Background to the Study
Science is doing and involves regular hands – on practical work for learners to develop scientific literacy to face global challenges. Aleyideino (2000) opined that sound science education is accepted worldwide as bedrock of human development and progress, and also maintained that no educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers, and no nation can rise above the level of its teaching staff. For science teachers to play their roles in teaching science, laboratory facilities must be available and must be used appropriately to improve the performance of students. The National Policy on Education (FME, 2004) states that science education shall emphasize the teaching of science process and principle. This will lead to fundamental and applied research in science at all levels of education. When laboratory facilities are appropriately utilized, they bring about more effectiveness in teaching and learning process, but this depends on teachers’ ability to use such facilities effectively (Ughamadu; 1992). In the study of Biology as an integral branch of science, the facilities and equipments which students were exposed to remain crucial to the achievement made by them. The facilities and equipment here referred to infrastructures, manpower and laboratory equipment, all of which make learning fruitful and rewarding. For the past three decades, there has been tremendous increase in the number of students’ enrolment in biology when compared to other science subjects (Milgwa, 2000). This is because Biology is seen to be directly relevant to students’ everyday life. On the other hand, it could be observed that students performance in both Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) and the General Certificate in Education (GCE) have constantly been poor. This poor performance has been attributed to students’ inability to tackle biology practical questions (Nworgu, 1999). According to Ogunkola and Olatoye (2004) practical work is the back-bone of effective science teaching and learning. It has been repeatedly emphasized that scientific enterprise is an activity packed one, involving continuous exploration and verification of facts.
Science is learnt by doing, so the different school curricula should adequately provide facilities for practical work at every stage of learning experiences. Alebiosu cited in Ogunkoya and Olatoye (2004) opined that science is experimentation and its teaching specially focuses on making students learn through the working of hands, brain and the heart. Various studies on the methodology of science teaching such as inquiry, discovery and process approach have shown that students learn more from science lesson by doing rather than by observation. According to Ogunkola and Olatoye (2004) enhancing better understanding of products and process of science cannot be overemphasized and also added that the practical nature of biology is commonly regarded as an important source of pupils’ motivation. Nworgu (1999) said that teaching of biology involves three major domains of educational objectives namely cognitive, affective and psychomotor. He said teachers of biology mostly emphasize on cognitive domain at the expense of the other two domains. The development of psychomotor domain involves practical activities which require laboratory facilities and equipments. Mustapha (2002) stated that practical work in school science provides learners with opportunities to use scientific equipments to develop basic manipulative or inquiry activities and develop problem-solving attitudes needed for future work in science. Etukudo (2004) opined that laboratory method of teaching is presumed to be capable of fully involving the individual learner in the learning and teaching activities as well as helps to remove individual differences and absent mindedness. He added that laboratory offers singular privilege of manipulating apparatus or teaching aids to every student to obtain a desirable result. Also he said that the use of instructional materials which laboratory techniques offer, enhance better understanding of the curriculum content.
Kuthnfithing in Etukudo (2004) said that experimentation and laboratory teaching are good pedagogy for discovery learning and mastering of abstract skills as well as building up of low ability learners. Ige (2000) noted that biology teacher is an indispensable human resource who has a vital role to play in utilization of all other resources and therefore must be aware of various types of facilities available. The teacher must also know to get the equipment/facilities and the situations where they can effectively be put to use. However, Ivowi (1999), observed that lack of science teaching equipments in our laboratories is one of the major problems facing science teaching in Nigeria. Based on the nature of biology and the teaching of the subject. Abdulrahman ( 2009) believes that practicing biology teachers who are not trained within the scientifically rich environments or moderately rich biology environment do not have the capacity to utilize any available resources or improvise in the absence of such resources.
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Statement of the Problem.
Many secondary schools claim to offer science subjects, but a visit to these schools reveals that some of them only offer science subjects but they have no laboratories not to talk of laboratory facilities. In addition to this, the available laboratories in some of these secondary schools are ill-equipped to teach science subjects. According to Abdulrahaman (2009) secondary school laboratories are sparsely furnished and unused by science teachers to the extent that spiders and other insects have taken over the laboratories and their facilities. This may be due to negligence, lack of manpower or unqualified teachers to handle the facilities. The problem of non-availability of laboratory facilities for effective teaching of Biology in our secondary schools persists thereby giving rise to poor academic performances, as discussion and lecture methods of teaching have been dominating the teaching and learning activities where students need to do practical work (Abdulrahaman, 2009). Based on this, he opined that students always perform very poor in the practical part of their examination thereby leading to poor academic performance in science courses.
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