The problem of poor achievement of students in Home Economics in external examinations has been a matter of concern to the nation. As part of the contribution to arrest the situation, this study was designed to determine the effect of project-based learning on junior secondary school students’ academic achievement, interest and retention in Home Economics. To carry out the study, five research questions and five null hypotheses were formulated. Design for the study is a quasi-experimental non-equivalent control group pre-test and post-test design. The study was carried out in four co-education secondary schools in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State. Sample for the study consisted of 160 (JSS 2) students from four randomly selected intact classes in the sampled schools. Data for the study were collected through three research developed instruments: Home Economics Achievement Test (HEAT), Home Economics Interest Test (HEIT) and Home Economics Retention Test (HERT). The four intact classes of 40 students each were assigned to experimental group (I) and (II) respectively. The experimental group (I) and (II) were exposed to project-based learning and lecture method of teaching respectively. Data for the study were analyzed using mean, standard deviation and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) statistics. The null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of probability. Findings of the study revealed that project-based learning method of teaching enhanced students’ achievement in Home Economics more than lecture method. However there was no significant difference between the effect of project-based learning and lecture method of teaching on students’ interest in Home Economics. The study also revealed that there was no significant difference in the achievement and interest of male and female students in Home Economics. Recommendations and suggestions for further study were made based on the findings.
Background of Study
Home Economics as an applied science subject; draws knowledge from many other subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Economics, Sociology, History, Geography, Psychology, Agriculture, Fine and Applied Arts. It unifies the knowledge drawn and uses it to form its own body of knowledge (Anyakoha, 2007)
Home Economics is the study of activities that relates to the home and the family, it is a field of study that is concerned with improving and strengthening family life, (Olaitan & Agusiobo, 1984). The Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) (2007) noted that Home Economics affords students the opportunity of developing manipulative skills thereby improving their dexterity as they tackle problems associated with life and living. Anyakoha (2007) described Home Economics as a field of study that is concerned with improving family life. It does this by finding out the needs of individuals and families, finding ways of meeting these needs, improving the goods and services which families use, preparing people for employment and family life. The Canadian Home Economics Association (CHEA) (1996), agrees with this fact that Home Economics clearly focuses on the individuals and family well being. Home Economics is concerned mostly with foods and nutrition, clothing and textile, home management, consumer education, housing and interior decoration, child development and family living.
In recognition of the merits of Home Economics as a subject and the relevance of the subject to life in the 21st century, the Chief Inspector of the Department of Education & Science Inspectorate (DES) (2008, P. 3) described Home Economics “as an applied, multidisciplinary subject that provides students with a wide range of learning experiences, knowledge, understanding and skills necessary for living as individuals and as members of a family. He noted that the integration and application of theoretical knowledge combined with the development of practical skills are at the core of Home Economics.
Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) (2007) recognized Home Economics as one of the vocational subjects in the junior secondary school curriculum. This is aimed at providing students with basic knowledge, skills and attitudes in the various aspects of family life. It is designed to enable students integrate basic knowledge learnt with skills and expose them to the numerous opportunities for successful home making. According to NERDC (2007), objectives to be achieved by the students of Home Economics at junior secondary level include to:
- Contribute to healthy family
- Develop manipulative skills that will enable the students function effectively in the society within the limit of their capacity.
- Develop healthy and aesthetic values, attitudes and skills,
- Develop the ability to adapt to their changing environment.
- Develop a sense of inquiry and scientific approach to daily living and appreciate the dignity of labour.
- By the end of the secondary school education, it is expected that students should have acquired the above stated objectives to enable them function effectively at home and in the society.
The achievement of the objectives of Home Economics depends largely on what the teacher does in the classroom during the implementation stage. The teacher should adopt the most appropriate teaching method, skills and materials in promoting learning. The method adopted should be one that can enable the teacher present the lesson effectively and at the same time give students maximum opportunity of participating actively in the learning process (Offorma, 2006). In recent times, emphasis on teaching methodology has shifted from the teacher-know-all to students’ centred approach. Hence educational activities should be centred on the learner for maximum self development and fulfillment (Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) (2004 p 8). Teaching is an art of creation and the product of this creation is the human personality. Teaching is defined as a systematic activity deliberately engaged in by the teacher to facilitate the learning of the intended knowledge, skills and values by the student and getting the necessary feed back (Offorma, 2006).
Academic achievement has been described by Adeyemo, (2005) as the scholastic standing of a student at a given moment, which states individual abilities. Students academic performance can be explained inform of grades, obtained from tests or examinations on courses taken. In Nigeria, the level of students academic achievement in Junior secondary schools is determined through external examination like junior secondary school certificate examination JSSCE conducted by the Exam development centre EDC of the state. The poor academic achievement of students basically has largely been attributed to poor teaching methods adopted by the teachers as seen in several research on achievement (Adeyemo, 2005).
All over the country, there is a consensus of opinion about the fallen standard of education in Nigeria (Adebule, 2004). Parents and government are in total agreement that their huge investment on education is not yielding the desired dividend, teachers also complain of students’ low performance at both internal and external examinations in most subjects including Home Economics. The Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination result (JSSCE) conducted by Exam Development Centre (EDC) (2012) of Enugu testifies the poor academic performance of students in Home Economics. The data collected from Post Primary School Management Board, (PPSMB) Nsukka from 2007 to 2011 showed a high rate of failure. The result stood at 28%, 23%, 30%, 25% and 35% respectively. It has been discovered from the above figures that students’ academic achievement in Home Economic is poor and unstable. This may be due to various factors such as- Poor teaching method, Poor retention and lack of interest in the subject, School location and insufficient basic amenities.
The conventional method is an old teaching method used by teachers to impart knowledge to students, it includes lecture method, descriptive method of teaching, story telling and dictation method of teaching. The conventional method used in this work is lecture method of teaching. According to Blair, (2007) lecture method is the commonest method in use by teachers, it does not foster critical thinking, creative thinking and problem solving. It allows a great deal of information to be passed to the learner. Lecture method does not stimulate students innovative, inquiry and scientific attitudes. It encourages students to cram facts which are easily forgotten (Blair, 2007). This can lead to poor retention and low achievement especially in science related subjects like Home Economics.
This calls for the introduction of a constructivist teaching method like project-based learning (PBL). Constructivist teaching is based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge construction rather than passively receiving information. Project-based learning (PBL) is practical oriented and student-centred approach to teaching. It fosters critical thinking, problem solving and philosophy of learning by doing, which helps to motivate interest and enhance retention in subjects like Home Economics which is practical oriented.
According to Johnson and Johnson, (2001), in the classrooms where problem-based learning model is used, learners take much responsibility for their own learning progressively. They become more independent from their teachers gradually, continue to learn in their whole lifetime which is needed in Home Economics since it deals with family life and health. Project-based learning is one of the constructivist teaching method in which the learner, individually or in groups undertake independent study or take home exercise. Project-based learning (PBL) is practical oriented and student centred approach to teaching, it fosters critical thinking, problem solving and philosophy of learning by doing, which helps to motivate interest, and enhance retention in subjects like Home Economics.
Studies have shown that Project-based learning (PBL) is very effective in sciences like mathematics, chemistry, Biology etc which are practical and technical oriented hence the researcher wishes to introduce PBL to teaching foods and nutrition, clothing and Home management which are practical and skill oriented for better achievement. (Johnson & Johnson, 2001). The “Project-based learning has been used in several areas. It was first implemented in medical science in the 1950s specifically in the medical school of Case W. University in USA. It was implemented in the medical school of McMaster University in Canada at the end of the 1960s (Harris, 2001). This teaching model is put into practice in medical faculties of many universities in mexico, Ankara, and Turkey . In addition to medical faculties, the problem-based learning model is also implemented in other educational institutions comprised of fields like natural sciences, engineering and law.
There are other factors that could also affect student achievement in Home Economics as in other subjects. These are retention, interest, and location. Retention is the ability to posses, use, keep information and ability to reproduce past experiences or previously familiar materials, much of the experiences one thinks are not retained were never stored in the long term memory system. A lot of forgetting of school experiences according to (Ngwoke, 2010) is the direct result of poor learning environment condition. Conditions that relate to poor retention include such factors like poor teaching methods, lack of relevant experiences, low ability, poor study habit, emotional state or poor health. These factors could also lead to lack of interest and poor achievement. Retention is one of the factors that could affect student’s academic achievement. It is the process by which a student stores the modeled information in his memory for use at a later time. Ngwoke and Eze (2010) observed that retention is one of the processes involved in observational learning. A student’s retention rate in Home Economics depends on his or her ability to code or organize information in a manner that will ensure easy recall. E.g. in a practical lesson, the content of the topic is cake making. If the students are grouped into two, one group, adopts creaming method of cake making while the second group uses rubbing-in method, any student who participated in the work will be interested in cake making and will always remember the processes involved in cake making. The teacher should make his/her teaching meaningful because meaningful activities create interest and motivation and aids retention of what is learnt. The information above formed the basis for the present study which sought to determine the effect of PBL on secondary school achievement, interest and retention in Home Economics.
Interest simply means the state of wanting to know or to learn something. It is a state of curiosity or concern about something. Interest is a motivating factor in teaching-learning process. The interest of a student can be determined by carrying out a survey of him or her through discussion, interest of a student can also be identified by observing some of his or her activities. Interest is a very crucial factor in teaching and learning. In selecting learning experiences, it is natural for students not to engage in what they are not interested in. A teacher has to consider the interest of the students to enable him or her organize and select activities for the attainment of the objectives of the lesson. Offorma, (2006), noted that when learning experiences are based on the interest of the learner, learning becomes more significant, meaningful and enjoyable. Project-based learning when used in teaching Home Economics could help to motivate students interest and enable them retain what is learnt. The experiences which the child has already acquired should form the basis of teaching. What ever content and learning experience offered to the student by the school especially in area of foods and nutrition must be rooted in the student’s life experiences so as to make learning interesting and meaningful to the learner (Offorma, 2006). Hence the study sort to determine the effect of PBL on secondary school student academic achievement and interest in Home Economics.
Another factor very close to interest and retention in enhancing the academic achievement of students in Home Economics is location. Location simply means a particular place or position, it is an actual place or setting for sitting a school. School location refers to a particular place or position where a school is sited. The location of a school according to (Igbokwe, 2009) may have consequences on how well students learn at school, a school could be located in a rural area or in an urban area, location of a school and the socio-economic environment of the school determines how well both teachers and learners realize their goals of education. Any school that is properly equipped with the right kind of classrooms, adequate teaching resources and highly qualified teachers is more likely to achieve the curriculum plan more than a school with poor economic environment where basic amenities are in very short supply. Igbokwe, (2009) observes that students in such schools with better location adequate teaching resources and highly qualified teachers could achieve better hence the study seek to determine the effect of location and project-based learning method on students academic achievement, on Home Economics.
Gender is another determinant factor in academic achievement of Home Economics. Gender refers to the socially, culturally constructed characteristic roles which are ascribed to male and female in any society (Erinosho, 2005). Gender results from cultural learning and socialization in the society which continues through out one’s life. It is a social construct and is not biologically determined. Gender is a concept equivalent to class and race, it has many social construct in different societies as class and race, (Robert, 1996). Gender is not enforced through laws but it is imposed through social institution and self perception Chang (2003). In Nigeria, the circumstances of gender has strongly interacted with culture to produce sex role-stereotype, which is the socio-cultural classification of human activities by sex in line with what the society considers as appropriate for one sex or the other (Chang, 2004).
This has also accounted for the differences in enrolment of male in science subjects like law, pharmacy and Medicine while subjects like Home Economics, languages, teaching are reserved for females. This study sort to determine the influence of gender on the academic achievement of students taught Home Economics with Project-based learning.
Statement of the Problem
Home Economics has to do with the study of activities that relate to the home and the family. It is an applied science and a vocational subject offered at the junior secondary school level. Despite, its rich content as stated in the curriculum, the subject still records some set backs in students’ achievement in foods and nutrition.
The result of students of JSS Home Economics as shown by the Enugu State Examination Development Center, (EDC) (2012), reveals that the academic achievement of students especially in foods and nutrition has reduced drastically. This may be due to the nature of teaching method adopted by teachers in teaching the subject such as lecture method, dictation method or story telling which do not foster critical thinking, creative thinking and problem solving skills as well as interest.
Basically, teaching – learning process in Home Economics should be learner–centred because it is a practically oriented subject mandatory for students to engage in active practical activities. Home Economics is susceptible to change, and as society is changing rapidly in the 21st century new ways of thinking are required, especially problem solving skills, critical and reflective thinking skills and metacognition. Research has shown that PBL encourages critical and reflective thinking, which helps to motivate interest, enhance retention and promote academic achievement of students. Hence project – based learning could be used in this study to determine its effect on JSS students’ academic achievement, interest and retention in Home Economics.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study was to determine the effect of project-based learning on junior secondary school students’ academic achievement, interest and retention in Home Economics. Specifically the study sought to determine:
- The effect of project-based learning on students’ academic achievement in Home Economics.
- The effect of project-based learning on students’ interest in Home Economics.
- The effect of project-based learning on students’ retention in Home Economics.
- The interaction effect of location and project based learning method on JSS students’ academic achievement in Home Economics.
- The influence of gender on the academic achievement of JSS students taught Home Economics with project-based learning method.
Significance of the Study
The result of this study will have both theoretical and practical significance. Findings of this study will also be useful to curriculum planners, government, teachers and students. It will also be useful to future researchers. This study will be used to explore the validity of some major tenets of the constructivist theory. This is based on the fact that the constructivist theory posits that active construction of new knowledge takes place based on the learners’ recall of prior knowledge; knowledge is presented in a social experience and through multiple perspectives. Constructivist teaching is based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge construction rather than passively receiving information. Learners are the makers of meaning and knowledge. Constructivists teaching fosters critical thinking and creates motivated and independent learners. This is what is needed in Home Economics since it is technically and practically informed. Learners should be able to construct and create in order to solve problems in nutrition, clothing etc. This means that the learner will benefit immensely as he or she is not treated as a passive object of instruction but has his or her needs, experiences and ideas adequately catered for in the teaching learning process. The constructivism learning theory of Piaget and Vygotsky in Cameron (1972) maintains that the learner should play a central role in mediating and controlling learning. Activities, opportunities, tools and environments are provided to encourage meta-cognition, self-analysis –regulation, -reflection and awareness. This has a close relationship with project based learning in teaching which is student centered. The result of this study will therefore help in authenticating the tenets of the constructivists’ theory. Curriculum planners will benefit from the study because they will gather from the findings information that may be used in recommending effective innovative strategies for teaching Home Economics. The use of conventional method of teaching will be jettisoned or removed as curriculum planners will find the need to improve on it. This means that those teaching methods found not effective will be dropped or replaced or improved on by curriculum planners.
The findings will also provide necessary information that will be used to sensitize the government on the need for workshops, seminars and conference on new teaching techniques like project–based learning as an effective strategy for teaching Home Economics. The government will also benefit by using the knowledge gained to retrain teachers by organizing symposia, workshops and training on the use of project–based learning method.
This study will be of help to teachers because they will find the study useful, since it will suggest a better method of teaching and learning Home Economics with less stress. Students will find the study helpful because it will help them to work together in groups so as to achieve a common goal and learn from each other. It will enable them to work as a team and work together in harmony with one another irrespective of their ethnic or cultural backgrounds. It will expose students to the most effective practical method of learning Home Economics. The findings of this study will also add body to the literature for use by other researchers.