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The study investigated the effect of computer-aided instruction on junior secondary students’ achievement and retention in basic science. The study utilized a non-randomized quasi-experimental design. Multi-stage sampling technique was used in selecting samples of 120 from a population of 1050 JS II students in Oju local government area. The researcher developed CAI packages which were used as treatment for experimental group while control group was exposed to conventional method. BSART was the instrument for data collection. A reliability coefficient of 0.78 was obtained using Kuder Richardson’s (KR21) formula. The study was guided by four research questions and four null hypotheses. The research questions were answered using mean and standard deviation while ANCOVA was used to test hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. The findings of the study showed that there was significant difference between the achievement scores of students exposed to computeraided instruction and conventional method (p = 0.00 and a = 0.05; p a) and retention (p = 0.46 and a = 0.05; p > a) of the male and female students exposed to CAI. It was therefore, recommended that government and NGOs should fund development of computer-aided instructional packages and train manpower to produce software for science education teaching to enhance achievement and retention.
1.1 Background of the Study Science and technology have greatly contributed to the convenience and comfort of man. It is hard to get any single life in this world that is not affected by the development in science and technology (Oloyede, 2007). Every manufactured good seen at home and place of work is a product of science and technology. For instance, mobile phones, radio and television sets, PC tablets, iPads, iPhones, iPods, laptops, desktops among other devices are products of science and technology (Tunde & Anthony, 2010). In the same way, the fruit juices and soft drinks consumed daily, the cars, the motorcycles and bicycles, the clothes and shoes are all products of science and technology. In view of these contributions, Ashiker (2012) opined that concrete steps should be taken to get the Nigerian citizens well groomed in science and technology for the country’s scientific and technological advancement. Ibraheem (2004) posited that despite the workshops, seminars and conferences being organized by professional bodies in order to improve the teaching and learning of science, there is still poor achievement in the science in our junior secondary schools, judging by the poor results in Junior Secondary Certificate Examination (JSCE) taken by the students. It is in connection with this that researchers such as Onasanya, Shehu, Ogunlade and Adefuye (2011); Ncharam (2008); Onasanya, Daramola and Asuquo (2006); and Ash (2005) have identified defective teaching strategies as one of the reasons for the low achievement and retention of students in the sciences at the junior and senior secondary certificate examinations. Many factors contribute to the pitiable achievement and retention of students in basic science examination including poor teaching methods, deficient equipment, absence of functional laboratories, the schools are also bedeviled by paucity of instructional aids, lack of good libraries, absence of computers and internet connectivity, and inability of the basic science teachers to put across the basic science concepts as experienced by the researcher. Science subjects are only taught in theory and abstraction through conventional lecture method. The problem of ineffective teaching method facing the teaching and learning of basic science could be handled using computer-aided instruction (CAI). As the world is constantly changing and ways in which human beings function at home, place of work and school are also changing. The speed at which technology is developing plays a major role in these changes. From offline to online classes, computers are influential in human life, and can enhance the learning process in schools in various ways. This may be the reason why Keziah, (2011) asserted that, with the increasing popularity of computer technology, it is essential for school administrators to support and encourage computer technology in our education system as it has become an important medium in instructional delivery. In recognition of the importance of computer in the teaching/learning process in Nigeria, the National Council on Education introduced computer education in 1987. Computer-aided instruction involves the use of computers to supplement classroom instruction. Computer-aided instruction does not fully replace the teacher in a classroom environment. The computer is simply an electronic device or machine that accepts data, processes data and gives out output with great speed and accuracy. Computer-aided instruction uses a combination of texts, graphics, sound and videos in the learning process. Computer-aided instruction system is designed to automate certain forms of drill and practice instruction in delivering basic skills (Tinto, 2007). There are different types of computer-aided instruction software in science education including drill and practice, tutorial software, instructional games, simulations, problem-solving software and discovery environment. However, this study was anchored on drill and practice software. This software provides opportunities for students to work on problems or examples one at a time and then receive feedback on performance. It is used as a mean to learn or review new content. It is made up of flashcard activities, branching drills and extensive feedback activities. Many of these programs are smartphone friendly so students can access the activities anywhere. The Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004), in release of educational objectives for secondary schools, emphases the need to equip students to live effectively in this modern age of science and technology. The major goal of science education is to develop scientifically literate individuals that are concerned with high competence for rational thoughts and actions. The objectives of science education in this country according to FRN (2004) include the need to prepare students to observe and explore the environment; explain simple natural phenomena; develop scientific attitudes including curiosity, critical reflection and objectivity; apply the skills and knowledge gained through science to solve everyday problems in the environment; and develop self-confidence and self-reliance through problem-solving activities in science. In an effort to attain these objectives, several strategies and resources have evolved for science teaching and learning. The resources range from human to materials including the audio-visual and media materials that can be used to sustain the attention of the students during the lesson. Towards the end of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century, it became apparent that national development depends on educational advancement which in turn depends on technological progress (Onasanya, Shehu, Ogunlade & Adefuye, 2011). In order to achieve this objectives, Samba and Eriba (2011) opined that teaching must go beyond the chalk-and-talk method and it must involve the totality of the student, the instructions must be prepared in such a way that at any time, students’ learning must make use of more than two senses. The roles of computer-aided instruction in science education are varied and these include fostering students interest and motivation; promoting students commitment to learning; making lessons more exciting and interesting for both teachers and students; making students to do science effectively and conducting experiments as viewed on screen; and facilitating the process of learning through interaction with drill and practice software and simulations. The most important feature in computerized instruction is that it permits a high degree of individualization. This means that students can proceed at their own pace, following a path through the curriculum as suited to their particular interest and talent. In view of the relevance of computer technology in science education, the study of effect of computer-aided instruction on junior secondary basic science students’ achievement and retention in Benue State was undertaken. Two groups of learners studying the same curriculum were compared; one group used computer-aided instruction; and the other used modified lecture method. Achievement is the performance of students in a test or examination. In determining the students’ achievement using computer-aided instruction, Ash (2005) found that computer-aided instruction packages enhanced students’ academic achievement in an aspect of mathematics in middle schools. Study conducted by Kingsley and Boone (2008), revealed that students who used computers in addition to textbooks in instruction scored higher on a standardized State test. Computer-aided strategy could expose science in active data based form and allow students and teachers to fully participate in the teaching-learning process. This may help to reduce the long time stigma of the chalk-and-talk approach to science teaching. As the growth of educational programs continues to rapidly accelerate, concern over the retention of the students’ knowledge is increasing. Retention is the ability of a student to hold and bring to mind a memory of the previously learned skills, knowledge and experience during and after examination. Retention is significantly important, not just for student success, but also for the success of academic institutions. Nnaobi (2013) found that computer-aided instruction has the ability to sustain students’ interest, encourage them to participate actively in the lesson and retain concepts learnt for a long time. Astin (2006) asserted that the higher the school Grade Point Average (GPA) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) examination scores of a college student, the stronger the chance that the same student will retain knowledge in schools. Deducing from this, school managers should benchmark their students’ scores and GPA higher to increase students’ retention abilities. The true art of memory and retention is the skill of attention (Tinto, 2007). For effective retention of the learnt concepts, principles, theories, laws, ethics and assumptions of science in students’ short and long term memories, science teachers should get, use, link and picture the learning experience through the use of the computer. Gender issues in students’ achievement and retention have caused a lot of concerns to educationists. Gender is the biological anatomy that differentiates a male from female. Gender issues have been linked with students’ achievement and retention in academic tasks in several studies without any definite conclusion. But there is a general conclusion that there is a little or no gender imbalance in computer use, access, career and attitude. This is why Davies, Klawe, Ng, Nyhus, and Sullivan (n.d.) suggested that the role that technology will play in the future should be a concern for men and women, practitioners, policy makers and parents. This study compared the achievement and retention of male and female students in basic science exposed to computer-aided instruction. The integrated science (now basic science) curriculum is a broad field curriculum in which subject matter from different subject areas of biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology and environment are synthesized to provide a holistic and unified nature of science (Adejoh, 2006). It is a three-year course developed in spiral to form themes whereby topics get increasingly more detailed as the year progresses. The aim of basic science is to begin to teach students what science is and how a scientist works. To realize this objective, it is expected that students carry out the kind of activities scientists carried out in their works, which is the beginning of the acquisition of series of skills, attitudes, principles, knowledge, assumptions and ethics of science. Conventional teaching methods such as chalk-and-talk known as a traditional teaching method in which teachers address students by using board to provide examples or illustrations have been continually used by the science teachers despite its criticisms by the experts in science education. It is an oral presentation intended to teach students about concepts, theories, history, background and equations which places students in passive rather than an active role. Nevertheless, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC, 2007) advocates the use of activity-based and guided inquiry approaches to basic science teaching, but the adoption and application of these methods are still an illusion because of paucity of instructional materials and unwillingness of the science teachers to improvise alternative materials locally to improve instructional delivery. Consequently, teachers resort to conventional lecture method, walk into the classroom with a keypoint text for one-way communication; and copy a few points on the chalkboard. Lessons are rarely been planned and instructional materials are hardly been used by these teachers. This explains the choice of conventional lecture method as the control variable to expose its ineffectiveness in delivering basic science concepts; and to provide a way forward that suggests the use of computer-aided instruction that combines activity-based and inquiry approaches to science teaching. Another reason for the choice of computer-aided instruction and lecture methods is not just for mere comparison of the two methods but to create awareness among the junior secondary school teachers that there is a paradigm shift from conventional lecture method to an enhanced teaching strategy referred to as computer-aided instruction that may minimize the achievement and retention gaps in science education. 1.2 Statement of the Problem Studies have shown that students’ achievement and retention in basic science are unimpressive (Ibraheem, 2004; & Ncharam, 2008). Instructional strategies and cognitive factors have been identified majorly as being responsible for poor achievement and retention in the sciences. Factors such as absence of computers and software packages, fluctuating internet connectivity, arbitrary charges on data bundles, epileptic power supply, computer illiterate teachers and students and gender are hindrances to the use of computer in schools. Researchers, educators, administrators, Science Teacher Association of Nigeria (STAN) and other relevant educational agents have tried to develop various teaching strategies, yet schools have continually produced students with poor results in basic science as well as other science subjects. These efforts have not yielded desired results in students’ achievement and retention as conventional teaching methods have been used in teaching sciences. This has been attributed to the use of inappropriate teaching strategy in teaching science subjects. Both male and female students of basic science perform poorly. Mofeed (2011) opined that computer-aided instruction has the ability to empower teachers and learners, and transform teaching and learning processes from being highly teacher-dominated to student-centered. This transformation will result in increased students’ performance; create opportunities for learners to develop their creativity, problem-solving abilities, informational reasoning and communication skills. Consequently, computer-aided instruction could be an adequate strategy in teaching and learning of basic science. The problem of this study therefore, is to explore the possibility of improving learning outcomes (achievement and retention) using computer-aided instruction 1.3 Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of computer-aided instruction on junior secondary basic science students’ achievement and retention. It would aim at the following objectives: 1. To find out if the use of computer in teaching basic science enhances students’ achievement in the subject better than the modified lecture method. 2. To determine whether students’ retention in basic science is improved by the use of computer-aided instruction when compared with modified lecture method. 3. To compare the achievement scores of male and female students in basic science exposed to computer-aided instruction. 4. To compare the retention scores of male and female students in basic science exposed to computer-aided instruction. 1.4 Research Questions The following research questions guided the study: 1. What is the difference in the mean achievement scores of the students taught using computer-aided instruction and those taught using modified lecture method in basic science? 2. What is the difference in the mean retention scores of the students taught using computer-aided instruction and those taught using lecture method in basic science? 3. What is the difference between the mean achievement scores of male and female students in basic science exposed to computer-aided instruction? 4. What is the difference between the mean retention scores of male and female students in basic science exposed to computer-aided instruction? 1.5 Hypotheses This study was guided by the following null hypotheses which were tested at 0.05 level of significance: Ho1. There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught using computer-aided instruction and those taught using modified lecture method. Ho2. There is no significant difference in the mean retention scores of students taught using computer-aided instruction and those taught using lecture method. 21 Ho3. There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students exposed to computer-aided instruction. Ho4. There is no significant difference between the mean retention scores of male and female students in basic science exposed to computer-aided instruction. 1.6 Significance of the Study The result of this study may serve as a useful tool for students, teachers, policy makers and administrators, for a functional and impact-oriented computer-aided instruction in science education programme. The study could allow students to study basic science concepts while advancing at their own pace, enabling them to spend the necessary time on each concept. The teacher’s role in this environment is to provide targeted help to students when they need additional assistance. The computer program covers many administrative aspects such as lesson planning, grading, homework and assignment so that teachers may spend more time on individual instruction with struggling students. The study could allow for more individualized instruction, then it could be more beneficial for struggling students who may not keep up with the pace of the lectures in traditional classrooms or for more advanced students who could progress faster at their own pace. In a traditional classroom, students missing class will miss all the material covered in class that day. In contrast, the computer would pick up where the student left off the last time he/she was in class regardless of whether it was the day before or 5 days before. The study could help the policy-makers and school administrators to evaluate the use of computer-aided instruction. This includes the cost of hardware and software, the cost in training teachers, and the time that students devote to computer-aided instruction that they would otherwise spend in other forms of instruction. It would be an eye-opener for the school administrators to equip the schools with necessary CAI packages and ICT facilities in all subjects and also train manpower to produce software for science education. The findings of this study are expected to encourage teachers to adopt appropriate teaching technique like computer-aided instruction which would improve teaching and learning of science subjects. This strategy could expose science in a concretized form and allow students to fully participate in teaching/learning process. This could be achieved through making learning software available in schools and at homes. It is expected that the findings of this study would bring about understanding and retention which are products of meaningful learning when teaching is effective and meaningful to students as the use of computer-aided programs might be a source of excitement and motivation to Nigerian students in their courses. The findings would motivate educational administrators to keep abreast with theparadigm shift in pedagogy that is mainstay of education reform in the 21st century. Thus, a shift from conventional chalk-and-talk to computer-aided instruction. This would promote the acquisition of knowledge and skills that would empower students and teachers for lifelong learning. 1.7 Scope of the Study The scope of this study was limited to junior secondary schools in Oju Local Government Area of Benue State. The study was restricted to only four out of thirty five Government approved secondary schools in Oju for precision and control. The study covered four JS II basic science topics drawn from the NERDC syllabus including work, energy, power and kinetic energy. The selection of these contents is due to the fact that the students are likely to have reached the formal operational level of reasoning to understand the concepts of work, energy, power and kinetic energy. The rationale for the choice of these variables is that it is the aim of the researcher to encourage students’ achievement and retention which are products of meaningful learning. The teaching methodologies used in this study were the conventional lecture method and computer-aided instruction. The impetus for the choice of these teaching methodologies is to expose science teachers to the paradigm shift in science pedagogy in the contemporary world where computers are instrumental in lesson delivery. Thus, development and application of relevant computer software in science education to enhance students’ achievement and retention is the cardinal goal of this study. 1.8 Operational Definition of Terms The following terms were operationally defined as used in this study: Computer-Aided Instruction (CAI) in Basic Science: This is a programmed instructional software developed to supplement basic science teaching through the use of computer. Modified Lecture Method in Basic Science: This is a conventional approach to basic science lesson delivery accompanied with instructional materials designed purposely for the students in the control group. Achievement in Basic Science: This is the score of the basic science students obtained from the administration of Basic Science Achievement and Retention Test (BSART) during posttest. Retention in Basic Science: This is the score obtained by the basic science students from BSART during delayed-posttest.