & Kpangban 2001).

 

In spite of efforts through research into the strategies to improve performance in biology, the WAEC chief examiners‟ yearly reports have continued to highlight students‟ weakness in answering questions relating to difficult concepts such as in the area of genetics. Such weakness induces student inability to comprehend or represent concepts (Chief Examiners Report West African Examination Council 2010, 2012, 2014).  If the learning of genetic concepts can be shifted from using the expository or traditional method to constructivist strategy, it is likely that learning will be significantly more effective as students would actively construct knowledge by themselves. Despite all efforts to improve students‟ performance in biology, it has been observed, unfortunately, that the educational system is to a great extent not achieving its predetermined goals and objectives due to high failure in public examinations such as the senior secondary certificate examination (Agbowuro, 2008). The high failure rate could be attributed to improper instructional strategy that does not make reference to students‟ prior knowledge to provide links that enhance meaningful learning. The use of instructional strategy by teacher that allows students construct ideas, discuss and exchange them provide avenues for teachers to help students evaluate their ideas, discover basis for such ideas and adopt strategy to raise cognitive conflicts necessary to enhance capacity to reorganize their thoughts in line with new ideas. The continuous use of this strategy is expected to correct misconceptions as cognitive conflicts raised during interactions will trigger their thought processes and enable learners to see the inadequacy of their ideas or prior knowledge. Thus, their misconceived prior ideas or knowledge are reorganized to provide meaningful links for the new knowledge which could promote retention and improve students‟performance. The use of instructional strategy is necessary as students always have prior knowledge that are wrong which can only be realized when cognitive conflicts are raised to show the incongruity of their prior knowledge and the new knowledge. As conceptual discussions instructional strategy often challenge students to compare and reorganize ideas, its potential to correct misconceptions among learners seems feasible.

 

Concepts in science mean different things to different scientists. Abimbola (2002) defined concept as the meaning attached to a given symbol or label.  He categorized concept into three: empirical, theoretical and relational. Goje, (2007) defined concepts as ordered information about the properties of one or more things, objects, events or process that enables any particular thing or class of things to be differentiated from and also related to other things or classes of things. In science, there are many concepts such as ecology, equilibrium, osmosis, diffusion, genetics, heat, reproduction, physiology, growth, ageing, embryology, electrolysis among others. James (2001) ascertained that the primary goal of science education is to engage students in an active process of identifying, constructing meaningful learning of science concepts. Jegede and Okebukola (2002) lamented that majority of science students lack the understanding of even the basic science concepts. This is evident in poor performance of students in WASSCE irrespective of the large enrolment of students in the subject (Nworgu, 2005).Studies have shown that the understanding of biology requires a functional understanding of the requisite sub-ordinate concepts like genetics (Mete, 2007), evolution (Bichi, 2008) and ecology (Moemeke & Omoifo, 2003; Mete, 2007; Mohammed & Jongur, 2008). A lack of understanding of these concepts is believed by the scholars to have effect on students‟ performance in biology. Studies on genetics such as those of Lakpini (2009) and Lawal (2009) have shown that a major factor responsible for students‟ poor academic achievement is misconception of genetic concepts. Also, WAEC chief examiners‟ report (2010, 2012& 2013) pointed out that one of the major areas of biology where students failed is the genetic concepts. Discussion of conceptual change needs to consider the nature of conceptions. Glynn and Duit (2005) viewed conceptions as learners‟ mental models of an object or an event. Conceptions can be regarded as the learner‟s internal representations constructed from the external representations of entities constructed by other people such as teachers, textbook authors or software designers. From a conceptual change learning perspective, learners need to be able to make different representations of entities to make difficult concepts intelligible. Learning always involves some ways of representing information and science teachers use different representational techniques such as voice, writing, and gestures in the classroom to communicate ideas to students. Representations are ways to communicate ideas or concepts by representing them either externally, taking the form of spoken language (verbal), written symbols (textual), pictures, or physical objects or a combination of these forms or internally when thinking about these ideas. Students come to science classes with pre-instructional conceptions and ideas about the phenomena and concepts to be learned that are not in harmony with science views. Furthermore, these conceptions and ideas are firmly held and are often resistant to change (Duit 2007).

 

A lot of interest has been focused on students‟ misconceptions of variety of scientific concepts. There are a number of research studies in students‟ misconceptions about a variety of scientific concepts that all cannot be cited in this work such as selected science misconceptionsin photosynthesis, respiration, osmosis and pressure by Soyibo (1981); misconceptions about force and motion by Eryilmaz, (2002); misconception of mole concepts by Goje, (2007) and misconceptions in genetic concepts by Lawal, (2009). Different terms have been used to describe these misconceptions by different researchers. Novak (1977) called them preconceptions. While Driver and Easley, (1978) referred to them as alternative conceptions.  Helm (1980) called them misconceptions.  Suton (1980) preferred the term children‟s scientific intuitions, Gilbert, Watts and Osborne (1982) called them children‟s science, Halloun and Hestenes (1985b) called them common sense concepts, and Pines and West (1986) called them spontaneous knowledge.  Preconceptions can indicate all beliefs students have before enrolling in their formal subject course.  Misconceptions refer to those beliefs students have that contradict accepted scientific theories (Eryilmaz, 2002). Driver and Erickson (1983) called misconceptions alternative frameworks.  Fisher and Lipson (1986) called them students‟ errors. There are different types of misconceptions. These are preconceived notions, non-scientific beliefs, conceptual misunderstandings, vernacular misconception and factual misconceptions (Blosser, 1987).In this research work, misconceptions are described as conceptual misunderstandings, which have occurred during or as a result of instruction, which are more likely to have been held or developed over a long period of time.

 

Gender refers to the amount of masculinity and femininity found in an individual. While there are mixtures of the two traits in human beings, the normal man has a preponderance of masculinity and the normal female has a preponderance of femininity (Bichi, 2002).  A number of explanations attribute gender differences in educational achievement to biological differences between males and females. These explanations propose that gender differences in behaviour, skills and cognitive abilities are determined by biological factors such as brain organization, hormones and genetics, and thatthese biologically determineddifferences in behaviour and abilities are responsible for gender differences in educational achievement.This study examined the gender performance variable. The study also investigated the issue of gender difference on the basis of effect of instructional strategies under study. An attempt was made to investigate if the conceptual assignments and conceptual change discussions has influence on retention ability and academic performance of genetic concepts among male and female students at the senior secondary school level or not.

 

Retention is the ability to retain and consequently remember things experienced or learned by an individual at a later time. When teaching is characterized by rote learning, meaningless memorizing and emphasis on verbalism, students make ineffective learning, and the facts thus learned are not long retained, nor do they seem to have much effect in changing behaviour (Bichi, 2002). In contrast, when teaching is organized and meaningful in which students apply principles, to solve problems and interpret experimental data, learning becomes effective and the facts thus learned are long retained with the passage of time (Tyler in Bichi, 2002). Discussions encourage learners‟ active participation in learning activities and build confidence in the learners as they express their views (Atadoga&Onaolapo, 2008).

 

A student who participates in a discussion lesson learns to support his views rationally, based on facts, appreciates the need to argue logically, define clearly concepts and terms and examine critically rules, principles and construct his or her thoughts in line with the new ideas. Discussion teaching strategy crosses all barriers and gulfs peculiar with the lecture method. It centres on shared conversations, discussions, and exchange of ideas in the class. It also gives opportunity for all to sit and listen, as well as talk and think, thus emphasizing the process of “coming to know” as valuable as “knowing the right answer” (Omatseye, 2011).The teacher in the discussion class is not the sole performer and the students are not passive listeners. Students are allowed to develop critical thinking ability, learn to evaluate ideas, concepts and principles, procedures and even programmes and policies on the basis of clearly set criteria.

In discussion, the teacher brings students face to face as they engage in verbal interchange of ideas. Discussion instructional strategy can provide a format in which students can apply newly acquired knowledge, thereby consolidating and deepening their understanding of it (Omatseye, 2011).  In essence anything that aids learning should improve retention while things that lead to confusion or interference among learned materials decrease the speed and efficiency of learning and accelerates forgetting. When a material is forgotten, it means it has not been retained and hence cannot be remembered at a later period (Bichi, 2002).

 

The term conceptual change refers to the development of fundamentally new concepts, through restructuring elements of existing concepts, in the course of knowledge acquisition. Conceptual change is a particular profound of learning – it goes beyond revising one‟s specific beliefs and involves restructuring the very concepts used to formulate those beliefs. In conceptual change, an existing conception is fundamentally changed or even replaced and becomes the conceptual framework that students use to solve problems, explain phenomena, and function in their world (Carey, 2001).

 

Although traditional instructional methods have a significant effect on students‟ misconceptions, it is far from being sufficient in remediating students‟ misconceptions that are persistent and highly resistant to change (Eryilmaz, 2002).  Eryilmaz, (2002) reported that some of the most common suggestions to remedy students‟ misconceptions include teaching physics conceptually, and by conceptual discussion methods (Posner, Strike & Hewson 1982; Brouwer,1984& Eryilmaz, 2002).Studies such as that ofEryilmaz, (2002) have revealed that some instructional strategies or methods can be effectively used to restructure students thinking and ideas so that correct conceptions or ideas are developed.  Eryilmaz, (2002) reported that assignment is one area in which few studies have been conducted. Assignment is part of the lesson that tells students what to do after school hour and is related to what they have already done or what they still have to do in class.  It is a set of tasks or a specific task which students are expected to complete in a given time. It may be a project, a series of problems to be solved, some questions to be answered, a chapter to be read and summarized, a story to be outlined or a view of past lessons (Atadoga &Onaolapo, 2008). Different types of assignments could be given to individual students or to groups depending on the time available to students to complete the tasks and their ability. Simple and smaller units of work may be given to individuals and larger unit to group. In this present  research defines conceptual assignment is defined as a set of task or a specific task which students are expected to complete in a given time on a particular concept. Eryilmaz, (2002) noted the importance of homework problems in creating the cognitive conflicts necessary for preparation of the conceptual change. According to Eryilmaz, (2002) some researchers suggested using conceptual assignment to establish the first four steps of the conceptual change strategy. These are Step 1: Awareness or orientation phase, Step 2:

Disequilibrium/ Elicitation of ideas, Step 3: Reformation phase and Step 4: Application phase.

 

Discussion simply means talking over subjects from various points of view and the teachers‟ role is not to dispense or communicate knowledge but act as moderator (Atadoga &Onaolapo, 2008). It is students‟ centred and it is based on the philosophy that “knowledge arises within the person and not from any external source” (Brown, Nacino-Brown & Oke, 1982). The students carefully, consider a topic, react to it, argue with one another, suggest solutions, evaluate alternatives and draw conclusions or generalizations.  They become creators rather than passive recipients of ideas (Atadoga& Onaolapo, 2008). In discussion, all the students see themselves as members of a group as they participate in discussions, listen to each other, resolve differences, make suggestions and critically examine issues for the benefit of all. As students formulate their own views in the act of give and take, they also learn to resist the influences of their personal prejudices, commitments, stereotype; likes or dislikes, at the same time continue to focus attention on the theme of problem at hand. The discussion method is important in bringing about meaningful increase in students‟ achievement (Johnson & Johnson, 2001).

 

In conceptual change discussions instructional strategy, the instructor shifts from telling (lecturing) to questioning, probing and facilitating students‟ discussion which provides a format in which students can apply newly acquired knowledge, verbalize, defend and reformulate their understanding and retention.

The important points are resolved, divergent students‟ opinions are reconciled and the relevant is clearly distinguished from irrelevant thereby consolidating and deepening their understanding of it which will improve their retention and promote their academic achievement. Conceptual change discussion encourages students to identify, represent, contrast, and debate the adequacy of competing explanatory frameworks in terms of emerging classroom epistemological standards. Such discussion supports many aspects of the conceptual change process, including making students aware of their initial conceptions, helping students construct an understanding of alternative  frameworks, motivating students to examine their conceptions more critically (in part through awareness of alternatives), and promoting their ability to evaluate, and at times integrate, competing frameworks (Challen & Brazdil, 2000).

 

In this present study, conceptual  discussion is described as an instructional strategy in which students talk over subjects from various points of view and the teacher‟s role is not to dispense or communicate knowledge but act as a moderator to cause a change or correct students‟ idea or prior knowledge about a concept that is misconceived.  A student who participates in a discussion lesson learns to support his views rationally, based on facts, appreciates the need to argue logically, define clearly concepts and terms and examine critically rules, principles and construct his or her thoughts in line with the new ideas (Challen &

Brazdil, 2000). The study therefore investigated the effects of conceptual change discussions on students‟ misconceptions, retention and academic achievement in genetics bearing in mind that what one already knows usually helps one to learn, but it can also impair learning.  This is especially so if the prior knowledge or assumptions are misleading; plainly incorrect or otherwise incompatible with the new learning. Learners may be susceptible to committing systematic errors, if their interpretation of newly presented material is based upon faulty knowledge.

 

Challen and Brazdil, (2000) reported the usefulness of conceptual change discussion method of teaching in applying newly acquired knowledge thereby consolidating and deepening students understanding of scientific concepts. They also reported that the student to teacher and student to student dialogue that accompanies a good discussion provides valuable feedback to the teacher on the status of the students‟ comprehension and is particularly valuable in drawing out and exposing misconceptions, many of which would otherwise remain buried, only to surface in later courses, if at all.  According to Bennett (1995) conceptual change discussion method of teaching leads to cooperative learning which improves both academic performance and students‟ interpersonal relationship. In this study the effects of conceptual assignments and conceptual change discussions instructional strategies of teaching on students‟ misconceptions and academic performance in genetic concepts was investigated.

 

1.1.1 Theoretical Framework

The study is hinged to Cognitive Constructivitism Theory of Learning. Constructivism is a theory of knowledge (epistemology) that argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experience and their ideas. The theoretical framework for this study is based on Ausubel‟s theory of learning and that of Piaget. The theory gives an explanation to how meaningful learning can be achieved. Ausubel in his theory believed that meaningful learning occurs only when there is interaction between the knowledge that already exists in and the new materials to be learnt. Ausubel called the learners cognitive structure (organization of knowledge) that is necessary for meaningful learning are called subsumers. The subsumer is a general principle or a generalised body of knowledge that the learner already acquired that can provide for association or anchorage for the various components of the new knowledge. Ausubel believes that for meaningful learning to occur, new learning must be linked to the existing knowledge. As new learning must be linked to the existing knowledge to create meaning, Ausubel advocates for the introduction of „advanced organizer‟ where relevant subsumers do not exist to link new materials with the previous knowledge on the same concept. Advanced organizers are alternative set of links or „anchors‟. According to Ausubel, meaningful learning can take place by two processes: the use of relevant subsumers when they exist in the knowledge already processed, and the use of advance organizers where the subsumers are absent.

 

There is broad consensus among researchers such as Read (2011) in the education field that individuals should not be thought of as passive recipients of information during instruction, but rather that learners are active constructors of their own knowledge. Prior to beginning school, children have a wealth of experiences, and these have led them to develop a common-sense understanding of their social and natural environment. This is both a desirable fact as the construction of new knowledge will build on this preexisting knowledge and a problem arises from the fact that the knowledge taught in schools is frequently incompatible with common-sense understandings, and so can impede comprehension. As a result, a reorganization of existing knowledge is necessary, and it is this process that is usually referred to as conceptual change. The process whereby conceptual change occurs is of central interest in helping us to understand the process of  learning, and is also of considerable importance when considering the design of instruction.  Since the incompatibility between some common-sense understandings of the world and accepted scientific explanations is inevitable, it is necessary that instructors be able to affect whatever changes are necessary for comprehension of the scientific explanations to develop (Read, George, Masters & King, 2004). The use of activity based instructional strategies like conceptual assignments and conceptual change discussions instructional strategies were advocated for by some science educators to help shift such erroneous conception.

 

Piaget (1977) emphasized that individuals construct their own knowledge through interaction with their environment. The concepts which are formed during the process constitute the person‟s personal

explanation to these concepts. It is this concept that is referred to as prior knowledge and they form the basis upon which new knowledge is built in the school learning. When learners use everyday and inappropriate prior knowledge to create mental models that comprise their framework (Boulter & Buckley, 2000), the result may be faulty mental models that give rise to misconceptions. This simply means that the knowledge taught in schools is frequently incompatible with common-sense understandings, and so can impede comprehension. This inaccurate prior knowledge is one of the platforms that lead to poor performance in the field of biology. That is, the student poor experience background is not bright to bear, on the field of biology which subsequently leads to their poor performance in their SSCE (Lawal, 2009). When the students have misconceptions, the prior knowledge that is supposed to be the basis upon which new knowledge is built in the school learning is meaningless.

 

Piaget (1950 & 1985) also suggested that through the processes of accommodation and assimilation, individual construct new knowledge from their experiences. When individuals assimilate, they incorporate the new experience into an existing frame work without changing that framework. This may occur when individuals‟ experiences are aligned with their internal representation of the world, but may also occur as a failure to change a faulty understanding. When individuals‟ experiences contradict their internal representations, they may change their perceptions of the experience to fit their internal representations.

According to the theory, accommodation is the process of reframing one‟s mental representation of the mental world to fit new experiences. Accommodation can be understood as the mechanism by which failure leads to learning: when we act on the expectation that the world operates in one way and it violates our expectations, we often fail but by accommodating new experience and reframing our model of the way the world works, we learn from the experience of failure, or other‟s failure. According to Hewson (1981), Okebukola(2002), Kika (2004), Eryilmaz (2002), these activity methods make use of theories of learning by psychologists like Ausubel and Piaget among others. Therefore, the study adopted the cognitive contructivistic learning theories of Ausubel and Piaget.

 

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Genetics is the study of the mechanism of heredity by which traits or characters are passed from generation to generation. It is an integral part of biology. Genetics is an interesting aspect of the biology curriculum which is very difficult to teach (Ruiyong, 2004). Genetics is the field of biology that is considered difficult and abstract and much of the content is taught in the unfamiliar context of cell biology(Oke, 2005).Despite the various studies for the purpose of promoting effective teaching and learning of genetics, the problem of underachievement still exists.This is evident in the poor performance of students in biology in WASSCE as presented in Table 1.1 below, irrespective of the large enrolment of students in the subject (Oke, 2005; WAEC Chief Examiner‟s Report, 2013).The problem that necessitated this study is the fact that most genetic concepts generally are abstract in nature there-by making their comprehension relatively difficult coupled with the fact that formal expository method of instruction often left many of the misconceptions held by some students un-changed with the result that poor performance is recorded each year in the external examinations.

 

Table 1.1: Six-year Statistics of WAEC SSCE Biology Result 2008- 2013, Kaduna State

 

Year                      Entry                   Number Sat                   Passed(%)        Failed(%)

 

  • 1285048 427644                         94                     66.06

 

  • 12364655 385112                         59                     71.41

 

  • 1351118 645633                        65                     50. 35

 

  • 1540250 579432                        50                     61.50

 

  • 1687788 587044                        66                     64.34

 

  • 1698188 564138                        22                     66.78   

Source:  West African Examinations Council (WAEC)2013

The researcher chose genetic concepts because of her personal experience as a WAEC and NECO examiner. She observed that the examination bodies (WAEC & NECO) set questions on genetic concepts yearly (see Appendix M). Students performed poorly in questions on genetic concepts, questions on genetics were the least popular questions and most candidates avoided it, those candidates who attempted it scored low marks as the candidates did not attempt all the sub questions (WAEC Chief Examiners Report 2010, 2012, 2013). Studies carried out so far in science education on some innovative methods such as Cooperative Learning, Concept Mapping and Analog Model, revealed their efficacy in enhancing the students‟ retention of biology concepts.The persistent poor achievement of students in Biology as revealed by both research results and WAEC Chief Examiners‟ Reports calls for concern especially for teachers of Biology that teach larger number of students.The problem has to a large extent been attributed to ineffective teaching method employed by the teachers – especially lecture teaching method which is teacher-centered. Lawal, (2009) reported that the use of ineffective methods of teaching, overloaded curriculum, large class size, difficulty of some topics as well as misconceptions students have of some science concepts among others, have resulted in students‟ learning difficulty and thus poor academic performance.Also, there is a strong indication that lack of awareness of misconceptions by students in the learning of genetics by biology teachers may be a contributing factor in poor academic performance in biology (Lawal, 2009).

 

Consequently, there is need to improve on the teaching and learning of Biology by exploring the use of some innovative learner-centered teaching–learning methods such as cooperative learning and concept mapping among others since it is believed that meaningful learning may be as a result of active participation by students. Therefore, there is still the need to investigate other innovative learner-centered method. Such a method should enable the teacher to easily diagnose the problems of the individual learner and allows the learners to evaluate themselves, receiving immediate knowledge of result.It therefore becomes necessary to ascertain empirically the efficacy of Constructivist-Based Conceptual Change Instructional Strategies in bringing about the correction of the students‟ misconceptions, an enhancement of performance and knowledge retention of genetic concepts in Senior Secondary Schools Biology students.

 

Moreso, the retention of students‟ learning in science knowledge had remained poor for some decades.This affects their performance at the subjects at secondary school levels as stated in the literature Eze, (2002), Mbajirogu, (2002), WAEC, (2004) and Ogbu, (2005). One of the possible causes of  students‟ poor retention in sciences is inability of mastering scientific concepts (Lawal, 2009). Research in education on the quality of teaching and learning process is increasing because of its place in instructional delivery (Schiefele, Klaus-Peter, Krapp and Enugu (2007).Therefore, to search for teaching method that can promote students high understanding and retention of Science concepts is very timely. Conceptual Change Model of teaching is an innovative instructional model which entails the combination of theory and practical activities during the period of teaching and learning process. It can be described as studentcentered instructional model since the students participate actively in the learning process which may lead to improvement of students‟retention of Biology concepts. Therefore, the present study was conceived to establish the effects of conceptual change instructional strategies on students‟ misconceptions, retention and performance in genetic concepts at Senior Secondary School level.

 

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The study sought to achieve the following objectives:

  1. identify the common misconceptions held among Senior Secondary School three(SS3) students in genetic concepts in Rigachukun Zone of Kaduna State.
  2. determine whether conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual change discussions with conceptual assignments instructional strategies will correct the identified students‟ misconceptions in genetic concepts at Senior Secondary School level.
  • determine the effects of conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual change discussions with conceptual assignments strategies on the academic performance of senior secondary school students in genetic concepts.
  1. find out the difference in academic performance of male and female students taught genetic concepts using conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual discussions with conceptual assignments instructional strategies.
  2. determine the effect of conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual change discussions with conceptual assignments instructional strategies on students‟ retention ability of the genetic concepts at Senior Secondary School level.
  3. determine the effect of conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual change discussions with conceptual assignments instructional strategies on male and female students‟ retention ability of the genetic concepts at Senior Secondary School level.

 

1.3       Research Questions.

The study investigated the following research questions.

  1. What are the common misconceptions held among Senior Secondary School three (SS3) students in genetic concepts in Kaduna State?
  2. What are the effects of conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual discussions with conceptual assignments instructional strategies in remediating the identified students‟ misconceptions in genetic concepts at Senior Secondary School (SSS)?
  3. What is the difference among the academic performance of students taught genetic concepts using conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual discussions with conceptual assignments strategies and those taught the same using the traditional instructional method?
  4. What is the difference among the academic performance of students taught genetic concepts using Conceptual Assignments, Conceptual Discussions and Enriched Conceptual Discussions with Conceptual Assignments Instructional Strategies?
  5. What is the difference among academic performance of male and female Senior Secondary School students taught genetic concepts using conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual change discussions with conceptual assignments instructional strategies?
  6. What is the effect of conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual discussions with conceptual assignments instructional strategies on students‟ retention ability of the genetic concepts at Senior Secondary School (SSS)?
  7. What is the effect of conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual discussions with conceptual assignments instructional strategies on retention ability of the genetic concepts among male and female Senior Secondary School students?
  8. What is the difference in the retention ability among students taught genetic concepts using Conceptual Assignments, Conceptual Discussions and Enriched Conceptual Discussions with Conceptual Assignments instructional strategies?

 

1.5       Null Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were tested at p ≤ 0.05 level of significance.

Ho1: There is no significant difference among  the mean scores of the students taught genetic concepts using Conceptual Assignments, Conceptual Discussions and Enriched Conceptual Change Discussions with Conceptual Assignments instructional strategies and those taught the same using the traditional method.

Ho2:  There is no significant difference among the academic performance of students taught genetic concepts using Conceptual Assignments, Conceptual Discussions and Enriched Conceptual Change Discussions with Conceptual Assignments instructional strategies.

Ho3:  There is no significant difference among the mean scores of male and female students exposed to Conceptual Assignments, Conceptual Change Discussions and Enriched Conceptual Change Discussions with Conceptual Assignments instructional strategies and those taught using traditional method.

Ho4: There is no significant difference among the mean retention ability of students taught genetic concepts using conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual change discussions with conceptual assignments instructional strategies and those taught the same concepts using the traditional method of instruction.

Ho5: There is no significant difference among the mean retention ability of male and female student staught genetic concepts using conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual assignments and conceptual change discussions instructional strategies and those taught the same concepts using the traditional method of instruction.

Ho6:  There is no is no significant difference among the mean retention ability of students taught genetic concepts using Conceptual Assignments, Conceptual Discussions and   Enriched   Conceptual Discussions with Conceptual Assignments instructional strategies.

 

1.6       Significance of the Study

It is hoped that the findings of this research would be useful significantly in the upliftment of science education in the following ways:

 

Biology Teacher: Educators have pointed out the fact that science concepts are not taught meaningfully by science teachers which leads to misconception of concepts. This study will provide empirical evidence to confirm if students hold misconceptions of genetic concepts or not. It will also identify the type of misconceptions learners hold and show the areas students have misconceptions and learning difficulties in the genetic concepts. Thus, biology teachers will use the findings to improve in the teaching of the concepts and bring about greater interest by the students in secondary schools and beyond.

 

Improvement of the Students’ Academic Performance in Biology: Students need to learn concepts meaningfully before they can apply the knowledge acquired to solve problems.Genetics includes the interrelated fields of cytology, biochemistry, evolutionary theory and molecular biology. The basic understanding of genetics may enhance proper learning of other aspects of biology like variations, evolution, adaptation, reproduction, crop improvement and animal improvement in Agriculture will hopefully be better understood leading to improved performance in examinations. Hence is the relevance of this study to the teaching and learning of biology. A study of this kind focusing on students‟ performance in genetic concepts would also diagnose and express students‟ shortcomings or difficulties in the learning process. Appropriate measures for remedy would be suggested to correct the imbalance. In this regard the study would be useful.

 

Examination Bodies (WAEC&NECO) and Curriculum Developers:A search into the available

literature clearly reveals that despite all efforts to improve students‟ performance in biology, it has been observed that the educational system is to a great extent not achieving its predetermined goals and objectives due to high failure in public examinations such as senior secondary certificate examinations (Agbowuro, 2008). The high failure in biology as highlighted in West African Examinations Council chief examiners‟ report is as a result of students‟ weakness in answering questions relating to difficult concepts such as in the area of genetics. Such weakness induces students‟ inability to comprehend or represent concepts. The Examination Bodies (WAEC&NECO) and curriculum developers will hopefully use the result of these findings to restructure senior secondary certificate examination and the curriculum in order to correct problems associated with students‟ understanding of the genetic concepts where applicable.

 

Teachers’ Training Colleges and Institutions:The finding of this study will help teachers‟ training colleges and institutions like colleges of education and universities to incorporate these instructional strategies into the existing instructional strategies.

 

Professional Associations:such as Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN), Mathematical Association of Nigeria (MAN) and National Association of Research in Science Education (NARSE) etc that carry out researches and organize conferences, seminars and workshops for the practicing science teachers to build into their activities such effective instructional strategies of teaching   science concepts.Moreso, institutions responsible for teacher professional development like, National Education Research Development Council (NERDC), National Teachers Institute (NTI) etc, would find the results of this study useful, thereby incorporate such into their curriculum design processes and instructional innovation programmes in science.

 

Stakeholders in the Education Industry: Studies that probe into students‟ academic achievement with the view to improving them often attract the attention of many individuals and organizations who are stake holders in the education industry. In this respect, it is hoped that this study would be of interest to biology teachers, examining bodies like WAEC and NECO, Professional Science Teachers Association and Ministries of Education would also find this study relevant and useful. It is the ultimate expectation that the findings from this study would be useful in enhancing the quality of teaching and learning of genetics in secondary schools and to make experiences to the learners.

 

Textbooks publishers: Textbook publishers will find the study very useful in their presentation of the subject matter in a form that will facilitate easier and better understanding of concepts in biology by both students and teachers to reduce misconceptions among the students.

 

Researchers:The findings of this study will stimulate researchers to further undertake studies on other concepts than genetic concepts and genetic engineering with a view to finding out any limiting factor hindering their understanding.

 

1.7       Scope of the Study

The study is delimited to SS three students in public secondary schools in Rigachikun Education Zone of Kaduna State. This study examined the Effects of Conceptual Change Instructional Strategies on

Secondary School Students Misconceptions, Retention and Performance in Genetics in Kaduna, Nigeria. The study sampled co-educational secondary schools in Rigachikun Education Zone, Kaduna, Nigeria. All the secondary schools selected are offering WAEC and NECO examinations where the S.S.S.C.E biology syllabus is used.  Only students offering biology as a subject at SS three with or without other science subjects were selected for the study. The concept taught was genetics. This is because many Biology students and teachers consider genetics as one of the most difficult topics (WAEC Chief Examiner, 2016). The SS three Biology students were used because they are not new to the subject and these topics are in

SS three Biology syllabus. The SS three Biology students were used because they are not new to the subject and these topics are in SS three Biology syllabus.  The four genetic topics as stated in the Senior Secondary School Biology syllabus were considered (Transmission and expression of characters in the organisms, Chromosomes: The basis of heredity, Probability in genetics and Application of the principles of heredity in agriculture and in medicine because they are the topics stipulated for genetics at secondary school level. The topics were taught for a period of six weeks.  (FME, 2004; WAEC, 2016) The topics were selected from the Senior Secondary School Biology SS three Textbooks recommended by the Federal Government for teaching Senior Secondary School three students.

  1. Ndu F. O. C. A. W. A. Edwards, K. Danquah and M. U. Ezenkwe (2001) Round-up for West

African Senior School Certificate Examination Biology Longman Nigeria.

  1. Sarojini T. Ramalingam (2004) Modern Biology for Senior Secondary Schools Africana First

Publishers Limited.

  1. O. C. Ndu, P. Asun and J. O. Aina (1991) Senior Secondary Biology Longman Nigeria.

The instructional strategies used were conceptual assignments, conceptual discussions and enriched conceptual assignments and conceptual discussions instructional strategies. The instructional model was Posner et al (1982) conceptual change instructional model.

 

1.8       Basic Assumptions 

The following basic assumptions were made for the study that:

  1. Students are taught genetics as specified in the biology syllabus and that the students existing knowledge of genetics (Preconceptions) is basically uniform among the subjects under study and is quite different from currently accepted scientific views on genetics.
  2. Conceptual Change Model is not commonly employed in teaching biology at the secondary school

level.

EFFECTS OF CONCEPTUAL CHANGE INSTRUCTIONAL POLICIES ON SECONDARY SCHOOL PUPILS’ MISAPPREHENSIONS, PERFORMANCE AND PRESERVATION IN GENETICS IN KADUNA, NIGERIA  

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