Concept Mapping Method and Students’ Academic Performance in Biology in Secondary Schools

Concept Mapping Method and Students’ Academic Performance in Biology in Secondary Schools
Concept Mapping Method and Students’ Academic Performance in Biology in Secondary Schools

ABSTRACT: The study examined concept mapping method and students’ academic performance in biology in secondary schools. The population of the study was   2,105 senior secondary II students from ten public secondary schools. One hundred Biology students were randomly selected from four selected public secondary schools in Abak Local Government Area. The quasi-experimental research design was employed in this study. Biology performance test (BIOPET) was used as the instrument for data collection and independent t-test statistical method was employed in analyzing the data collected.

Concept Mapping Method and Students’ Academic Performance in Biology in Secondary Schools

Findings revealed that there is a significant difference in academic performance of students taught Biology using concept mapping method of teaching and those taught using conventional method of teaching. Also, that females scored slightly higher than the males but when subjected to a t-test there was no significant difference in academic performance between male and female students taught Biology using concept mapping method of teaching. Based on the findings, it was recommended that Concept mapping method should be used in teaching Biology concepts in secondary schools as to improve academic performance of students, interest and participation in the subject.



1.1     Background to the Study

Learning is a purposeful, conscious and complex process. An important feature of learning is that it involves a complex interactive system including environmental, social, motivational, emotional and cognitive factors (Baron & Byrne, 2003; Huffman, 2004; Joyce, Weil & Calhoun, 2004).  Various teaching-learning strategies have been developed to accelerate learning process of students. Learning strategies evolve from the learning theories defining the role of teacher, students and the contents. In Pakistan, at present, mostly behavioural practices are in vogue in schools where students are passive and classroom environment is mostly teacher dominated (Iqbal, 2011).

The National Policy on Education 2013 stresses for the paradigm shift from the behaviourism to constructivism to enhance conceptual learning in science and development of attitude towards learning of science. This curriculum demands such teaching-learning strategies that may involve students in their own knowledge construction, placing them as centre of learning activity and teacher as a facilitator.

Concept mapping is one of the teaching-learning strategies under constructivism having its orientation in David Ausubel’s Assimilation theory (1968) of cognitive learning, which aims at fostering meaningful learning by students. Concept mapping as a learning strategy uses a rich social environment, where learners work individually and in groups to scaffold and mediate learning of each other (Oakley, 2004). Concept mapping is a technique of visually representing the structure of information, concepts, and their relationship. Research studies in the field of science education reflect that concept mapping can be used as a successful teaching – learning strategy from primary school to university level.

Concept maps are used as a tool for meaningful learning, assessment, instructional planning and finding out the alternative concepts or misconceptions held by the learners (Nesbit & Adesope, 2006; Novak & Cańas, 2006). Learning through concept mapping has long lasting effect on memory demonstrated in the form of better results in delayed post-test as compared with other teaching leaning strategies. It can also be useful in combination with other manipulative learning strategies like experimental method and concept mapping (Hilbert & Renkl, 2007; Donnell, Dansereau & Hall, 2002).

However, Chabeli (2010) posited that if students can link new information to their existing conceptual framework, they can construct new, meaningful interconnection so that the existing conceptions are transformed, enriched or revised and conceptual change occurs. Therefore existing conception are transformed during knowledge construction, that construction is that of understanding.

Gravett (2011) added that interactions, collaboration, cooperation, dialogue and discourse are key concepts in facilitating understanding of educational activities. The author further stated that teaching method should succeed in revealing the subject contents to the students and the teaching method used for instruction, be it in the classroom or in the laboratory should also have a scientific character.

It is therefore important to investigate didactic method validity in view of laying down guidelines to improve the practice of teaching Biology and promote critical thinking by students. It was on this background that the study investigated concept mapping and academic performance of students in Biology in secondary schools  in the study area.   

Concept Mapping Method and Students’ Academic Performance in Biology in Secondary Schools

1.2     Statement of the Problem

Biology as a study of life is important to everyday life because it allows humans to better understand their bodies, their resources and potential threats in the environment. It helps people to understand every organism alive, from the smallest bacteria to blue whales. Biology is one of the core subject offered by all science students up to tertiary level of education.

Despite the high position offered to Biology in Nigerian education system, many students struggle to learn Biology and often do not achieve success through their learning. This may stem from the fact that, they do not construct appropriate understanding of fundamental Biology concepts through their learning strategies. This has left the students with poor performance in both public and internal examinations (Obodo 2004).

It is also disheartening that approaches and strategies for teaching and learning of this subject at secondary levels of education are not probably being put to use effectively that could promote learners activity and provide learners’ guided practice enabling them to retain concepts taught and solve problems (Achor, Imoko & Uloko 2009). It is against this backdrop that this study was carried out to answer the question, what is the effect of concept mapping on academic performance of students in Biology in secondary schools.

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