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AN EXAMINATION OF PRACTICAL ACTIVITIES AND ITS EFFECT ON STUDENTS ACADEMIC INTEREST OF BASIC SCIENCE IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL

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AN EXAMINATION OF PRACTICAL ACTIVITIES AND ITS EFFECT ON STUDENTS ACADEMIC INTEREST OF BASIC SCIENCE IN JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.2 Background to the Study

The progress of any nation is evident in its social, economic, and political development, which is greatly impacted by human actions in the natural environment. These activities revolve around science and its technological applications (Famakinwa, 2014). Science plays a crucial role in the progress of nations striving for technological advancement. The importance and relevance of science to life and society have resulted in its prominent position in education. Understanding the fundamental principles of science is essential for the advancement of various fields, including medicine, forestry, agriculture, biotechnology, and nursing. It serves as the building block for scientific and technological progress, contributing to a nation's growth. Introducing Basic Science at the lower primary school level helps students develop crucial skills, understand important concepts, grasp fundamental principles, and explore key theories. This foundation will help them tackle future challenges in science subjects with confidence.

Science education strives to cultivate individuals who possess the skills to address challenges and make meaningful contributions to the community. These individuals are expected to be independent, sure of themselves, and able to rely on themselves. Science and technology are the foundation for progress in almost every area of human pursuit. In order to accomplish these objectives, there are organisations in Nigeria such as the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) and the Nigerian Integrated Science Project (NISP) that have been established to assess and enhance the different curricula utilised in the country's educational system. These curricula have clear objectives that must be achieved to ensure effective science education and the achievement of national goals. Attaining these objectives greatly depends on the dedication of classroom educators.

In a recent study, Nwagbo (2021) highlighted various factors that contribute to the limited skill acquisition among secondary school students, ultimately resulting in subpar academic performance. One important aspect to consider is the instructional techniques employed by educators. In a study conducted by Okoli (2006), it was noted that a significant number of science teachers tend to favour more traditional teaching methods, such as expository lectures, rather than more interactive and student-centered approaches like inquiry-based learning, discovery-based learning, and investigative laboratory methods. In a recent study, Nwagbo (2021) highlighted the limitations of teacher-centered approaches in education. These approaches, where the teacher is seen as the sole source of knowledge and students are seen as passive learners, have been found to be ineffective in improving academic performance or fostering positive attitudes towards subjects such as biology. According to a study by Obiekwe (2018), science instruction in Nigerian secondary schools tends to focus on delivering content through traditional lecture-style teaching, rather than incorporating practical activities that can enhance the teaching and learning experience. This approach fosters a level of detachment, resulting in reduced student engagement and an increased tendency towards mindless memorization.

Engaging in practical activities in Basic Science allows students to directly interact with the subject, going beyond mere theoretical learning. In his research, Nzewi (2018) emphasised the importance of incorporating practical activities into teaching. He highlighted how these activities can make learning more tangible and less abstract for students. By engaging students in hands-on, mind-on activities and utilising a variety of instructional materials and equipment, educators can create a more interactive and engaging learning environment. In order to equip students with the essential knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to meet the scientific and technological demands of the nation, Nwagbo (2021) suggests that incorporating practical activities into the teaching of Basic Science should be a standard approach. The ongoing pursuit of effective teaching methods in Basic Science remains crucial, as practical activities serve as the foundation for scientific inquiry and the cultivation of intellectual skills and attitudes necessary for comprehending science concepts.

Despite extensive efforts to enhance science education in Nigerian secondary schools, students' performance in science subjects continues to be unsatisfactory. This situation emphasises the importance of implementing more efficient teaching techniques. It is imperative to explore alternative teaching methods in order to address this issue. In Nigeria, numerous studies have explored the effectiveness of practical activities on students' learning outcomes. These studies have been conducted by various researchers and have provided valuable insights into the topic. Based on the aforementioned, this study seek to examine practical activities and its effect on students academic interest of basic science in junior secondary school.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The Basic Science curriculum, previously known as Integrated Science, is designed to be child-centered, emphasizing the process of learning science over merely acquiring knowledge (Olarewaju, 2014). Teachers are encouraged to involve students actively in learning, but in practice, however few Basic Science lessons utilize student-centered approaches like practical activities. Instead, most lessons follow a teacher-centered approach (Saroja & Wan Zi Chan, 2019). This preference stems from teachers' beliefs and their own educational experiences (Jones & Wyse, 2018). While teacher-centered approaches can yield high academic achievements, it's crucial to consider students' emotional engagement, which boosts their intrinsic motivation, interest, commitment, enjoyment, and creativity in science (Woolnough, 2014). 

The adoption of a teacher-centric method to teaching fundamental science topics has resulted in a significant decline in students' interest in Basic Science at the Junior Secondary School levels. Furthermore, this has had a negative impact on their academic achievements, leading to a lack of motivation in pursuing science-related subjects at the higher level of study. A limited number of Basic Science lessons are taught utilising student-centered approaches, as advised by the Basic Science curriculum planners, such as engaging in 'hands-on and minds-on activities'(Jones & Wyse, 2018).

These techniques aim to instill in students the essential elements of science education, including the cultivation of skills, knowledge, and attitude. This can be achieved through the implementation of practical and engaging activities, which, if incorporated by instructors as a teaching method in Basic Science classes, could lead to improved academic performance and the development of a positive attitude towards the subject among Junior Secondary School students(Odutuyi, 2019). 

This study suggests that interactive engagement methods, such as practical activities, can be effective without requiring expensive materials. Given this, a survey will conducted to examine practical activities and its effect on students academic interest of basic science in junior secondary school.

1.3 Objectives Of The Study

The overall aim of this study is to examine practical activities and its effect on students academic interest of basic science in junior secondary school. Hence, the study will be channeled to the following specific objectives;

1.Assess the level of academic interest of junior secondary school students towards basic science subjects.

2.Assess the impact of practical activities on students academic interest towards basic science subjects.

3.Assess the challenges affecting the implementation of practical activities in basic science in junior secondary school.

4.Proffer strategies for enhancing the effectiveness of basic science practical activities in improving students' academic interest.

1.4  Research Questions

The study will be guided by the following questions;

What is the level of academic interest of junior secondary school students towards basic science subjects?

What is the impact of practical activities on students' academic interest towards basic science subjects?

What challenges affect the implementation of practical activities in basic science in junior secondary schools?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

Ho: Practical activities have no significant impact on students' academic interest towards basic science subjects.

Ha: Practical activities have a significant impact on students' academic interest towards basic science subjects.

1.6 Significance of the Study 

This study will help teachers to understand the impact of practical activities on students’ academic interest. From the findings, teachers will be able to understand the need of hands on and minds on activities. Additionally, teachers will be able to understand the different ways in which students learn and how practical activities are important in student learning. 

It is also expected that the study will be of substantial significance to researchers who wish to embark on further research on effect of Basic science practical activities on academic interest of students and fill the research gaps. 

1.7 Scope Of The Study

The scope of this study boarders on practical activities and its effect on students academic interest of basic science in junior secondary school. However the study will be delimited to some selected junior secondary schools in Ado Odo Ota LGA Ogun state.

1.8 Limitations of the Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. However, the researcher were able to manage these just to ensure the success of this study.

Moreover, the case study method utilized in the study posed some challenges to the investigator including the possibility of biases and poor judgment of issues. However, the investigator relied on respect for the general principles of procedures, justice, fairness, objectivity in observation and recording, and weighing of evidence to overcome the challenges.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Practical Activities: Hands-on, experimental activities conducted in a laboratory or classroom setting aimed at teaching scientific concepts and principles.

Academic Interest: level of enthusiasm, motivation, and curiosity that students exhibit towards learning and engaging with academic subjects.

Basic Science: The branch of science education in junior secondary schools that covers fundamental scientific concepts and principles from biology, chemistry, physics, and earth sciences. 


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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