Abstract: This study examined effects of learning variables and academic achievement of students in Biology in Oruk Anam Local Government Area. Three null hypotheses were formulated in line with specific objectives to give the study guide. The quasi-experimental design was adopted for the study. The target population comprised all Biology students. A sample size of 180 SS1 students from six intact classes was chosen for the study. The instrument for data collection was “Biology Achievement Test (BAT)”. The data collected from the study was analyzed using t-test. The null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 levels of significance. The results showed that cooperative learners performed significantly better than the individual learners. Students with adequate learning materials were found to perform better than those with inadequate learning materials.
Finally, it was found that students who had adequate learning motivation performed significantly better those who were not motivated. It was concluded that learning variables (learning method, learning materials and learning motivation) have significant effect on students academic performance in Biology in Oruk Anam Government Area. Consequently, it was recommended among other that Biology students should adopt the co-operative learning method to improve their academic performance in the subject.
Effects of Learning Variables and Academic Achievement of Students in Biology
1.1 Background to the study
Learning is an important exercise in human life. The role of learning in changing an individual at birth form a biological to an academic being cannot be overemphasized. The process of learning starts from infancy and ends only at death. Learning however does not occur on its own. It results from a series of interaction with people or things in our immediate environment and beyond. It helps man to acquire skills with which he can adapt to and even change his environment. Parents send their children to school because they believe the school can transmit desirable attitudes skills, knowledge, behaviors etc. to the children. The government funds public schools because it hopes by so doing the society will have citizens that are productive and self reliant that have a positive attitude towards fellow citizens, public and private property: that will shun crime and live peacefully with others and that can bring social progress.
According to Kosemani and Ituen,(2009) reading is basic to meaningful learning. In formal education, it is the gateway to success since it is the principal instrument employed by students in learning. It creates opportunities for academic growth and promotes the development of insight into life (p.75).
Essentially, the professional goal of all teachers is to enhance and promote effective learning among their students. Effectiveness in teaching will be an illusion if learners are not ready to learn, if there is no corresponding change in their behaviours as well as improvement in their academic performance in schools.
There have been public outcries on the abysmal performance of students in school examinations. In fact, the poor performance of students in school has assumed frightening proportion and is worrisome. The big question is what factors are responsible for the continuous poor performance of students in school? Does it mean that teachers are not teaching well? Are parents not providing for the basic educational needs of their wards any longer? Is the government paying lip-service to the educational sector? It is absolutely true that even if the afore-mentioned stakeholders in the educational industry have perfectly played their respective roles the problem will still remain if the learners do not play their corresponding roles namely reading and studying.
It may be interesting to recall that there was a time when students were great readers. They were voracious and ardent readers, reading every printed material that comes their ways. It was time students did not read because they had examinations to write, or because they want to record resounding success at interviews. Students permanently devoted their time to reading so as to deepen their understanding of the world around them.
Students did not just parade themselves as students, but to be students was synonymous with reading. Reading had formed an integral part of student’s life such that a student felt lost any day he or she failed to read even a novel or any printed material. Students were not afraid of examinations. It was a pride to be a student, thus students earned respect and honour from members of the society. What is the situation today? All these have changed. The wave of technological advancement in our society has swept away the culture of reading among our youths.
In an age where internet browsing of social media platforms, watching football matches and playing with funny handsets seem to be the in-thing among the youths, reading a good book in a quiet corner of the school libraries had become an archaic idea. Empty school libraries are a silent witness to this dreary picture. They present a black picture of the depletion of avid readers who used to flock libraries after school hours and during free periods and in between classes.
However, the contention that learning is an activity presupposes that certain skills and approaches are required for that activity to be effectively carried out. This is why Johnson and Olsson (2008) maintained that learning outcome is influenced by variables such as learning method, learning materials and motivation among others.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It has been observed with dismay that the study habits of students in the present day Nigeria is on the decline especially at the secondary and tertiary levels of education. It is very disappointing and disheartening to note that the culture of reading which had in time past been the mainstay of studentship had long been decayed.
The study habits of students had long been jeopardized by the present-day popular video culture. These days, students would rather sit by their television or computer, than read. No wonder Onuoha (2003) stated that “if you want to hide something from a black man hide it inside a book and place it on the centre table. He may never find it because he won’t read the book”. This is very unfortunate but to a large extent the truth.
Worried by the poor study habits of students, well-meaning individuals, government and non- governmental organization have initiated efforts to remedy the situation through the provision of facilities in schools, setting up programmes and activities to help students improve their reading habits, yet most students fail to read without being pushed. Apparently, the poor performance of students in internal and external school examinations which had been a permanent feature of our educational system might not be unconnected with some learning variables. It is against this background therefore, that this study, “Learning variables and Academic Achievement of Biology students in Oruk Anam Local Government” became imperative.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine the relationship, if any, between learning variables and academic achievement of Biology students in Oruk Anam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Specifically, the study was designed to:
(i) examine the relationship, if any, between learning methods (co-operative and individual learning) and students’ academic performance in Biology in Oruk Anam Local Government Area.
(ii) examine the relationship, if any, between learning materials (adequate and inadequate) and students’ academic performance in Biology in Oruk Anam Local Government Area.
(iii) examine the relationship, if any, between learning motivation and academic performance of students in Biology in Oruk Anam Local Government Area.
Effects of Learning Variables and Academic Achievement of Students in Biology
1.4 Research Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study.
(i) There is no significant difference in academic performance of students who adopt co-operative leaning method and those who adopt individual learning method in Biology in Oruk Anam Local Government Area.
(ii) There is no significant difference in the academic performance of students with adequate learning materials and those with inadequate learning materials in Biology in Oruk Anam Local Government Area.
(iii) There is no significant difference in the academic performance of students with adequate learning motivation and those with no motivation in Biology in Oruk Anam Local Government Area.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be of enormous benefit to teachers, school administrators, parents, students and researchers in the following specific ways:
(i) It reveals the learning variables that influence the academic performance of the students.
(ii) It will enable teachers, parents and other partners to put adequate learning materials in place and learning motivation which could come in form of reward and praises to boost students’ academic performance.
(iii) The findings of this study will enable students to know and adopt learning methods that will guarantee better academic performance.
(iv) It will add to the body of existing literature on learning variables in relation to students’ academic performance.
(v) It will serve as a reference material and a spring board for further research on learning variables and students’ academic performance not only in Biology but also other school subjects.