THE AVAILABILITY AND UTILIZATION OF REALIA IN TEACHING OF BIOLOGY IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
1.1 Background to the Study
Science explains the natural existence of man and his activities. There are different definitions of science by different schools of thought; Owolabi (2004) in Enohuean, (2015) defines science as an integral part of human activities. It is seen as a dynamic human activity concerned with manipulating spherical world. It is seen as “knowledge covering general truths and laws, obtained and tested through scientific methods as concerned with the physical word”. Science can be seen as the bedrock of national development. A nation that is not scientifically advanced is termed a backward nation.
Science is used by humans to solve daily problem and control the environment Enohuean, (2015). There are many areas of life that science has contributed such as; medicine, geophysics, hydrology, agriculture, communication, technology, education, transportation, healthcare etcetera.
However, Biology as one of the science subject is the study of living things which include plants and animals. It is a fascinating study that ranges from microscopic-cellular molecules to the biosphere, encompassing the earth’s surface and its living organisms (Sarigin, 2010). Biology is a core subject that is mandatory in all secondary schools in Nigeria as it is a pre-requisite to the study of many courses relevant to humanity which include the following; Medicine, Pharmacy, Biochemistry, Agriculture, Anatomy, Physiology, Botany, Zoology, Micro-biology, Cell Biology, Ecology, Entomology, Immunology, Molecular biology, Evolutionary, Genetics and population dynamic among others.
Biology can be conveniently taught in a laboratory which is a place designed and equipped with materials for teaching and learning of science. It is obvious that most secondary schools lack physical laboratories and where they exist, there are inadequate or lack of equipment. One of the problems militating against effort to enrich science is inadequate or absence of teaching aids which include; indoor or outdoor laboratory reagents, chemicals and unqualified teachers (Baike 2000).
The importance of Biology is so much that it needs to be taught with instructional materials to arouse students’ interest. Tabotnip (2004) lamented that abstract teaching goes on today where teachers do not use apparatus and students are not using textbooks. It is reported that most secondary schools do not have biology laboratory, the few existing ones have been converted into classrooms to create space for the over-whelming population of students arising from free and compulsory education practice by some states. As a result of WAEC specification on SSCE examinations, some schools resorts to multipurpose laboratory.
There is need for a single laboratory for each of Physics, Chemistry as well as Biology practicals. This ought not be so for they have their own disadvantages such as fire or chemical outbreak or accidents. In the case of Biology, the charts, specimen and models may not be displayed for recognition and observation.
Learning occurs when all the facilities for study are harnessed for work during teaching and learning experience (Azikwe 1990, Labotnip 2004). Visual imaginary examples, pictures, charts among others has become the most powerful means of communication in the society today (Ajayi, 2004).
The biological garden as an outdoor laboratory plays a very important role in the teaching-learning process that includes; free movement of teacher and students in terms of observation of specimens and objects, promotion of good relationship between students and teacher, encouraging inquiry, discovery and meaningful learning, exposing the students to study plants and animals in their natural habitat, helping the teacher to collect specimen without travelling long distances, reducing the cost of providing materials during WAEC examination. There are still some biology concepts and phenomena that require indoor laboratory attention such as chemical reactions in Biology (physiology) example osmosis, turgidity etcetera, in plants and some physiological activities in animals.
It is necessary therefore to introduce the use of materials in teaching process and make illustration of biology concepts for a meaningful study to take place. These materials include concrete objects (Realia), charts, stored specimens and other teaching materials.
Furthermore, realia is a term for real things that is used in the classroom to build background knowledge on teaching-learning concept. It is incorporating real life representations such as life-plant, animals, amongst others, in the classroom and learning environment to enhance the students’ knowledge about the concept. Realia can be seen as materials or teaching aids which is used to illustrate the teaching-learning process and make instruction more comprehensive to the learner.
The Availability and Utilization of Realia In Teaching Of Biology In Secondary Schools
According to Franzer, Okubukola, and Jegede (1992) in Enohulean, (2015) professionally qualified science teacher no matter how well trained would not be able to put his ideas into practice if the school settings lacks the equipment and materials to translate potentials into reality.
According to Ibe-Bassey (2005), Utim and and Ikot (2008), the use of realia materials is an important tool in teaching of biology. They also noted that, learning is facilitated when the learners make use of at least three of the sense organs which include seeing, hearing and as well as touching.
Realia materials are developed or acquired to assist or facilitate teachers in transmitting organized knowledge, skills and attitude to the learners with an instructional situation (Nwachukwu, 2006). Teachers often make use of textbooks, charts, models, graphics, realia as well as improvised materials (Awotua Efebo, 2001). The success in the skill and knowledge acquisition in an instructional material adequacy and effective utilization of the available material (Olaitan and Augusiobo 2004).
According to Ikot (2008), the performance of students in biology examinations may have connected to non-utilization of realia instructional materials during the process of teaching and learning of biology in the schools.
The methodology of teaching and instructional communication have explained and illustrated the effectiveness of instructional materials as a tool for improvising student performance in the learning of difficult concepts (Ikot, 2008). Inspite of the role of realia instructional material utilization in facilitating learning, students have facts to acquire the require knowledge and skills in Biology.
It will be on this background that the study therefore sought to investigate the Availability and Utilization of Realia in Teaching of Biology in Secondary Schools.
The Availability and Utilization of Realia In Teaching Of Biology In Secondary Schools
1.2 Statement of Problem
One of the problems facing most secondary schools in the Nigerian society today is the relative decline in the academic achievements of the students especially in the sciences. The academic achievements of students in the sciences have been on the decline and the desired goals and objectives of education could not be achieved.
Most researchers have been conducted based on these poor achievements of students in the field of science (Biology inclusive). This poor achievement in biology could be attributed to some factors such as; lack of use of apparatus, lack of fund to purchase materials, lack of facility for imparting knowledge amongst others.
Analysis of students’ poor achievement in recent WAEC examination and result poses a great concern to the nation. James and Pemida (2000), in a paper termed “biology education through the biological garden” is of the view that biology stands out distinctly to be taught and learnt among other science subjects by making use of available materials.
According to James, and Pemida (2000), mere collection of specimens taken to the laboratory do not give room for active participation of students and thus, does not contribute to scientific attitude of students. The transfer of knowledge from school to life situations, to the development of decision making skills cannot be nurtured through the conventional chalk-board nor can it be effective through traditional laboratory experiments but the use of interactive strategies that can facilitate participatory learning and independent enquiry (UNESCO 1987-2006).
Biology is developing more rapidly today than in the past. Available literature shows that much of biology teaching is carried out through chalk-board with little or no emphasis on the use of realia instructional materials. This study therefore, will investigate Realia Resources Utilization and Academic Achievements of Students in Biology on Uyo Local Government Area.
Lawson Peter – Chief Editor in Projectvilla Nigeria. A writer and academic researcher.