Background to the Study
Education can be described as a process by which people are prepared and trained to live and function effectively, efficiently and productively in and around their environments (Ukeje, 2002). The growing stage of youngsters is that particular period of time that provides them with the opportunity to develop the principles of life, make career decisions and begin the pursuit of one’s goals, thus education is an important aspect for the youths. Education should include that kind of training that should be the extension to the fields of interest of these youths. The main motto of education is to provide knowledge, make every one aware about proper conduct and gain technical competency. Education helps in the development of an individual, physically, mentally and socially. The importance of education particularly secondary school education to youths is that it helps prepare them for greater responsibility.
Thus secondary school education should help the youngsters to define their career objectives, make them capable of deciding as to what they want from life, and enable them make progress in their fields of interest. Education is a means through which young and old members the society are taught about the expected behaviour of the society and the rules of polity, the values, skills attitudes and knowledge that equip the individual to achieve personal and society development and progress. According to Danladi (2006), education is a process of teaching and learning in which students acquire practical knowledge, value and skills for effective participation in the society. He further asserted that, the process of acquiring the relevant knowledge, attitude, values and skills must be made as concrete as possible for easy learning.
A teaching method comprises the principles and methods used for instruction to be implemented by teachers to achieve the desired learning in students. These strategies are determined partly on subject matter to be taught and partly by the nature of the learner. For a particular teaching method to be appropriate and efficient it has to be in relation with the characteristic of the learner and the type of learning it is supposed to bring about. Davis (1997) suggests that the design and selection of teaching methods must take into account not only the nature of the subject matter but also how students learn. In today’s school the trend is that it encourages a lot of creativity. It is a known fact that human advancement comes through reasoning. This reasoning and original thought enhances creativity. The approaches for teaching can be broadly classified into teacher centered and student centered. In Teacher-Centered Approach to Learning, Teachers are the main authority figure in this model. Students are viewed as “empty vessels” whose primary role is to passively receive information (via lectures and direct instruction) with an end goal of testing and assessment. It is the primary role of teachers to pass knowledge and information onto their students.
The need to understand the process of student learning in order to improve the quality of that learning has been identified in the education literature. In addition, the outcomes of this learning have been identified in quantitative, qualitative or attitudinal terms. To this end there have been a number of models of student approaches to learning (Diseth and Martinsen 2003; Leung and Kembla 2003,). Each model has considered the antecedents, and by way of application, the effectiveness of various learning approaches. Marton and Ramsden (2008) suggest that the problem with most higher education research on teaching and learning is that it focuses on learning as gathering information to use later, and on teaching as transmitting information and techniques that support this conception of learning. Instead, most studies have focused on either the teaching context or the outcomes of learning. This omission has meant that educators often experience difficulty in understanding what students conceive learning to be, how they perceive the learning task, or how they approach learning.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) stated that the broad goal of the secondary school education is to prepare individuals for: “useful living within the society and higher education”. To achieve this objective, secondary school education in Nigeria has six years duration given in two stages – three years of junior secondary school followed by three years of senior secondary school. The curriculum designed for senior secondary school is comprehensive and broad based, aimed at broadening students’ knowledge and outlook. Subjects offered in senior school are in three groups – core subjects, vocational and non-vocational subjects. One of the vocational subjects is Financial Accounting.
Student’s academic performance occupies a very important place in education as well as in the learning process. It is considered as a key criterion to judge one’s total potentialities and capacities (Nuthana & Yenagi, 2009) which are often measured by the examination results. It is used to pass judgment on the quality of education offered by academic institutions. In fact, it is still the most topical debate in educational institutions that caused great concern to educators and researchers due to the alarming examination performance of students. Students’ performance reflects their ability to demonstrate the knowledge they have learnt in tests, quizzes, presentations and final examination (Barkley, 2004). It is a key factor in the selection of job employment (Benning, 1999).
The importance of students’ performance is not only evident to the students but also to the universities as it is a measure the success of their education process. Academic performance of students has been the subject of intensive research over the past years. It has become an issue of standards and quality in education as judged from the performance of students in national licensure and board examinations. However, various reports have documented the poor examination performance of students.
Dhand, (2000) suggests different guide lines which help the teacher to conduct an effective lecture: Avoid speaking in monotone. Outline the main ideas to be presented first and review these points at the end of the lecture. Provide concrete examples whenever possible’ with the assistance of teacher make and/ or commercially made audio/ visual aids. Repeat and emphasize important points. Ask questions and be prepared to answer question during the lecture. Include an element of surprise whenever possible. Include humorous anecdotes whenever possible. Keep the language at the student’s level of understanding. Use strategically placed pauses of silence so that students can think about the material presented. Give a forceful summation. Be prepared: prepare a detailed outline and a lesson plan. Prepare appropriate visual material and questions. Create a stress free environment.
The project method is based on the strong conviction that learning by doing raises mastery of biology concepts by the learners. According to Helm (2001), learners gain better understanding and learn new ideas from experiences, and therefore, the use of project method provides a good example where learners are actively engaged in the learning process. This engagement involves an in-depth investigation of a topic which sometimes culminates in making a scientific device in application to the knowledge learnt. Katz (1994) contends that the project method of teaching is not new in the field of education. It was introduced as a central part of progressive education movement and was used extensively in the British schools in the 1960s and 1970s (Smith, 1997). The method has since found its application in the study of sciences, which includes Biology.
According to Howell and Mordini (2003), Biology teachers use the project method as a means of teaching technical skills, tool use, and problem-solving as it provides a mean for increasing student participation in the learning process. This has led to paradigm shift in physics education whereby teaching has moved from teacher dominance where the teacher was the centre of the learning process to learner-centered approach where the teacher’s role is to guide and facilitate the learning process. This paradigm change has caused a debate and a split in the profession related to the methods used to teach Biology. An overriding question the profession must ask is, “Has this paradigm shift been beneficial to students learning Biology?”
The project method is a teacher-facilitated collaborative approach in which students acquire and apply knowledge and skills to define and solve realistic problems using a process of extended inquiry (Validya, 2003). It is also referred to as Project-Based Learning (PBL) as it involves the making of actual projects by the students. Projects are student-centered, following standards, parameters, and milestones clearly identified by the teacher. Students have control over the planning, refining, presenting, and reflecting of the project. Through projects, students are engaged in innovation and creativity (Project Lead the Way, 2003).
Project-based learning involves assignments that call for students to produce something, such as a process or product design, a computer code or simulation, or the design of an experiment and the analysis and interpretation of the data. The culmination of the project is normally a written or oral report summarizing what was done and what the outcome was (Wambugu, 2008). Project-based learning implementations in science curricula have not been extensively reported (Draper 2004; Kesner and Eyring 1999; O’Hara, Sanborn, & Howard 1999).
According to Zhaoyao (2002), in project- based learning, students mainly apply previously acquired knowledge and the final product is the central focus of the assignment, while in problem-based learning, students have not previously received formal instruction in the necessary background material and the solution process is more important than the final product. In practice, both the lecture and project method are use together and when used independently, they produce results that are almost similar (Kolmos; Tan et al., 2003; Galand & Frenay 2005).
Studies comparing project-based learning to conventional instruction have yielded results similar to those obtained for problem-based learning, including significant positive effects on problem-solving skills, conceptual understanding, and attitudes to learning, and comparable or better learner achievement on tests of content knowledge (Thomas 2000; Mills and Treagust 2003). However, Mills & Treagust (2003) noted that students taught with project-based learning sometimes gain less mastery of scientific concepts than those taught using the conventional methods. They further noted that some of the students may be unhappy over the time and effort required to complete the projects and the interpersonal conflicts they experience in teamwork.
If the project work is done entirely in teams, students may be less equipped to work independently. Project-based learning falls between inquiry and problem-based learning in terms of the challenges it poses to instructors (Twoli, 1998). Projects and the knowledge and skills needed to complete them may be relatively well-defined and known from previous parts of the curriculum, which lessen the likelihood of student resistance, and they may be defined in a manner that constrains students to territory familiar to the instructor, which further reduces the difficulty of implementation (Santrock, 2004). Projects are usually done by student teams but they may also be assigned to individuals to avoid many logistical and interpersonal problems but also cut down on the range of skills that can be developed through the project.
The challenge of project method is to define projects with a scope and level of difficulty appropriate for the class, and if the end product is a constructed device or if the project involves experimentation, the appropriate equipment and laboratory and shop facilities must be available (Sood, 1989). Hybrid (problem/project- based) approaches encompass all of the difficulties associated with both methods and so can be particularly challenging to implement.
According to Jean, 2007, the project method encourages the learners to be self-directed, build research skills and help them to determine their own needs. This method is based on John Dewey’s philosophy that education begins with the curiosity of the learners (Wertz, 1997). When this method is used, students arrive at an understanding of concepts by themselves and the responsibility of learning rests with the learners. In a study investigating the effects of project-based learning on students’ performance of higher cognitive skills in secondary school agriculture, Kibett and Kathuri (2005) observe that those taught using the project method in agriculture outperformed their counterparts in regular classroom. The project method differs from the traditional method where teachers come to class with highly structured curricula and activity plans, sometimes referred to as “scope and sequence”.
Jean (2007) notes that project method is based on constructivist learning theory which contends that learning is deeper and more meaningful when students are involved in constructing their own knowledge. White (1993) is of the view that project method is a teaching–learning activity that requires the learners to determine either the strategies, resources and or the target which allows for a range of solutions. Project method makes the learner to take charge of the learning process under the guidance of the teachers (Maundu, 1997).
According to Twoli (2006), individual project method is a measure of how capable and responsible one is at individual level with minimum supervision.
This method helps the learner to develop capabilities such as the intellectual skills, cognitive faculty, motor skills and positive attitude towards physics (Chiapetta & Koballa, 2006). The teacher brings to the attention of the learners the need for them to undertake the projects. S/he then introduces the projects, discusses the procedure and then encourages the learners to undertake those projects that require the use of using locally available materials. The teacher acts as a facilitator and also helps in the evaluation of the processes and product of the project (Woolnough, 1994). In some cases, learners initiate their own projects which are generated during learning process.
Statement of the Problem
The primary purpose of teaching at any level of education is to bring a fundamental change in the learner (Tebabal & Kahssay, 2011). To facilitate the process of knowledge transmission, teachers should apply project teaching method that we suit specific objectives and level exit outcomes. In the traditional epoch, many teaching practitioners widely applied teacher-centered methods to impart knowledge to learners comparative to student-centered methods. Until today, questions about the effectiveness of teaching methods on student learning have consistently raised considerable interest in the thematic field of educational research (Hightower et al., 2011).Moreover, research on teaching and learning constantly endeavour to examine the extent to which different teaching methods enhance growth in student learning. Quite remarkably, regular poor academic performance by the majority students is fundamentally linked to application of ineffective teaching methods by teachers to impact knowledge to learners (Adunola, 2011).Substantial research on the effectiveness of teaching methods indicates that the quality of teaching is often reflected by the achievements of learners. According to Ayeni (2011), teaching is a process that involves bringing about desirable changes in learners so as to achieve specific outcomes. In order for the method used for teaching to be effective, Adunola (2011) maintains that teachers need to be conversant with numerous teaching strategies that take recognition of the magnitude of complexity of the concepts to be covered. Since no students can learn new things without the help of the teacher, this study is germane in order to check the method of teaching being adopted by the teachers in teaching financial accounting. Also, this present study is aiming at analyzing impact of the method of teaching as factor that can enhance or negatively affect the academic performance of students in financial accounting. Therefore, this research work is aimed at investigating the impact of learning and teaching method on the academic performance of Financial accounting students.
Singh and Nayak (2001) have described some common methods which are used in the teaching of science at elementary level i.e. lecture method, discussion method, project method, heuristic method, discovery, inquiry approach, problem solving and workbook. All these methods fulfill a specific requirement, which is based on psychological theories or technological facilities.
One of the principles of education in Nigeria is to equip every citizen with such knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will enable him derive maximum benefits from his membership of society, have a fulfilling life and contribute towards the development and welfare of the community (FRN, 2004). Unfortunately academic achievement of Nigerian students in school subjects including Biology at secondary school level has remained poor over the years (Obika 2005). This could be as a result of poor mastery of the subject matter which occurs as a result of poor method of teaching. Retting and Canady (2002) reported that in schools where active learning methods prevail, the students demonstrated significantly higher achievement as measured by the National Assessment of educational progress. Hall (2001) stated that teachers in these schools offer students challenging, interesting activities and rich materials for learning that foster thinking, creativity and production. They make available a variety of pathways to learning that accommodate different intelligent and learning styles, they allow students to make choice and contribute to some of their learning experiences and they use methods and engage students in hands on learning. Their instruction focuses on reasoning and problem soling.
Student’s academic performance occupies a very important place in education as well as in the learning process. It is considered as a key criterion to judge one’s total potentialities and capacities (Nuthana & Yenagi, 2009) which are often measured by the examination results. It is used to pass judgment on the quality of education offered by academic institutions. In fact, it is still the most topical debate in educational institutions that caused great concern to educators and researchers due to the alarming examination performance of students. Students’ performance reflects their ability to demonstrate the knowledge they have learnt in tests, quizzes, presentations and final examination (Barkley, 2004). It is a key factor in the selection of job employment (Benning, 1999). The importance of students’ performance is not only evident to the students but also to the universities as it is a measure the success of their education process. Academic performance of students has been the subject of intensive research over the past years. It has become an issue of standards and quality in education as judged from the performance of students in national licensure and board examinations. However, various reports have documented the poor examination performance of students.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of project teaching method on the academic performance of senior secondary school Biology students in Ise/Orun Local Government Area of Ekiti State. Specifically, the study will examine:-
- Whether teachers posses the skills of using the effective methods in teaching.
- If there is any significant difference in students performance in using Project teaching methods.
- To examine the impact of project teaching method on students performance Biology
- To examine the attitudes of students towards the teaching of Biology.