The study investigated the effect of guided discovery and demonstration method on students’
achievement, interest and conceptual change in practical biology at senior secondary school
level. A totalof Four hundred and sixty (460) SSI biology students were involved in the study.
This number was made up of 260 males and 200 females from Four (4) secondary schools in
Umuahia Education Zone of Abia State. A quasi-experimental research design (a nonrandomized
pretest-posttest control group) was used for the study. Cronbach Alpha was used to
establish the reliability of the Biology Students’ Conceptual Change Test (BSCCT), Biology
Achievement Test on Nutrition (BATON), and Biology Interest Scale (BIS). The reliability
coefficients of BSCCT, BATON, and BIS were 0.85, 0.84, and 0.83 respectively. Mean and
standard deviation were used to analyze the research questions. Hypotheses were tested using
Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA). From the findings, it was observed that guided discovery
method was most effective in facilitating students’ conceptual change, achievement and interest
to practical biology. The result of the study provided the empirical evidence that interest is
dependent on teaching methods. It was revealed also that conceptual change and achievement
was a function of teaching methods. Students mean scores and their conceptual change due to
teaching methods were significant. The study equally revealed that students naïve conceptions
resistant and robust to change among others. Finally, the researcher recommended among
others that guided discovery method and demonstration methods should be adopted by science
teachers, science educators, authors and publishers of science textbooks.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TITLE PAGE i
APPROVAL PAGE ii
TABLE OF CONTENTS vii
LIST OF TABLES xi
LIST OF FIGURES xii
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 1
Background of the Study 1
Statement of the Problem 8
Purpose of the Study 9
Significance of the Study 9
Scope of the Study 11
Research Questions 11
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW 13
Conceptual Framework 14
Biology Education in Nigeria 14
Conceptual Change 18
Method of Instruction (guided discovery and demonstration) 21
Piaget’s theory of cognitive development 27
Jerome Bruner Cognitive Learning Theory 27
Limon’s theory of strategy of cognitive conflict for conceptual change 28
Related Empirical Studies 29
Instructional Methods and Students’ Achievement 29
Instructional Methods and Conceptual Change 30
Students’ Interest and Achievement 33
Gender and Students’ Conceptual Change 35
Interaction Effect of Gender and Instructional Methods 38
Summary of Literature Review 38
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHOD 41
Design of the Study 41
Area of the Study 42
Population of the Study 42
Sample and Sampling Techniques 42
Instrument for Data Collection 43
Validation of the Research Instrument 44
Reliability of the Instrument 44
Experimental Procedure 45
Control of Extraneous Variable 45
Method of Data Analysis 46
CHAPTER FOUR: ANALYSIS OF DATA AND PRESENTATION OF RESULT 47
Research Question 1 47
Research Question 2 48
Research Question 3 49
Research Question 4 50
Research Question 5 51
Research Question 6 52
Research Question 7 53
Research Question 8 54
Research Question 9 55
Hypothesis 1 56
Hypothesis 2 57
Hypothesis 3 58
Hypothesis 4 59
Hypothesis 5 59
Hypothesis 6 60
Hypothesis 7 60
Hypothesis 8 61
Hypothesis 9 61
Summary of the Findings 62
CHAPTER FIVE:DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONAND SUMMARY 64
Effects of guided discovery and demonstration method on students’ 64
achievement in practical biology.
Effects of guided discovery and demonstration method on students’ 65
interest in practical biology.
Effects of guided discovery and demonstration method on students’ 66
conceptual change in practical biology.
Influence of gender on students’ achievement in practical biology. 67
Influence of gender on students’ interest in practical biology 68
Influence of gender on students’ conceptual change in practical biology 68
Interaction effect of gender and instructional treatment on students’ 69
achievement in practical biology.
Interaction effect of gender and instructional treatment on students’ 69
interest in practical biology
Interaction effect of gender and instructional treatment on students’ 70
conceptual change in practical biology
Educational Implications of the Study 71
Limitations of the Study 73
Suggestions for Further Study 74
Summary of the Study 75
A: Request for validation of research instrument 84
B: Table of specification for biology achievement test
on nutrition (BATON)
C: Biology Achievement Test on Nutrition (BATON) 86
D: Marking Scheme/ Guide for Achievement Test 92
E: Biology interest scale (BIS) 94
F: Table of specification and Biology Students Conceptual
Change Test (BSCCT)
G: Biology Students’ Conceptual Change Test (BSCCT) 97
H: Scoring Guide for conceptual Change Test 101
I: Reliability of Instrument 102
J: Lesson note using guided discovery 103
K: Lesson note using demonstration method 116
L: Population distribution for the Study 127
M: Analyzed Result 130
Background of the Study
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms,
including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution and taxonomy. It is a
subject that inevitably permeates through all other science subjects and explains the
fundamentals of every living organism. With the knowledge of biology, the students are in a
position to understand the structure and functions of different parts of the body, the environment
in which they live and how best to conduct themselves (Ramalingam, 2003). Biology provides a
platform for teaching students everyday science-related problems.
Biology is a science subject offered in all senior secondary schools which attracts the
greatest number of both science-oriented and art-based students. It is a common practice that
most students choose biology either as one of the science subject they offer or as the only science
subject. Most of these students choose biology not because they have interest in biology but
because they see it as the easiest science subject when compared with chemistry or physics. For
this reason, they achieve poorly in biology examinations. In spite of the importance and
usefulness attached to biology, students have reportedly achieved poorly in public examinations
in biology. For instance, in Nigeria, in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 the percentage pass
with credit and above in biology were 23.0%, 31.0%, 24.94% and 38.98% respectively (WAEC,
Also, the chief examiner’s reports (2008 – 2011) from West African Examination
Council (WAEC) show that students’ achievement in Senior School Certificate Examination
(SSCE) May/June in Biology has not been encouraging. Iloputaife (2001), reported that
achievement of students in Biology is as a result of poor and ineffective instructional skills and
Methodologies by Biology teachers. Monday (2013) noted that biology classes in the state
secondary schools are overcrowded, most times one finds a single teacher in a class with about
eighty (80) students which lead to use of ineffective teaching methods. In view of these, teaching
of biology requires that biology teachers at the senior secondary school level to have a sound
knowledge of the appropriate method of teaching biology as this will improve students’
According to Mbajiorgu (2003), achievement means a successful performance or
outcome in learning science using students efforts and the use of innovative strategies as opposed
to traditional conventional strategies, which does not take into consideration some
cultures/environment that are indirect conflict with science culture. The effect of students mass
failure in biology examinations is worrisome and poses a great question to what is happening at
the classroom level in the senior secondary schools in Nigeria today (Okpala, 2009). This
culminates to provoking questions such as: are there enough learning facilities Even the findings
of Nwagbo (2001) revealed that some science teachers find it difficult to teach some instructional
content due to their personal incompetence.
Nwagbo (2008:41) maintained that:
Biology as a science subject is a practical course. Being concerned with the study
of life, the entire environment which life exists, can serve as its laboratory while
the entire living organisms (biotic) and the non-living (abiotic) components of the
environment serve as its resources. The use of practical activities (approach) to
the teaching of biological concepts should therefore be a rule rather than an option
to biology teachers, if we hope to produce students that would be able to acquire
the necessary knowledge, skills and competence needed to meet the scientific and
technological demands of the nation.
According to Ali (2008), practical activities can be defined as the various technical work
components, systematically carried out with ultimate intention of creating a product or
explaining scientific phenomena. Example are: carrying out operations such as sorting of
specimens, dissection of specimen and observation of growth rate, food testing and
experimenting with opportunities for students to actually do science as opposed to learning about
sciences. Practical activities therefore, are back bone of biology teaching and learning.
Nzewi (2008) asserted that practical activities can be regarded as a strategy that could be
adopted to make the task of a teacher more real to the students as opposed to abstract or
theoretical presentation of facts, principles and concepts of subject matter. Nzewi (2008),
maintained that practical activities should engage the students in hands-on activities, using
varieties of instructional materials/equipment to drive the lesson home. These activities in
biology at the secondary school level have been incorporated into the senior secondary school
certificate examination syllabus (SSCE, 2002: 16), which stipulated the goals of biology
practical, as follows:
· promote the power of observations;
· promote the ability to represent observation by illustration;
· develop the ability to relate form to function;
· develop the ability to recognize general characteristic of animals and plants;
· develop ability to perform simple experiment and draw conclusion from result obtained;
and interpret data, which illustrate certain known biological principles.
These goals can only be achieved through effective usage of the laboratory. In the
laboratory, the learners acquire more in science learning when given the chance to perform
certain tasks that will include manipulating apparatus, classifying data, designing experiments,
hypothesis formation to verifying and drawing conclusions.
Many teachers regard practical biology as very important for various reasons which
include concept learning, motivation and development of skills and appropriate scientific
attitudes as mentioned earlier. This is in line with the objectives of science education. Most of
the objectives have not been achieved because of students’ aversion for biology laboratory. The
aversion could have been emanated from the phobia of blood during dissection of specimen like
rat, frog, heart and lungs of sheep or goat etc, and lack of acquisition of manipulative skills
which are needed to manipulate apparatus like microscope especially while observing microorganisms
under slides in cultured environment.
It is argued that laboratory experiences are a worthwhile aspect of science education
where drilling and practicing is applied to train students to be more scientifically inclined to pass
their practical examination (Morgil, Gungor & Secken, 2009). Meanwhile, the laboratory has
value for nurturing positive students’ attitudes and providing avenue to develop and demonstrate
their practical skills in practical biology work. Ali (1996), noted that there is no best method but
that effective science teaching should be laboratory centred, activity oriented rather than text or
lecture centred which characterize the Nigerian schools. Various instructional methods, such as
guided discovery and demonstration methods which make the task of the teacher more real to the
students and engage the students in hands on activities could be successful in attaining numerous
vital educational goals, since learning takes place when the learner is actively involved during
teaching and learning interaction.
Guided discovery method is a teaching method in which the principal content of what is
to be learned is not given but must be discovered by the learners. It has been observed that
science teachers play important role in the implementation of guided discovery method, which
faces many difficulties especially during implementation process. Cheung (2007), listed some of
these obstacles often experienced during the implementation of guided discovery method in a
study with biology teachers. They are: crowded class, insufficient time, scarcity of effective
research materials, teacher’s beliefs, pedagogical problems, management problems, security
issues, scarcity of teaching materials, fear of assessment, fear of encouraging students to
misunderstanding, students’ complaints etc.
Moreover, Cheung (2007) is of the opinion that guided discovery method is an approach
to inquiry. On the other hand the teacher provides illustrative materials for students to study on
their own. Leading questions are then asked by the teacher to enable students think and provide
conclusions through the adoption of the processes of sciences.
It is the intention of the researcher that activity based science will allow learners to
explore the environment and discover nature. It should be borne in our mind that as the teacher
takes on guided discovery method; learners will be expected to carry out some mental processes
such as observing, classifying, measuring, predicting, inferring and hypothesizing. It is on this
premise that a lot of inquiry predominates in the laboratory with the teacher acting as an
organizer, a facilitator and motivator, moving from one point to another to guide the learning of
students and aid them to obviate difficulties as observed by Etuk (2004). In the light of this, the
teacher plays the role of a resource person who guides the learners to sources of information. The
most important feature of this method is to enable both teachers and learners to be researchers,
idea propagators and problem solvers. Furthermore, it has some positive influence on students’
academic achievement by making such students proactive, developing their understanding,
improving their research skills and understanding of the nature of the science (Wallace and
Kang, 2004, Blonder, Naaman & Hofstein, 2008).
Demonstration as a teaching method is an instructional method that has its link between
explanation and the practice where the teacher demonstrates an experimental activity in a
functional biology laboratory while learners watch (Blair, Schwartz, Biswas & Lealawong,
2007). The teacher demonstrates a procedure with clarifications where necessary and then
learners observe. Demonstration methods unfold to the students their misconceptions when
appropriately employed and brings about conceptual change. This is in line with the findings of
Ryan, Reid and Epstein (2006).
Westbrook and Roger (1992) defined conceptual change as a process of using
instructional strategies to bring children’s thinking into line with that of scientists. Conceptual
change has been viewed from the social context. Tobin (1992) states that conceptual change is
learning which is a social process of making sense of experience in terms of extant knowledge
since learning occurs in a social milieu, all learning is inherently social. By extension, conceptual
change is primarily a way of thinking about learning, since learning occurs in a social milieu, all
learning is inherently social. By extension, conceptual change is primarily a way of thinking
about learning, i.e. it is something that a learner does as an intentional act, rather than something
done by a teacher (Hewson, 1992). So in summary, conceptual change is a change or
modification or rejection of one’s conceptual beliefs when presented with anomalous situation.
There are three things that changes under conceptual change. They are beliefs, concepts and
knowledge. Conceptual change is a process of replacing misconceptions with correct concepts.
This means helping learners to transform their mental models (internal representations of objects,
events and processes learners construct in order to predict and explain phenomena) into the
consensus models (the expressed representations used by the scientific community for the same
purpose). The change from naïve mental models to consensus models is infrequently
straightforward, and many times it goes through intermediate stages which combine parts of both
models a hybrid model (Noh & Scharmann, 2005).
Fisher (2004) and Taber (2001) stated a fundamental dissimilarity between alternative
models and consensus models as in the range of their validity while alternative models are
usually only consistent with the limited experience of the learner, the consensus models are
based on the collectively accumulated experience of generations of scientists. The efficiency of
consensus models emerges from the consistent ability to predict and explain a vast range of
phenomena using a small set of assumptions and rules. Any effort to tackle the problem of
misconception in order to bring about conceptual change in practical biology will prove abortive
if the students’ interest in not taken into consideration.
Interest has been defined by different authors in different ways. Obodo (2002) described
interest as the attraction which forces or compels a child to respond to a particular stimulus if it is
attractive, arousing or stimulating. This is to say he or she bound to pay attention as a lesson
goes on if he is interested in that particular lesson. This shows that interest comes as a result of
eagerness or curiosity to learn. Taylor (1999) opined that interest enables individual to make a
variety of choices with respect to the activities in which he engages. This means if a student has
positive interest toward a particular subject, he or she will not only enjoy studying it but will also
derive satisfaction from the knowledge of the subject. From the above definition, interest in
biology refers to individual reactions, feeling and impression about biology and other science
subjects. It has been observed generally that both teachers and students will work diligently and
most effectively at task in which they are genuinely interested. To create and sustain interest
becomes therefore one of the most important task of a biology teacher at all levels of education.
Academic success or failure is closely tied to interest. Interest is an important variable in
learning because when one becomes interested in an activity, one is likely to be more deeply
involved in that activity. Interest is a subjective feeling of intentness or curiosity over something
(Habor-Peters, 2001). It is the preference for particular type of activity that is, the tendencies to
look out for and participate in certain activities. Students seem to learn more efficiently those
things that are of interest to them. However, research studies attributed poor achievement of
students in examination most to students’ poor study habit and the teaching approach adopted by
biology teachers in presenting instruction. A report by Ezeudu (2000), suggested a reorientation
in the teaching and learning of chemistry for better results. Ezeudu (2000) emphasized the need
to seek out for innovation in teaching the subject.
These innovative teaching methods could bring about better achievements among the
students. Furthermore, the issue of parity and disparity in achievements of male and female
students in biology and science related subjects have formed an important focus of research
because the society believes that there are certain subjects that are meant for the male folk while
there are some subjects that are meant for their female counterparts as this affects their
achievements in such subjects. Gender issue in Nigeria has become an issue of concern, since
some years back. As schools and educational institutions are more structured, gender difference
takes up new and more focus of researchers. Gender relates to the difference in sex (that is either
male or female) and how these qualities affect their dispositions and perception toward life and
academic activities (Nzewi, 2008). This has shown that gender disparity is still very prevalent in
Nigeria and perhaps the whole African countries. This is in line with the findings of Jimoh
(2004) that male students performed better than female students in cognitive, affective and
psychomotor skills achievements. This shows that there is a strong association between gender
and response in science education.
Njelita (2008) found that there was a significant difference in gender achievement
between experimental and control groups, but girls had a significant mean score than boys.
Chang and Tsai (2010) investigated the effect of classroom goal structures on children’s goal
orientation, mathematics achievement and intrinsic motivation. The investigation also assessed
gender effects and the interaction between goal, structure and gender. In learning situations, with
these variables related to mathematics learning, the result shows no significant gender effects on
the variables of goal orientation, mathematics achievement, intrinsic motivation and beliefs
about failure. The works of Uhumuaybi and Mamudu (2010), are in support of male students
achieving significantly better when compared to female students in sciences. Maduka (2011)
asserts that the difference in gender as it affects students’ academic achievement is inconclusive.
On this premise, it is important to consider gender as a moderating variable and also its
interaction effects with the key instructional methods under study.
Statement of the Problem
Over the years, there has been a decline in achievement in biology school certificate
examination (Evidence available from research and West African Examination Council’s Chief
Examiners annual report 2014). This could be attributed to poor achievement in practical biology
school certificate examination. This poor achievement in practical may be linked to biology
activities carried out in the mundane, unimaginative manner (Morgan, 2014). The practical
biology lesson in a typical Nigerian classroom is dominated with lecture style of talk and chalk
method that has not changed for decades. This teaching method has lead to abstractness which
makes the students less active and engages them in rote memorization.
Practical experience in any science subject is crucial for the real understanding of
principles and application of knowledge ingrained in that subject for cognitive growth and
technological orientation and advancement. Due to several constraining factors ranging from
facilities to teachers and learners characteristics and effort the required practical experiences are
not usually possible in most schools, (Ango and Sila, 2013).
Guided discovery and demonstration methods are precursor to learning by students as
these methods make them participate actively in the act of learning activities. This could have a
major impact on how well students achieve the goals of instructions. The search for ways and
means of identifying empirically the role of learners’ centered learning approach as a tool for
enhancing biology achievement is a continuing research effort. Considering the need to improve
biology achievement level and prepare the students for a diverse global work place, it was
becomes necessary to investigate the effects of guided discovery and demonstration methods on
students achievement, interest and conceptual change in practical biology.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to ascertain the effect of guided discovery and
demonstration method on students’ achievements, interest and conceptual change in practical
biology. The researcher specifically sought to ascertain, the:
1. effects of guided discovery and demonstration method on students’ mean achievement
scores in practical biology.
2. effects of guided discovery and demonstration method on students’ mean interest scores
in practical biology.
3. effects of guided discovery and demonstration method on students’ mean conceptual
change scores in practical biology.
4. influence of gender on mean achievement scores of male and female students in practical
5. influence of gender on mean interest scores of male and female students’ in practical
6. influence of gender on mean conceptual change score of male and female students’ in
Significance of the Study
Theoretically, the Piaget’s theory of cognitive development explains that when a child
recognizes cognitive conflict (disequilibrium), this recognition motivates the child to attempt to
resolve the conflict. Piaget called the process of resolving conflict “equilibration”. According to
Piaget, equilibration refers to the process of self-regulation that maintains a balance between
“assimilation and accommodation.” The findings of this study will help strengthen the basic
tenets and implications of this theory by exposing students’ misconceptions in practical biology
and showing how these misconceptions are repaired (conceptual change) following guided
discovery and demonstration methods.
The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to the following groups: biology
teachers, students, curriculum planners.
The findings of this study could be useful for many biology teachers who did not know
the efficacy of the learner centered instructional approach to become aware of students
ownership of ideas thereby providing the teachers with alternative method of teaching practical
biology concepts to foster the interest and achievement of students.
For the secondary school students, findings will review the activity oriented nature of
guided discovery and demonstration methods which takes every ability group along during the
course of instruction thereby helping every student to actively involve in teaching and learning
process which in turn will enhance students’ achievement, generate interest and brings about
conceptual change. It is by identifying pre-conceptions before coming to the classroom. It is by
identifying these preconceptions that appropriate plans/models would be used to bring about
Curriculum developers would find the finding of the study as a relevant tool for
curriculum reform and improvement, the trust of this will be in the area of choice of curriculum
content materials, review of science textbook and perhaps teaching strategies that will be in line
with practical objectives.
Scope of the Study
This study was conducted using Senior Secondary School One (SS1) students in
Umuahia Education Zone of Abia State. The use of (SS1) students is necessitated by the content
scope of the study. This content is found in SSI biology curriculum. The study was restricted to
animal nutrition. In terms of content coverage, the researcher selected from a unit in biology
curriculum of Federal Minsitry of Education (FME, 2013). The content scope includes the
1. Classes of food
2. Balanced diet and deficiency diseases
3. Food test
4. Digestive enzymes
The following research questions guided the study:
1. What is the mean achievement score of students taught with guided discovery and
2. What is the mean interest score of students taught with guided discovery and
3. What is the mean conceptual change score of students taught with guided discovery and
4. What is the mean achievement score of male and female students in practical biology?
5. What is the mean interest score of male and female students in practical biology?
6. What is the mean conceptual change score of male and female students in practical
7. What is the interaction effect of gender and instructional methods on students’
8. What is the interaction effect of gender and instructional methods on students’ interest?
9. What is the interaction effect of gender and instructional methods on students’ conceptual
The following null hypotheses will be formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance.
Ho1: There is no significant difference in the achievement mean scores of students taught
practical biology using guided discovery and that of those taught using demonstration
Ho2: There is no significant difference in the interest mean scores of students taught practical
biology using guided discovery method and those taught using demonstration method.
Ho3: There is no significant difference in the conceptual change mean scores of students
taught practical biology using guided discovery method and those taught using
Ho4: There is no significant difference in the achievement mean score of male and female
students in practical biology.
Ho5: There is no significant difference in the interest mean score of male and female students
in practical biology.
Ho6: There is no significant difference in the conceptual change mean score of male and
female students in practical biology.
Ho7: There is no significant interaction effect of gender and instructional methods on
students’ achievement mean score in practical biology.
Ho8: There is no significant interaction effect of gender and instructional methods on
students’ interest mean score in practical biology.
Ho9: There is no significant interaction effect of gender and instructional methods on
students’ conceptual change mean score in practical biology.