Abstract: The study examined Activity Method and Students’ Academic Performance in Agricultural Science in Secondary Schools in Abak Local Government Area. Two null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. An experimental design was adopted. Four secondary schools in the area were used for the study. A sample of one hundred and eighty (180) students were selected using simple random sampling method. Agricultural Science Performance Test (ASPT) was examined to the students and the scores collected were used for data analysis.
Independent t-test statistics was employed to analyze the data. The results revealed that students exposed to activity method performed significantly better than their counterparts exposed to lecture method in the Agricultural Science performance test. This was evident in calculated t-value of 12.16 against a critical t-value of 1.98. Equally, there was no difference in the performance of male and female students taught using activity method in Agricultural Science performance test, as indicated in calculated t-value of 0.27 against a critical t-value of 2.00. Hence, the null hypotheses were rejected and accepted respectively at .05 level of significance. A number of recommendations were made, one of which is that teachers should adopt activity method which requires students’ involvement in the teaching of Agricultural Science to facilitate the understanding of the lesson by the learners.
Activity Method and Students’ Academic Performance in Agricultural Science in Secondary Schools
1.1 Background to the Study
Teaching is an art that involves the impartation of knowledge to a group of people through the utilization of some strategies.
Peter (2000) considered that teaching involves the passing of knowledge, skills or models of conduct in such a way that the learner is brought to understand and evaluate the underlying rationale for what is presented to him, this is not an easy task particularly when the teacher is called upon to establish the needs, interest and general ability of the learners.
According to Okeye (2005), teaching is simply the art of helping others learn effectively, the word effective is important because an organism can learn with or without a teacher. A teacher uses appropriate methods and techniques in facilitating learning to improve the quality of learning to a level that can justify the term effective learning.
Similarly, Ekanem (2006), noted that teaching is the guidance of learners through planned activities so that they may acquire the richest learning possible from their experiences. This implies that no teacher can give education to a child, that is to say that a child does not learn merely because he/she has been exposed to the teacher’s knowledge and content of text books, rather learning is an active process which goes on within the child by guiding his/her learning experiences through planned activities. As a matter of fact, pupils start to learn when they become actively involved in the learning situation.
The teacher’s role is to guide, by arousing the students interest to participate fully by establishing attainable goal. Where a teacher dominates classroom activities through questioning, he is not helping the learners to learn. Thus, the teacher must know how to select the content and methods to use. The author further maintained that if a teacher teaches fact to the child, then he is taking a fractionated approach to teaching whereby only the cognitive talent will be developed, but a good teaching will involve a multi-talent approach which involve teaching the fact (cognitive), making the learners have love, interest and affection for what is taught (effective) and finally enabling the learners to transfer what has been learnt into practical terms (psychomotor).
A multi-talent approach to teaching enables the learners to be actively involved, makes it students-centered, investigative, discovery and activity oriented (Ekanem, 2006).
However, for meaningful and effective teaching and learning of vocational subjects which Agricultural Science is not an exception, good instructional strategies are required. Those strategies that are activity based yield better learning qualities, while those strategies in which the learners is passive lead to rote learning which involves the memorization technique based on repetition (peter, 2000). According to the author, the philosophy and objective of vocational teaching and learning demand the use of activity- based method and student’s – centered approach so as to develop scientific attitude, self reliance and self confidence.
Under this situation, the learners will learn best by analyzing, thinking, reflecting on what happened instead of memorizing and repeating facts.
Equally, a science curriculum in Nigeria recommends the guided inquiry and discovery teaching approach which is activity-based method and learners –centered with the teacher giving the guide or facilitating (Aina, 2001) This does not bar the use of other techniques or methods at various stage. For instance, we may need demonstration approach which involves the display or exhibition usually done by the teacher while the students watch in the course of the lesson to demonstrate high risk experiment to ensure high safety rate and also when economy of time is concerned. It typically involves showing students correct use of apparatus illustrating a technique, performing an experiment which is either dangerous, risky, difficult or expensive for individual students to enhance easy understanding and good performance in the lesson. Even lecture or expository method which the teacher’s purpose is to inform, persuade or entertain with little or no participation by the students could be used briefly to explain the concept, during this time the teacher and students are equally actively involved in the process of instruction.
Accordingly, discussion method which implies the participation of students in the process of learning by raising issues of their own, contributing ideas, asking questions and seeking solutions based upon the study and drawing conclusions under the teacher’s guidance is important in the teaching of Agricultural Science because, it is based on extensive contribution of ideas and expressions from the members of the group participating (Ogalanya, 2001). The author maintained that this instructional strategy will encourage good student’s academic performance.
Moreover, since Agriculture Science is a vocational subject, it demands that it should be taught in activity method which involves student’s active participation in manipulating materials in order to develop in them vocational processed skills, cognitive skills as well as affective skills (Eshiet, 2008). The learners are provided with the learning materials, guided questions on the topic under discussion. The learners then freely interact with the materials and facilitators (teachers). In this case, the knowledge gained by the learner is concertized and remain permanently with the learners.
Therefore, the present research seeks to examine activity method as its affect students’ academic performance in Agricultural Science in secondary schools.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Over the years, the teaching and learning of Agricultural Science in schools have become more challenging as a result of inappropriate methods adopted by some teachers with its resultant damaging effects on students’ academic performance.
However, many educators and stakeholders in education sector have viewed with serious concern the poor performance of students in Agricultural Science in both internal and external examinations. Abdullahi (2007) identified some problems that accounted for the dwindling nature of students’ performance in the subject to include lack of teachers, wrong teaching method adopted by some teachers and unconducive learning environment. Measures to remedy this unpleasant situation have been proffered by scholars and researchers, yet the poor performance of students in the subject has become a recurring feature in both internal and external examinations.
Moreover, available data have shown that little or no research has been conducted on activity method as one of the teaching methods in relation to students’ academic performance in Agricultural Science in Secondary school. It is on the expectation that the teaching method adopted by a teacher in teaching Agricultural Science could also exert an influence on the academic performance of students in the subject. It is as a result of the above reasons that the researcher is motivated to conduct a study on activity method and academic performance of students in Agricultural Science in Secondary Schools in Abak Local Government Area.