The Impact of Inquiry Method of Learning Science on the Academic Achievement of Bs8 Students in the Ejisu Juaben Municipality of Ashanti Region of Ghana

DATE PUBLISHED
August 22, 2018
SECTION
Articles

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to identify the impact of using inquiry-based, curriculum in a Basic school on students’ academic achievement. The study was developed to determine the impact of inquiry method of learning on the academic achievement of JHS 2 students of Juaben Anglican Basic School in the Ejusu Juaben Municipality. Questionnaire and test items were used to elicit information from a sample of 100 students and 15 teachers obtained through the census technique. The results obtained were analysed using simple percentages. The conclusion drawn from the study was that inquiry based learning is a panacea to discoveries and inventions and thus impact positively on students’ academic achievement. Thus, teachers who use inquiry based learning approach in their science lessons open the door of discoveries and inventions to their students are liked by their students. In the light of the conclusion drawn it was recommended among other things that regular in-service training should be given to teachers on the use of the inquiry learning approach to help minimize the use of the traditional approach to the teaching and learning of science and other subjects.

Introduction:-

Inquiry teaching is allowing students’ questions and curiosities to drive curriculum. Inquiry begins with gathering information through applying the human senses: seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. Inquiry encourages children to question, conduct research for genuine reasons, and make discoveries on their own. The practice transforms the teacher into a learner with students, and students become teachers. Inquiry teaching honours previous experience and knowledge. It makes use of multiple ways of knowing and taking on new perspectives when exploring issues, content, and questions. Teachers across the nation are looking for ways to increase students’ academic performance in our schools. For many teachers, the traditional ways of teaching are not producing the desired results. Teachers are now looking for other methods, such as constructivism, to increase achievement. The National Science Education Standards states that science teaching must involve students in inquiryoriented investigations in which students interact with their teachers and peers. Emphasizing active science learning means shifting emphasis away from teacher centered approach to inquiry-oriented approach (GAST Conference, 2010). The Ghana National Association of Teachers of Mathematics 2010 report also encouraged teachers to strive for a more student-centered mathematics classroom that deemphasizes rote memorization of isolated skills and facts and emphasizes problem solving and communication to help students construct mathematical knowledge. Research studies have also emphasized that teachers should shift the present overwhelming emphasis on learning by rote and passive application of learned [facts] to the use of effective critical thinking as the primary tool of learning. (Zoller, Ben - Chaim, & Ron, 2000, p. 572). Students should be encouraged to take an active role in creating understanding and problem solving (Baker et al., 2008; Herman and Knobloch, 2004; Lemlech, 1998). Doolittle and Camp (1999) emphasized that the traditional methods used in career and technical education of transmitting to students a discrete and well established set of skills and knowledge must be called into question. In a world of rapidly changing technologies, the student must be able to construct viable knowledge and adapt to the changing world. The Ejisu Juaben Municipality is in the Ashanti Region with about 2,300 student population. Teaching in this municipality has been basically through the traditional approach. With the advent of the new educational reforms, many teachers have started using the inquiry-based learning approach in various classroom lessons especially science lessons. This study is to ascertain the impact of inquiry based learning on BS8 pupils in selected schools in the municipality. Statement of the Problem The performance of students in science poor (WAEC, 20092015). The performance of students can be attributed to how science is taught. The way science lessons are conducted might at least partly account for learners’ perception of the study of science as irrelevant to their lives. Several other researchers (King, 2007; Kyle, 2006; Onwu, 2009; Onwu, 2000; Schwartz, 2006) reported that there is firm evidence that link learner attitude and disposition towards scientific concepts, to the way concepts are taught. It appears that the traditional way of teaching science as rote memorisation of factual knowledge and mastery of abstract concepts (Onwu & Stoffels, 2005; Osborne & Collins, 2001) has failed to excite and attract learners. This is because the traditional approach to teaching portrays the study of science as irrelevant, difficult, and boring (CEI, 2009; EIRMA, 2009). Learners like to be able to relate science and scientific principles to their everyday life. One of the ways of teaching science which may appear to improve the performance of students in science is the inquiry-based instruction. Inquiry-based instruction is a student-centered and teacher-guided instructional approach that engages students in investigating real world questions that they choose within a broad thematic framework. Inquiry-based instruction complements traditional instruction by providing a vehicle for extending and applying the learning of students in a way that connects with their interests within a broader thematic framework. Students acquire and analyze information, develop and support propositions, provide solutions, and design technology and arts products that demonstrate their thinking and make their learning visible. It is therefore necessary to carry out a study to find out the impact of using inquiry-method of teaching science on students’ academic achievement in science. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to identify the impact of using inquiry-method of teaching science on students’ academic achievement in science. Research Questions The study was guided by the following research questions; 1. What is the impact of inquiry based learning on BS8 students’ academic achievement in science? 2. To what extent has the inquiry based learning in science influenced the academic performance of BS8 students in Juaben Anglican School in the Ejusu Juaben Municipality. 3. What differences exist between inquiry based learning of science and the traditional method of learning science? Methodology The design used for the study was descriptive survey design. The target population of this study was all BS8 students of Juaben Anglican School in the Ejisu Juaben Municipality numbering 305. The number consists of 150 boys and 155 girls. There were 15 science teachers in the municipality. The simple random sampling technique was used to sample 100 students from the schools for the study. The sample was then divided into two groups of 50 each. The views of 15 science teachers were sought on the use of inquiry based learning approach and the traditional approach for the teaching and learning of science. Questionnaire and test items were used as the instruments for the study. The questionnaire was used to seek the views of the science teachers on the use of inquiry based method of teaching and the traditional method of teaching. A fifteen closed-ended questionnaire on a four point Likert Scale was used to solicit the views of 15 teachers who teach science in the municipality on the effect of the inquiry learning on students’ academic achievement. Teacher made test was used to ascertain the entry behaviour of students into the research domain. The questions were picked from the Integrated Science Book for Junior High Schools. It was also used to ascertain the impact of the inquiry learning approach on students’ academic performance. Data collection for this study involved three phases. These included requesting teachers’ consent for their participation. A letter was sent to the Headmaster of the schools to permit the 15 science teachers to be part of the study. The 15 teachers were also tasked to help in conducting the test items for students based on the inquiry method and the traditional method after the students had been taken through five weeks of intensive teaching using the traditional method for one group and the inquiry based method for the other group. Students were educated on the purpose of the study. They were however promised to be refreshed after the test. The questionnaire was used to seek information from the 15 teachers and their views were analyzed and discussed. Two topics were taught separately using both the inquiry method and the traditional method and inquiry method. This was done for two weeks as shown below: Lesson One (week 1) In lesson one the topic “Identification of Specimens” was treated. The teaching and learning objectives were that, by the end of the lesson, students should be able to identify the following specimens using their external features: Tridax fruit, Coconut fruit, Mango seed and Cotton seed. The lesson was based on students’ relevant previous knowledge. Students described how seeds of pepper, mango, guava, cotton and coconut fruits are dispersed. Students – Centered Inquiry Activities Activity 1 Students observed the following external features of specimen A using hand lens: Size of the specimen, surface of the specimen and nature of the specimen. The students recorded the following features of specimen A after observing closely with the hand lens: Specimen A was small in size, specimen A had large surface area and has parachute hairs. Students determined the weight of the specimen A by weighing it on a top pan balance and also by blowing to see if it could blow away. Students observed that the specimen was light in weight. Hence the students identified specimen A as tridax using the observed external features. Activity 2 Students observed the following external features of specimen B; weight and nature of the specimen. The students determined mass of coconut and mass of water melon of the same size on a top pan balance. Students observed that the mass of coconut ranged from 1.8kilogram to 1.1 kilogram and that of water melon ranged from 1.2 kilogram to 1.6kilogram. student recorded that the coconut has light weight as compared to the water melon of the same size. Furthermore, the students dropped the coconut in a bucket of water to observe whether it sinks or floats (buoyancy). They observed that the coconut floats hence buoyant in nature. Also the students observed the external strands of the coconut’s mesocarp using hand lens. They recorded that the strands of the coconut’s mesocarp are fibrous in nature. Students identified the name of the specimen B as coconut. Evaluation Questions and Students Responses Students answered the following questions: Question 1: If the tridax were mixed up with small torn pieces of paper and a fan used to blow over them, which one will fly off earlier and why? Students Response: The tridax of the large surface area and the parachute – like wings. Question 2: Explain why when the coconut and mango are dropped in a bucket full of water, the mango sinks and the coconut floats? Students Response: This is because the coconut has fibrous tissues in its mesocarp. This contains air spaces and gives the coconut a density that is less than water or makes the coconut buoyant and so it floats in the water. The mango on the other hand has a more compact (food filled) mesocarp without any air spaces between its tissues, this makes the mango more densed than water and it tends to sinks in the water. Question 3: Why does cotton seed fly easily? Students Response: This is because it is light in weight and easily carried by the slightest force of wind. Again, the seed is winged and this greatly aids in its movement. The wings act as though they were parachutes and this aid in their movement. Question 4: Why is it difficult to peel of the seed coat of a mango unlike the seed coat of a groundnut using your fingers? Students Response: The seed coat of a mango is a hard seed coat that looks cemented all round because of the hard material of which it is made, it is therefore difficult to peel of a mango seed coat with your fingers. The seed coat of groundnut is papery and thin and so very easy to peel off with one’s fingers. Lesson Two (week 2) In lesson two the topic “Classification of substances as acids or bases” was treated. The teaching and learning objectives were that by the end of the lesson; students should be able to: 1. Classify substances as acids or bases. 2. Identify physical properties of acids. 3. Identify physical properties of bases. The lesson was based on students’ relevant previous knowledge (RPK). Students defined acid as a substance which produces hydrogen ions (H+) or proton when it is dissolved in water and base as a substance which produces hydroxide ions (OH-) when it is dissolved in water. Students – Centred Activities Activity 1 Students observed and identified some substances made of acids and bases. These include samples of: vinegar, aspirin soap, tomato juice, palm oil, baking soda, sea water, groundnut oil, tooth paste, and milk of magnesia. Students then classified the substances into acids and bases using litmus paper. The students then observed and recorded that the blue litmus turned red in all acids substances and the red litmus turned blue in all substances that are base. Activity 2 Students performed the following activities to show some physical properties of acids. They squeezed lime (acid) into water and compared it with chalk powder in water. Students observed that the lime was soluble in water but the chalk powder was insoluble which shows that acids are soluble in water. Students also tasted a drop of natural lime and lemon juice and they observed that both juice had sour taste which indicated that acid have sour taste. Students further dipped blue litmus paper into the lime juice and observed that the litmus paper turned red. This proved that acid turns blue litmus paper into red. Activity 3 Students performed the following experiment to show some physical properties of bases. They burnt cocoa husk and dry plantain peels and made a mixture of a small quantity of the ash (tea spoonful) with a small quantity of water. They tasted a drop of the mixture and observed that it tastes bitter. They further took a filtered solution of ashes and water. The students then dipped their fingers into the solution and rubbed them together. Students observed that their fingers felt soapy which made them to conclude that bases have soapy feel. In addition, students dipped red litmus paper into the solution and observed that the red litmus paper turned blue.

Keywords

Inquiry-based teaching, academic achievement, curriculum

References

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Author Details

Humphrey Darkeh Assem

Laud Teye Nartey

Charles Agyei Amoah

Samuel Agyei Mensah