A COMPARISM OF THE EFFECTS OF INQUIRY – BASED LEARNING AND TRADITIONAL LECTURE METHOD ON STUDENTS’ ACQUISITION OF PROBLEM SOLVING AND SCIENTIFIC LITERACY SKILLS IN PHYSICS

ABSTRACT

The objective of the study was to compare the effects of inquiry-based learning and traditional lecture methods on student’s acquisition of problem solving and scientific literacy skills in Physics. Five Hypotheses guided the research. The hypotheses were tested at P<0.05 level of significance. The pre-test and post-test quasi experimental and control group design was used for the study. The population comprised of 100 SSS II students offering physics in ten carefully selected secondary schools in Abeokuta south local education zone of the ministry of education, Ogun State. Five students from each group were constituted as the experimental group while the other group of five students from each school makes up the control group. The experimental group was taught some selected physics concepts using the inquiry based learning method, while the control group were taught the same physics concept using the Lecture method. Two validated instruments called Achievement Test (AT) and Attitude of Students towards Physics Questionnaires (ATISQ) were used to gather data. Data collected were analyzed using Cronbach Alpha Technique for reliability coefficient as follows: AT r = 0.84, and, ATISQ r = 0.80. The result of the study revealed that: (1) there is a significant difference in the performance of the experimental group over the control group. In other words, there is a statistical difference in the performance of the students taught by inquiry-based learning method over those taught with traditional lecture method (3) the attitude toward physics of the student taught by inquiry-based techniques is significantly higher than those taught by traditional method. (4) there is no significance gender difference in the acquisition of problem solving skills among the students and (5) there is a statistical difference in the acquisition of problem solving skills among students based on the school they attend The researcher recommended that inquiry based learning method should be incorporated in Physics Teacher Training Curriculum in order to produce teachers who would handle Science Process Skills Instructional Technique effectively. The Federal and State Ministries of Education should provide adequate funds to sponsor Physics Teachers for in-service training in Science Process Skills and Instructional Strategy towards improving academic performance of students in schools.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.0 Background of the Study

Inquiry-based learning is not a new approach in teaching but it may not be widely used as it could be. A number of studies have reported the benefits of inquiry-related teaching approaches, suggesting that these techniques foster students’ understanding of scientific processes, scientific literacy and critical thinking (Cavallo et al., 2004; Glasson and McKenzie, 1998; Haury, 1993) among other competencies. Inquiry-based teaching can also improve students’ understanding of scientific method and its strength and weaknesses (Keller et al., 2000). These and other studies imply that the use of inquiry-based learning is an effective approach for teaching science at all levels ranging from K-12 through to undergraduate education (NRC, 2000). That physics is a practical course is not a negotiable affirmation. Practical problems as well as standard examinations in physics do not test only knowledge of physics theories. They also test science literacy and problem solving skills. “Professional physicists earn their salaries not particularly for their knowledge of physics but for their ability to solve workplace problems (Dan Styer, 2002)”.

It is important that teaching and learning of science should enhance scientific literacy as well as ability to solve practical problems. We live in a very dynamic world where knowledge is increasing every second and changes are experienced in almost every sphere of life. The kind of learners being groomed in our schools must therefore be those who are able to cope with, and contribute to the existing body of knowledge to the advantage of man. It is also important that they be scientifically literate, that is, they must be able to” acquire a mix of concepts, history and philosophy that help to understand the scientific issues of our time” (Robert, 2002). Man’s brain is expected to do more than storing information and knowledge. It must be able to manipulate knowledge to solve practical problems.

This idea of solving practical problems is responsible for the many problems contained in most physics textbooks with answers supplied. No one solves such physics problems by simply writing down the correct equations and the correct reasoning with the correct connections the first time through. Just as no one build a puzzle by putting every piece in its correct positions the first time through. The answers provided for questions contained in physics textbooks represent the end product of a problem solving session and rarely show the process involved in reaching that end product. This is a deliberate attempt to provoke the problem solving skills in students. Building a student up to the level of acquiring problem solving and scientific literacy skills will require a carefully selected method of teaching. A teaching method that may work for helping students to understand physics principles may not necessarily work for teaching them to apply the principles to practical situation in which the physics is helpful. Teachers therefore need to teach to avoid a situation where students would say “I understand the material I just can’t solve the problems” as this will mean a defeat of the objectives of teaching and learning physics as contained in the National curriculum for physics stated as follows:

“Physics is a very crucial subject for technological development and as such its teaching and learning must be a matter of national concern. Based on this concern and an analysis of the situation, the following objectives are to be satisfied by the senior secondary school physics curriculum”.

To provide basic literacy in physics for functional living in the society.

To acquire basic concepts and principles of physics as a presentation for further studies.

To acquire essential scientific skills and attitudes as a presentation for the technological application of physics.

To stimulate and enhance creativity (National curriculum for senior secondary schools, 1985)

These four objectives presupposes understanding of physics concepts and principles beyond head knowledge or learning and being able to recall just as it was taught. Head knowledge will only produce ‘informed illiterates’ for they will not be able to put knowledge gained into meaningful use.

Equally important as acquisition of problem solving skill is the need to acquire scientific literacy skill. People must be able to “use science” even if they are unable to “do science” .According to Robert (2002), “I feel strongly that those who insist that everyone must understand science at a deep level are confusing two important but separate aspects of scientific knowledge .As in many other endeavors, doing science is obviously distinct from using science and scientific literacy concern only the latter”.

The traditional lecture method might have been in use for a very long time, investigating how its effectiveness on student’s gain in problem solving and scientific literacy skills compare with other newer methods like the inquiry-based learning method is certainly worth the sort.

1.1 Statement of Problem

The problem of lack of interest in Physics lies not only on the side of students but also on the teachers as well as the teaching method they use in their teaching. Teaching is frequently done in a boring manner: mainly through textbook reading during lessons, instead of real experiences or multimedia teaching methods. Lessons are schematic, with no innovative scenarios, like role-playing, reporting, and competitions and so on. A negative perception of Physics creates a kind of a negative feedback-in lower secondary school. Other problems are poorly equipped laboratories, usually possessing only old experiments, with no explanations or teaching scenarios.

During teaching activities, teachers assumed that students are at the same ability levels and low achievers that need more attention are neglected. If the ability levels of students are not given the needed attention, then poor performance of the SS students would remain.

It is in the light of these that this study was conducted to find out if inquiry based would assist in improving students acquisition of problems solving and scientific skills in Physics better than the traditional lecture method.

1.2 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study are as follows:

To determine whether there will be any significant difference in the acquisition of problem solving skill by physics students taught using inquiry-based learning method and those taught using traditional lecture method .
To determine whether there will be any significant difference in the acquisition of scientific literacy skills by physics students taught using inquiry-based learning method and those taught by traditional lecture method.
To determine whether there will be any significant difference in the attitude of students to physics between those taught by inquiry-based learning method and those taught by traditional lecture method.
To determine whether there will be any significant difference between male and female students taught by inquiry-based learning methods and those taught by traditional lecture method.
5 To determine whether there will be any significant difference in the acquisition of problem solving skills of physics students taught by inquiry-based learning method and those taught by traditional lecture methods based on the type of school (public/private) the students attend.

1.3 Research Questions

For the purpose of this study, the following research questions are pertinent:

1. Will there be any significant difference in the acquisition of problem solving skills of physics students taught by inquiry-based learning methods and those taught by traditional lecture methods?

2. Will there be any significant difference in the acquisition of scientific literacy skills of physics students taught by inquiry-based learning methods and their counterparts taught by traditional lecture methods?

3. Will there be any significant difference in the attitude of physics students to physics between those taught by inquiry-based learning methods and those taught by traditional lecture methods?

4. Will there be any significant difference in the acquisition of problem solving skills between male and female students taught by inquiry-based learning methods and those taught by traditional lecture methods?

5 Will there be any significant difference in the acquisition of problem solving skills of physics students taught by inquiry-based learning methods and those taught by traditional lecture methods based on the type of school (public/private) the students attend?

1.4 Research Hypothesis

· H1: There will be no significant difference in the acquisition of problem solving skills of physics students taught by inquiry-based learning method and those taught by traditional lecture method.

· H2: There will be no significant difference in the acquisition of scientific literacy skill of physics students taught by inquiry-based learning method and those taught by traditional lecture method.

· H3: There will be no significant difference in student’s attitude to physics between students taught by inquiry-based learning method and those taught by traditional lecture method.

· H4: There will be no significant difference in the acquisition of problem solving skills of physics students and their sex.

· H5: There will be no significant difference in the acquisition of problem solving skills of physics students and the category of school they attend.

1.5 Significance of the Study

Learning science lessons by apprehending requires using science process skills. Having science process skills acquired, at the same time, means preparing future scientists, having scientific literacy acquired, that is enabling students to use science information in daily life (personal, social and global). Science process skills are based on scientific inquiry and teaching science by inquiry involves teaching students science process skills, critical thinking, scientific reasoning skills used by scientists and inquiry is defined as an approach to teaching, the acts scientists use in doing science and it can be a highly effective teaching method that helps students to get the understanding of concepts and use of process skills

It is hoped that the findings from these studies would:

· help the students to develop positive attitude towards learning Physics

· be of benefit to students and it would equip them for solving problems of scientific nature effectively and at the same time enhance their academic performance.

· motivate physics teachers to teach using inquiry-based learning method and help them find fulfillment by working as true scientists.

· be useful to other researchers who are interested in issues related to varied abilities.

· be useful to associations concerned with outcomes of research especially those interested in instructional innovations in Physics

· Also be of interest to curriculum developers who would benefit from the findings of the study by bringing into focus the effectiveness of inquiry-based learning method and thereby enable them to make necessary adjustment in the curriculum where necessary.

· stimulate further research which would results in the upliftment of the standard of science education in Nigeria.

1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study

The study will be carried out under the following scope and limitations due to some constraints in the prevailing situations:

1. The inquiry-based method and the Traditional lecture method will be focused upon among other possible methods of instruction which may facilitate problem solving and literacy skills acquisition among physics students,

2. Only five private and five public secondary schools in Abeokuta, Ogun State will be used due to constraint of time, availability of subject, teacher, and reasonable class size,

3. The content of instruction shall be within the SS scheme as contained in the National curriculum for physics.

1.7 Definition of Terms

Inquiry-based learning: This is the kind of learning through laboratory activities in which the instructor lead students to discover a specific concept after being prompted by a specific question or problem.

Problem solving skill: This refers to the skill required to use the knowledge (of physics) to correctly interpret and solve numeric and practical problems.

Inquiry activities: These are physics activities designed for students from which they can work by investigation to proof theories and establish facts.

Functional science: This refers to science that goes beyond head knowledge to what is practically useful in everyday life situation.

Public school: Secondary schools owned and managed by the government.

Private school: Secondary schools owned and managed by private individuals, family, groups or mission.