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Stem Education: Implications for Society Transformation through Creativity in Biology Classroom Teaching in Senior Secondary Schools in Nigeria.

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Okoye, Patience .O. and Onwuachu, Winifred .C.                                                                                               Department of Biology, Nwafor Orizu College of Education Nsugbe, Anambra State.

 

Abstract

This study focused on STEM Education: implications for society transformation through creativity in Biology classroom teaching in Senior Secondary Schools in Nigeria. A descriptive survey design was employed. The study was carried out in forty-two (42) Public Secondary Schools in Nnewi Education Zone of Anambra State. Three research questions and a null hypothesis guided the study. The population comprised all the biology teachers numbering 68 (12 males and 56 females) in the existing public secondary schools. No sampling technique was applied since the whole biology teachers were used because there were few. Instrument for data collection was a structured questionnaire, developed by the researchers. Instrument was face validated by two science educators and two measurement and Evaluation lecturers in the faculty of Education in Anambra State University, Uli. Reliability of the instrument was established using Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient, which gave a reliability coefficient index of 0.85. Data was analyzed using mean for research questions and t-test for null hypothesis at 0.05 level of significance. The results revealed among others; that male and female biology teachers used only two creativity teaching methods such as discussion and direct instruction while many other methods like: brainstorming, problem solving were not used. Some constraints such as: insufficient instructional equipment, poor motivation were revealed as hindrances to the use of creativity teaching methods; while retraining, in-service training of teachers through workshops, conferences and seminars are strategies for enhancing creativity teaching methods; there is no gender bias on the use of creativity enhancing teaching methods in biology classroom instructions. Recommendations and conclusion were highlighted.

 Key Word: STM Education, Society, Creativity, Biology.

 

Introduction

                Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, remains an indispensable tools for society transformation. If STEM education is properly planned and executed, the society can experience breakthrough in every facet of her life. Thus, any nation, that neglects the teaching and learning of STEM education in her schools does so at the risk of remaining undeveloped, (Igboegwu, 2016). The level of scientific and technological development of any society depends on a qualitative and functional STEM education (Aibongbe, 2010). It is through qualitative and functional STEM education that appropriate scientific, technological and technical skills are transmitted to be students, (Chinwoke, 2009). Technology is better developed than transferred (Ocho, 2005). It is through creativity in biology classroom teaching that our local or indigenous expertise can be developed for the solution of our peculiar problems, which will help in society transformation, (Aibongbe, 2010). Okoye, (2016), started that most African countries including Nigeria have remained undeveloped largely because of the unsatisfactory state of teaching STEM education. For any nation to succeed in developing the talents through which her dreams of technological growth and society transformation can be realized, the necessary foundation must be laid from secondary schools through creativity in STEM education teaching, (Ocho, 2005). Nwagbo, (2008), opined that an effective delivery of biology through creative teaching is expected to expose the students to scientific knowledge and skills necessary for society transformation. When these scientific knowledge and skills are properly acquired through creativity in biology classroom teaching; experiments, practical work in science laboratories and technological workshops respectively; the students can apply them in rendering useful services in transforming the society at large.

                A society is a group of people that share similar values, laws, culture, norms and traditions; living in an organized communities for mutual benefits, (Jenkins, 2002). Abubaka (2010), opined that active integration of the societal needs, culture, norms and aspiration with STEM education teaching would facilitate economic growth driven by society transformation. Abubaka (2010), further maintained that STEM collaboration would enhance scientific research that will adequately harness and utilize local resources for African technology development for self reliance and society transformation.

                Transformation means a complete change. Longmans English dictionary defined transformation as means to improve a system, an organization, by making a lot of changes to it, so that it operates in a fairer or more effective way; plans to radically transform the system. Agummuo, (2013), viewed transformation as a tool intentionally used to bring into existence and practice something new, so as to enhance performance and growth of technology through improvement in efficiency and effectiveness.

                Biology is one of the popular science subject offered by both arts and science based students in Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) in Nigeria. Studies have shown that there is an increasing yearly enrolment in SSCE biology, but each year candidates achieve poorly in examination, (Nwagbo and Obiekwe, 2009). Biology is expected to help students to understand their environment and to maximize the management of their environment. Unfortunately, students perform poorly in biology examinations; this has led biology educators (Okoli, 2012; Okoye, 2011) to search for innovative methods and strategies to impart the knowledge of biology. Longshaw (2009) opined that many teachers are often reluctant to step outside the boundaries of the “safe and uninspiring” lessons into the more challenging, more effective and interesting creative lessons. According to Bolaji, (2007) STEM education in this 21st Century demands the cultivation and nurturing of creativity development in students, especially in the secondary school level, where career abilities are groomed and potentials and talents discovered are energized.

                Creativity is defined as the ability to generate ideas or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others and entertaining oneself and others (Kaufmann & Sternberg, 2010). Creativity may also mean turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Njoku and Nwagbo (2014), opined that instilling creativity in biology classroom is a crucial factor in developing learners’ mind. The development of creativity in individuals is so crucial to the survival of both the individual and nation that the National Policy on Education, Federal Republic of Nigeria (2014) stresses the need for inculcating in the child the spirit of inquiry and creativity. Educators (Maduabum, 2010; & Eneasator, 1999), researched the nature of creativity and reached a consensus that although every individual possesses elements of creativity to a greater or lesser extent, it can be developed. Mkpa, (2009) stated that schools should address themselves to developing it. Even when creativity is largely inherited, it manifestation is facilitated by the presence of a harmonious nature-nurture interaction of conducive psychological and physical environmental learning condition. When teachers make their lessons creative, then students become more engaged, motivated and more likely to participate in any given task, (Bowkett, 2006). This implies that creativity enables students to be more innovative, sharpen students’ imaginative thought, improve their thinking skills and reasoning abilities, (Okoli & Mbonu, 2004). There is therefore the need for training students in creativity through biology classroom teaching for skills acquisition which can be applied for self-reliant and society transformation in Nigeria. Thus, development of creativity is a vital outcome of learning which must be developed in students. It calls for the learner’s ability to bring into existence ideas, that are novel or unique, which are highly needed for society transformation. According to Nwosu, (2004) some impediments to development of creativity among students include: non-rewarding of creative expressions, non-utilization of creative methods of teaching, teacher’s classroom behaviours, lack of learning materials and enriched learning environment. These impediments hinders the development of technological skills.

                Teaching for creativity or with creativity include: all characteristics of good teaching such as high motivation, high expectation, the ability to communicate and listen, the ability to interact, engage and inspire, (Igboegwu, 2016). Creative STEM educators need to use the techniques that stimulate curiosity, divergent thinking, self-esteem and confidence, (Kaufmann & Sternberg, 2010). Omorogbe & Ewasiha, (2013), were of the opinion that effective and quality STEM teaching lies with the teacher’s capacity to transform written knowledge into forms that are pedagogically powerful and adaptive to student’s abilities and backgrounds. Creativity in biology classroom teaching implies activity and active participation of the learners. According to Best & Thomas (2007) teachers need to involve students more in their own learning, act as facilitators or guide the students to find solution to problems rather than direct instructions. It is through practice and activities that creativity develops. Thus, teaching that expose learners to challenging overt as well as intellectual exercises that are very effective in attaining the instructional objectives of creativity development, (Omiko, 2014). As a wheel rotates around the hub, the STEM education system rotates around the STEM teachers. In fact, no educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers, (FRN, 2014). The method of instruction employed by STEM teachers are crucial in determining the extent to which creativity can be developed in students, (Okoli, 2012).

                STEM teachers should lay emphasis on learner-centred methods such as: project method or assignment, discussion (large and small group), brain-storming, discovery, fieldtrips and questioning, (Okoye, 2014). If these are properly planned and executed with the objective of “creativity development” in mind; will go a long way towards helping to cultivate the desired creativity. Some of the activities demands physical and mental effort on the part of the learners. The physical effort involves: hands-on-minds-on activity, exploration, manipulation, observation and recording of things observed, analysis of situation and events.

When students’ potentials are well developed through creativity in biology classroom teaching, the society will be highly set for a rapid economic growth and society transformation. This implies that students can utilize the acquired skills and expertise to perform specialized task and this will help to increase work efficiency and productivity; human and physical resources will be better managed; more goods and services gainfully produced, thereby helping to bring about rapid economic growth and society transformation, (Ezeudu, 2008).

                This study also examines the influence of gender on STEM teachers in efficacy of society transformation through creativity in biology classroom teaching. The poor state of STEM education teaching provided a case for investigation by looking at the relative effects of the male and female STEM teachers in society transformation through creativity in Biology classroom teaching. Adegboye, (2012) suggested that male STEM teachers are less anxiety during class-activity in creative biology classroom than female STEM teachers that show lower confidence during class exercise in creative biology classroom teaching.

The STEM educators especially, biology teachers should as a matter of urgency in this 21st Century make a paradigm shift from being an instructors, expositors, fact giver, and verifiers to facilitators, and stimulators, incorporating creativity activities into biology classroom teaching. This is imperative if students must acquire the relevant scientific knowledge, skills and competences needed for society transformation in this present scientific and technological age. This, therefore calls, for STEM education programmes that can improves the society and bring about the desired transformation through creativity in Biology classroom teaching in Senior Secondary Schools in Nigeria.

 

Research Questions

Three research questions guided the study:

  1. What creativity enhancing teaching methods do male and female biology teachers use in biology classroom teaching?
  2. What are the constraints militating against the use of creativity enhancing teaching methods in biology classroom teaching?
  3. What are the strategies for enhancing creativity teaching methods in biology classroom teaching?

 

Hypothesis

                The study was guided by one null hypothesis tested at 0.05 level of significance.

H01: There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of male and female biology teachers on the use of creativity enhancing teaching methods in biology classroom teaching.

 Method:

                A descriptive survey research design was used for the study. The study was carried out in the forty-two (42) public secondary schools in Nnewi Education Zone of Anambra State. The populations comprised all the biology teachers numbering 68 (12 males and 56 females) in the existing public Secondary schools in Nnewi Education Zone of Anambra State, (Source: ANSPPSSC: 2017). The researchers did not involve any sampling technique since the number of biology teachers was not large. The instrument for collection was a structured questionnaire titled: “Creativity in Biology Classroom Teaching” (CBCT), developed by the researchers. The instrument “CBCT” consisted of two clusters, A and B. Cluster A sought information on Bio-data of the respondents, while Cluster B sought information on creativity enhancing teaching methods which male and female biology teachers used. This was structured on 3 point scale and weighted as follow: used = 3, not used = 1, while the constraints militating against the use of creativity teaching methods and the strategies for enhancing creativity teaching methods were constructed on 4 point likert scale and weighted as follow: Strongly Agree (SA) = 4, Agreed (A) = 3, Disagree (D) = 2, Strongly Disagree (SD) = 1. The instrument was face validated by three science educators and two Measurement and Evaluation Lecturers in the faculty of Education in Anambra State University, Uli. The instrument was modified using their suggestions to ensure face validity. “CBCT” was trial tested by administering the instrument on 20 biology teachers in an area not involved in the study. The data collected was used to compute the reliability using Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient, which gave a reliability index of 0.85.

A face-to-face method of administration was used to ensure a hundred percent (100%) return of the questionnaire. Data collected were analyzed using mean and standard deviation for answering research questions and testing the null hypothesis with t-test at 0.05 level of significance.

A criterion of mean ratings of 2.50 and above were accepted and agreed while those below 2.50 were not accepted.

 Results

The findings of the study were presented in tables sequentially, beginning with the research questions before the hypothesis.

 Research Question 1:

What creativity enhancing teaching methods do male and female biology teachers use in biology classroom teaching?

 

SN Questionnaire Male Respondents Decision Female Respondents Decision
    X SD   X SD  
1 Inquiry 2.22 0.72 Not used 2.24 0.42 Not used
2 Guided Discovery 2.44 0.62 Not used 2.26 0.62 Not used
3 Problem-Solving 2.32 0.58 Not used 2.32 0.35 Not used
4 Concept mapping 2.11 0.52 Not used 2.08 0.61 Not used
5 Questioning 2.31 0.52 Not used 2.42 0.51 Not used
6 Discussion 3.16 0.92 Used 2.68 0.52 Used
7 Peer-led team 2.18 0.75 Not used 2.45 0.72 Not used
8 Brain storming 2.26 0.48 Not used 2.44 0.72 Not used
9 Field trips/excursion 2.48 0.54 Not used 2.42 0.38 Not used
  Concept mapping 2.32 0.68 Not used 2.48 0.64 Not used
10 Project/Assignment 2.21 0.88 Not used 2.45 0.48 Not used
11 Co-operative learning 2.42 0.60 Not used 2.39 0.69 Not used
12 Experimentation 2.15 0.67 Not used 2.18 0.61 Not used
13 Drill and practice 2.24 0.60 Not used 2.44 0.60 Not used
14 Mental modeling 2.08 0.72 Not used 2.08 0.75 Not used
15 Direct Instruction 3.08 0.88 Used 3.15 0.88 Used
16 Inquiry 2.22 0.72 Not used 2.24 0.42 Not used

Table 1 shows that male and female biology teachers in this study used only two out of sixteen creativity enhancing teaching methods listed (item 6 and 16) with a mean of 3.16 (SD 0.92) and 3.08 (SD 0.88) for male biology teachers and 2.68 (SD 0.52) and 3.15 (SD 0.88) for female biology teachers. This indicates that both male and female biology teachers are not using creativity enhancing teaching methods in biology classrooms.

 

Research Question 2:

What are the constraints militating against the use of creativity enhancing teaching methods in biology classroom teaching?

Table 2: Mean ratings and Standard deviation of the Biology teachers on constraints militating against creativity enhancing teaching methods in Biology classroom teaching

S/N Questionnaire items X SD Decision
1 Large class-size in biology classroom 2.56 0.51 Agree
2 Lack of creativity skills on biology teachers 2.62 0.66 Agree
3 Biology teachers classroom behaviours 2.66 0.82 Agree
4 Poor motivation of biology teachers 3.08 0.88 Agree
5 Overloaded content of biology curriculum 2.74 0.84 Agree
6 None provision of improvised materials 2.88 0.76 Agree
7 Lack of enriched learning environment 2.66 0.82 Agree
8 Students lack of interest in biology creativity exercises 2.67 0.64 Agree
9 Insufficient biology instructional materials/equipments 2.50 0.61 Agree
10 Lack of enriched learning environment 3.80 0.51 Agree
  The nature of classroom climate 2.60 0.61 Agree
11 None utilization of creativity teaching methods 2.56 0.55 Agree
12 Pressure for WASC Exams do not give room for creativity 3.00 0.95 Agree
13 No provision for creativity in biology curriculum 2.78 0.57 Agree
14 Large class-size in biology classroom 2.56 0.51 Agree

 

Table 2, shows that biology teachers agreed that all the listed items are constraints to the use of creativity enhancing teaching methods. This is because the mean scores of all the items were above 2.50 cut-off point.

Research Question 3:

What are the strategies for enhancing creativity teaching methods in biology classroom teaching?

Table 3: Mean ratings and standard deviation of biology teachers on strategies for enhancing creativity teaching methods in Biology classroom teaching.

S/N Questionaire items   X

  

SD Decision
1 Ability to be creative 3.10 0.74 Agree
2 Ability to be innovative 2.57 0.50 Agree
3 Showing students that their ideas have values 2.52 0.56 Agree
4 Accepting unusual ideas, questions of students 2.84 0.62 Agree
5 Providing enriched physical learning equipment such as equipment, gadgets, apparatus etc 2.59 0.60 Agree
6 Providing opportunities and materials for stimulating curiosity, imagination and creative work 2.81 0.64 Agree
7 Encouraging students exercises on hands-on-mind on activity in biology 2.64 0.74 Agree
8 Allowing students to decide on closure of an idea, experiment and assignment 2.52 0.56 Agree
9 Encouraging improvisation of materials 2.57 0.66 Agree
10 Integrating creativity through project/assignment 2.52 0.56 Agree
11 Retraining and in-service training of biology teachers through workshops, conference and seminars 2.84 0.62 Agree

 

Table 3, shows that biology teachers agreed that all the listed items are strategies for enhancing creativity teaching methods in biology classrooms. This is because the mean scores of all the items were above 2.50 cut-off point. This implies that some strategies for enhancing creativity teaching methods include: retraining and in-service training through workshop, conference, seminars, providing materials for stimulating curiosity, imagination and creative work. 

Hypothesis

There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of male and female biology teachers on the use of creativity enhancing teaching methods in biology classroom teaching.

Table 4:

t-test statistics on mean ratings of male and female Biology teachers on the use of creativity enhancing teaching methods in Biology classroom teaching.

Questionaire item No. of Biology Teachers  

    X

SD t-cal t-critical
Male 12 1.30 0.70 0.063 1.96
Female 36 1.45 0.84    

 

Table 4, indicates that t-calculated is 0.063 and t-critical 1.96. since t-calculated is less than t-critical the null hypothesis is accepted. Therefore, there is no significant different between the mean ratings of the male and female biology teachers on the use of creativity enhancing teaching methods in biology, classroom teaching. This indicates that there is on gender bias on the use of creativity enhancing teaching methods in biology classrooms.

 Discussion and implications of the findings

                The findings of the study revealed that male and female biology teachers used only two creativity enhancing teaching methods such as: discussion and direct instruction while many other methods like: inquiry, problem-solving, concept-mapping, questioning and so on were not used. This implies that both male and female biology teachers do not make use of creativity enhancing teaching methods. This is in line with (Longshaw, 2009) who reported that many teachers are often reluctant to step outside the boundaries of the “safe and uninspiring” lessons into the more challenging, more effective and interesting creative lessons. The implication is that it will hinder students to acquire the scientific and technological skills, which are the bedrock for society transformation.

                The findings also revealed that there are some constraints such as: insufficient instructional/equipment, non-utilization of creativity teaching methods, poor motivation of biology teachers and so on that militates against the use of creativity teaching methods. This is in line with (Nwosu, 2004) who identified lack of teaching equipment and fund as factors militating against regular exhibition of some creativity enhancing behaviours in biology classroom. While Okoli & Mbonu, (2014) reported that materials resources for fostering creativity in biology students are grossly inadequate in many Nigerian Secondary School biology classrooms.

The implication is that students will not be innovative or imaginative in their thinking skills and reasoning abilities. Thus, the appropriate scientific, technological and technical skills needed for society transformation may not be developed in students.

                The finding also revealed that all the listed items are strategies for enhancing creativity teacher’s methods. These include: retraining and in-service training of biology teachers through workshops, conferences and seminars. This is in line with Igboegwu (2016) who reported teaching for creativity includes: high motivation of teachers, high expectation, ability to interact, engage and inspire. Thus, the implication is that teachers teach the way there are trained, hence, no educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers.

                The findings also indicated that there is no gender bias on the use of creativity enhancing teaching methods. This is implies that gender has no effect on biology teacher’s level of application of creativity teaching methods in biology classroom instruction.

Conclusion

                STEM education focuses on learning of scientific and technological skills for society transformation than of content; hence, there is a greater demand for creativity enhancing teaching methods like: inquiry, problem-solving, brain-storming, experimentation and so on, during biology instruction. This implies that biology educators have to make a change of mind-set and become truly creative and promote relevant scientific and technological skills needed for society transformation.

Recommendations

Based on the findings the researchers therefore recommend:

  • That biology teacher need to be creative and should incorporate creativity activities into biology classroom instruction.
  • Government should encourage and sponsor teachers to attend workshops and conferences.
  • Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) should intensify their effort in capacity building and professional development of STEM teachers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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