Interaction effect of gender, score levels, analogies And concept maps on senior school students’ Achievement in ecological concepts

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Interaction effect of gender, score levels, analogies And concept maps on senior school students’ Achievement in ecological concepts 

ABSTRACT

This study examined the interaction effect of gender, score levels, analogies and concept maps on senior school students’ achievement in ecological concepts. The quasi experimental, non-randomized, pre-test, post-test control group design was adopted for the study. The population for the study consisted of183(89 males and 94 females)SSS II Biology students selected from six public co-educational schools in Kwara South, Nigeria. The experimental group was exposed to analogy and concept map instructional strategies while the control group was taught using the conventional method. The instrument used was Ecological Concepts Achievement Test (ECAT) whose reliability coefficient was 0.82 using Cronbach alpha statistic. Findings from the study revealed that there is no significant joint effect of treatments, gender and score levels on students’ achievement in ecological concepts. Based on the findings it was recommended that the use of analogies and concept maps should be included in the biology curriculum as a legitimate strategies of teaching ecological concepts and other related biology topics. 

KEYWORDS: Interaction Effect, Ecological Concepts, Instructional Strategies, Gender,  Scoring Levels.

INTRODUCTION

The word science is a derivative of the latin word “scientia” meaning knowledge, and knowledge generally implies all the truths, facts, information and principles learned throughout time (Ezeh, 2013). However, this does not suggest that all the learned information, facts, truth and principles are science (Nwagbo, 2006). The steps involved in science are observation, hypothesis, predictions, experimentation and conclusion. Therefore, science is both a process (scientific methods) and a product (knowledge, fact and principles (Ogunleye, 2008). Science helps to construct further knowledge and understanding of phenomena which are the consequences of the tremendous development in technology. Based on the numerous importance of science the Federal Government of Nigeria through its Federal Ministry of Education introduced science subjects notably Biology, Chemistry and Physics in Nigerian senior secondary schools.

Biology as a core and pure science subject deals with the study of living things. The objectives of teaching biology as identified in the Senior Secondary School biology curriculum were to prepare students to acquire:

  • Adequate laboratory and field skills in biology;
  • Meaningful and relevant knowledge in biology;
  • Ability to apply scientific knowledge to everyday life in matters of personal and community health and agriculture; and
  • Reasonable and functional scientific attitudes (Federal Ministry of Education, 2013, p. 19)

Despite the laudable objectives of teaching biology in Nigerian senior secondary schools, the findings of several science educators (Bello et al., 2016; Okwara, Anyagh, & Ikyaan, 2017) has revealed that the achievement of students in biology is still poor. Furthermore, the performance of candidates in the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations in Table 1 indicates that the performance of students in biology have been erratic in nature and judging from the years reviewed, there was never a year that students’ performance at credit level reached the assumed fifty percent (50%) except for years 2013 and 2014. Meanwhile, a fifty percent performance could not be regarded as an excellent performance for a nation that is aspiring higher prospects in her technological advancement. Hence, there is the need to do more if a developing nation like Nigeria wish to compete favourably with the developed nations of the world in science and technology. 

Table 1 Performance of candidates in West African Senior School Certificate                           Examinations(WASSCE) in Biology from 2008 – 2014

Source: Olorundare (2014) Theory into practice: Beyond surface curriculum in science education. Pp. 26– 27; Test Administration Division of the West African Examinations Council.

One of the various reasons adduced for the poor achievement of students in biology is the difficulty of some biological concepts. In addition, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Chief Examiner’s Reports stressed that candidates performed poorly in basic ecological concepts as compared with other biology questions (WAEC, 2013; 2015).Several researchers such as, Olasehinde (2008) and Adeniyi (2012) also noted that students did not attempt questions raised on ecological concepts while those who attempted the questions performed poorly. Ecology is a branch of biology that deals with the relationship of living organisms with each other and the non-living or physical surrounding (Michael, 2017; Taylor, Green, & Stout, 2004). Ecology can be divided into two main branches that is, autecology (study of a single species of organism and the environment) and synecology (study of the interrelationship between group of organisms of different species and the environment).

Thus, in order to improve students’ achievement in ecology, biology teachers must evolve and utilize innovative teaching strategies such as concept maps and analogies which may increase students’ interest and eventually improve their achievement in biology (Olasehinde, 2008). This is because the teaching of biology without appropriate teaching strategies could result in the lack of interest and poor learning outcomes on the part of the students (Adedeji, 2002; Ezeliora, 2000; Kolawole, 2003).

A concept map, according to Novak and Canas (2006), is a diagram showing the relationships among concepts. It is a graphical tool for organizing and representing knowledge. Concepts are usually represented as boxes or circles and connected with labelled arrows in a downward branching hierarchical structure (Ayanda, 2016; Novak and Canas, 2010). The relationship between concepts can be articulated in linking phrases such as “gives rise to”, “results in”, “is required by”, or “contributes to”. (Moon, Hoffman, Novak, & Canas, 2011). Hence, the technique for visualizing these relationships among different concepts is called mapping. It has subsequently been used as a tool to increase meaningful learning in the sciences and other related subjects as well as to represent the experts’ knowledge of individuals and teams in education, government and businesses.

Abimbola (2006) defined analogy as the relationship between parts of structures of two conceptual domains which leads to comparison statements on the grounds that these structures bear some resemblance with one another. This was the opinion of Treagust (1998) when he defined analogy as the comparison of structures between domains .Existing researches such as those of Ayanda (2012), and Adedeji (2002) revealed that the academic achievement of students exposed to analogy instructional strategy was better than those exposed to lecture method. In addition, Ahmed, Sulaiman and Adeoye (2015)posited that analogy could aid students understanding of abstract biology concepts if used by textbook authors.

Studies on the effect of students’ gender on academic achievement have not produced conclusive results. Some findings according to Obiona (2012) and Owolabi (2010) shows that female students have higher level of achievement in science while the studies conducted by Aigbomian (2014) and Aguokagbuo (2007) revealed that male counterparts performed better than female in sciences, technology and mathematics respectively. However, the study of Oluwatoyin (2007) indicated that the scores of male and female students do not differ significantly.

The achievements of learners in biology based on score levels have been examined by researchers such as Adeoye and Abimbola (2016), and Gbigbadua (2014). Findings from their respective studies revealed that the score levels of learners whether low, medium or high influence students’ achievement in different biology concepts. Musa (2010) submitted that the results of series of researcher in educational laboratories and classrooms shows that a large portion of slow learner could learn at the same pace as the fast learners. This implies that they could apply ideas to new problems and also retain ideas equally well, in spite of the fact that they learned with more time and assistance.

Interaction effect is the simultaneous effect of two or more independent variables on at least one dependent variable in which their joint effect is significantly greater or significantly less than the sum of the parts. The presence of interaction effects in any kind of research is important because it tells researcher how two or more independent variables work together to impact the dependent variable. The findings of researchers on interaction effect of different dependent and independent variables in biology revealed that researchers are unresolved in their conclusions. For instance, Adeoye (2018) discovered that the interaction effect of treatment, gender, and score levels were significant while Badmus, Bello, Hamzat, and Sulaiman (2019) found out that there was no significant interaction effect among treatment, gender and score levels on students’ achievement in cell division. Thus, this study examined the interaction effect of treatment (analogies, and concept maps),gender and score levels on senior school students’ achievement in ecological concepts.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

In this study answers were sought for the following research questions:

  1. Will there be any interaction effects of analogies, concept maps and gender on

students’ achievement in ecological concepts?

  1. Will there be any interaction effects of analogies, concept maps and score levels

on students’ achievement in ecological concepts?

RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

The following null hypotheses were tested in this study:

  1. There is no significant interaction effect of treatments (analogies and concept maps instructional strategies) and gender on students’ achievement in Ecological concepts.
  2. There is no significant interaction effect of treatments (analogies and concept maps instructional strategies) and score levels on student’s achievement in ecological concepts.
  3. There is no significant joint effect of treatments (analogies and concept maps instructional strategies), gender and score levels on students’ achievement in ecological concepts.

METHOD     

The population for this study was all senior school two (SSS II) biology students in Kwara South senatorial district, Nigeria. Purposive sampling techniques was used to select six public co-educational schools in Kwara South Senatorial district because of relevance of the needed variables for the study. The sample size that was found in the schools selected was 197 (one hundred and ninety-seven) students while 183 (one hundred and eighty-three) actually participated in the study.

The research instrument was a researcher-designed Ecological Concepts Achievement Test (ECAT) which was a multiple-choice test with four options. The items of the test were adapted from Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) and the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) past questions which are relevant to the content of instruction, that is pond ecosystem and ecological succession. The reliability coefficient value of 0.82 was obtained for the ECAT using Cronbach alpha statistic. Analogy instructional lesson note and that of concept-mapping were designed by the researcher and given to experts in the area of science education that specialized in the area of biology to determine its face and content validity and suitability for the ages of the sample.

RESULTS

The pretest and posttest scores of the students were subjected to descriptive statistics and Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA).

Research Question 1

Will there be any interaction effects of analogies, concept maps and gender on students’ achievement in ecological concepts?

This Research Question had a corresponding null hypothesis 1 which was used to answer it.

Hypothesis 1  

There is no significant interaction effect of treatments (analogies and concept maps instructional strategies) and gender on students’ achievement in Ecological concepts.

The 2 x 2 ANCOVA test in Table 2 revealed that the main effect of treatment was statistically significant, F(1, 178) = 105.02, p< .001; while that of gender was not significant, F(1, 178) = 3.67, p= .06. However, the interaction effect of treatment and gender was significant, F(1, 178) = 6.25, p= .01. Therefore, the null hypothesis was rejected. Hence, there is a significant interaction effect of treatment and gender on secondary school students’ achievement in ecological concepts.

Table 2: ANCOVA on interaction effects of treatment and gender

Figure 1 also revealed that the interaction effect of treatment and gender was significant because the lines shows a parallel situation, indicating that there is an interaction between treatment and gender on students’ achievement in ecological concepts. In addition, the mean scores of the female students that were exposed to concept maps (M = 55.60) and analogy (M = 48.90) was higher than that of the males exposed to concept maps (M = 53.20) and analogy (M = 49.10). This result provided answer to research question one.

Figure 1: Graphical illustration of interaction effects of treatment and gender on students’ achievement in Ecological Concepts. 

Research Question 2

Will there be any interaction effects of analogies, concept maps and score levels on students’ achievement in ecological concepts?

This Research Question had a corresponding null hypothesis 2 which was used to answer it.

Hypothesis 2

There is no significant interaction effect of treatments (analogies and concept maps instructional strategies) and score levels on student’s achievement in ecological concepts.

The 2 x 3 ANCOVA of treatment (concept map and analogies) and score levels (low, medium, high) in Table 3 revealed that there was a main effect of treatment, F(1, 176) = 72.90, p< .001 but the main effect of score levels, F(2, 176) = 2.37, p=.10 was not significant. There was also no interactions between treatment and score levels, F(2, 176) = 0.18, p= .83. Hence, the null hypothesis was not rejected since p> 0.05. Thus, there was no significant interaction effect of treatments and score levels on student’s achievement in ecological concepts. 

Table 3:  ANCOVA on interaction effects of treatment and score levels

The profile plot in Figure 2 indicate an ordinal interaction (parallel lines) between the treatment and cognitive styles. This is because the mean scores of the high (56.40 and 51.70), medium (54.80 and 49.10) and low (52.50 and 48.20) scoring students that were taught ecological concepts using concept maps and analogy were marginally different. This result provides answers to research question two and suggests that the achievement of the high, medium and low scoring students was improved by the different strategies used in the study.

Figure 2: Interaction effects of analogies, concept maps and scoring levels on students’ achievement in Ecological Concepts.

Hypothesis 3

There is no significant joint effect of treatments (analogies and concept maps instructional strategies), gender and score levels on students’ achievement in ecological concepts.

The 2 x 2 x 3 ANCOVA of treatment (concept map and analogies), gender (male and female) and score levels (low, medium, high) in Table 4 revealed that the interaction effect of treatment, gender and score levels was not significant, F(2, 171) = .53, p= .59. Hence, the null hypothesis was not rejected since p> 0.05. Thus, there is no significant joint effect of treatments, gender and score levels on students’ achievement in ecological concepts.

Table 4:  ANCOVA on interaction effects of treatment and score levels

DISCUSSION

The finding from this study revealed that there is a significant interaction effect of treatment (analogies and concept map) and gender on students’ achievement in ecological concept. This finding could be attributed to differences in the preference for the instructional strategies used by male and female students. The pedagogical implication of this finding is that in a typical biology classroom male and female students have preference for different instructional strategies and this tends to affect their achievement. This finding is contrary to that of Gbigbadua (2014), and Adeoye and Abimbola (2016) who observed in their respective studies that there is no interaction between treatment and students’ gender.

Finding also revealed that the interaction effect of treatment and score levels was not significant. This is because students in the different score levels show a high degree of interest in the different strategies. This finding implies that teachers should not give preference to students score levels in the use of concept maps and analogies for classroom instructions. This assertion is in line with those of Novak (1998), Johnstone and Otis (2006) who reported that the use of concept maps is expected to stimulate the construction of integrated knowledge structures leading students to achieve higher in tests that measure high cognitive levels.

In addition, finding revealed that there is no significant joint effect of treatments, gender and score levels on students’ achievement in ecological concepts. This finding implies that all strategies of teaching are appropriate with respect to students’ gender and score levels. However, caution should be taken by the teacher so has not to select teaching strategies that will not adequately take care of students’ individual differences in terms of gender and score levels. This finding is line with the finding of Adeoye (2018) but disagrees with the finding of Badmus, Bello, Hamzat, and Sulaiman (2019).

CONCLUSION

The study concluded that the gender of students affected their achievement in ecological concepts.  The study also concluded that students score levels (high, medium and low) had no significant interaction with the instructional strategies(analogy and concept maps) used in the study. In addition, the study showed that there was no significant joint effect of treatment, gender and score levels on the achievement of students taught ecological concepts through the use of analogy and concept maps instructional strategies.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were advanced:

  1. Biology teachers should consider students’ gender when using instructional strategies such as analogy and concept maps for classroom teaching and learning of ecological concepts.
  2. Teachers should use analogy and concept maps instructional strategies for the teaching and learning of ecological concepts irrespective of students scoring or ability levels.
  3. Student should be given equal opportunities to explore analogy and concept maps instructional strategies irrespective of their gender and score levels.

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AUTHORS:DR. MICHAEL OLUSEGUN AYANDA, GABRIEL ADEMAKINWAADEOYE         AND DR. (MRS) FOLASADE OLUYEMISI OLAYINKA3

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