Background of the Study
Science has emerged as one of the most significant influencing field of study which has improved man’s life. It has through technology transformed how man relates to his environment drastically. For example, through the application of the knowledge of science diseases can be controlled and in some cases totally eradicated; environmental awareness as a result of science has culminated in more rational use of resources to aid better living. Emphasizing the role of science in the modern world, Oyekan (1993) maintained that science provides the tools of industrialization and national development. The role played by science in the development of any nation is therefore not debatable. It is for this reason that governments all over the world including Nigeria give priority to science education. For example, Nigeria government has always placed emphasis on increasing the enrolment of students offering science over arts students in her higher institutions. Science instruction is also encouraged to be effective especially at the primary and secondary schools where solid foundation in science is expected to be laid.
In the Nigerian secondary schools, one of the sciences being taught is biology. Biology is the scientific study of living things. With the knowledge of biology, students are in the position to understand the structures and functions of different parts of the body; the environment in which they live and how best to conduct themselves therein. Comparative Education Study and Adaptation Centre, (CESAC) maintained that biology provides an avenue for teaching students the ability to apply learned science concepts and principles in solving everyday science related problems (CESAC, 2004). Biology is also related to other subjects. Studying biology with other subjects provides several career paths and these include: Research, medical and pharmaceutical services, agriculture, environmental science and conservation just to mention a few (CESAC, 2004).
Biology education as an aspect of science education places emphasis on field studies, guided discovery, conceptual thinking and acquisition of scientific skills. Hence for learners to become competent future biologists and scientists, the learners are expected to acquire reasoning ability and scientific skills as contained in the National Policy of Education (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004).
Statement of the Problem
Science is important to any nation. It provides the tools for technological and man power development. Science is therefore expected to be taught effectively. However, the results obtained by biology students both in the internal and external examinations such as West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in Nigeria including the geographical area of this study are generally poor. Also the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Chief examiners’ reports in biology indicated that the biology students lack the ability to: write logically, systematically and convincingly; spell many biological terms correctly; and also exhibit good power of expression. This situation is blamed on the prominent use of lecture method in teaching biology by the science teachers. Though lecture method allows wide coverage of topics and also caters for the overblown population in the classrooms, it does not allow for acquisition of relevant skills such as communicating and questioning skills. These skills are very much needed in the 21st century jobs. In order to redeem this situation, educators see the need to try out the use of more efficacious methods such as inquiry method. Despite the merits and the central role the inquiry method is expected to play in teaching biology, educators have noted that inquiry method has not been satisfactorily used in Nigeria to produce the desired outcome in biology students. The male and female students are still found doing laboratory verification activities by closely following the directions and memorizing what biology textbooks or teachers have indicated as truths about the natural world. This has led to lack of much interest in science and biology by students. This problem have led to the proposition by researchers for the use of a more robust inquiry method such as the ABI approach that demands more participation and recognizes the need for effective usage of communicating language beyond the traditional inquiry method. This is also necessary since the 21st century jobs demand communicating and questioning skills by all students irrespective of gender. Since literature is scarce with evidence on the use of ABI on acquisition of communicating and questioning skills while the effect of gender in science education outcome is inconclusive and the acquisition of communicating and questioning skills are very much needed for the 21st century jobs, it becomes apt to investigate the use of ABI approach for the acquisition of these skills in biology. Hence the problem of this study is: what is the effect of Argument-Based Inquiry (ABI) approach on the acquisition of communicating skills, questioning skills and interest of male and female biology students?
Purpose of the Study
The aim of this study was to determine the effect of Argument-Based Inquiry approach on acquisition of communicating skills, questioning skills and interest of male and female biology students. Specifically, the study seeks to determine the:
- effect of Argument-Based Inquiry approach and Traditional Inquiry approach on students’ acquisition of written communicating skills in biology.
- effect of Argument-Based Inquiry approach and Traditional Inquiry approach on students’ acquisition of verbal communicating skills in biology.
- effect of Argument-Based Inquiry approach and Traditional Inquiry approach on students’ acquisition of questioning skills in biology.