Abstract: This study investigated the Availability and Effective Use of Laboratory Equipment as Determinant of Students Achievement in Basic Science. Research questions and research hypotheses were formulated to guide the study and were all tested at 0.05 levels of significance. The design used was descriptive survey. The target population was made up of two thousand one hundred and forty five (2145) junior secondary two (JS2) Basic Science students in Essien Udim Local Government Area. One hundred and twenty Basic Science students were randomly selected from two secondary schools constituted the sample size. The Student Variable Questionnaire on availability and utilization of Basic Science laboratory equipment and Basic Science Achievement Test on changes in matter were the instrument used for data collection.
A test–retest method was used to determine the reliability of the instrument and the reliability index of 0.74 and 0.64 were obtained on Achievement Test and Questionnaire respectively by correlation analysis using Pearson Product Moment Correlation (PPMC). Independent t-test statistics was used to analyze the data obtained. The result revealed that the availability and utilization of Basic Science laboratory equipment has a positive influence on students’ performance in Basic Science and also male students did not differ significantly from female students when laboratory equipment are available at their disposal. In view of the findings, it is therefore recommended that Basic Science laboratory equipment should be available and effectively utilized by teachers and students in order to improve performance in Basic Science.
Availability and Effective Use of Laboratory Equipment as Determinant of Students Achievement in Basic Science
1.1 Background of the study
The federal and state government undertook a lot of reforms and initiatives at various times to promote science education in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Some of those include modification of science curriculum used in schools, establishment of agencies like the national science and technology development centre and science equipment centres to allow boys and girls equal opportunities to learn science (Thompson, 2014).
Science is a very important aspect in the development of any nation. One of the ways of appreciating science teaching and learning is through effective laboratory instruction. The laboratory has long been a distinctive feature in science education. Its introduction has proved successful because students will go out from the laboratory able to “see and do” (Hofstein and Lunetta (2012). When students are taught in a school with adequate facilities, they tend to perform better than they would have done without these facilities makes science lessons concrete and stimulating and helps to enhance the achievement of students in secondary schools (Lunetta, Hofstein, and Clough, 2011).
Learning resources are very vital tools in education. They aid teaching and learning and include everything that provide information to teacher as well as the learner. Akano (2014) asserted that resources encompasses “man, machine, students, materials, brains and money which are to be planned, organized, directed, controlled and co-ordinated to achieve better teaching and therefore the teacher must manage these resources effectively in order to achieve the educational objectives.
A laboratory can be defined according to Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary (2000) as a building or room fitted with relevant scientific equipment for conducting scientific experiment, analysis or similar work, or for research testing and experimenting technical work.
Laboratory exercise is an integral part of science teaching and should be used when laboratory practical can be combined with textbook and other teaching activities and when needed as a means of obtaining and learning scientific information (Ogundipe, 2016).
The study of Basic Science is facilitated through use of a laboratory for the demonstration or investigation of Basic Science fact or phenomenon. The overall objectives of the Basic Science curriculum as enumerated in FMR (2013) where to enable learners.
- Develop interest in science and technology;
- Apply their scientific and technology and skills to meet societal needs;
- Take advantages of the numerous career opportunities offered by science and technology;
- Become prepared for further studies in science and technology;
- A closer look at these objectives will show that for a successful attainment of these goals a lot of laboratory and field work must be done by the students. Without the necessary equipment and effective use of these equipment students would not be able to meet these objectives.
Studies on the methodology of science have shown that students learn more from science lessons when they are given the opportunities to learn through doing than when they are allowed to observe (Hofstein, 2014). They enjoy measuring, manipulating apparatus, classifying data, designing experiments, testing of hypothesis and making inferences. These processes can only be developed and acquired if the students are allowed to participate in science instruction through a well-equipped laboratory experience.
Lawal (2016) reported no significant correlation between adequacy of laboratory equipment and academic achievements of students in Basic Science in Junior Secondary Schools (JSS). In his study on availability and impact of material resources on achievement in Basic Science in selected secondary schools in Katsina Metropolis. Okeke (2013) stated that if the laboratory will serve its purposes successfully then the students must be actively involved in doing their own thinking, evolving solution to problems, using their own hands and heads and therefore growing in skills development at the end of every laboratory experience.
Adegbemile (2011) observed that lack of science equipment and laboratories are some of the constraints facing science teaching in Nigeria. Adegbemile further stresses on the importance of learning resources in science teaching and insisted that human and material resources are very important for the effective teaching and learning of science as it reduces verbalization in class. Akano (2015) opines that the exposure of students to laboratory activities and experiments is the hallmark of science discipline both for skill acquisition, understanding of the basic principle and application of science. Many researchers in the subject of science suggested that learning in science is enhance, as well as improving of understanding level when students are engaged in science laboratory for practical experiment (Lunetta, Hofstein and Clough, 2013). Ugwu (2012) asserted that experimentation gives room for better attainment of lesson objectives since it depends on the availability of science equipment for proper understanding, development and application.
Kolawole and Oginni (2015) asserted that laboratory and field work aid the understanding of difficulty concepts in the curriculum, creates opportunity for the testing of facts and theories in science. Presently in our schools, there exist gender differences in science achievement and these have attracted some debate. Njoku(2015) in a study on trends in student’s achievement in integrated science observed that male students performed significantly better than female students. Ibritam (2011) found out that boys and girls performed equally better academically when laboratory equipment are available and accessible for used. It is therefore believed that learners can achieve more if given the opportunity to use the available equipment at their disposal.
Laboratory equipment plays a paramount role in the teaching and learning of science subjects and inevitably the student’s academic achievement in the subjects. Despite the effort, aimed at improving science education in Nigeria there has been in recent times a growing public anxiety about fallen standard of education especially in the science subjects like Basic Science. One of the disturbing problems of the Nigerian education system is the inability of most of the students to perform well in examinations in most Nigerian public secondary schools (Okafor, 2014).
The roll of the laboratory equipment becomes a key component in understanding basic science. It provides students with the opportunities to questions, observes, samples experience and experiment with scientific phenomena in their quest for knowledge of living things. Availability of laboratory equipment could helps students connect to the object of study and increase students. Participation laboratory equipment if available for teaching and learning can increase students’ interest in science and develop students understanding of scientific concepts and skills. It allows collaborative working and gives students the skills to tackle global challenges (Hofstein and Mamlok-Naaman, 2013). The absence or the insufficient supplies of these learning resources undoubtedly affect academic performance of students in science subjects. Teachers can only achieve their aspirations if enough laboratory equipment for teaching and learning of Basic Science are available. For learning to be effective the optimal utilization of laboratory equipment are of great importance for a subject like Basic Science.
Passive learning through lectures and textbooks reading may not provide a lasting understanding or interest in a field of study. Students should be able to use laboratory equipment with proficiency to investigate changes in matter and function. Effective utilization of laboratory equipment helps students to be more effectively “minds on as well as hands on” when the fell they understand how the equipment they are using works (Dahar, Faize, Niwaz and Dahar, 2015).
There is a need of science laboratory in schools because practical knowledge is more important than theoretical knowledge, the concepts which are not clear in a classroom are easily understand by students by doing simple experiments and the experiments which is to be performed is remembered and retained for longtime (Adesoji and Olatunbosun, 2012). The science laboratory experience increases the research aptitude of the students and thus making the bright future of students. It is against this background that this study is setup to examine the difference between the availability and utilization of Basic Science laboratory equipment and students performance.
Availability and Effective Use of Laboratory Equipment as Determinant of Students Achievement in Basic Science
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The study investigates the availability and utilization of Basic Science laboratory equipment as they affect students’ performance in secondary schools. Studies have shown that students perform poorly in science subjects including Basic Science. Lack of equipment and ineffective use of these materials are some of the reasons advanced for poor performance of students in Basic Science this is because practical work constitutes an integral part of science teaching and if the equipment are not there, the teaching of science will be mainly verbalization of words without adequate practicals. Also, students are not sufficiently exposed to practical in schools and this attitude has rendered science teaching in many of our secondary schools into “chalk-talk” affair. Students hear when you teach them, they see when you demonstrate and they understand when they practice.
From the foregoing, there is a strong indicative that academic achievements of science students are a correlates of learning resources available at their disposal in the environment of instructions. Therefore, a careful and cautious attention be accorded to it if we want to build and sustain scientists of the future in Nigeria. Based on these facts, the study seeks to find out the Availability and Effective Use of Laboratory Equipment as Determinant of Students Achievement in Basic Science.