1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
More often than not, the role of Physics in human day to day living surpasses what can be handled with levity. If the students perception of the science classroom as a place where authority delivers facts that are important for examinations but irrelevant to life outside school, then the students will learn certain things and reject others. However, if they are made to see science as a means of enriching personal life and improving national economy through making the surroundings more interesting and comprehensible, then there must be a change in the way science is taught in schools and this will also requires a change in the teachers’ perception of the context and method in which they teach. Cooperation is a life skill; nearly every work or social relationship requires cooperating with another individual to actualize a shared goal. In cooperative learning, students are organized into groups. Each group is given a goal and the achievement of that goal often requires that group members support each other. Cooperative learning tends to be student (group) centered, whereas individual and competitive learning tend to be teacher-centered. In a cooperative learning environment, students help each other learn the subject matter, but they also learn how to be a contributing member of the group. There is more to cooperative learning than just having students work in groups. Cooperative learning strategies differ based on: group size and logistics, task specialization, inter-group competition, group rewards, method of student evaluation, and appropriateness to a given learning objective or situation. Physics teachers have a unique privilege to use group learning strategies. Learning modules, which are beginning to dominate middle school science programs, are well suited to cooperative rather than individualistic learning. Problem solving and design can likewise be very effective if students work together toward a common goal, building on each other's ideas, expertise, and efforts. Some tasks are just too large for an individual and absolutely require group efforts. As the Physics laboratory becomes a place for integration of learning with other science subjects, it is reasonable to use cooperative learning strategies that make use of a variety of students/experts in other science subjects. Everyone learns individually. Our interests and genetic make-up determine what we can learn and how well we may learn. They also determine how well we can apply what has been learned. Some people excel at analytical tasks, such as determining how many gallons of paint it will take to cover the interior walls of a room, while others are more concrete in nature and can paint the rooms very efficiently. Not everyone has the innate abilities to perform these tasks easily. Consequently, all instructional methods do not align with the learning capacities of each individual learner. Accepting that people learn individually is an important step toward improving instruction. Either we must devote time to each learner individually or rely on other means to assist each learner to progress. Individualized instruction requires more human resources than are available to schools, consequently, many teachers rely on large group instruction. Most students are effective in learning in large groups, but each may experience difficulties with particular methods of presentation, e.g., individual readings, questions and answers, experiments or projects. However, in many work and social activities, teams of individuals must pull together to get tasks accomplished. Working together means cooperation. It also means harnessing the talents of individuals and pooling these together to get the job accomplished. Science education in Nigeria has undergone many reforms. In recent years, a number of studies have investigated the teaching of Science subjects among which Physics is a core science subject. (Tobin & Gallagher, 1987) have investigated teachers’ beliefs and epistemological commitments, and the effect of these beliefs on teaching of science and classroom management. There are different methods adopted by an individual in the teaching of science. In some, the teacher does all the talking and tends to disseminate the message that science is a bundle of facts, a collection of right answers determined by authority. A different method presents science as a set of opinions constructed from and supported by personal observations. Johnson, Johnson and Smith (2013) worked on the effect of cooperative, competitive and individualistic efforts on student achievement and productivity and found that students in cooperative learning settings performed better than students in either competitive or individualistic settings. They also noted that cooperative learning resulted in more high-level reasoning, more frequent generation of new ideas and solutions. Interaction in a cooperative learning group also brings high self-esteem, more communication and better understanding. From the cognitive perspective, small-group instruction allows students to cognitively rehearse and relate course material into existing schema or conceptual frameworks, thus producing a deeper, contextualized level of understanding of content (Kurfiss, 1988). This can better be achieved when learners had been guided to adhere to cooperative learning principles so that the academic and interpersonal problems associated with group work in traditional course can be averted (Millis, 2011; Felder & Brent, 2009). Students’ understanding of Physics and the learning strategies that are consequently employed evolve throughout their school time. The way Physics is presented over the years of schooling is likely to affect students’ understanding of the subject and consequently how they relate to science. The actual content and the types of competencies sought for within Physics as a science subject contribute to students’ perceptions of Physics as well as in achievement, competence, sense of efficacy and learning strategies towards Physics (Stodolsky, Salk & Glaessner, 2012). There is also need to understand the instructional problems associated with group performance that can be integrated into the existing science and technology (in which Physics is a core subject) activities both in and out of the classroom. Therefore, the study examines instructional problems associated with group performance in secondary schools physics by students in Makurdi L.G.A, Benue State.
1.2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The overarching knowledge interest of this study is to enhance the body of knowledge regarding instructional problems associated with group performance in secondary school physics. The study is to add knowledge and understanding of what the essence behind successful group work in secondary school physics by focusing on the students’ experiences and conceptions of group work and learning in groups, an almost non-existing aspect of research on group work until the beginning of the 21st century. Furthermore, there is need for the students’ explanations of why some group work results in positive experiences and learning, while in other cases, the result is the opposite, are of interest. Hence the study, instructional problems associated with group performance in secondary schools physics by students in Makurdi L.G.A, Benue State is examined.
1.3. AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine instructional problems associated with group performance in secondary schools physics by students in Makurdi L.G.A, Benue State. Other specific objectives of the study include;
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant relationship between instructional problems associated with group performance and academic performance of physics students in secondary school.
H1: There is a significant relationship between instructional problems associated with group performance and academic performance of physics students in secondary school.
1.6. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study will be of profound benefits to enlighten the school managements on the instructional problems associated with group performance in secondary school physics. This study would also be of immense benefit to students and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to instructional problems associated with group performance in secondary schools physics by students in Makurdi L.G.A, Benue State.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Students: In this study, it refers to those individual who are officially admitted and registered in the secondary and non- secondary school system as a full time candidates.
Group: a number of people or things that are located, gathered, or classed together.
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