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This study is to investigate the Impact of Inquiry-Based Instruction on Self-efficacy and Understanding of Nature of Science among NCE Biology Students. There are four research questions and four null hypotheses. The research design for the study was quasi experimental which adopted the pretest-posttest experimental control groups design. The population for the study comprises of all the NCE1biology students of three State Colleges of Education in Kwara State with the population of two thousand two hundred and seven. The sample consisted of ninety NCE1 biology students that were drawn from two colleges of education, forty five from each college, from the two colleges of education from the population of one thousand four hundred and sixty seven using table of randomization. The students were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. The experimental groups were taught cell biology using inquiry-based instruction while the control groups were taught cell biology using lecture method. A pre-test using Nature of Science Understanding Test (NOSUT) and Nature of Science Self-efficacy Questionnaire (NOSSEQ) was administered to the Inquiry-based instruction group and Lecture method group respectively to determine their entry level in understanding of nature of science before treatment. NOSUT and NOSSEQ were administered as post-test to both the Inquiry and Lecture method groups to find out the impact of the treatment. The two instruments used for data collection, (NOSUT & NOSSEQ) have the reliability of 0.96 & 0.79 respectively. The data obtain was used in analyzing the research question and the hypotheses stated was subjected to test using t-test statistics at 0.05 level of significance, while Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient (PPMC) was used in determining the relationship between the groups. From the result obtained the hypothesis one, two and four were rejected while hypothesis three was retained. The summary of the findings revealed that understanding of nature of science and student‟s self-efficacy was enhanced through exposure to inquiry instruction. Base on the findings: The structured inquiry-based instruction is very effective in enhancing self-efficacy and understanding of nature of science by NCE students. Lecturers should employ structured inquiry-based instruction in teaching cell biology concepts so as to improve students‟ self-efficacy and understanding of nature of science in cell biology.






1.1        Introduction

Science, as a discipline has received tremendous support across the globe, particularly by Nigerian Government after independence in 1960. Statement of the government intentions and input was documented in National Policy on Education (2004) which emphasized the need to maintain high level of scientific literacy, make science compulsory in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. In effect, the Nigerian child is exposed to science learning throughout the three levels of education (Isaiah, 2010). The essence of learning science at the various levels of education is to develop and improve the society scientific literacy.This can only be achieved when the students understand the nature of science which has to deal with the individual knowledge construction through hands-on and minds-on activities

In the Nigeria‟s philosophy of education, it was stated that education is an instrument for national development, and the instrument of persons and ideas are all aspects of education. For a nation to develop, her citizens must acquire scientific literacy through intensive pursue of credible science education for all citizens. Across the nation, the importance of science in life is far reaching, not only because we live in an age where every technological discovery and innovation has something to do with science but rather because sciences promote understanding of the world we live in (Abdulrahaman, 2014). To promote the understanding of the world, there is need to understand the nature of science as one of the goals of science teaching in Nigeria (FME, 2004)

There exists a general agreement in the science education community that the major goal of science education is to enhance learners understanding of nature of science (NOS). This goal has been the focus of extensive research efforts for over 50 years (AbdEl-Khalick & Lederman, 2000; Lederman, 1992). Many reasons have been cited by science education researchers and reform organizations for developing learners‟ views of NOS, with perhaps the most fundamental reason positing that an understanding of NOS is necessary for achieving scientific literacy (American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS] , 1990, Tan, 2007).

An informed understanding of nature of science (NOS) is a crucial component of scientific literacy (Bybee, 1997; DeBoer, 1991). To produce a scientifically literate population, the teaching of NOS has to be made an important part of the science curriculum (Rudolph, 2000). The teachers who transform curriculum into practice must have deep understanding of NOS for them to plan activities or learning situations for students to understand the nature of scientific enterprise.

Studies however shows that teachers hold many misconceptions of NOS, and therefore have difficulty in teaching an appropriate view of science to students (Abell & Smith, 1994; Akerson, Abd-El- Khalick,&Lederman, 2000; Lederman, 1992). It has been reported that most elementary school teachers have not heard the term „„nature of science,‟‟ and when they see it in their stated frameworks they misinterpret the term as meaning something to do with nature, not as the essence of science itself. These teachers cannot teach about NOS without first improving their own views (Akerson & Abd-ElKhalick, 2004).

Nature of Science “refers to the characteristics of scientific knowledge that are inherently derived from the manner in which it is produced, that is scientific inquiry

(Stephen, & Norman, 2014). Nature of Science involves people‟s views about how scientific knowledge is constructed. This is often conceptualized as some aspects of the scientific knowledge (Khishfe, 2012), which has already been constructed. Nature of science specifically addresses the beliefs about the nature and construction of knowledge.

As such, NOS involves only one component of the epistemiological beliefs, and that encompasses the beliefs about the nature of knowledge (Khisfe, 2012).

Achieving a scientific literacy requires more than teaching and learning science as a body of knowledge. Rather, it embodies developing scientific literacy which requires a broader view of science that includes three principal components; the knowledge of science, the methods of science, and the nature of science (Randy, Meang & Erin, 2010). To achieve the goal of having students learn these three principal components of science, use of scientific inquiry is needed as instructional strategy which provides the basic scientific skills such as observation, measurement, inferring, experimenting conclusion

e.t.c.  Inquiry skills help to guide the learner to gain understanding of scientific enterprise.

The inquiry method of science teaching does not only enhance the understanding of nature of science but tends to enhance meaningful learning and achievement in science content. Mari (1994) established a strong relationship between understanding of processes of science and product of science.

The Nature of Science (NOS) addresses the characteristics of scientific knowledge itself and is perhaps easier described than defined. It depicts science as an important way to understand and explain what we experienced in the natural world, and acknowledges the values, beliefs and confidence inherent to the development of scientific knowledge. This description above about the components of scientific literacy is in line with Bianchini, & Colbrun (1998) who views nature of science as contextual values which include both the social and cultural context in which science is done.

The Inquiry strategy helps students to understand nature of science as they will be able to gain understanding of the importance of the creative and logical processes of science as a body of knowledge through science as a method (Khisfe, 2012). He further asserted that inquiry paves way for students to discover answers to questions through logical procedures rather than listen to answers. This process develops the students‟ critical thinking abilities and encourages them to become lifelong learners.

Rusell, (2006) opined that inquiry instructional strategy develops science process skills; these process skills like ability to formulate questions, collect and interpret data, reflect to determine principles seeking operations of system, seek for evidence and proofs among students. Exposures to these activities provide knowledge of scientific development and builds students‟ self-efficacy to explore further for deeper

understanding. Usman (2011) also asserted that inquiry instructional approach enhances students‟ academic achievement in science. Academic achievement is an expression used to present students‟ scholastic standing and which is a function of various factors such as method of learning, students home background, attitude, interest, self-efficacy, understanding, among others (Popoola, 2010). This shows that any instructional strategy that inculcates these variables could enhance student‟s performance. As studies like Adamu (2013) reported that activity-based instruction way of learning enhances students‟ academic achievement and self-efficacy than the lecture method. In the same line, Usman (2000) reported that learning by experimentation or doing enhances students‟ academic achievement and understanding of the subject content. In view of this, it can be deduced that, inquiry instructional strategy enhances students‟ academic achievement, selfefficacy and understanding of nature of science. Forehand (2005) reported that scientific inquiry improves students‟ performance in science subjects at all levels of education. However, Chinn and Malhotra (2002) criticized inquiry instruction because it lacks certain features of authentic scientific challenges such as activity that involves real-world problems and that mimics the work of professionals; the activity involves presentation of findings to audiences beyond the classroom, use of open-ended inquiry, thinking skills and metacognition, students engagement in discourse and social learning in a community of learners and students direct their own learning in project work. But the aspect of Inquiry they are referring to is not well spelt out. This suggests that there may be aspects of scientific knowledge, in particular knowledge on the problem-solving level, which cannot be learnt well with this instruction but any other method.

Lecture method of instruction is mainly verbal presentation of ideas, concepts and generalization of facts (Adamu, 2013). He opined that learning is experience-dependent, which can be observed in some students with high reasoning ability when exposed to some subjects using lecture method. Using lecture method, the learner has to relate the concept learnt with previous knowledge to make learning meaningful. Thus, these are enough reasons to suggest that lecture method could enhance logical reasoning, academic achievement, learner self-efficacy and understanding of nature of science; hence there is the need to determine which of the instructional strategies is more effective for learners to portray these skills. Based on this view, Danjuma (2005) and Otuka (2006) reported that about 80-90% of the scientific information or principles students received from their teachers come through lecture method. It is commonly used as it aids early coverage of course outline, saves time and does not involve “hands on” “minds on” principle. While Usman (2000) oppose the use of lecture method in teaching science as he view learning by experimentation or doing to be more lasting. These learning by experimentation will aid effective learning of nature of science, since experience will assist the learners‟ to link past with present, using activity-based instructional strategy will assist the learners to acquire skills of experimentation, logical reasoning ability, and so on, which are some of the skills acquired if a learner is exposed to a subject using inquiry instructional strategy as it enhance understanding of the nature of science and increase students self-efficacy. In this study lecture method will be use for the control groups so as to assess it effect on understanding of nature of science.

The term “self-efficacy” was proposed by Bandura (1986) and defined as the “Judgment of one‟s capacity to accomplish a certain level of performance” It seems to imply a degree of preparedness by virtue of training, experience, or talent (Housego,

1992). According to Bandura‟s (1986) theory of social learning, an individual‟s selfefficacy refers to that person‟s judgments about how well one can organize and perform an action that has unpredictable and stressful components. Bandura (1977) described two critical components of self-efficacy. The first component is “efficacy expectation,” which represents the belief in one‟s ability to successfully perform the behavior. The second component of self-efficacy is “response outcome expectancy,” which is the belief that the performance of the behavior will have a desirable outcome. Bandura (1997) focused a number of studies of teacher behavior and found that teachers who have a high sense of self-efficacy have a strong desire to teach, make efforts to motivate students and provide students with guidance. At the same time, teachers with low self-efficacy spend less time on instruction, make little effort to motivate students, and have an authoritarian approach.

Self-efficacy is more than just confidence, as one can be confident about failing a particular Endeavour (Pajares, 2002). Self-efficacy refers to the belief that an individual can organize and successfully execute courses of action (Pajares, 2002). If individuals believe that their actions will produce an outcome they desire, they will be more likely to be preserving in the face of resistance (Pajares, 2002).

Pajares (2002) opined that in inquiry instructional strategy individual believe in such a way that their actions produced an outcome that they desire, and that their high self-efficacy through inquiry reflects how well knowledge and skill was acquired. In the same view Rusell (2006) asserted that learner level of self-efficacy determines successful completion of a given task through inquiry as learners of low self-efficacy tend to perform low academically while learners with high self-efficacy perform high in academics. Researchers like Debroux (2007) examined the effect of guided questioning on students‟ performance, self-regulatory behaviour and self-efficacy among biology students who are not majoring and found that guided questioning on nature of science enhanced individual self-efficacy and improve academic achievement of the learners, this was done by posing some problems such as how molecules move through semi permeable membrane and gave them procedures in conducting the experiment without telling them what the outcome will be in other to test their level of understanding of nature of science

Researchers such as Pajares (2002) Rusell (2006) and Debroux (2007) opined that students with high self-efficacy can perform high academically and understand, since it involves confidence one has in performing a given task. Likewise researchers like Kardash (2000); Hunter, & Laursen (2007) reported that the positive impacts of inquiry on students‟ self-efficacy, ability to think and work like scientists and their understanding of investigation processes, that is the practical understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge and how science is conducted is gender friendly.

Gender is also considered an essential component related to science performance research (Baker, 2000; Kahle & Meece, 1994; Krockover & Shepardson, 1995). This is very much in line with the investigation carried out by Lynch (2000), Rodriguez (1998), and Stevens (1993). Scantlebury (1994) claimed that most cultures led females and males into different experiences; hence, they start school with different knowledge, expectations and self-confidence in learning.

Gender differences with respect to reasoning and respond to instructional mode is often significant and require attention (Usman, 2011). For example Usman (2011) clearly showed that such male and female differences in learning frequently occur. As Usman pointed out, male-female differences themselves possess little explanatory value. It is very important, however, to understand how and why these differences emerge. Thus looking at male-female differences from the perspective of the focus of this study could yield important information regarding how and why such differences arise. Many studies carried out by some scholars such as (Spencer, Hyde, 2005; Johnson and Markham, 2004 and Akerson, Cary & Donnelly 2007) to examine the relationships between gender differences and instructional strategies in science affirmed that the nature of this relationship is far from being resolved.

Arsaythamby et al (2013) share the same view with Usman and Adamu. Other research findings however tend to show that irrespective of the instructional strategy employed in science teaching, girls do not achieve nor develop cognitively and selfconfidence as much as boys in science (Erickson, 2004). In this study therefore the performance and self-efficacy of male and female students expose to structured inquiry instruction and lecture instruction will be determined and also to investigate if structured inquiry instruction is gender friendly or not.

Therefore, it is important to understand the relationship between nature of science and structured inquiry to better support the development of scientific literacy. As such, this study tends to investigate the impact of structured inquiry on NCE biology students‟ academic performance, self-efficacy and understanding of nature of science (NOS) which have not been adequately explored.

1.1.1    Theoretical Framework

The theoretical basis for this research work is the Schwab (1960) Inquiry-based learning model and Bandura (1991) which advocate on the active nature of learning. Joseph Schwab was one of the founders of the inquiry-based learning model that relies upon the idea that individuals are able to learn by investigating scenarios and problems through social experiences. Rather than having to memorize information from printed materials, instructors encouraged their students to conduct investigations that would satisfy curiosity, help them broaden their knowledge base and develop their skills and mental frames. Schwab (1960) emphasized on the need for inquiry-based learning as it is geared towards increasing level of understanding of the nature of science in science teaching and learning.

Bandura (1991) stress that self-efficacy can enhance academic performance as it was developed by four main sources of influence. The most effective way of creating a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences. Successes build a robust belief in one‟s personal efficacy. Failures undermine it, especially if failure occurs before a sense of efficacy is firmly established. Bandura (`1991) conducted much researches on the four major psychological processes through which self-efficacy affect human functioning and highlighted the various components affected which is as result of the nature of learning instructional strategy applied, such components are cognitive processes, motivational processes, affective processes and selective processes. He further stresed that inquiry learning instructional strategy produced positive responds to all the four components listed. These two theories are fundamental basis of this research work as it entail planned activities that has to be carried out by students. Therefore, this study is to investigate the impact of inquiry instructional strategy on NCE biology students‟ self-efficacy and understanding of the nature of science.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Teachers who teach science may not hold clear ideas about the Nature of Science. (Abd-El-Khalick & Lederman, 2000; Abell & Smith, 1994; Lederman, 1992). The NOS is described as the epistemology of science, science as a way of knowing, or the values and beliefs fundamental to the development of scientific knowledge (Lederman, 1992). Teachers may have no clear meaning of the values held by scientists or the assumptions scientists make while developing scientific knowledge (Lederman, 1992). This lack of understanding becomes problematic as teachers are being asked by the current science education reforms (American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS] , 1993; National Research Council [NRC] , 1996) to teach science so that it is reflective of contemporary science research.

Despite the extensive amount of research conducted in the field and prominence of this important component of scientific literacy in the reform documents, the development of informed NOS views has been difficult goal to achieve, with many studies reporting difficulties in changing learners‟ NOS views (Duschl, 1990; Lederman, 1992). Importantly, research has highlighted the effectiveness of explicit NOS instructional approaches in improving learners‟ views of NOS (e.g., Abd-El- Khalick & Lederman, 2000; Hanuscin, Akerson, & Phillipson-Mower, 2006; Schwartz, Lederman, & Crawford, 2004). This approach is contrasted with implicit instructional approaches to teaching NOS which are underpinned by the view that an understanding of NOS will result from engaging students in inquiry-based activities, without the addition of deliberately-focused (explicit) NOS instruction.

James (2000), Usman (2000) and Duwan (2011) have suggested the use of inquiry teaching method which is an activity-based method in remediating problems of low achievement science subjects like Biology, Chemistry and Physics at both secondary and tertiary schools in Nigeria. The use of inquiry-based instruction in developing learner content knowledge and self-efficacy has received a lot of attentions from researchers; this is because the inquiry learning strategy can inculcate the content knowledge as it increases learner‟s performance and self-efficacy (Heather, 2013). In order for NCE students to gain understanding of the nature of science and high self-efficacy to teach the science content, they need to have opportunities to learn through experiencing the same processes that they will use for instruction in the future and reflecting on the personal experiences gained through such (Heather, 2013).

Bandura (1997) pointed out that self-efficacy is the ability to perform activities within a particular domain and has a strong influence on learner‟s performance. Learners are expected to exhibit certain level of confidence in their ability to perform or learn task before they become successful.

Therefore, in this research work the researcher choose to use cell biology to teach nature of science using structured inquiry instruction to compare it with the traditional method which encourages memorization of facts.


1.3       Objectives of the Study

The study has the following objectives to:

  1. determine the impact of inquiry instructional strategy on NCE I biology students‟ understanding of the nature of science.
  2. determine if use of inquiry will increase NCE I biology students‟ self-efficacy.
  3. Find out the impact of inquiry instructional strategy on male and female NCE I biology students‟ understanding of nature of science and self-efficacy.
  4. determine the relationship in self-efficacy and understanding of nature of science of NCE biology students using inquiry instructional strategy.


1.4        Research Questions

The following research questions will be investigated:

  1. What is the difference in understanding of nature of science by NCE I Biology students exposed to inquiry instructional strategy and those taught using lecture method?
  2. What is the difference in self-efficacy of NCE I Biology students exposed to inquiry instructional strategy and those exposed to lecture method?
  3. What is the difference in self-efficacy and understanding of nature of science by male and female students after exposure to inquiry instructional strategy?
  4. What is the relationship of self-efficacy and understanding of nature of science among NCE biology students using inquiry instructional strategy?

1.5        Null Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study.

HO1:     There is no significant difference in mean scores in NOSUT by NCE I Biology students taught cell biology using inquiry method and those taught using lecture method.

HO2: There is no significant difference in the mean scores in the NOSSEQ of NCE I biology students‟ taught cell biology concepts using inquiry instructional strategy and those taught using lecture method.

HO3: There is no significant difference in self-efficacy and understanding of nature of science by male and female NCE I biology students taught cell biology using inquiry instructional strategy.

HO4: There is no significant relationship between NCE Biology students understanding of nature of science and their self-efficacy after exposure to inquiry instructional strategy.

1.6       Significance of the Study

The findings of this research will hopefully be significant in number of ways;

  1. Students: The subjects in this study will benefit from exposure to inquiry-based learning as it supposed to enhance their performance, self-efficacy and provides deep understanding of the nature of science in Biology Concepts.
  2. If used, it could influence participating teachers in training to adopt this as medium of instructions after graduation. The motivation, deeper understanding of concepts and skills they obtained will be expected to inspire them to adopt the method to teach after graduation.
  3. It will provide the avenue for developing students thinking processes.
  4. NCE students will benefit from the finding, the various ways in which they could improve their academic performance, self-efficacy, and understanding of the nature of science.
  5. Teachers: The findings of the study would be useful to Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) in preparing workshops and conferences for science teachers‟ effective instructional method that could promote academic achievement, self-efficacy and understanding of the nature of science among learners.
  6. Professional bodies: The study could be useful to National Union of Teachers

(NUT) and National Teachers‟ Registration Council of Nigeria (NTRCN) in preparing an in-house training on teaching strategies for their members. The inhouse training could be conferences and seminars where experts on teaching strategies can be invited to present paper for effective lesson delivery.

  1. Textbook publishers: Science Textbook publishers could find this work useful as it could assist them in selecting materials and practical-questions based exercises to be incorporated in the text that could promote academic achievement, selfefficacy and understanding of the nature of science.
  2. Curriculum planners: The findings of this study will be beneficial to curriculum planners and administers by inculcating the method into the school curriculum and ensure that it is been used by the teachers and students respectively.


1.7       Scope of the Study

The study will cover two colleges of education out of the three, NCE I biology students in this Colleges of Education i.e. Kwara state college of Education (Technical)

Lafiagi, and Kwara State College of Education IIorin while Kwara State College of Education Oro was used for the pilot testing. The schools are co-educational.

There are two thousand two hundred and seven students offering biology as a course at the NCE I level in the three Colleges presently where Forty five students were randomly selected from each of the two colleges sampled out giving the sum of Ninety students out of the population of one thousand four hundred and sixty seven students as the sampled population. With the age range between 19-22 years. The course selected is

BIO112 which is titled as Cell Biology in the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) curriculum. The reason for the selection of the course and level was that the course has “hands on” activities that students of that level can execute without much difficulty. The component of this course includes cell and it physical processes. These topics mentioned will be taught using structured inquiry and lecture method

instructional strategy.


1.8        Basic Assumptions

This study has the following basic assumptions:

  1. The colleges selected for the study are real representation of the three Colleges of

Education in Kwara State.

  1. Teachers do not put into consideration the ability levels of the students in teaching Biology to NCE 1 students
  2. The learning facilities of the selected Colleges are the same as the three Colleges are owned by the Kwara state government‟
  3. The students of the Colleges selected were enrolled into the Colleges using the same format of admitting students.
  4. The selected topics in Cell Biology are appropriate to the level of the subjects used for study as it was designed by the NCCE.


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