The main purpose of this study is to determine the effect of out-door laboratory method on students’ achievement and retention in Agricultural science. To guide this study, four research questions were posed and four hypotheses was formulated. The control and Experimental groups answered a set of fourty questions from Agricultural science Achievement test (ASAT). Intact classes made up of males and females were used .Literature review was organized under the following subheadings: conceptual framework, theoretical framework, review of empirical studies and summary of literature review. Multistage sampling technique was used for sampling. Mean and standard deviation was used to answer research question and hypotheses formulated was analyzed using ANCOVA at 0.05 level of significance. The major findings of the study are as follows: Out-door laboratory method significantly affect students achievement in Agricultural Science contents of senior secondary school. Male students achieved better result than their female counterparts when exposed to out-door laboratory method. There is no significant interaction effect of out-door laboratory method and gender on students’ achievement and retention in Agricultural science achievement test. Based on the recommendations: Much emphasis should be placed on the use of appropriate method of teaching. Workshop and seminars are to be organized for teachers of Agricultural science on the need to use appropriate instructional resource materials and appropriate method of teaching of both males and females.
Background of the Study
Science and technology are important tools for development and productivity in any nation. Science is a necessity for every nation that wants to maintain its independence, sovereignty, self-reliance, ensure growth and have its head held high among civilized nations. This is because science and technology provide the basic tools for industrialization and economic development in the areas of communication, transport, energy, information, pollution and waste control, among others. In Nigeria, the study of science is of great importance that a lot of emphasis has been laid on the teaching and learning of science as contained in the National Policy on Education, being to equip the students to live effectively in this modern age (Federal Ministry of Education, 2004). This can be achieved by the inculcation of the necessary scientific skills and attitudes in learners.
The inculcation of scientific skills and attitudes in students can only be achieved through the proper teaching of the various science subjects such as Biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, health science, agricultural science among others. Agriculture as one of the science subjects has been endorsed as a core subject by the National policy on Education (NPE, 2004). Agriculture embraces the basic knowledge of farming or husbandry that is the cultivation of land, rearing of animals which is normally taught at junior secondary level. The study of Agriculture is Agricultural science which is the application of scientific principles to the growing of crops and rearing of animals. This is taught as a school subject in senior secondary school. Agricultural science when properly taught will help students to solve personal and societal problems.
According to Anyanwu (2003), Agricultural science is a practical subject and the best way of helping students to learn agriculture is to bring them face to face with the world which education intends to introduce to them. Emedo (2003) defined agricultural science as the art and science of production of plants and animals that are useful to man. Agricultural Science as a subject help students to acquire knowledge to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology. At the policy level, common goals of agriculture include:- conservation, economic stability, environmental stability, food quality, food safety, food security, poverty reduction among others.
Furthermore, the overall purpose of the Agricultural science senior secondary school curriculum, Nigerian educational research and development council (NERDC, 2008) is to provide students with sufficient knowledge and skills to both explore their talents and rich agricultural resources of Nigeria environment.
Specifically, the objectives of senior secondary Agricultural Education should be to:
a. Stimulate and sustain students interest in Agriculture
b. Impact functional knowledge and practical skills in Agriculture to students
c. Prepare students for further studies in Agriculture
d. Prepare students for occupation in Agriculture
Agricultural science as a secondary school subject is meant to give the students fundamental knowledge of Agricultural practices. It is a foundation on which the future of food production and Agricultural economy is built.
Agricultural science curriculum at the secondary level is meant to provide high school graduates armed with the knowledge and competencies for tertiary education in a bid to make career in agriculture. The curriculum provides for such practically oriented areas like nursery establishment, crop production and farm survey, vegetable production, fruit production, livestock production (goat, sheep, cattle, rabbits, pigs and poultry).
Poultry refers to group of domesticated birds reared for food and other purposes. Poultry has the capacity to convert vegetable fed into animal protein. It is estimated that in terms of food conversion, poultry eggs rank with cow’s milk in being the most economically produced animal protein and that poultry flesh ranks above that of other domestic animals in this respect. Poultry has so many advantages over the other domesticated animals whose production is very much hindered by lack of money, high temperature, disease and lack of food at certain periods of the year. Therefore, it becomes necessary to pay attention to the Poultry industry through better management which involves: the use of high producing breeds, good fencing, housing, protection from bad weather conditions and careful marketing.
Poultry includes such birds as: domestic fowl, turkey, goose, guinea fowl and duck. Fowl is a kind of Poultry reared for food and other purposes. The various species of fowls had a common ancestor, the primitive fowl called gallus. The various breeds of fowls can be classified into three main groups:
(a) Egg producers eg white leghorn, brown leghorn (b) The meat producers (broilers) eg Sussex, Cornish and cochin (c) The dual purpose ones (ie both meat and egg producers) eg Rhode Island Red, Plymouth Rock and New Hampshire.
Fowl as found in the section of the Senior Secondary School Agricultural science curriculum meant for S.S II students covers the following contents. Meaning of fowl, Anatomy and physiology of a fowl, fowl reproduction, environmental physiology of a fowl and fowl management. The teacher is a major hub around which the success of education revolves. In this case, agricultural science topics are taught in such a way that it gingers interest in the students to the point of practice. As a vocational subject, Agricultural Science is taught practically to facilitate skill acquisition since what is done is remembered more than what is just heard. This therefore calls for a master apprentice relationship interaction between teacher and students in the field which indirectly involve instruction outside the classroom. Agricultural science as a secondary school subject is meant to give the students fundamental knowledge of agricultural practice. It is a foundation on which the future of food production and agricultural economy is built. Despite the fact that Agricultural science are important to human progress, students still perform poorly in it. This is an indication of low retention of what is taught and subsequently poor achievement.
Considering the statistical reports of West African senior school certificate exanimation (May/June from 2009-2011) illustrating the students low performance in Agricultural science in Nsukka L.G.A for three consecutive years. In 2009, the total number of candidates who sat for SSCE were eight thousand, seven hundred and eighty (8788) candidates and out of this number two thousand, three hundred and fifty nine (2359) candidates got credit and above represented by 26.8 percent. Two thousand, nine hundred and twenty nine (2929) candidates got passes represented by 33.3 percent. Three thousand, five hundred (3500) candidates failed entirely represented 39.8 percent. (Source: Post Primary School Management Board, Nsukka).
In 2010, the total number of candidates who sat for the examination were ten thousand, seven hundred and sixty –six (10766) candidates and out of this number three thousand, four hundred and sixty-seven (3467) candidates got credit and represented by 32.2 percent. Three thousand, five hundred and eight (3588) candidates got passes represented by 33.3 percent and three thousand, seven hundred and eleven (3711) candidates failed entirely represented by 34.5 percent. (Source: Post Primary School Management Board, Nsukka).
In 2011, the total number of candidates who sat for the examination were eleven thousand, eight hundred and thirty-two (11832) candidates and out of this number three thousand, five hundred and eighty eight (3588) candidates got credit and represented by 30.2 percent. Three thousand, nine hundred and forty-four (3944) candidates got passes represented by 33.3 percent and four thousand, three hundred (4300) candidates failed entirely represented by 36.3 percent. (Source: Post Primary School Management Board, Nsukka).
This is also evident in the chief Examiners Report of the West African Examination Council (2011). There are indications that candidates who sat for the WASC Examination in Agricultural science subjects exhibited the following lapses; Inability to interprete questions, failure to write or answer their questions convincingly, and systematically as expected, shallow understanding of most concepts, inability to correctly spell many agricultural terms.
Evidence from researches showed that there is no consistency on the variables that may lead to the students retaining more of what they have learnt. The variables include: the ability levels of the learners, gender issues, teaching learning environment (location), teaching methods, teachers ability to use the various methods and materials provided, students backgrounds, level of intelligence of the students, students cognitive styles, among other variables (Eccels, 2002). The overall achievement of students in their academic pursuits relates to their ability levels and retention of what they learnt. Ability means to perform something successfully.
Students vary in their academic abilities and this tends to be reflected in the extent to which they are affected by a particular teaching methods. For instance, Diamond and Onwuegbuzie (2001) expressed concern over the influence of different teaching methods on students of different ability groups, stating that differences in intellectual functioning among learners necessitate variations in instructional strategies. Researches conducted by Udeji (2007) indicted that teaching methods have differential effects on students of different academic ability levels (low, average, high levels) with one group benefiting more from a particular teaching method than the other. In view of the foregoing, it might be necessary to find out the students academic ability group for which a particular teaching method will be more effective.
Various teaching methods are used by teachers in the teaching of agricultural science aimed at brining about meaningful learning. These include discussion method, discovery, field trip, indoor method, out door laboratory among many others. The most commonly used is the indoor method. This is mostly employed by most Agricultural science teachers because of some of it’s advantage which include the fact that it can be used to cover a large content area at a time and the students are given the same content at the same time. Another major advantage is that it can be used to teach a large class which is a prominent feature in most Nigerian secondary schools. Indoor method can be very useful in teaching when used in conjunction with other methods especially for the purpose of introducing the topic. Despite all these advantages, the indoor method employed in the teaching of agricultural science has some flaws, which might be one of the causes of the poor achievement and retention. The indoor method is mainly teacher–centered, with the students being consistently passive and contents are taught as absolute knowledge. This method had failed in the recognition of the uniqueness of the inquiry-based nature of Agricultural science and the learner’s individuality. Furthermore it does not facilitate the development of reasoning skills and processes in the students. These, among other reasons had not enhanced learning in students and thus had led to poor achievement and retention of students.
It has been observed that effective teaching may facilitate learning and make it more meaningful and effective teaching helps the learner to learn better, while poor teaching would naturally lead to poor learning and consequently poor retention and achievement. Retention refers to the ability to remember or utilize already acquired knowledge and skills. Retention refers to skills or knowledge or competencies a learner acquired and retained from a learning situation after forgetting has taken place. It is the capacity to remember something, knowledge, skills, habits, attitudes or other responses initially acquired.
Retention, according to Chanham (1987), is a direct correlate of positive transfer of learning. This means that high retention may lead to high achievement which is a factor of many variables such as interval between learning and retrieval, intervening experiences, specific subject involved, teaching strategies/methods used, and environmental situations, among others. Evidence from researches showed that there is no consistency on the variables that may lead to the students retaining more of what they have learnt. In practical Agricultural science, the acquisition of skill and retention of such skills may facilitate the learning of the new task and achievement. However other studies carried out by Udousoro (2002) and Udeji (2007) showed that the methods employed in teaching led student to high retention and achievement. These findings suggest that there is need to carry out more studies to clarify issues related to achievement and retention as it concerns methods of teaching used in teaching. Since there is no consensus on the effect of methods on students’ retention and achievement, there is need to investigate on an out-door laboratory method and its effect on achievement and retention.
Out-door laboratory is a students-centered activity–oriented teaching strategy where the teacher acts as a facilitator of learning, guiding the students through a series of activities and problems which may help learners to achieve highly. It enriches the students’ understanding of the total geographical environment of the area they live or operate and encourages them to find facts for themselves (Sada 1996).
According to Okwor and Ike (1995), out-door laboratory may be described as an exterior learning areas on or adjacent to a school site which is suitable for environmental studies. It may be likened to field-trip or excursion, where students go outside the classroom to places where knowledge can be acquired by obtaining information directly about things as they are actually. During instructional situations, the teacher may decide to take the students to a place outside the classroom where certain materials needed for illustrating a lesson can be found in their setting. This place outside the classroom is an out-door laboratory.
In solving the students’ problems of poor achievement and retention in agriculture, there is need to shift from the conventional methods of teaching like indoor to a more innovative method -a method that should seek for a way of making teaching more precise and concrete/real while at the same time adjusting both the objective and methods of learning to the needs and characteristics of the individual learners.
The noticeable loopholes on a particular method of teaching made it inappropriate to be used alone in teaching some agricultural content in secondary schools. Thus the need to try out other methods is therefore necessary. This drives home the need to examine the effect of out-door laboratory as a teaching method on students achievement and retention in agricultural science.
One related factor that is confronting the use of out-door laboratory method of teaching, is its ability to have the same impact on both male and female students equally. This raises the issue of gender in relation to achievement and retention. Influence of gender on students’ achievement and retention in science subjects has over the years attracted the attention and interest of scholars. However, it is worthy of note that opinions and findings about the issues have been diverse.
Gender means the culturally determined traits associated with and roles played by males and females. According to Erich (1994) gender is a sociological concept referring to the roles each sex is assigned by society to play within it. This implies that, gender comprises all those social and cultural distinctions that distinguish men from women. The traditional gender role expectation of a woman is that she is created to nurse babies, look after the family food and take care of the house. This belief is carried to education where certain courses are meant for the females and some for males. For instance they label Home Economies, Biology and secretarial education as female subjects while science technical and vocational subjects such as Agricultural science, physics, chemistry, mathematics as male subjects.
Influence of gender on students achievement and retention in Agricultural science has over the years attracted the attention and interest of scholars.
Specifically, while some scholars such as (Kahle; 1985 and Badmus; 2002) found out that males achieve higher and retain more than females, others such as (Omoniyi 2006) found out otherwise. Yet another group of scholars are of the view that achievement and retention in Agricultural science and other science subjects are not influenced by gender (Iloputaife, 2001 and Ibitoye; 1998). However, it is worthy of note that opinions and findings about the issue have been diverse. Therefore, this study investigates students achievement and retention in agricultural science when outdoor laboratory method is employed in teaching them.
Statement of Problem
Science learning is expected to produce individuals that are capable of solving their problems as well as those of the society. Such individuals are expected to be autonomous, confident and self-reliant. Science and technology constitute the basis of advancement in nearly all fields of human endeavours yet, all is not well with agricultural science instruction in Nigerian secondary schools because most teaching lays extreme emphasis on content and the use of “chalk and talk” method. This negligence attitude of not adopting activity oriented method of teaching has led to abstraction which makes the students less active and
more prone to rote memorization. Based on this, a lot has been done to improve agricultural science teaching in secondary schools in Nigeria. In spite of that, students continue to perform poorly in Agricultural science. The situation has created the need for more effective teaching method. It then becomes necessary to explore the efficacy of alternative method of redressing the situation. Yet, there is no empirical evidence so far, on effect of out-door laboratory on students’ achievement and retention in Agricultural science. Therefore, the problem of this study posed as a question is: What is the effect of out-door laboratory method on students’ achievement and retention in Agricultural science?
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of out-door laboratory method on student’s achievement and retention in Agricultural science.
Specifically, the study will
1. Find out the effect of out-door laboratory method on students’ achievement in Agricultural science
2. Ascertain the effect of out-door laboratory method on student’s retention in Agricultural science
3. Find out the interaction effect of method and gender on students’ achievement in Agricultural science.
4. Find out the interaction effect of method and gender on students’ retention in Agricultural science.
Significance of the Study
The result of this study have both practical and theoretical significance.
Practically, the Findings of this study will hopefully be of immense benefits to students, curriculum planners, authors, researchers and society.
The findings will be of immense benefit to students because this study will among other things specify the type of activities that are learner centered and of interest to students and which if included in the texts they use, will motivate them to add more meaning by combining their experiences outside the classroom with the experiences gained from reading textbooks. This study will reveal to the students the various interesting activities they should involve in while studying Agricultural science and they will acquire better and adequate knowledge of how best to study Agricultural science. Through out-door laboratory, rote learning will be minimized or even stopped and teaching will be seen as a productive practical-oriented venture. What the teacher will impart on the students will be more meaningful and the teacher’s work will also be much more appreciated and more easily understood.
The research findings will help the curriculum planners to plan Agricultural science curriculum in such a way that the contents will be filled with activities which teachers and students will do together. It is expected that by involving students in practical activities, they will not only learn Agricultural science concepts but will also acquire skills and develop scientific attitudes to problem solving.
The findings of this study will provide a basis for decision among teachers on the effective teaching methods to be adopted in Nigerian educational system to make Agricultural science teaching more meaningful and interesting to the students. Also it will enable Agricultural science teachers to adjust their teaching patterns and recognize students ownership of ideas which will be negotiated in the classroom.
The findings of this study will also hopefully furnish authors of secondary school agricultural science textbooks with vital information that would enable the textbooks appeal to the experience, retention and achievement of students. Also, the findings of this study will among other things specify the type of activities that are learner centered and of interest to students and which if included in the texts they use, will motivate them to add more meaning by combining their experiences outside the classroom with the experiences gained from reading textbooks. The findings of this study will also serve as a source of information to those interested in doing further research in this area. The benefits of effective teaching and learning of Agricultural science in the school manifest in the society in a number of ways for instance, the application of the knowledge of the subject in solving health, nutrition and even economical problems in the society by the students. This will make the society a better place. The findings of this study will also serve as a source of information to those interested in doing further research in this area.
This study is also theoretically justified by the fact that cognitive development takes place from the active interaction of the child with his environment. This means that the basis of learning is the child’s own ability as he interacts with his physical environment. This has a close relationship with the out door laboratory which is student-centered.
In other words, the out-door laboratory method in conformity with the theory emphasizes active interaction of the learner with his environment while the teacher guides or facilities the interaction. The result of this study would therefore help in authenticating the tenet of Piaget’s theory.
Scope of the Study
The study was delimited to the investigation of the effect of the out – door laboratory method on secondary schools students’ achievement and retention of Agricultural science concepts. The investigation was restricted only on the topic-Fowl as found in the section of the senior secondary school agricultural science curriculum meant for S.S.II students. Fowl as a topic deals with meaning of fowl, Anatomy and physiology of a fowl, fowl reproduction, environmental physiology of a fowl and fowl management.
The study was carried out with only S.S.II agricultural science students in two co-educational secondary schools in Nsukka local government area of Enugu state. The decision was taken to ensure that gender which is a major variable of interest in the study receive adequate attention. S.S.II Agric students were used for the study because the topic: Fowl is in their curriculum and they are also preparing for SSCE/NECO/NABTEB exams.
The following research questions were developed to guide the study. What are the
- Effect of out-door laboratory method on students’ achievement in Agricultural science?
- Effect of out-door laboratory method on students’ retention in Agricultural science?
- Interaction effect of method and gender on students’ achievement in Agricultural science?
- Interaction effect of method and gender on students’ retention in Agricultural science?
The following null hypotheses which were tested at 0.05 level of significance were formulated to guide the study.
1. There will be no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught Poultry production (fowl) through out door laboratory method and those thought through classroom interaction (indoor method)
2. There will be no significant difference in the mean retention scores of students taught Poultry production (Fowl) through out-door laboratory method and those taught through classroom interaction (indoor method)
3. There is no significant interaction effect of methods and gender on students’ achievement in Agricultural science.
4. There is no significant interaction effect of methods and gender on students retention in Agricultural science.