The objective of the research was to investigate Effects of Inquiry-Based Instruction on Acquisition of Process Skills, Interest and Performance in Ecology among Secondary School Students. Four objectives, research Questions and Hypotheses guided the research. The hypothesis were tested at p≤0.05 level of significance. Pretest and posttest, experimental and control group design was used for the study. The population comprised all 1908 senior secondary school Biology students in Lere zone. A sample consisting of 118 students randomly selected from two coeducational schools in Lere Education Zone was used for the study. The experimental group was taught Ecology concepts using Inquiry-based method while the control group was exposed to lecture method. Three validated instruments called Student Process Skills Acquisition Test (SPSAT), with r=0.74,Ecology Performance Test (EPT) with r=0.76and Students Ecology Concept Interest Questionnaire (SECIQ) with r=0.84 were used to gather data. Data collected were analyzed using t-test and Kruskal-wallis statistics. The results of the study revealed that differences exist on acquisition of process skills when students are exposed to inquiry and lecture teaching method in favour of experimental group.Statistics revealed that significant difference exist in the interest shown by SSS Students when they are exposed to inquiry and lecture teaching method in favor of experimental group. Based on the findings the following recommendations were made; the use of inquiry-based instruction should be encourage among teachers of ecology to improve student‟s acquisition of process skills and Inquiry-based instruction should also be encouraged to promote the learning of Biology by both male and female students.

















1.1 Introduction

The desire to enhanceacquisition of science process skills through the use of more effective instructional strategies and the increasing awareness in recent years of the teaching-learning process has directed a lot of attention to understanding of how learners learn. Bichi (2002) defined science as intellectual activities carried out by scientists designed to discover information about the natural world in which we live and to discover ways in which this information can be organized to benefit human race. In this respect, the primary focus of science is to collect data and the ultimate purpose is to discern order that exist in natural phenomena and happenings around us.Shaibu (2014) observed that science is a complex human activity that leads to the production of a body of universal statements called laws, theories or hypotheses which served to explain the observable behavior of the universe or part of it and which in themselves have predictive characteristics. Hornbly, (2006) defined scienceas an intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Science is a particular way of investigating the world and of forming general rules about why things happen by observing particular situation. (Raven & Johnson, 1996; Johnson & Raven 1998; Mader, 2000;Ajaja, 2007).Science is the foundation upon which the bulk of present day technological breakthrough is built. These days, nations all over the world including Nigeria are striving hard to develop scientifically, since the world is becoming scientific and all proper functioning of lives depends greatly on science(Mader, 2000). According to Alebiosu, (2003) science aimed at searching for causes and providing reasons for solution to phenomena or experiences in life.Oyewole, (2003) explained that some people view science as a means or instrument for technical and economic development of a nation.

Obioma, (2008) declared that every learner who has gone through nine years of basic education should have acquired appropriate levels of literacy, numeracy, manipulative, communicative and life skill, as ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying solid foundation for life-long learning as a basis for scientific and reflective thinking. From the definitions, science can be seen as not just mere acquisition of facts but rather the active involvement of students through activity-based methods such as, discussion method, project method, field trip, discovery, co-operative learning and inquiry instruction. Therefore, effects of inquiry-based instruction on acquisition of process skills, interest and performance in ecologyamong secondary school students in lere educational zone will be investigated.

The term “Biology” is derived from two Greek words: Bios and logos which simply mean life and study respectively. Biology according toSarojini, (2006) can simply be defined as a branch of science which deals with the study of living and non-living organism. Biology is a practical based subject, which equips students with concepts and skills that are useful in solving the day-to-day problems of life. Biology is central to many science related courses such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Nursing, Biochemistry, and so on. It is obvious that no student intending to study these disciplines can do without Biology.

The National Policy on Education, (FRN, 2013) stated that the aim of education is to inculcate in the child, thespirit of inquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature. According to James, (2000) the objectives of the National Policy on Education will not be achievedas desired, if appropriate teaching techniques and the principle of individual differences which exist among others are not closely monitored. In line with these objectives, the three major science subjects that are taught in Senior Secondary Schools level in Nigeria are Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Biology is considered as one of the core science subject made compulsory for all science students at Senior Secondary School of the Nigerian Education system

A cursory look at the secondary schools in Nigeria has shown that many teachers in the system still rely much on the traditional “chalk and talk” method of teaching rather than embracing the use of inquiry-based teaching strategy.Okebukola, (2008) identified some weakness exhibited by tertiary institution graduating teachers that lack practical

skills,     shallow    knowledge     of     Biology    and     poor     knowledge     of     teaching

methodologies.Gilbert, (1998) observed that the difficulty perceived by science students is their inability to make reasonable connection between concept areas and its application in solving problems in Biology. In related studies, Yilwa, (1999), Jibril and Nura, (2007), independently identified poor methods of teaching and improper use of instructional materials as some of the deficiencies of science teachers. Okebukola (2009) also attributed the poor performance in Biology to the use of ineffective teaching and learning strategies and lack of appropriate learning environment under which Biology teaching takes place. This study therefore investigatesthe effects of inquiry-based instruction on acquisition of process skills, interestand performance in ecology among secondary school Biology students.    .

One of the most common methods of teaching science at the Senior Secondary level is lecture method. According to Bichi (2002) this is a method of teaching that emphasizes “talk and chalk” in the teaching of science subject. More than 80% of the scientific information and principles are delivered as lectures. Teachers embrace this method for easy coverage of the school syllabus. It is characterized by one way flow of information from the teacher who is always active, to the students who are always passive. In its true nature, lecture method is not effective for science teaching. James (2000), Usman (2000) and Bichi (2002) all argued against it because it does not promote meaningful learning. They further explained that the use of lecture method of teaching in science leads to rote learning. Achilles and Pate (1992) reported a decrees in skills acquisition when lecture method is used. However, lecture method of teaching should not be totally discouraged, but there is need to improve on it for effective teaching and learning of Biology. This can be done by use of inquiry-based instruction.

The National Research Council (NRC) reports (1996; &2000) called for inquirybased methods that led to current reforms and an increased emphasis on inquiry in science curricula. Inquiry has been identified as a teaching and learning method that provides learners with motivation to learn and develop skills to be successful throughout life (Dewey, 1910; Lederman, 1998). NRC explained that students benefit by learning science through authentic investigations similar to those conducted by professional scientists. In theory, with the placement of science in a context through inquiry-based instruction, teachers and students begin to develop their approach to science, and this investigative learning leads to better understanding (NRC, 2000). In this study, effects of inquiry-based instruction on acquisition of process skills, interest and performance in ecology will be investigated.

Inquiry method of teaching is a teaching method where the learner, with minimum guidance from the teacher seeks to discover and create answers to a recognized problem through procedure of making a diligent search (Callahan & Clark, 1977; Adedoyin, 1990). Inquiry is a term used in science teaching that refers to a way of questioning, seeking knowledge or information or finding out about phenomenon. Using this method students learn not only concepts and principles but self-direction, responsibility and social communication. It is a highly interactive step by step approach which involves student at all levels of discussion (Obeka, 2010). It is also the way people learn when they are left alone.

Some of the inquiry based instruction are guided discovery and self-learning strategies.Guided discovery is one of those teaching methods that employ exploration, manipulation and experimentation to find out new ideas (Akuma, 2008). The instructor devises a series of statements or questions that guide the learner, step by logical step, making a series of discoveries that leads to a single predetermined goal. The guided discovery strategy is activity oriented and involves practical demonstration, discussion and experimentation. During such instruction the students employ the processes of science like observation, classification, investigation, and critical interpretation of findings. In Biology, it is possible for guided discovery strategy of teaching to be enhancing student‟s performance. This is because of the activity oriented nature of the guided discovery strategy (Okoye, Momoh,Aigbomain, &Okecha, 2008).

The search for a more effective approach for the teaching and learning of Biology that will enhance the acquisition of process skills has persisted over the years. This is because the acquisition of science process skillsand the bases for science inquiry and development of intellectual skills and attitudes that are needed to learn conceptsare not utilized by Biology teachers. Nwosu in Ibe,(2004)asserted that science process skills are abilities which can be developed by experience and used in carrying out mental and physical operations.Hedges and Woodworth (1999) claim that by allowing students to learn science the way scientists practice science they will be able to gain an understanding of science content and develop science process skills. These process skills are fundamental to science due to the fact that it allows students to conduct investigations and from it conclusions are drawn.Bruner,(1961) suggested that learning can be meaningful by activity-based instructional strategy such as discovery method, problemsolving and inquiry method. Bichi,(2002) also observed that as students engage in solving problems; they acquire skills and confidence which aid their capacity to tackle future problem.

From the above definitions, inquiry-based teaching can also be seen as a pedagogical approach that invites students to explore academic content by posing, investigating and answering questions to the discovered problem or problems. Also known as problem-based teaching or simply as “inquiry,” this approach puts students questions at the center of the curriculum, and places just as much value on the component skills of research as it does on knowledge and understanding of content.

Nwosu (1994) opined that, science process skills development requires direct involvement in scientific activities and procedures in the laboratories and in the field.

Reading and activity oriented science emphasized the same intellectual skills and are both concerned with thinking processes. Ibe,(2004) report that, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) developed a programme known as “Science A Process Approach” (SAPA). Thisprogramme sees science processes as true essence of science. The programme was designed to improve children‟s skills in the process of science. Ajunwa, (2000) reported that science educators and curriculum experts modified them by their expanding or condensing them to suit their special needs or expectations. Some of these science process skills include; Observation, measuring, classifying, operational definition, experimentation, communicating, among others. In this study, effects of inquiry-based instruction on acquisition of process skills, interest andperformance in ecology among secondary school students will be investigated.

Performance means accomplishment or proficiency of achievement in a given skill or body of knowledge. Ricarda (2015) academic performance is the outcome of educational output, the extent to which a person has accomplished specific goals that were the focus of activities specifically in school, college and university.

Popoola (2010), defined academic performance as an expression used to present students scholastic standing and which is a function of a various factors such as method of teaching, teacher qualification, child‟s home background, school environment, attitude, and interest among others. Adediwura and Taiwo (2007), opined that academic performance is the display of knowledge attained or skills developed in school subjects designated by test and examination scores assigned by the subject teacher. The researcher therefore, intends to


investigate the effects of inquiry-based instruction on acquisition of process-skills, interest and performance in ecology.

Apart from poor teaching strategy, another factor of concern that led to poor acquisition of process skills is lack of interest in science subjects (Biology inclusive) as observed by (Nweke, 2010). As a psychological variable, interest has a history. Walter and Hart (2009) defined interest as an individual‟s desire, power and tendency to act in a particular way.The development of interest has been the focus of the conceptualizations of(Hidi & Renninger (2006) & Krapp 2002 & 2007). They have each described interest as being a psychological state and predisposition to reengage particular disciplinary content over time that develops through the interaction of the person and his or her environment.

Krapp (2007) opined that once interest is maintained, repeated engagement can be either self-initiated or promoted by the environment, leading to the development of first an emerging and then a well-developed individual interest, while Renninger (2006) added that if interest of a student could be generated during learning process, academic performance is certain to be enhanced.  In senior secondary school, students select a major field of study (Biology, Physics, and Chemistry are the science subjects that can be chosen).

Another important issue is that of the influence of students‟ gender and teaching strategies in science. Some studies, (Ogunleye, 2001, Adesoji 2008, and Bunkure, 2008) on the effects of instructional strategies on students‟ performance in science suggest that there is a relationship between gender and teaching approaches.Differences in the performance of both male and female students in science subjects when exposed to various instructional strategies are reported by Okeke (2001) to be insignificant. However, some research findings such as Mari (2001) revealed consistent differences between the performances of male and female learners in achievement tasks in science. Mari (2001) for instance, reported that students‟ achievement in science was significantly high when taught by teachers of opposite sex.  It is also on record however, that other researchers revealed conflicting results of no difference in performance, (Eya and Mbo, 1997; and Ogunleye 2001). The reasons researchers attribute to gender-related differences in achievement between male and female learners includes the innovative nature of the instructional strategy used, students cognitive ability levels, psychological and socio-cultural factors, (Okeke, 2001). It will therefore be interesting to find out if there may be a link between inquiry-based instruction and genderrelated differences in achievement between male and female learners; because the activities involve in the inquiry instruction may be too cumbersome to the girls since they do not like practical work. That, notwithstanding, issues regarding gender and science still remain a controversy. One such controversy is that girls do not like practical work and can‟t handle the inquiry instruction (Adesoji, 2008). Therefore, the researcher seeks to investigate the effects of inquiry-based instruction on acquisition of process skills, interest and performance in ecology among Secondary School Students in Lere Education Zone.


1.1.1        Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework that guided this study is the constructivist theory proposed byPiaget (1961) which is based on the active nature of learning. The constructivists‟ school of thought view learning as an active process in which students create their own maps and theories of the world. The constructivists‟ school of thought view learning as an active process in which students actively construct their own knowledge of the situation at hand based on the existing previous knowledge. Constructivism argues that students are not passive absorbers, but active constructors of knowledge. According to this theory, students engage their minds very actively in constructing meaning out of their interactions with the environment. They make their own connections between experiences and the words other people are teaching them and they create their own network of relationship and patterns of thinking (Stanley, 2008). According to Piaget (1961)the child‟s mental process is limited to thinking. The child‟s concepts of quantity, time, space, conservation and reversibility develop when they are young. The learner can classify things at this stage and he acquires logical process of observation, describing, classifying, and measuring real objects. Learning should go from simple to complex and importantly the learner should deal with concrete materials first before going to complex and he can learn abstract concept and generalizations.This implies that when the learners are engage in an activity-based instruction the level at which they acquire process skill will be enhance.

Schwab (1966) opined that students should view science as a series of conceptual structures that should be continually revised when new information or evidence is discovered. Schwab considered that science should be taught in a way that was to be consistent with the way modern science operates. He also encouraged science teachers to use the laboratory to assist students in their study of science concepts. He recommended that science be taught in an inquiry format. Besides using laboratory investigation to study science concepts, students could use and read reports or books about research and have discussions about problems, data, the role of technology, the interpretation of data, and any conclusions reached by scientists.

Ausbel (1968) claimed that for improvement and academic performance of students, teachers ought not to only provide both a conducive learning environment but also employ good teaching techniques and strategies. He also found out that the interactive methodology teachers employ is a critical factor for student higher levels of achievement in both cognitive and affective areas. Hefurther reported that a significant improvement in science achievement is a result of instructional strategies that gives students the opportunity to explore, argue and discuss events and phenomena at first hand and be able to make generalizations or arrive at principles for themselves. When science teachers employ good teaching strategy the learners academic performance is enhance.

Therefore, the study seeks to investigate the effects of inquiry-based instruction on acquisition of process skills, interest and performance in ecology among secondary school studentsin Lere, Kaduna State.

1.2Statementofthe Problem

The curricular developmental aspect of Biology has focused more on rote learning over years which makes instruction teacher-centered. According to Gyuse (2009), vital abstract contents in Biology (like Ecology concept) can hardly be effectively communicated to the learners theoretically. Students‟ needs to be taught using innovative strategies like inquiry-basedinstruction and field trip method. Achilles and Pate (1992) reported poor skills acquisition when lecture method is used to teach Biology concepts and other science related subjects. Most teachers still prefer using the „chalk and talk‟ method in instructing learners (the lecture method approach). But Swan et al (2008) observed that the problem associated with teaching of Biology can be effectively handle by teaching with inquiry instruction.

The need to find solution to students‟poor acquisition of science process skills is therefore an obvious factor as Zayun (2008) opined that several factors have been responsible for low acquisition of science process skills. This include: Teaching methods,


learning materials, teaching factor, societal factors and strategies employed by teachers among others.Shehu, (2006) discovered that the major problem of science subjects is rooted in the difficult nature of the science subject as a result of using poor teaching method to teach science concepts. Yusuf, (2012) added that the difficulty perceived by science students is their inability to make reasonable connection between concept areas and its application in solving problem in Biology as a result of poor methods used by many science teachers. The need to use appropriate method that will boost the acquisition of process skills, interest and performance in Biology is a point of concern.

A critical look at students‟ academic performance in Biology in Secondary School Certificate Examination over the years showed that as the enrolment increases, the number of passes is not encouraging, the teachers‟ method of teaching may have been a major source of student‟s poor academic performance in Biology. Therefore something needs to be done to improve the performance (Gyuse, 2009). The performance of students can be seen from the statistical table of Biology results in May/June West African Examination S.S.C.E  

Table 1.1 Students’ Performances in Biology in Kaduna State WAEC May/June, 2012- 2016 Year       Total Sat     No with A1-C6    % with A1-C6No with D7-F9    % with D7-F9

2012        126,821            59657 47.04                     67161                      52.96

2013134,852            5657041.95                      78282                      58.05

2014130,653            5615542.98                      74498                      57.02

2015        150,92572204                   47.85                      78722                      52.17

2016143,936            6200843.08                      81928                     56.92



Source: West African Examination Office, Kaduna Office (2017).

In spite of the relevance of Biology as one of the major science subjects whose pass at credit level determines to a large whether students will be admitted or not to read a number of major professional science based course at the university, yet its failure rate is more alarming compared to Chemistry and Physics (Calderon & Gonzales, 2013).An attempt to improve on the academic performance of students in these science subjects, several factors have been identified to be responsible for the poor performance of the students. Ganal, Andaya and Guiab (2016) advanced some problems including lack of practical skills and shallow knowledge of the subject matter.Olayinka, (2016) identify poor method of teaching and improper use of instructional materials as being the cause. Gyuse (2009) observed that many students experience difficulty in science courses as a result of the lecture method used by their teachers.

This situation has created the need for more effective teaching method that will enable the students acquire the skills that will help them know the areas of strength and weaknesses to be able to acquire process skills, perform very well and have more interest in Biology.The researcher therefore, investigated the effectiveness of inquiry-based instruction on acquisition of process skills, interestand performance in ecology among SSS students in Lere, Kaduna, Nigeria.

1.3Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to determine the effects of inquiry-based instruction onacquisition of process skills, interest and performance in ecology.

Specifically, the study intends to ascertain:

  1. if using inquiry-based instruction will enhancestudentsacquisition of science process


  1. the difference in the interest shown in ecology by SSS students when exposed to inquiry-based instruction and lecture method.
  2. the differences in the mean academic performance when SSS students are taught using inquiry-based instruction and lecture method.
  3. determine whether there is gender related differences in the acquisition of science process skills when exposed to inquiry-based instruction.

1.4Research Questions

Based on the objectives of this study the following research questions were raised.

  1. Does any difference exist in process skills acquisition between subjects taught using inquiry-based instruction and those taught using lecture method?
  2. Is there any difference in the interest shown in ecology by SSS students when they are taught using inquiry-based instruction and lecture methods?
  3. Is there difference in mean academic performance between subjects taught using inquiry-based instruction and those taught using lecture method?
  4. Is there any gender related difference in the acquisition of science process skills between male and female subjects when exposed to Inquiry Instruction?

1.5   NullHypotheses

The following null hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance

HO1: There is no significant difference in the process skills acquisition between subjects Exposed to inquiryinstruction and those exposed to lecture method.

HO2 There is no significant difference in the interest shown in ecology by SSS Students

When exposed to inquiry-based instruction and lecture method.

HO3: There is no significant difference in the mean academic performance when SSS

Students are taught Biology using inquiry-based instruction and lecture method.

HO4: There is no significant difference in gender when male and female subjects are exposed

Toinquiry-based instructionin the acquisition of science process skills.

1.6Significance of the study

The findings will hopefully be useful to teachers, students; curriculum planners, existing literature,professional bodies such as STAN,WAEC,NECO and other researchers, etc. in the following ways;

  1. Biology teachers would know the value of using the inquiry method of teaching Biology concepts apart from the numerous methods or approaches of teaching Biology to enhance acquisition of science process skills. It would also be made clear to teachers that different methods could be used in teaching different concept in

Biology instead of the traditional methods

  1. The findings would improve student‟s inquiry skills on some scientific concepts.
  2. These findings would assist educators and curriculum planners to understand and appreciate the way Biology would be taught using other strategies.
  3. Professional bodies such as STAN and MAN will benefit by organizing workshops on the use of activity-based strategies for effective teaching of science subjects.
  4. It would also prepare ground for interested researcher who might wish to conduct further research in related areas and could contribute to the existing literature.

1.7   Scope of the Study

The focal point of the study is to determine the effects of inquiry-based instruction in acquisition of science process skills, interest and performance in ecology among secondary school students in Lere Educational Zone. The schools covered for the study comprise of government senior secondary schools in Lere Educational Zone, the sample were randomly selected from the schools. The instruments used for data collection are Science Process

Skills Acquisition Test (SPSAT), Ecology Performance Test (EPT) and Student Ecology Concept Interest Questionnaire (SECIQ). The concepts of this study are: ecology, ecosystem, habitat, environment and community. Teaching ecology as a concept using inquiry-based instruction allow the learners to actively participate and these promote acquisition of science process skills, enhances student performance and interest in the subject matter. The research study is restricted to test only eight process skills that the students are expected to acquire and this are; ability to observe, measure, classify,inferring, operational definition, identification, communication and designing experiment.

1.8Basic Assumptions

For the purpose of research work, the following assumptions are made:

  1. The sample of the study is representative of the population to whom inference will be made.
  2. The Biology students are taught by qualified/experienced teachers as recommended in the National Policy on Education iii. The curriculum used is the same for all Biology senior secondary school students in LereEducational Zone.


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