The Effect of Concept Mapping and Problem Solving Teaching Strategies on Achievement in Biology among Nigerian Secondary School Students

Article excerpt

Scientist and science educators over the years have been focusing attention on how to improve science instruction in schools by going beyond the stereotypic methods of obtaining knowledge in science. There has been emphasis in science teaching and on students' active involvement in doing science. The Nigerian National Policy on education (2004) and the Biology curriculum sees biology as a practical and inquiry oriented subject that should be taught practically (involving students in the art of doing). When the students are involved in doing science, science process skills such as careful observations, interpreting, predicting events, designing experiment, organizing information, reporting and generalization will be acquired.

The teacher has been found to be a very important factor in the implementation of any curriculum (Nneji, 1999); Okoye, (1999) and Umeh, (2002). Ajaja and Kpangban (2000) asserted that what the student knows or does not know depend mainly on the teacher. The Biology teacher should therefore be equipped with the fight teaching strategies for effective learning to take place. Okpala (1991), Okoye (1999), Umeh (2002), Okebukola (2002), and Okechukwu (2003) have shown that both teachers and students find ecology, evolution and genetics difficult to teach understand respectively. These difficulties may arise as a result of misconception. Yip (1998) revealed that inexperienced biology teachers hold a number of conceptual errors which are prevalent among secondary school students

Concept maps are diagrams indicating inter-relationships among concepts as representation of meaning or educational framework specific to a domain of knowledge. (Novak, 1990). Okebukola (1997) believed that the maps can be applied to any subject matter or to any level within the subject. Genetics being a somewhat difficulty aspect of biology deserve a systematic way of learning and problem solving technique.

Most students in the senior secondary schools in Nigeria opt for biology in the senior secondary examinations. Despite the attraction this subject enjoys, student's poor achievement in Biology is alarming. Okebukola (1998) reported that between 1991 and 1995 only about 25% of the candidates presented for Biology in the Nigerian senior secondary school examination passed at credit level. However, researchers have blamed the state of Biology teaching and students performance on factors such as (i) lack of qualified teachers and inadequate practical work Ali, (1998) (ii) use of traditional teaching methods (Ollarewaju, (1986) and (iii) the highly conceptual nature of biology (Schmid and Telaro, 1990; and Umeh, 2002).

However, there is an obvious tendency that practical scientific methods such as concept mapping and problem solving is muddled up with theory during teaching to the extent that the efforts distorts theoretical understanding of biological concepts. Biology teachers must consider separately the aims of each topic and use appropriate method of teaching it so that students can establish a self-sufficient rationale and modus operandi for each. It is this area of interaction between concept mapping and problem solving strategies that this study seeks to examine, to see how the two teaching strategies may help to ensure better understanding of biology in senior secondary schools. The implication of this to science teaching is to help students to acquire, cognitive understanding of Biological knowledge and concepts and also a mastery of the skills for their private studies in science. The study therefore seeks to examine the effect of concept mapping and problem solving strategies on achievement in Biology among secondary schools students.

Research Problem

Concept mapping and problem solving teaching strategies in science teaching are designed to help students acquire basic scientific skills and improved performance. Some science educators agree that concept mapping and problem solving promote students' achievement in science. …