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:
- Stimulate and sustain students interest in Agriculture
- Impact functional knowledge and practical skills in Agriculture to students
- Prepare students for further studies in Agriculture
- 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).