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1.1       Background of the Study

Integrated Science is a unified science discipline in which the study of Science is not restricted to physics, chemistry or biology but as a combined science course. It can be seen as a science subject that brings the content of several courses together into a coherent whole. Integration is also vital considering the increase and diversification of knowledge. The pursuit of knowledge becomes increasingly difficult as it advances and as the number of specialized fields increase. Science, treated as an integrated subject will enable the students to grasp its patterns and generalizations which will form a sound basis for later specialization and study in depth. The processes involved in science are common to all branches of science. Only an integrated course will establish in the students' mind an appreciation of the unity of science.

Logical content development and prevention of overlapping is also possible through integration. This makes teaching and learning more economical and efficient. An integrated approach will increase the breadth of students’ participation in a variety of science fields. Integrated science eliminates the ill effects of early specialization. When students are expected to study several science subjects at an early age, they get little formal education outside their specialties. Hence it is not surprising that they leave school with little knowledge of or interest in the problems of the society. It is hoped that through integrated science, all students will be able to study a balanced course in science and also find the time to take an interest in social problems, arts and humanities.

The world we live in now is fast changing and is becoming more scientific and more technical; as this transformation occurs, education in all forms and in all subjects cannot be left out but the mere mention of the word “technology” seems to frighten most people and unfortunately, many teachers who ought to be most informed and enlightened are not. Most teachers feel the usage of these instructional materials or gadgets is too ambitious and ahead of its time; others feel the economy is not just prepared for such sophisticated technology. The history of educational technology cannot be credited to a particular individual. It was a gradual process starting from the use of visual materials and also varying contributions from several individuals and organizations. As a matter of fact, the use of visual materials dates back to the Stone Age (ancient times). According to Aduwa-Ogigegbaen & Iyamu (2005), during this period, visual aids such as stones, pebbles, sticks and cowries were used to enhance effective learning. Also in Africa, some of the early missionaries fostered the development and diffusion of certain aspects of educational technology during the colonial era; one of such missionaries was David Livingstone. He encouraged the use of visual materials such as slides, charts, films, Audio-tapes and models. By mid 1950s, the missionaries were said to have formed movements which encouraged the use of visual materials. The practice started in Nigerian schools particularly in teacher training colleges. (TTC)

Educational technology as explained by Descryver (2011) is a theoretical knowledge from different disciplines (communication, education, psychology, sociology, philosophy, artificial intelligence, computer science etc.) plus experiential knowledge from educational practices. It has also been said to be the application of teaching equipment and instructional materials such as radio, computer, projected and  non-projected  aids, internet, television, posters and film strips in teaching integrated science for anyone. The term educational technology is often associated with instructional materials or learning technology with its impact in teaching and learning becoming one of the most important and widely discussed issues in contemporary education policy (Rosen & Well, 1995; Thierer, 2000). Many different types of educational software are designed and developed to help students learn specific subjects. Examples include pre-school software, computer simulators and graphics software structure that is more amenable to measurement and improvement of outcomes. With proper structuring it can become easier to monitor and maintain students’ work while also quickly gauging modifications to the instruction necessary to enhance students learning. Educational technology provides the means to focus on active students’ participation and to present differentiated questioning strategies. It broadens individualized instruction and promotes the development of personalized learning plans. Students are engaged in the use of multimedia components and to incorporate the knowledge they gain in creative ways.

The use of internet in teaching and learning of Integrated Science has had a positive and negative impact on the student’s performance, educators as well as the educational system as a whole. Effective technologies use many evidence-based strategies (adaptive content, frequent testing, immediate feedback, among others). Studies done in “computer intensive” settings found increases in student centre, cooperative and higher increases in learning, student writing skills, problem solving and using technology. In addition, positive attitudes towards technology as a learning tool by parents, students and teachers can improve the quality of teaching and learning of integrated science (Yusuf, 2000).

The internet itself has unlocked a world of opportunity for students in Integrated Science. Information and ideas that were previously out of reach are a click away. Students of Integrated Science can connect, share and learn on a global scale, without waiting for the teacher as materials are sole property of the teacher and learning is mostly through the reaching of the teacher to the class. This helps to improve student self-esteem. It has the potential to contribute to substantial improvements in the educational system (Moursund, 2005).

Many students have different types of learning styles and using different types of technologies is a great way to help all kinds of learners by providing remedial instruction for low-achieving students, providing enrichment activities for students who successfully complete the regular lesson before students who require more time to learn.

Using computers or other forms of technology can give students practice on core content and skills while the teacher can work with others, conduct assessments or perform other tasks. Technology such as computer in the classroom, class website, class blogs and wiki, wireless classroom microphones, mobile devices, interactive whiteboard,  Digital Video-on-Demand, online media, document cameras, podcast, among others allow teachers to effectively organize  and present lessons.  Multimedia presentations can make the material more meaningful and engaging.

An easy way teachers can display their students’ work is to create a web page designed for their class and also with the computer in the classroom, the teachers are able to demonstrate a new lesson, present new materials and illustrate how to use new programs. Interactive White boards enhance the experience in the classroom   by showing anything that can be on a computer screen. This not only aids in visual learning but it is interactive so the students can draw, write or manipulate images on the interactive whiteboard. Noisy classrooms are a daily occurrence and with the help of wireless classroom microphones, students are able to hear their teachers clearly thereby beneficial to teachers such that they do not lose their voices at the end of the day’s lesson.

Technology allows students to maintain running dialogue such as a journals, ideas, thoughts and assignments that also provide for students’ comment and reflection. They are more group focused to allow multiple members of the group to edit a single document and create a truly collaborative and carefully edited finished product. Technology allows the students to express their knowledge of the information learned in their wish. Although there are still some aspects of a classroom setting that are missed by using these resources and technologies, they are still helpful tools to buffer an already existing educational system.

Research findings indicate that technology shifts the learning environment away from teacher-centred and teacher-controlled model to a student centred model (Sigri & Nielsson, 2003). But it should be remembered that social and emotional skills cannot be developed in vacuum. Proper mental health grows only by social contacts with parents, neighbours, classmate or teachers. Children get practical lessons on leadership, cooperation, team work only by constant interactions with peers. There is no short cut to the attainment of social and emotional health. The rewarding route though time consuming is through normal social interaction in the home, school and not in front of a computer screen which of course is a valuable supplement since both instructor and learners are responsible for the parts of the teaching process (Husmann & Miller, 2001).

However, educational technology has its own weak points and that is why it could not survive or has not been tried much in most developing countries like Nigeria. First is the high expense involved in providing materials for every student during lessons. Secondly educational technology materials provide task at the low cognitive level of learning that is the information level. This is because of the belief that the learner is passive and therefore is merely to receive information to memorize it. Normal classroom teaching and learning provide tasks at the informational level and after higher cognitive levels, like the understanding level. By concentrating too much on independent learning of students, group interaction like class discussion, peer interactions are lost.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Observations reveal that the performance of students in integrated science has been on the decline over the years most especially in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State due to the inadequacy of school authorities in Benue state to adopt educational technology. The incompetence of teachers in the area of usage of some of these technological facilities such as computers has greatly affected the performance of students. Many different types of educational software have been developed to help students learn specific subjects therefore the suitability of adopted technology as compared to the target objectives becomes an issue of concern. It is on this note that the researchers have considered it necessary to find out the impact of educational technology on the teaching and learning of integrated science in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State.

1.3   Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is on the impact of Educational Technology on the teaching and learning of Integrated Science in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State. Specifically, the study seeks to:

 i. Determine the impact of Educational Technology on the teaching and learning of Integrated Science.

 ii. Find out the availability of educational technology facilities in the teaching and learning of integrated science.

 iii. Determine the extent to which integrated Science teachers improvise Educational Technology in the teaching and learning of Integrated Science.

1.4       Research Questions

In order to guide the study, the research questions below were posed.

i.                    What is the impact of Educational Technology on the teaching and learning of integrated science?

ii.        Are the Educational technologies available for teaching and learning of integrated science?

iii.     To what extent do integrated Science teachers improvise Educational Technology in the teaching and learning of Integrated Science?

1.5       Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses are formulated to be tested at 0.05level of significance:

Ho1        There is no significant impact of Educational Technology on the teaching and learning of Integrated Science.

Ho2        Educational technologies are not available for teaching and learning of integrated science teaching.

Ho3        Integrated science teachers do not improvise Educational Technology in the teaching and learning of Integrated Science.

1.6   Significance of the Study

It is hoped that the findings from this study would help the following:

The integrated science teachers, school administrators, innovators and researchers.

The research findings will supply feedback to the Integrated Science Teachers on the impact of the use of educational technology during teaching and learning activities thereby making them to evaluate and select the appropriate educational technology needed for effective delivering of contents during their teaching activities to equip the students in solving problems of scientific nature effectively and probably enhance their academic performance.

The research findings will provides knowledge and vital information to the school administrators to help them make available educational technology in their school to support good and quality of education for both teachers and learners in their respective schools.

The research work would inform the inventors of technology about the output of their work in education and make them to see the need to design and create technology that will stimulate the effective teaching and learning of integrated science in specific as it is the gateway for all sciences.

The findings will provide researchers with empirical evidence on the performance of students exposed to educational technology when compared with other instructional materials.

1.7       Scope of Study

This study was restricted to six Secondary Schools in Makurdi local government area of Benue State where Integrated Science is being offered as one of the pure Science Subjects in the school. The research is delimited to the impact of Educational technology on the teaching and learning of Integrated Science in JSS in Makurdi local government area of Benue State with the JSS III students as the respondents. The study will cover the effects of Educational Technology on student academic performance, the extent to which Integrated Science teachers improvise Educational Technology for students and the availability of educational technologies.

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

Educational technologies: These are tools used by teachers like the computer to illustrate the learning processes. That is, the use of technology to improve education.

Improvisation: This is a process whereby a local material is produced in absence of the real material.

Impact: Significant or effect that technology has on teaching and learning of integrated science.

Integrated science: This is a science discipline in which the study of Science is not in the form of physics, chemistry or biology but as a combined science course.

Teaching and learning: The process by which knowledge, skills and experiences are transferred from one   person (teacher) to another (learner).

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