This research study was intended to answer a number of basic questions within the given intent of evaluating the effectiveness of lectures with laboratory classes versus lectures alone in teaching higher hierarchies of physics to two sets of randomly sampled student groups, respectively, in Nigerian secondary schools. The following basic research questions were addressed in this study:
1. How does the laboratory and lecture affect achievement in physics compared with lecture only mode of instruction?
2. Is the introduction and use of the laboratory as effective as the lecture with regard to the use of scheduled time for this subject?
3. Compared to the lecture teaching mode, is the laboratory as perceived by the participating instructors, a useful and practical aid for physics instruction?
4. Is the financial cost of introducing and using the laboratory expensive as an aid for instruction compared with lecture mode of instruction?
5. Does the laboratory provide students with greater opportunity for comprehending and solving practical physics - related problems and making analyses of the problems correctly more so than lecture teaching mode?
Physics in Nigerian Secondary Schools is taught by a lecture approach alone in 62% of the Secondary Schools there. This is what Tropp (1972) described as a "chalk and talk” teaching approach, from the extensive observation she made while on a trip to Nigeria to study the Secondary School Science programmes in Nigeria. She observed that despite the fact that the West African Examination Council mandated that because of its very empirical nature, physics must be studied by the aid of the laboratory classes, this was not being done. Also, the West African Council on Science Education noted in its 1969 annual report that physics was not being studied or taught with the aid of laboratory activities in Nigerian Secondary Schools. It noted, "our studies indicate that this attitude is widespread in the vast majority of schools in these countries."
Nigerian Secondary School Students who are taught physics by the "chalk and talk" lecture approach have repeatedly demonstrated poor student motivation and achievement in and from their physics education programme. This is evidenced by the poor results in both the in-school teacher-made physics examinations and in the external West African School Certificate physics examinations conducted by the West African Examinations Council for secondary school students planning to graduate at the end of their five year school programme (Ashby, 1970). Ashby described the number and quality of passes in physics from 1966 - 1969 as "extremely unsatisfactory." The problem of poor achievement by Nigerian Secondary School Physics Students is widespread and consistent. It is possible that these Physics candidates did poorly in the Council's physics examination because they were taught this subject by lectures alone rather than by lectures as well as laboratory. Ali (1975) noted, for example, that in 1974, 29% of all the Nigerian Secondary School Students who sat for the West African School Certificate Examination in physics passed this subject. In 1977, the figure of passes in this examination was 28%; even lower than 1974's figure.
Furthermore, Ali (1975) noted that there are considerable data available which suggest that students, probably, do very poorly in physics because the method of teaching they are exposed to, mostly lecture method, does not enable them to go beyond the lowest hierarchy of learning outcomes in physics, the knowledge or factual recall level. The higher hierarchies of cognitive learning applications, analysis, synthesis and evaluation, following Bloom's et al (1964) model arc not attained by physics students taught by lectures. This is probably because lectures do not provide the students the opportunity to comprehend, apply and analyse physics problems. Hence, they probably do poorly in these higher cognitive hierarchies in their secondary school physics examinations.
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