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The study was a Comparative study of Problem-Solving and Discussion Teaching Method on Student’s Achievement in Biology in Senior Secondary Schools in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State. The study adopted a pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design with non-equivalent control group. The sample for the study consisted of 150 senior secondary II biology students. Purposive sampling was used to select five schools in Pankshin LGA. The instrument used for the study was the Biology Achievement Test (BAT) designed by the researcher. Section A of the instrument contained 20 multiple-choice items, section B contained 2 essay questions all for the measurement of students’ achievement in Biology. Three research questions and three hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. The data collected were analyzed using mean and standard deviation and chi-square statistical tools. The results showed that there was a significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught Biology using problem-solving teaching method and those taught using discussion method with those taught using problem solving teaching method having a higher mean gain. This shows that problem solving teaching method has more effect on students’ achievement in Biology than the discussion method. The result also shows that gender was not a significant factor in determining students’ achievement in Biology. The study concludes that problem-solving and discussion methods of teaching if properly utilized by biology teachers will definitely enhance students’ achievement in Biology in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State. Finally the study recommend among others that seminars and in-service programs should be organized by delegations of education and the pedagogic offices for biology teachers in the field to be acquainted with teaching of Biology using problem-solving and discussion teaching methods.





1.1       Background of the Study     –           –           –           –           –           –           1

1.2       Statement of the Problem    –           –           –           –           –           –           8

1.3       Purpose of the Study            –           –           –           –           –           –           9

1.4       Research Questions –           –           –           –           –           –           –           10

1.5       Research Hypotheses            –           –           –           –           –           –           10

1.6       Significance of the Study      –           –           –           –           –           –           10

1.7       Scope and Delimitation of the Study           –           –           –           –           11

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms     –           –           –           –           –           12








3.0       Introduction   –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           50

3.1       Design of the Study   –           –           –           –           –           –           –           50

3.2       Population of the Study        –           –           –           –           –           –           51

3.3       Sample and Sampling Techniques –           –           –           –           –           52

3.4       Instrument for Data Collection       –           –           –           –           –           53

3.5       Validation of the Instrument           –           –           –           –           –           54

3.6       Reliability of the Instrument           –           –           –           –           –           54

3.7       Methods of Data Analysis                –           –           –           –           –           57






4.0       Introduction   –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           58

4.1       Results            –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           58

4.2       Hypotheses Testing   –           –           –           –           –           –           –           60

4.3       Discussion of the Findings   –           –           –           –           –           –           63




5.1       Summary of the Findings     –           –           –           –           –           –           66

5.2       Conclusion     –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           67

5.3        Recommendation     –           –           –           –           –           –           –           67

5.4       Suggestions for Further Studies      –           –           –           –           –           68

REFERENCE           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           69

APPENDIX 1  –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           73

APPENDIX 2  –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           74

APPENDIX 3  –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           80

APPENDIX 4  –           –           –           –           –           –           –           –           83












1.1       Background of the Study

Science has been regarded as the bedrock upon which the modern day technological breakthrough is built. Countries all over the world, especially the developing ones like Nigeria, are striving hard to develop technologically and scientifically. Nwagbo in Usman (2010) explained science as an intellectual activity carried out by humans, designed to discover information about the natural world in which we live and to discover the ways in which this information can be organized to benefit human race. According to Feynman (2011), science has become such an indispensable tool that no nation, developed or developing, wishing to progress in socio-economic sphere will afford to relegate the learning of science in schools to the background. The Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) in its National Policy on Education (FME, 2004:19) identified the goals of science education to include:

  1. Acquisition of knowledge, skills, inquiry and rational mind for conduct of good life.
  2. Produce scientist for national development
  • Service studies in technology and the cause of technological advancement
  1. Understanding of the physical world, the forms and conduct of life and
  2. Provide knowledge and understanding of the complexity of the physical world, the forms and conduct of life.

Science comprises the basic disciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. The Federal Ministry of Education (FME, 2013) identified biology among the core-science subjects offered at the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) level, Ramalingam, (2003) defined biology as one of the branches of science that involves the study of living things ranging from microscopic cellular molecules to the biosphere which encompasses the earth surface.

Importance of biology as highlighted by Maduabum (2009) is stated as follows:

  1. Helping individuals to understand the parts of his/her body and their functions,
  2. Enabling one to question superstition due to sustained interest arising from comprehension of the cause of events,
  • Understanding and appreciating life,
  1. Bringing into focus the need to maintain good health,
  2. Promoting the individual for choice of careers,
  3. To inculcate in the individual scientific skills and attitudes in his approach to personal and societal problem,
  • Impart factual knowledge and stimulate scientific reflective thinking so as to produce a better informed individual.

In spite of these enormous importance that biology provides, biology results in most certified examinations like, Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by both the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO) have not been satisfactory in Nigeria (Ashmore, Frater & Casey 2019).

Despite the emphasis on innovative approach to the teaching of science in general and biology in particular for acquisition of science process and problem-solving skills, biology is still taught by traditional methods (Thomas, 2019). The poor methods of teaching and learning of biology constitute a problem in the learners’ acquisition of functional knowledge, science process skills and development of ability to solve problem.

In the solving of this problem , education seek more reliable and effective methods of instruction for students, so as to produce in learner skills that will enable them to compete successfully in technological and scientific dominated society. In describing a new vision for teacher educator, Long (2018) suggest that teachers will need to be flexible, dynamic, thoughtful and able to work with change. He further suggested the hallmark of competent teachers will be the ability to reflect on teaching strategies as to meet the needs of their students. These innovative strategies have not been employed when compared with the traditional method preponderantly employed by science teachers in Nigeria (Thomas, 2019). Thomas further reiterated that the state of biology teaching in our schools has consistently been of concern as teachers could not properly apply this innovative teaching strategy in some areas in biology.

Biology is one of the core science subjects offered in senior secondary school in Nigeria. Biology gives students a glimpse of scientific exploration and opportunity that are needed for discovering. Biology have contributed immensely towards improved quality of human life by providing information on drug abuse, biotechnology, genetic engineering and molecular biology. Various researchers have observed that there is an increasing yearly enrolment in senor secondary school examination in biology, but each year candidate achieve poorly in the examination (Nnorom, 2015; Okoye, 2010).

Moreover, to improve the performance of students in science especially biology, a more engaging teaching method should be employed by teachers. Teaching methods refers to the general principle, pedagogy and management techniques used for classroom instruction (Kolawole, 2017). They include discussion method, collaborative, expository, project method, problem based solving technique among others. Researchers have shown that most teachers continue to use ineffective and teacher centered method such as conventional method in teaching (Chukwuemeka, 2016; Ogbu, 2011). Conventional method of teaching refers to teaching using chalk and board for teachers, pen and paper for students (Nnorom, 2015). Teaching should be based on the student’s previous knowledge and connection between the experience of student and biological concept (Chukwuemeka, 2016). Berkeley (2015) noted that the teacher centered method does not promote skill acquisition, objectivity and critical thinking ability among students. There is the need for more activity oriented, students centered and innovative method that can develop in the students science process skills, which include problem based solving method and discussion method which are the striking points in which the researcher tends to identified the differences that exists between them for effective teaching and learning of biology as a science subject.

On one hand, problem based-solving technique is a student centered method where the teacher and students play equal active role in teaching and learning process. The teacher’s primary role is to coach and facilitates student learning and overall comprehension of material while the students construct new ideals and concept based on their past knowledge. Brooks and Brooks (2011) stressed that in problem based solving technique students are in charge of the learning process while the teacher provides student with suitable environment to construct knowledge. Problem based solving technique is a type of learning which involve problems that give students opportunity to design an investigative activity using problem-solving to arrive at conclusion (Thomas, 2019). It involves an experimental learning process that composed of data collection, experiment, observation, explanation and drawing conclusions (Bell, 2010). The use of problem based-solving technique in teaching helps to stimulate students’ understanding on how to find information that are linked to problem, and this increase their thinking ability. Various researchers have reported successful implementation of problem based learning in the classroom, and students problem solving skills and thinking ability were improved (Aidoo, Boateng, Kissi and Ofori, 2016). Zhou, Huang and Tian (2013) also concluded that task based learning improved students analytic skills and ability to personalized learning. Also Akinolu & Fandogan (2012) exposed science students to problem based solving techniques and their findings improve academic achievement of student, but there were contradiction in their findings on the influence of gender.

Problem-solving competencies are the knowledge, skills and general disposition or attitudes which individuals need, to be able to identify and tackle observed or perceived problems in the environment with a view to finding solution to them. An individual with the requisite knowledge, skills and disposition to identify and solve a problem is said to be competent in that area of socio-economic life (Woolfolk, 2015). The present study will use the polya problem solving model due to its relevance to the problem at hand.

Problem solving is described as formulating new answers, going beyond the simple application of previously learned rules to create a solution (Woolfolk, 2015). Problem solving is an investigative task whereby the solver explores the solution path to reach a goal from given information. Bolton and Ross (2017) explain it as an intellectually demanding activity of central importance in any science. All the sciences, both pure and applied, are centrally concerned with developing and systematizing knowledge useful for solving various kinds of problems. The basic problem solving process is a linear, hierarchical process. Each step is a result of the previous step and a precursor to the next step. The application of problem solving, involves the use of “stage models”. Stage models are simplified lists of stages and steps used in general problem solving. The specific instructional technique and procedures used in the design. The implementation of a stage model of a problem-solving instruction varies from one context to the next.  Polya’s prescription for solving problems consists of four steps:

  1. Understanding the problem (recognizing what is asked for) example of approaches for doing so: asking oneself, ‘What am I looking for?” or “What information is given in the problem?”
  2. Devising a plan for solving the problem (responding to what is asked for) example approaches for doing so: asking yourself, “Do I know a similar problems?”, “Can I restate the problem?”
  • Carrying out the problem (developing the result of the response)
  1. Looking Back (checking, What does the result tell me?).

Students are not the same especially when we find out the rate at which facts and principles in science are being estimated. This is to say that, there is disparity in the ability to perform specific tasks. According to Adesoji (2008) all aspect of science could be said to be problem solving and students have varying ability when they are confronted with problems to solve. It is the view of Salami (2013) that problem solving in science depends on student’s cognitive ability level.

On other hand, discussion strategy is a technique in which a teacher leads or guides the students in groups towards expressing opinions and ideas with the view to identifying and solving problems collectively. The role of the teacher in this technique is that of a facilitator. The teacher presents the lesson topics to the learners and also creates enabling environment for them.

According to Rahman, Khalil, Jumani, Muhammad, Malik and Sharif (2016), discussion method is a teaching method that includes questioning which is similar to testing. A teacher may ask a series of question to collect information of what students have learned and what needs to be taught. Testing is another application of questioning. A teacher tests the student on what was previously taught in order to identify if a student has learned in order to identify if a student has learned in the material.  Rahman, et’al (2016) explained that discussion works on the principles that the knowledge and idea of several people are more likely to find solution or answers to specific problem or topics. Discussion enhances learning by giving the learners room to develop their communicating skills, mental skills such as critical thinking, reflective thinking and evaluating diverse opinion (Efe, 2017). The role of the teacher is that of a facilitator. The teacher encourages the learner to discover things for themselves this could increase the retention ability of students towards certain concepts.

Gender is one of the factors that might affect students’ achievement in biology problem solving. Gender is defined by Dike and Abimbola (2017) as a psychological term describing behaviour and attributes expected of individuals on the basis of being born either a male or a female. Keller (2016) writing on the embrassive nature of gender observed that, it is a cultural construct developed by society to distinguish the roles, behaviours, mental and emotional characteristics between male and female. Dike and Abimbola (2017) asserted that gender is obvious from birth and children are socialized very early into appropriate sex-typed-occupations. Hence gender differential valuation of male and female has been viewed as an integral part of the socialization process and the development of the adult male and female personalities.

However, Awoniyi (2011) found out that female students perform better than male counterpart in science. While Okeke (2011) noted that there is no significance difference in the achievement score of male and female students in both chemistry and biology examinations. This shows a contradiction in the findings of researchers on science achievement. Jegede & Fatoke (2014) pointed out that there is no gender difference in the achievement of male and female students in science subjects; however, a good teaching strategy may be gender friendly to ensure that both boys and girls benefit equally from the teaching strategy. Therefore there is need to determine the effect of problem-solving and discussion teaching method on student’s achievement in biology in senior secondary schools in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

The yearning for quality and effective instruction delivery has been a long standing objective of science education. The emerging concern for the poor achievement of students in school science and its resultant consequence on the production and development of future scientist, engineers and technologies had led to the search for instructional strategies that promote effective and improved science learning. Consequently, science instruction has become a focus of research for two or more decades. Science knowledge is vast; its scope in each discipline is on the increase. Science educators have come to realize that trying to teach science as a list of facts to be memorized rather than understood is a futile exercise.

It was observed that there is a dearth of empirical focusing on instructional strategies that can enhance teaching and learning of concepts in science. Academic achievement of students in science has been persistently low, biology inclusive WAEC Examiners’ reports indicate that students are not favourably disposed towards scientific and skillful concepts biology. The report identified drawing of poor biology diagrams, poor understanding of biology concepts and poor performance on questions related to biology drawings, genetics etc as candidate’s weakness in biology, invariably leading to their poor achievement in the subject. The need to redress this alarming academic problem necessitated exploring the effect of problem solving teaching method and discussion method on students’ achievement in biology.

1.3       Purpose of the Study

The primary purpose of this study is a comparative study of problem-solving and discussion teaching method on student’s achievement in biology in senior secondary schools in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State. Specifically, the study intends to ascertain the:

  1. Influence of teaching method on the achievement of students in Biology.
  2. Effects of problem-solving teaching method on performance of students in Biology.
  3. Effect of discussion method of teaching on the performance of students in Biology.

1.4       Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study:

  1. Is there a difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught Biology using problem-solving teaching method and those taught using discussion method?
  2. What is the effect of problem solving method of teaching on performance of students in Biology?
  3. What is the effect of discussion method of teaching on the performance of students in Biology?

1.5       Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses guided the conduct of the study:

HO1: There is no statistically significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught Biology using problem-solving teaching method and those taught using discussion method.

HO2: There is no statistically significance difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught Biology using problem solving and discussion teaching methods.

HO3: There is no statistically significant interaction of gender and teaching methods on student’s achievement in Biology.

1.6       Significance of the Study

This study is built on the framework that the findings will have both practical and theoretical significance. The study will benefit teachers, students’ curriculum planners and educational administrators. The study might be deemed theoretically significant because it will provide insights into the current existing theories which could influence problem solving. In particular, Gestats’ and Gagner’s theory of hierarchical learning, Gestalts’ theory of problem solving explained that problem solving occurs with a flash of insight. During insight, problem solvers devise a way of representing the problem that enables solution. The result of this study will strengthen the tenets of these theories and shall help to expand the body of knowledge in the area of students’ achievement in biological problem solving.

The findings of the study would enable biology teachers to identify ability levels of their students. The identification of the ability levels will enable the teachers to structure teaching for effective learning, better classroom management and appreciate problems militating against problem solving among the students. The findings could help identify the extent and types of skills students need for problem solving. The benefit to students is that it will help them to develop problem solving skills.

Finally curriculum planners would utilize the information from the findings of the study in curriculum planning. The information could help the curriculum planners to determine the adequacy of problem-solving aspect of senior secondary biology curriculum.

1.7       Scope and Delimitation of the Study

The study was carried out in Pankshin Area Directorate of Education in Plateau state. The zone was used on the fact that literature search by the researcher revealed that no such study has been carried out in this area. Senior secondary school class two students (SS 2) will be used in the study. The choice of the population was based on the fact that the state and the zone in particular is educational less developed as reflected on the students’ WAEC and NECO achievement in biology in the background of the study.

The problem investigated in this study was restricted to basic biology concepts covering topics found in the biology curriculum. The sub-sections of biology to be covered in this research study are as follows:

  1. Supporting tissues in plants.
  2. Feeding mechanisms in some animals

The study will also be limited to the effects of problem-solving instructional strategy and discussion method on students’ achievement in biology.

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

Terms that are related to the study are defined below in order to remove somatic ambiguity in their usage.

Comparative: It refers to measurement or judgment by estimating the similarity or dissimilarity between one thing and another

Teaching method: It refers to the principles and strategies used by teachers to enable student learning.

Problem-solving method:   It implies the act of defining a problem; determining the cause of the problem; identifying, prioritizing and selecting alternatives for a solution; and implementing a solution. In a problem solving method, children learn by working on problems

Discussion method:  It refers to varieties of forums for open-ended, collaborative exchange of ideas among a teacher and students or among students for the purpose of furthering students thinking, learning, problem solving, understanding, or literary appreciation

Student: It refers to a person who is studying in schools or other place of higher education

Students’ achievement: It refers to the extent to which a learner has attained their short or long-term educational goals. It is also a measurement of the amount of academic content a student learns in a given time frame.

Biology: Literally, refers to the science that studies life, and living things, and the evolution of life.

Senior secondary schools: It refers to school for pupils between the ages of 11 or 12 and 17 or 18 that student attend in the three highest classes before college.

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