Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 12, Issue 2, Article 7 (Dec., 2011)
Poor academic achievements and unhealthy attitude towards understanding of science and technology have been reported in literature (Ajewole, 1991, Nwagbo, 2002). Nwagbo (2002) pointed out the following as the main constraints facing Nigerians in the understanding of science Education (i) Over crowded laboratory (ii) Lack of adequate textbooks (iii) lack of cooperation by school administrations (iv) the pressure of external certificate examination (v) the use of archaic teaching methods. Literature has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that teaching in secondary school science classes is very often highly teacher-centered and is characterized by a lack of variety in the teaching methods (Johnson and Johnson, 1983; Adesoji, 1991; Becker, 1994; Agbeyewa, 1996;Adeoye, 1991; Poepping and Mella, 2001).
Ajelabi (1998) was of the opinion that the teaching method adopted by the teacher in order to promote learning is topmost importance. Hence, he concluded that there is the need to introduce, adopt or adapt the latest instructional, techniques that are capable of sustaining the interest of the learners.
There have been concerted efforts at getting learners more actively involved in the learning process and solving the problem of large class size through the development of methods and approaches that promote student-Student interaction. The development of varieties of cooperative learning methods was the result of concerted efforts at getting. Students more involved in the learning process.
Cooperative learning (CL) is a general term for various small groups in which students work together to maximize each others’ learning (Johnson and Johnson, 1994, 1999). Numerous studies on CL have demonstrated the promotion of students’ learning and social relations relative to more traditional whole class methods of teaching (Okebukola, 1984; Ojo, 1989; Alebiosu, 1998; Fuyunyu, 1998; Esan, 1999; and Adeyemi, 2002).
There has been considerable debate as to whether the positive outcomes of CL in promoting higher academic achievement more than other methods result from cooperation within learning teams or from competition between learning teams (kohn, 1992, Warring, Johnson, Maruyama, and Johnson, 1985). Some theories (Julian and Perry, 1976, shaw 1958) predicted higher motivation and quality of performance in inter-term competition conditions than intra-team cooperation conditions and emphasized the potential significance of inclusion of inter-team competition as an important feature of cooperation. Other theories (Deutsch, 1962, Johnson and Johnson, 1975) asserted just the opposite. Several studies have been set up in the last three decades in an attempt to substantiate these claims and assertions. Results of limited research done in traditional classrooms suggest that inter-team competition may not only be necessary for intra-team cooperation to build group cohesiveness, but may negatively influence achievement and productivity, and actually do social harms through the inter-team tensions that inter-team competition inevitably generates (Johnson,et-al 1983; Warring,etal 1985; Funyunyu, 1998).
Most of these research works on the effects of inter-team competition on cooperative learning quoted above were done outside Nigeria. Considering the situation in Nigeria, where competition is very much part of the education culture, a study of the effects of inter-team competition on students’ learning outcomes is therefore desirable. It is against this background that the present study was carried out to investigate whether inter-team competition is necessary for fulfilling many of the reported beneficial characteristics of cooperative learning or not. This is done by determining the effects of two modes of student teams- achievement divisions (STAD) learning strategies (with and without inter-team competition) in promoting students’ academic achievement in and attitude to chemical kinetics, a concept in chemistry that secondary school students found difficult to understand.
Chemistry as a subject has many concepts; some of which are abstract in nature. Secondary school students often find the abstract concepts difficult to understand (Ahiakwo, 1991). Chemical kinetics is an important concept in chemistry and it refers to the rates of chemical reaction. This is the time it takes a particular reaction to go into completion. Finding the rate at which the reactions are used up or the rate at which products are formed can measure the rate of reactions. This concept has long been identified by researchers (Ahiakwo, 1984; 1991; Akinmade and Adisa, 1984; Osborne, 2001) to be a much dreaded one by secondary school students. Taylor and Francis, 1991 found out that there are widespread misconceptions among students and teachers in areas related to the predictions of equilibrium conditions, rate and equilibrium, applying equilibrium principles to daily life situation and to acid -base and ionic solutions in water. Gltekin,2010 also identified students lack of understanding thermodynamics and chemical equilibrium as major factors influencing their conceptions about chemical kinetics. West African Examination Council Chief Examiners’ reports of 1999 to 2004 had also indicated that senior secondary school chemistry students found chemical kinetics difficult to understand. The present study is therefore interested in finding out if the treatment conditions will enhance students understanding of the concept.
It has been shown that students’ attitude is directly related to the popularity of the subject and to students’ cognitive achievement (Johnson, et al 1978; Simpson, et al 1994; Noest, 1995). The present research is therefore interested in finding out the effects of the treatment conditions on the subjects’ attitude to chemical kinetics.
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