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The study investigated the provision and management of Biology Laboratory Resources (BLR) in Colleges of Education (COE) in South Eastern Nigeria (SEN). Five research questions guided the study. It sought to find out biology laboratory resources available in COE, the extent of adequacy in the provision of BLR in COE and the extent of utilization of BLR by teachers and students. It also tried to find out factors militating against effective provision, utilization and management of BLR as well as strategies for enhancing the provision and management of BLR in COE. Descriptive survey research design was employed for the study and a sample of 359 final years NCE biology students, 41 lecturers and 6 laboratory assistants/technologists totaling 406 respondents were used for the study. The instrument used for data collection was a researcher developed questionnaire tagged Questionnaire on Provision and Management of Biology Resources (QPMBR). The questionnaire has 200 items. Descriptive statistics including percentages, mean and standard deviation were used to answer research questions while ranking was used to ascertain the relative position of the items in their order of priority/effect. It was revealed from the study that, 88% of BLR are available in biology laboratories such as interactive white boards, prepared slides, chemicals, textbooks, beakers, flasks of different types, microscopes, first aid box, hand lens, maps, models, computers, dissecting kits, fire extinguishers, thermometers, insect nets, bell jars, incubator, water baths, freezers and lecturers as well as students. The study also revealed that biology laboratory resources are not adequately provided for in COE. Additionally, due to inadequacy in the quantity and quality of BLR provided to COE, students and lecturers find it difficult to utilize BLR effectively. Different factors ranging from inadequate fund; over enrollment of students into COE; inadequacy in quantity and quality of human and material resources; lack of storage facilities; lack of supervision; lack of proper documentation and logistics together with ignorance on the proper usage of resources due to lack of training were found to militate against provision, utilization and management of BLR in COE. Based on the above problems, it was recommended that biology departments should be adequately funded; staff, students and laboratory technologists/assistants should be adequately trained on proper management and improvisation of BLR; appropriate storage of material resources; provision of accurate records/logistics; replacement/repair of damaged/faulty laboratory materials; appropriate planning, implementation, supervision, monitoring and evaluation of all biology laboratory utilizers among others were suggested as strategies for improving provision and management of BLR in COE.
Background of the Study:
Science education is a veritable tool for scientific and technological advancement of any nation. It is in realization of this fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria stated in the National Policy on Education (Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), 2004) that science education should among other things equip students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology. To achieve this, resources for science teaching and learning in Colleges of Education (COE) must be adequately provided for and judiciously managed. Effective teaching and meaningful learning of science subjects, biology inclusive at colleges of education level depend to a large extent on the availability and management of both human and material resources.
Resources according to Hornby (2008) are supplies of something that a country, organization or an individual has and can use especially to increase wealth. Nweke (1999) agreed that resources are all human, financial and material available in the institution or organization which is used as inputs in production. Biology laboratory resources can therefore be said to be supplies of teachers, learners, laboratory assistants/technologists, instructional materials and other necessary devices provided to the school to increase wealth of knowledge which gives help, support or comfort when the need is appropriately implemented.
Biology laboratory resources had been categorized into two namely: human and material resources. Human biology laboratory resources in colleges of education comprise all human beings or resourceful individuals who in one way or the other aid effective utilization of material resources in biology laboratories. These human resources include teachers, learners, resource persons, laboratory assistants and technologists together with other non-professional personnel (Okoli and Osuafor, 2010). They make up the workforce of biology departments in colleges of education that aid the effective management of biology laboratory material resources.
Biology laboratory material resources also bear educational terminologies like: instructional materials, teaching materials, educational media, teaching aids, instructional facilities and instructional media. Chimezie, Ike and Iwu (2002) pointed out that these are devices which present a complete body of information and largely self supporting rather than supplementing in the teaching learning process. Educational material resources are those things which are manipulated, seen, heard, read or talked about plus instruments which facilitate such activity (Okafor, 2000). Such material resources Okafor continued are both tools for teaching and avenues for learning. They include textbooks, chalkboards, model/mork-ups, television, radio and other projected as well as non projected devices. Material resources whether they are real or representations, their main purpose is to improve the quality of teaching and learning. Specifically, the objectives of utilizing biology laboratory resources in colleges of education as summarized by Chimezie, Ike and Iwu (2002) include:
· To stimulate and sustain learners’ interest.
· To encourage active participation of the learners.
· To economize time.
· To control large group of learners at the same time.
· For easy assimilation of facts.
· For easy understanding of lessons.
· For easy recall of stored information.
· To expose students to opportunities in the field of biology and its related courses.
· To prepare students for varied future occupations.
Based on the above objectives listed, Biology education as a basic science subject (together with physics and chemistry) in colleges of education curriculum is designed to produce graduate teachers who may or may not take up biology as their professional job. It is a branch of knowledge that deals with living organisms and their vital processes (Wikipedia, 2007). Biology as a science subject employs the use of all sense organs which include olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), auditory (hearing), kinesthetic (skin), and optical (seeing) of which only the application of theory in teaching and learning could not yield 100-percent accuracy without the use of laboratory resources (Okeke, 1995). Thus, effective teaching and learning of biology in colleges of education with the use of laboratory resources is very necessary if biology education programmes must gainfully achieve stated objectives. Education is a system deliberately designed to equip individuals (undergraduate students in colleges of education) with the desired knowledge, skills and attitudes which will help them live worthy and happy lives in the society (Nwafor, 2007). Imogie (2010) argued that teaching has not taken place if permanent changes in behaviours have not been observed. Biology education imparts scientific knowledge to the learners if studied with appropriate material resources by qualified human resources. This calls for educational innovations in the content, methodology, principles, instructional materials as well as management techniques-designing, ordering, documenting, storing and safety of Biology Laboratory Resources (BLR). Where does effective teaching and learning of biology takes place and why?
The study of biology education in colleges of education takes place in laboratories. This is due to the usage of material resources stocked in the laboratories to dispense lectures not only during practical classes but also during normal classroom teaching. Biology education adopts laboratory method of teaching. The laboratory method is an individual or group activity involving two-way approach namely: the exercise approach and the experimental approach. Okoli & Osuafor (2010) pointed out that this method offers students the opportunity to develop scientific skills and attitude such as objectivity, communication, questioning, formulating hypothesis, analyzing data, critical thinking, carefulness, open-mindedness, make inference and analyze data. Scientific skills can only be effectively developed if biology laboratory management is effectively coordinated. Biology Laboratory management is regarded as those complex activities that involve planning, organizing, directing and co-ordinating human and material resources of the biology laboratory in a manner conducive to scientific investigation (Okoli & Osuafor 2010). Maduabum opined that a common challenge in biology teaching and learning is insufficient laboratory materials. This challenge according to Maduabum has contributed to the inadequacy in the provision and poor management of available resources.
The teaching and learning of biology is faced with many challenges. Amongst such challenges are population explosions into higher institutions (COE). Imogie (2010) stated that increase in the number of students’ enrollment into science courses in colleges of education have affected teaching methods designed for such courses. Due to increase in the number of undergraduate teachers into COE, limited number of qualified teachers/lecturers has been forced to reduce time allotted to biology practicals to compliment other lectures and departmental responsibilities. Biology laboratories built since 1970s with maximum of 20 students in view now accommodates more than 200 students; no wonder lecturers have adopted substitutional methods of teaching biology to suit the management deficiencies-lack of planning, organization, direction, supervision, monitoring and evaluation observed in biology laboratories (Eze 1999). According to Okechukwu (1997), most biology laboratories lack laboratory assistants/technologists or even when available, they are unqualified and unskilled to use BLR effectively. On the part of the students, conventional methods of teaching biology adopted by biology teachers makes lesson abstract hence, difficult to understand. When students find it difficult to co-operate with schools management concerning blurred rules and regulations, increment in school fees, non-provision of adequate resources as well as incoherent explanation to mismanagement of available resources, students resort to purposeful demonstrations/riots which have also created more management scandals to biology laboratories. In most colleges of education, storage facilities, infrastructural facilities, care and safety of resources are not guaranteed. Additionally, documentary and logistics imbalances in biology laboratories are reported by Osondu (2006) as a factor to management problems in COE. Most laboratory resources are lost, damaged without repair while unavailable ones are not replaced or improvised. Available laboratory resources are not effectively monitored, supervised and evaluated. These challenges have posed great threat to the provision and management functions since all biology laboratory users find it very difficult to adjust favuorably to the poor conditions of biology laboratory human and material resources. The above factors have invariably affected students’ performance negatively.
Mamah (2000) reported from a survey in Canada, that there is a diminishing use of biology laboratories and teachers now use the conventional classroom teaching for both theory and practical biology activities. The conventional teaching method is a combination of lecture and practical biology activities. These adaptive strategies are adopted by teachers to tally the available resources with the large number of students in biology classes. In most laboratories where they are adequately provided, its proper management is not guaranteed. In some cases, the bodies to provide these resources diffuse such responsibilities to the government alone despite the National Policy on Education (NPE) statement that:
Education as an expensive, social service requires adequate financial provision from all tiers of government for successful implementation of the educational programmes. Thus the provision and management of laboratory resources is a joint responsibility of the federal, state, local governments and the private sector (FRN, 2004: 13)
Another striking factor that contributes to lack of human and material resources in biology laboratories is poor management strategies adopted by laboratory users. Michael (2008) view management as the effective utilization and coordination of resources such as capital, plant, material and labour to achieve defined objectives with maximum efficiency. It is the process of reaching organizational goals by working with and through people and other organizational resources. Armstrong (2006) view management of resources as the process of setting and achieving goals through the execution of five management functions: planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling; that utilize human, financial and material resources. These functions are found lacking in colleges of education (Mamah, 2000). This has invariably affected students’ performance not only in higher institutions but also their products in secondary schools. The function of biology laboratory managers (teachers, laboratory assistants/technologists and students) is to provide adequate resources for laboratory users. How can this be done?
Provision of resources implies adequacy in (quantity and quality) supply of teachers, laboratory assistants/technologists, learners, as well as materials for them to work with in biology laboratories. If these valuable resources are lacking; inadequate or the available ones provided to schools are not being utilized during instruction, national educational objectives which is to inculcate the right type of values and attitudes for the survival of the individual and the Nigerian society will not be actualized (FRN, 2004).
Researchers such as [Nweke, 1999; Ali, 1996, 2006; Neboh, 2009; Adewale and Anjorin, 2010]; have stressed that appropriate provision and management of resource materials when teaching have positive effects on students’ performance. Salami (1992) stated that adequate provision and management of biology laboratory resources had always been positively correlated to good performance in examinations in Nigerian educational system.
In Nigeria, education is classified into three levels namely; primary-junior secondary, senior secondary and tertiary education. These respectively made up the 9-3-4 (nine years in primary school; three years in secondary school and four years in the university) system of education in Nigeria. Colleges of education (COE) are among the institutions legally authorized to train teachers and award Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) to qualified students. Graduates of colleges of education are qualified teachers. In support if this, National Policy on Education (FRN, 2004:33) reveals that, the minimum qualification for entry into the teaching profession shall be the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE). By implication, NCE holders are to teach in primary, junior or senior secondary schools depending on the course of study. Those that studied primary education subjects are to teach in the primary schools while those studying secondary education courses like biology, physics, chemistry and geography are to teach in secondary schools. To achieve the above objective effectively, the federal ministry of education, established the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) to supervise colleges of education in Nigeria (NCCE, 2002). The commission was mandated with the responsibility to lay down standards for all programmes of teacher education, to monitor and control quality of resources (human and material) among colleges of education, accredit certificates and academic awards. If undergraduate teachers in colleges of education are not trained using biology laboratory resources, poor performance of biology students in all educational sectors will continue to surface. This is because teachers will continue to transfer training deficiencies to classroom, thus indirectly influencing students’ performance negatively. If human and material resources are not adequately provided for and scarce resources properly managed, students will be taught using conventional method as Salami (1992) had rightly stated.
Given the above scenario, one wonders whether the situation in colleges of education in South Eastern Nigeria (SEN) is different. Hence, the purpose of this study: to evaluate the provision and management of Biology Laboratory Resources (BLR) in Colleges of Education (COE) in south eastern Nigeria. Specifically, the study aimed at finding out:
· Human and material biology laboratory resources in COE.
- the extent to which biology laboratory resources are provided in COE.
- the extent of utilization of such recognized resources in COE.
- factors militating against adequate provision and management of human and material resources and
- effective strategies to curb inadequacy in the provision and poor management of resources highlighted.
Statement of the Problem
Teaching and learning of biology need to be simplified, comprehensive and concrete. Extensive use of biology laboratory resources makes biology interesting, stimulating and understandable to the learners. The success of biology students in academic pursuit largely depends on the adequacy in the provision and effective management of available human and material resources.
The teaching of biology as a science subject is faced with some problems. Such problems include: the increasing number of students’ enrollment into science courses in higher institutions which forced the limited qualified teachers available to reduce allotted time to practicals to the minimal or even omit practical activities (Imogie, 2010). Teachers find it difficult during laboratory activities to supervise and teach large classes and combine the practicals effectively with normal class lessons. Students on their part have the problem of comprehending what is taught without the complementary laboratory activities in biology (Mamah, 2000). Most laboratory resources are lost, damaged or carelessly stored. In some colleges of education, storage facilities are not even available. In some cases, students are not allowed to make use of biology laboratories due to fear of losing valuable materials through stealing in
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