effects of cooperative learning strategies and locus of control on students achievement in statistics process

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1.1       Background of the Study

The technological advancement of any nation to a large extent is dependent on a sound scientific education. Science and technology being vital tools for development and productivity of any nation should be taken as a necessity at the classroom level. Mbajiorgu (2003), opined that science is very important for every nation that wants to maintain its independence, sovereignty, ensure its growth and self-reliance, and hold up its head among civilized nations. This is because science and technology provide the basic tools of industrialization and economic development of every nation. This science and technology advancement can be achieved through forming the right attitude to teaching and learning, using innovative methods and strategies of teaching science and creating conducive environment for learning science subjects in our schools. These science subjects include biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, health science, agriculture etc. which, when properly taught, will help the students solve personal and societal problems.

The Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) results published by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) 2015-2017, showed that in 2015, 32.26% of the candidates obtained C6 which is the minimum entry for Biology into the nation’s Universities. In 2016, it was 28.42 percent and in 2017, it was 25.06 percent. This shows a decline in the percentage passes in biology at the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination. Despite the fact that biology and other science subjects are important to human endeavour, students still perform poorly in biology and other science subjects. This is evident in the chief examiner’s report of the West African Examination council (2016), which showed that students who sat for WASC Examination exhibited the following lapses: failed to write or answer their questions logically, systematically and convincingly; shallow understanding of most concepts in biology; including inability of the students to correctly spell many biological terms. The low performance of students in the sciences has also been evident in JAMB exams as indicated by the Registrar JAMB 2016, indicated that the performance of students in the University Matriculation Examination (UME), over the last three years has shown a steady decline. He pointed out that the candidates perform poorly in the sciences with low mean percentage score as follows: physics (31.48%), Mathematics (43.64%), Chemistry (45.18%) and Biology (48.98%).

Cooperative learning is a teaching strategy, in which small groups, each with students of different levels of abilities, gender, race, use a variety of structured learning of a subject. Each member of a group/team is responsible not only for learning what is taught, but also for helping teammates learn (Johnson and Johnson, 2000 and Okebukola 2002). Cooperative learning is child-centered unlike the traditional strategies which are competitive, individualistic and teacher – centered. In cooperative learning, the teacher acts as a facilitator, unlike in the traditional approach which reflects an authoritarian didactic approach of science claasroom management (Johnson and Johnson 2000).

There are various types of cooperative learning among which are think– pair – share, jigsaws, fishbowl, debate, discussion, role play, drama and mine (Aronson et al, 1978). The researcher preferred the jigsaw type because it is a type suitable for the large class size of our secondary schools today. Jigsaw involves students sharing responsibility for a task that lends itself to being broken down into smaller components. Each component is the responsibility of a particular group. In this procedure, a class is numbered into how many members in a group. Example a class of 42 students can be randomly put into seven groups of six members per crew or small group, then number the students off from first to sixth. This is repeated around the class. All the first members will regroup and work together, all the second members and so on. Each group carries out their task and members report back to a group composed initially, then the group collates and discusses information in terms of the whole tasks. During this process, the teacher moves around to observe and facilitate progress. The researcher investigated the effect of the jigsaw type of cooperative learning on student participation and achievement in learning science.

The point therefore remains that since learning requires some interactive approach, where the peer culture of the classroom remains relatively unexplored by teachers due to: Over-estimation of teachers influence on learning, peer interaction with the teacher as a facilitator in any science classroom, leads to effective teaching session and helps learners learn more while poor teaching naturally will lead to poor learning (Qing Li, 2000).

To solve the problem of poor achievement and participation in the sciences, Biology in particular, there is need to look into some of the innovative approaches of teaching such as discovery methods, project method, inquiry method, analogy, concept mapping, cooperative learning among others.


1.2       Statement of Problem

Despite the science reform emphasis on effective teaching and learning of science for all categories of students, some students still shy away from science classrooms with the notion that science subjects are abstract. Many students lack the basic skills of interacting with others in a group work; many have poor learning habits or ineffective learning styles. This is as a result of students’ poor learning habits of science as well as teachers use of ineffective teaching methods in delivering science lessons, which leads to poor students participation and achievement in learning science especially female students. Biology is activity and need more innovative pedagogical methods. There is need to remove the active learning participation barriers and stereotypes in learning science, that limit the opportunities and chances for both and female students. Learning participation barriers means all those practices and procedures that exclude/discourage students from participating or interacting in the classroom learning process. Some of these barriers are: institutional barriers which include all those practices and procedures in the society that exclude or discourage students of a particular sex from participating in learning, some are situational barriers, arising from one’s situation in life at a given time, such as barrier of time is a greater concern for females more than males due to obligations of taking care of the children/homes. The barrier can be dispositional barriers to learning meaning those barriers related to attitudes and self-perceptions about the student as a learner. Males feel stronger while females feel weaker (Qing Li, 2000).

There is therefore, need to use innovative and interactive strategies such as cooperative learning in the teaching and learning of science. The use of cooperative learning as shown by Johnson and Johnson (2000) and Okebukola (2002) is child-centered, small group learning approach, encourages team and positive interdependence of students of different levels of abilities, supportive and committed relations. Researchers have also shown that cooperative learning improves students achievement in physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics (Johnson and Johnson, 2000; Okebukola, 2002; Ogunleye, 2002).

Literature is replete on the effect of cooperative learning on students participation. If cooperative learning will engender participation of all students, irrespective of sex – both boys and girls, is it not possible that it can break the gender barriers in Science, Technology, Mathematics Education (STME)? Hence, the problem of this study is to investigate the effect of cooperative learning and locus of control on students’ achievement in statistics process.


1.3       Objectives of Study

The major purpose of this study is to explore the effects of cooperative learning strategies and locus of control on students’ achievement in Statistics Process. Specifically, the study will find out:

  1. The extent to which cooperative learning will facilitate students’ participation in learning concepts in mathematics.
  2. The influence of cooperative learning method on students’ achievement in Mathematics
  3. The nature of locus of control of teachers on students.
  4. Male and female student participation/interaction in cooperative learning classrooms.


1.4       Research Questions

  1. What is the difference in the mean participation scores between students exposed to cooperative learning and conventional approach?
  2. What are the mean achievement scores of students exposed to cooperative learning and those exposed to conventional teaching approach?
  3. What is the nature of locus of control of teachers on students?
  4. What is the interaction effect of cooperative learning strategy and gender on the mean achievement scores of students in Biology?


1.5       Significance of the Study

Individuals who have internal locus of control work harder than those with external locus of control since they believe that achievement comes through hard working. Practically, this study is significant to teachers, students, educational administrators and researchers, when published.. There is a theoretical justification of this study for the fact that social and cognitive development take place from the active interaction of the child with his/her environment (Marich, 1998). This means that for a child to learn, depends on the learner’s interaction with his/her social and physical environment. The Piagetian theory of learning, holds that cognitive development takes place from active interaction of the learner with his/her environment. This goes down well with cooperative learning approach, which is child-centered, activity oriented teaching, in this case, the teacher assumes the role of a facilitator of learning, not purveyor of knowledge.

One of the major problems of teaching and learning of science is the teacher’s use of ineffective methods of teaching science subjects such as the traditional chalk board method. If the result of this study shows empirically that cooperative learning significantly enhances effective students’ participation and achievement in biology, it will be basis for curriculum planners to emphasize it as another effective teaching strategy for enhancing science instruction.

The result of this study will be beneficial to authors of secondary school Biology textbooks, by providing additional information that will help to enrich the secondary school biology textbooks especially, in area of student activities.

Furthermore, if the present study establishes the efficacy of the cooperative learning in improving students’ participation and achievement in biology, the result could spark or motivate more researches and innovation in science teaching with possible sponsorship of the government agencies and professional associations in various subject areas. Workshops and seminars on how to use cooperative learning (as is now the trend in the developed countries like, US, Britain and Germany) in teaching different subjects could be organized.


1.6       Scope of the Study

The study is limited to investigating on the effect of cooperative learning strategies and locus of control on students’ achievement in statistics process in Enugu Education zone of Enugu State.


1.7       Operational Definition of Terms

Locus of Control: In personality psychology, locus of control is the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control.


Cooperative Learning: is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject.


Statistics: is a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and organization of data.


Academic Achievement: or (academic) performance is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their short or long-term educational goals. Cumulative GPA and completion of educational degrees such as High School and bachelor’s degrees represent academic achievement.


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