Laboratory Resources and Teaching of Practical Biology in Secondary Schools

Laboratory Resources and Teaching of Practical Biology in Secondary Schools
Laboratory Resources and Teaching of Practical Biology in Secondary Schools

ABSTRACT: The study investigated Laboratory Resources and Teaching of Practical Biology in Secondary Schools. The survey research design was employed. The population for the study was all Biology teachers in all the public secondary schools in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area. The instruments for data collection were “Laboratory Inventory” and “Questionnaire on Laboratory Resources and Teaching of Practical Biology (QLRTPB)”. Data collections were analyzed using chi-square statistical technique. Findings showed that there is a significant influence of laboratory technicians and laboratory materials on the teaching of practical Biology in secondary schools.  Based on the findings, it was recommended that Adequate laboratory resources (human, materials and equipment) should be provided in the laboratory by the government in order to promote creativity, innovation and learning by doing.

Laboratory Resources and Teaching of Practical Biology in Secondary Schools



1.1       Background to the study

Laboratory work is an integral part of most science subjects and provides an environment different in many ways from that of traditional classroom setting. A good laboratory environment promotes students’ curiosity, rewards creativity, encourages a spirit of healthy questioning, avoids dogmatism, and promotes meaningful understanding, where wait-time is essential in promoting thoughtful responses and dialog. A good science classroom welcomes all students and strives to enable all motivated students to be successful. Akinbobola and Afolabi (2010), asserted that productive laboratory environment is a student-centered classroom, which is interactive, comfortable, and collaborative learning is encouraged.

Edem (2014) sees a laboratory learning environment as a place where students work individually, or in a small group to solve a problem. The students make use of scientific processes and materials to construct their own explanation of scientific phenomena. They make use of science process skills such as manipulation, investigation, experimentation observation, collection and interpretation of data during scientific process. The distinction between laboratory learning and traditional classroom learning according to Edem (2014) is that in laboratory learning, activities are learner-centered, with students actively engaged in a hands-on and minds-on activities using laboratory materials, equipment, tools, techniques, approaches and strategies. The science laboratory consists of every environment in which nature may be investigated and observed in a well-equipped classroom or in the field and has no boundaries.

The laboratory practices generally aim at improving the students’ psychomotor skills and the abilities by providing a conducive environment and observation for conducting the experiments. In a well-designed laboratory exercise, students can engaged and experiment with cooperatively and individually, in open-ended laboratories and discovery-based learning activities that apply theoretical concepts to relevant and appropriate real life problems. Also, in a well-designed laboratory, students interact closely with peers and teachers, so learning can be assessed, enhanced and monitored effectively (Akinbobola, 2011).

The aims of laboratory exercises and practices in science education include attaining research and technical skills, actualizing the conceptual learning and producing effective learning products (Akinbobola & Afolabi, 2009). Laboratory activities have long had a distinctive and central role in science curriculum. Understanding and experiencing scientific phenomena and the scientific process are goals of most science laboratory courses. To achieve these goals, laboratory courses should provide students with the opportunity to reconstruct knowledge and restructure information rather than simply involve in verifying what they have been told. Hence, students need to actively construct scientific knowledge by involving in posing questions, providing evidence and determining claims (Akinbobola & Ikitde, 2011).

Afolabi and Akinbobola (2012) states that, conducting scientific discovery requires that students have easy equitable and frequent opportunities to use wider range of materials, equipment, tools, supplies and other resources for experimentation and direct investigation of phenomena. Therefore, schools must make every attempt to ensure safe and effective learning environment opportunities for students to interact with the materials or data drawn from the materials using different tools and equipment, data collection techniques, models, and theories of science.

These students’ activities include physical manipulation of the real world substances or system under investigation and interaction with stimulations. Hence, students can work with materials to observe and understand phenomena. Science classroom/laboratories should therefore be designed with the following goals in mind: motivating students to make more use of science process skills; promoting mastery of subject discipline; allowing more students involvement through inductive approaches than traditional approaches; appearing to be preferred by the students; developing the nature of science and phenomena; appearing to work well for students of all ability levels including both the slow learners and the gifted learners; enhancing science process skills; providing less direction and therefore assign students more responsibility to determine procedural strategies; cultivating interest in science and interest in learning science; producing significantly more educational gains than traditional laboratories; enhancing teamwork abilities; and understanding the ambiguity and complexity of empirical work (Akinbobola, 2014).

Setting up a laboratory that utilizes the maximum of students’ participation in the inquiry process holds the greatest impact of modern science teaching (Adesoji & Ibrahim, 2009). The investigatory laboratory provides the modern science teacher with an opportunity to stimulate and guide the students into patterns that a scientist might employ in making a similar investigation. It is against this background that the researcher focused on laboratory resources and effective teaching of Biology in secondary schools.

Laboratory Resources and Teaching of Practical Biology in Secondary Schools

1.2       Statement of the Problem

In spite of all the advantages and the recognition given to science subjects as the pivot for technological and economic development of a nation, the laboratory learning environment in which the science subjects supposed to be learnt seems not to be conductive for effective teaching and learning process. This has led to the perception of students that science is a difficult subject. This perception of students has affected learners’ interest and led to declining rate of students’ achievement in science subjects in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSSCE) conducted by West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and National Examinations Council (NECO) in Nigeria (Akinbobola, 2016).

Hence, do the science laboratory resources affect students’ achievement in science? What difference exists between the preferred and actual science laboratory environment as perceived by students? Do the laboratory technicians influence the teaching of Biology? Based on the above asked questions, the researcher was motivated to investigate laboratory resources and effective teaching of practical Biology in secondary schools.

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Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of A reputable researcher, Web Developer, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education.