This paper examined and compared factors influencing the use of instructional materials (IMs) among agriculture teachers in public and private secondary schools in Gaborone, Botswana. The results show that teachers in public schools were younger and had fewer years of teaching experience, but had higher qualifications than those in private schools. The availability of IMs was higher in private than public schools, but teachers in public schools were more favorably disposed to IMs use than teachers in private school. Significant differences exist between public and private schools teachers for availability of IMs (t = -2.33, ? < 0.05) and attitude towards the use of IMs (t = 2.91, ? < 0.05). Important predictors of the use of IMs are availability of IMs (t = 3.65), teaching position (t = 2.51), and teaching experience (t = -2.45). Educational policy makers and planners should pay proper attention to these variables to improve the use of IMs in schools.
Instructional materials are a variety of materials in various formats which influence student's learning and instructor's teaching which have evolved in recent years to include computer and VCR player/recorder technology, textbooks, library books, periodicals, pamphlets, art prints, study prints, pictures, transparencies, films, filmstrips, slides, vidéocassettes, videodiscs, audio cassettes, sound recordings, compact discs, computer software, CDROMS, and electronic resources. Varrella (1989) stated that several available instructional materials will serve their purposes, if effectively accessed and efficiently used. Instructional materials enhance effective and appropriate developmental experience, quality of instruction, instructional methods and techniques (Young, 1999). The use of a variety of instructional techniques helps to make learning more effective by appealing and maximizing the use of senses for learning. LittleJohn and Windeatt (1989) argue that materials have a hidden curriculum that includes attitudes toward knowledge, teaching and learning, relationship of teacher and student and the society. Materials have an underlying instructional philosophy, approach, method, and content, including both linguistic and cultural information. Illustrations are important because many people form impressions based on the visual presentation of ideas. It is important that illustrations avoid portraying characters as stereotypes or caricatures (Bebell et al, 2004).
The effectiveness of instructional materials depends upon the manner and the degree to which they meet the needs of teachers and students. Any evaluation must examine usage, scope of print and non print collections, frequency of removal of biased and outdated materials, and procedures that promote ease of use and accessibility (Bebell et al, 2004).
Instructional materials are selected based on the principles of provision of accurate, well-written materials that will enrich and support the adopted curriculum, taking into consideration varied interests, abilities, and maturity levels of the students served; provision of materials that will stimulate growth in factual knowledge, literary appreciation, aesthetic values, and ethical standards; provide a background of information that will enable students to make intelligent judgments in their daily lives. Others are selection of materials on opposing sides of controversial issues to provide guidance and practice in critical reading and thinking; representativeness of the many religious, ethnic, and cultural groups and their contributions to heritage; and placing principle above personal opinion and reason above prejudice in providing high quality and diverse materials (Young, 1999).
Instructional materials are often depicted as audio-visual aids used by a communicators to facilitate the understanding of learners by involving more of their senses, especially those that relate to hearing and seeing (Kitao and Kitao, 1997; Agbamu, 2006). …