Okebukola, P.A.O., Ige, K, Oyeyemi, A. Olusesi, O., Owolabi, O, Okebukola, F, and Osun, G. (2016). Exploring the Impact of Culturo-Techno-Contextual Approach (CTCA) in Tackling Under-Achievement in Difficult Concepts in Biology. Proceedings of the 2016 Conference of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), Baltimore, USA.
For too long, many in the science education community believed in one-size-fits-most in terms of the methods of delivering science content (Adams, 2014; Nagata, 2013; Olsen, 2012) and encouraged teachers in different national contexts to use methods that were found potent in the US and UK. Such methods as concept mapping, cooperative learning, use of advance organisers, hierarchical learning and analogies were gleefully used for teaching science in non-western schools especially in Africa with minimal success (Amos, 2012; Akinyemi, 2012; Smith and Adebayo, 2013) as reports of underperformance of students in science in many African countries continue to persist (Ibikunle, 2014; Chukwu, 2014; and Johnson, 2012). Therefore, the quest for contextually- and culturally-relevant methods has become urgent. This is more so in view of the thrust of the development plans of African countries depending on an increasing number of human resources in science and technology.
The concern for culturally-relevant method of science teaching has continued to agitate researchers in Africa, reaching new heights since the last two decades of the last century. In 1986, Samuel Bajah led a team of researchers all over Africa to develop the Early Learning of Science in Africa (ELSA). ELSA’s mission was to seek novel, creative and African-context relevant approach to presenting science to beginners. The 1990s saw a massive move by the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria and its equivalent institutions in Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone to use the guided-discovery approach with an African flavour to teach integrated science, adopted in the late 1970s, to African high school students (Olarewaju, 1984; Odubunmi, 2001). By the turn of the century, still more intense research attention was paid to the search for more potent methods to deliver science in a meaningful way to African students. The resultant were varieties of cooperative learning methods (see Author, 2013 for a review).
The increasing incursion of technology to teaching and learning especially in the last five years has brought a new and exciting dimension which science classrooms in Africa is taking advantage. Africa has one of the fastest growing rates of use of internet-enabled mobile devices making technology-mediated teaching and learning to take an upward swing (Uwadiae, 2015). The science classrooms have not been left out as many students at all levels and their teachers are using new and emerging technologies in class interaction. A recent survey by Author et al (2015) documents high rates of e-learning readiness of students and teachers in Nigerian schools.
The over 30 years of inquiry as to how best to present science to African students in a way to enhance meaningful learning, bolster achievement and improve interest and attitude has resulted in pockets of approaches now needing connecting threads. It now needs isolating the elements of the individual approaches which research has confirmed to be potent and blending these into a simple but elegant approach that is flexible and adaptable to the different cultural contexts in Africa. This led to the emergence of the Culturo-Techno-Contextual Approach (CTCA). It was the intention of this study to further explore CTCA in the Nigerian setting.
Two research questions were addressed in this extract of a larger study on CTCA. These were
- What impact has CTCA in improving achievement and attitude of secondary school students on a traditionally-perceived difficult ecology concepts?
- How ambient is the CTCA environment for science teachers and students in Nigeria?
The theory base for this study draws largely from the work of Moses (1992) on contexts and culture. The theory emphasises culture localisation as basis for understanding human behaviour. Learning as a human behaviour is rested on interaction with significant others and the psychosocial environment which in turn is influenced by the culture of the people. The dynamism of culture is also recognised. For instance the cultural contexts in Africa of the 19th century is different from the 20th with regard to some elements notably those influenced by changing technology. In turn, the 21st will be different from the 20th, yet there are common elements which remain unique and unchanging. These common elements form the focus of CTCA.
The study had a survey and a quasi-experimental phase. The survey phase involved 5,032 secondary biology students and their teachers (N=311) in Lagos State, Nigeria. Data sought in the survey were the topics in biology that students and teachers found difficult to learn. The 12 most-difficult topics were identified for the purpose of testing the efficacy of a variety of methods on lowering the perception of difficulty and improving achievement. The topic which ranked as the most difficult among the 12 was “Energy flow in an ecosystem”. This was selected for the quasi-experimental phase.
The quasi-experimental phase employed quantitative and qualitative data-gathering techniques and had experimental and control classes. The experimental group in two classes comprised 68 (30 boys, 38 girls) senior secondary 3 (mean age of 16) biology students in Lagos State, Nigeria. Control classes had 64 students (31 boys, 33 girls) located in different education district from the experimental classes. Achievement data were collected through Ecology Achievement Test with respectable instrument measures including a reliability value of 0.89. The Attitude to Biology questionnaire with items on a 4-point Likert scale exhibited Cronbach alpha reliability of 0.78.
Experimental group students had their learning experiences on “Energy Flow in the Ecosystem” using CTCA over a one-month period. The CTCA experience was a blend of three integrated frameworks- indigenous knowledge system in science, technology-mediation and local context. In a typical class session as exemplified by the first lesson, students shared their indigenous knowledge of energy. Indigenous societies have their understanding of the concept of energy. Students having being born into and grown in such societies in Nigeria, come into the science class with indigenous knowledge concerning various topics. The beginning point of CTCA is student-and-teacher discussions on their indigenous knowledge on the topic. This phase of CTCA is usually exciting for students who find that after all, the understanding of the world “by their ancestors” as well as their immediate parents does not always contradict that of modern science. Where there are conflicts, the teacher provides explanations for the different viewpoints. In the first lesson of the study, commonalities were found between indigenous knowledge and modern science on the concept of energy.
The lesson proceeds with discussions on the ecosystem, primary source of energy in the ecosystem and the role of plants as primary producers. Each step of the way, the teacher stimulates discussions on indigenous knowledge of students on each of the sub-topics, that is, ecosystem, energy source and primary production. The “context” component of CTCA comes in by relating each of the sub-topics by way of examples to the local context of the learners. Local context in this sense means environmental context of the school with its peculiar characteristics. No two schools are identical in their context in terms of the science examples around them e.g. for learning ecology and science experiences students bring to class. This interplays in CCTA because of the rich evidence from the literature (see review by Golbith, 2010) that school factors are strongly correlated with attitude to and achievement in science. In the experimental classes, examples of plants and animals in the food chain which links with energy flow are drawn from around the school premises and from the local flora and fauna that students interact with in their local communities.
The third element of the CTCA blend is technology. The survey phase of the study confirmed that almost all the students own internet-enabled handheld devices especially mobile phones. All students with such devices have Facebook accounts to which they offered to like the class Facebook site which offered summaries of each lesson. In addition, students received text messages on main ideas of each lesson. Following series of training, the two experimental group teachers implemented CTCA as a blended approach.
Teachers of the two control classes (located about 12 kilometres from the experimental classes), used the same lesson plans as the experimental classes stripped of any element of CTCA. The control classes lasted four weeks, as was the case with the experimental. Both experimental and control group teachers were the regular biology teachers of their different classes. The control group teachers did not receive any training but were asked to deliver the lesson using the lesson notes in the manner they would normally have taught the lesson.
Experimental and control classes were pretested using the same achievement and attitude measures. Trained observers documented class transactions for the purpose of collecting qualitative data. All lessons in the experimental and control classes were video-recorded.
Since two dependent variables were of interest in the study- achievement and attitude, and random assignment to experimental and control groups was not achieved, the suitable analysis tool is the multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA). Preliminary tests showed that the data satisfied the assumptions of homogeneity of covariances, independence of observations and normality. Using IBM-SPSS version 20, we inserted the pretest and posttest achievement and attitude data from experimental and control classes into the MANCOVA equation. The result shows that the value associated with Wilks’ lambda is F=15.63; p<.05 confirming the significance of the MANCOVA and justifying deeper probe at the F values relating to the independent variable of the study on the dependent variables of achievement and attitude.
Between subjects effect for the groups on the MANCOVA output showed that on the achievement measure, the experimental and control groups were significantly different (mean score for experimental= 23.08; control=16.51; F=19.24.05; p<.001). Similar trend was found for the attitude scores (mean score for experimental= 26.03.1; control=19.64; F=12.06; p<.001).
Qualitative data analysis using NVivo software showed the emergence of three themes- class cohesion, depth of participation and relation to everyday experiences. An example of data on the third theme is given by the response by two of the students in the experimental class:
Observer: Can you describe the energy flow in your locality?
Amirah (pseudo name) (15 years): I noticed that green plants are being planted and trap their energy through sunlight. Also animals like goat feed on this plant to get themselves energized because there is energy in green plants. Some people may even sell of this goat or may even kill it for consumption, through this; energy is transferred from the man to the goat. I think this is how energy flows in my locality.
Observer: Did the approach your teacher use make you understood ecology?
Justina (pseudo name) (16 years): Yes sir. She taught us by using our culture, the drama we acted in class and even the message she sent to us by SMS. This made me to understand the flow of energy.
Discussion of Results and Conclusion
The first question that the study addressed was: what impact has CTCA in improving achievement and attitude of secondary school students on a traditionally-perceived difficult ecology concept? MANCOVA data showed that on both depended measures, the experimental group outperformed the control. Apparently and as further evidenced by interview data from students and teachers, the combined effects of the three components of CTCA in a lesson would appear to be more impactful than if the three components were implemented separately. Previous studies have consistently demonstrated the positive effect on achievement and attitude of culturally-relevant science teaching (Onwu, 2012); school context-relevant science teaching (Golbith, 2010), and use of social media in science teaching (Akindoju, 2015).
The explanation for the significantly positive gains in achievement and attitude by the CCTA group can be found in the theory base of the study by Moses (1992; 2012) on contexts and culture. Observation data showed that the CCTA group students were quite excited in class in finding expressions for their indigenous knowledge and more so with every lesson weaved strongly to their local contexts by way of relevant examples. CCTA also brought biology to a social media platform (Facebook) to which most Nigerian secondary school students are “hooked”. During school free periods and after school, some part of the time that experimental group students could have used in chatting with friends and on non-academically productive interactions were devoted to learning science on Facebook. The ecology text messages to experimental group students also served to reinforce learning and may be additional bolster to their achievement and attitude scores.
On the second question of how ambient is the CTCA environment for science teachers and students in Nigeria, the experimental group students and teachers confirmed that CCTA can be implemented with relative ease. However, the technology component of CCTA may be limited in application in rural areas where internet connectivity challenge still lingers. Counterbalancing, the use of text messaging will not be so hindered in view of the pervasiveness of SMS in communication among the Nigerian citizenry. The increasing rate of IT diffusion in Nigeria especially the crashing cost of internet-enabled devices gives room for optimism that the potential challenges to full implementation of CTCA will be scaled within the next ten years.
This exploratory study provides a basis for the validation of CTCA and a confirmation of its potency. While the findings cannot be extrapolated beyond the study sample, it gives some initial basis for at least two recommendations. First is that several other studies are encouraged to subject CTCA to further tests. Second is that pre-service and in-service training of science teachers should begin to reflect more on providing teachers with some form of CTCA experience in the quest for culturally and contextually-relevant methods of effective delivery of science. Some NARST members may elect to be involved in cross-national studies on the same theme to explore global trends.
This study provides guidance to educators, policymakers, and researchers, all of whom agree on the need to fully explore variables that are implicated in bolstering students’ achievement in and attitude to science using a combination of strategies that are potent when singly applied. The lessons learned here can inform both local and national reform efforts in science teacher education.
Adams, M.T. (2014). Methods of science teaching for all. London: Brenton Press.
Akindoju, G. (2015) Use of Facebook in science teaching and learning. Paper presented at the STERG meeting, Lagos State University, Ojo.
Akinyemi, O. (2012). Comparative analysis of four methods of science teaching in Nigeria. International Journal of Science Teaching, 3(4), 20-31.
Amos, A. (2012). Teaching science in Africa. Journal of Science Education, 2(2), 18-33.
Author (2013). Review of methods of science teaching and learning. Lagos: OSF Press.
Chukwu, O. (2014). Science education in Nigeria. Pyrex Journal of Education, 2(3), 141-152.
Ibikunle, O.O. (2014). Performance of Nigerian students in public examinations. Pyrex Journal of Education, 2(3), 101-119.
Johnson, I.L. (2012). Science education in South Africa. Pyrex Journal of Education, 2(3), 170-182.
Moses, A. (1992). Culture, contexts and learning. New York: Marshall Press.
Nagata, O. (2013). Comparative study of science teaching in Asia, Europe and North America. Science Teaching International, 10(2), 102-126.
Odubunmi, O. (2001). Integrated science education in Nigeria. Journal of the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria, 23, 69-82.
Olarewaju, A. (1984). Effects of mastery learning on achievement in integrated science. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Ibadan.
Olsen, G. (2012). Why teach science? Sydney: Lambert Press.
Onwu, G. (2012). Indigenous knowledge and science learning. Journal of African culture and international understanding, 4(1), 14-24.
Smith, M. & Adebayo, O.A. (2013). Beyond the methods of science teaching. Journal of Teaching in Developing Countries, 24(1), 34-43.
Uwadiae, C. (2015). Internet penetration in Africa. Africa Connect. 13(2), 89-102.
Egerue, I. (2019). Egerue, I.C. (2019). Impact of sociocultural factors on scientific explanations in genetics and ecology offered by senior secondary students in Lagos State. Doctoral thesis in progress, Lagos State University, Nigeria.
Scientific explanations are at the heart of science. Down through the ages, science has been the lodestone guiding humanity in explaining natural phenomena. School science has therefore placed premium on helping students achieve well in explaining science concepts. Genetics and ecology are biology concepts that students traditionally find difficult at the senior secondary school level. While a number of methods have been explored to improve students’ performance in scientific explanations, very scant attention has been paid to the culturo-techno-contextual approach (CTCA). Within this context, this study investigated the impact of sociocultural factors on scientific explanations in genetics and ecology offered by students. The study employed mixed-methods approach- quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative approach was quasi-experimental pretest, posttest, control group (2x2x2x4) factorial design. The data-gathering instruments were students’ achievement test on scientific explanation in genetics and ecology, students’ sociocultural inventory in genetics and ecology, students’ attitude towards genetics and ecology, interview schedule on traditional and religious belief. A total of 196 senior secondary three (SS3) biology students from educational district IV and V took part in the study (93 male and 103 female). Data were analysed using analysis of covariance. Findings from the study revealed the following amongst others: There was significant impact of traditional belief on students’ scientific explanation in genetics and ecology concepts (F(1,193)=135.42, p<0.05). There was no significant impact of religious beliefs on students’ scientific explanation in genetics and ecology concepts (F(1,193)= 0.61; p>0.05). There was no significant impact of parent educations background on students’ scientific explanation in genetics and ecology concepts (F(3,191) = 0.22; p>0.05).There was significant impact of the CTC approach on students’ scientific explanation in genetics and ecology concepts (F(1,85) = 74.56; p<0.05). There was significant impact of CTCA on the attitude of students towards genetics and ecology concepts (F(1,193) = 206.52; p<0.05). Although the sample size does not permit wide generalisations, the findings suggest that biology teachers should explore the use of the CTC approach in improving achievement of students in scientific explanations especially in genetics and ecology. It is further recommended that teachers should make scientific explanation part of classroom activities. Students should be careful not to allow traditional and religious beliefs interfere with the scientific explanation of basic concepts in science. Curriculum planners should make social media instructional materials available in schools in order to stimulate the learners’ and promote positive attitude towards learning of science.
Adam, U (2019). Potency of culturo-techno-contextual approach on students’ achievement in and attitude towards mutation and variation. Research report submitted in part fulfilment of the Bachelor of Science Education (Biology), Lagos State University, Nigeria.
This study investigated the potency of culturo-techno-contextual approach on students’ achievement in and attitude towards mutation and variation. It employed mixed-methods approach- quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative approach was quasi-experimental pretest, posttest, for both the control and experimental groups. The data-gathering instruments were students’ achievement test on variation and mutation and questionnaire on students’ attitude towards variation and mutation. A total of 60 senior secondary three (SS3) biology students from educational district I took part in the study (32 male and 28 female). Data were analyzed using analysis of covariance. Findings from the study revealed that there was significant impact of culturo-techno-contextual approach as experimental group students outperformed their control group counterparts on the achievement measure as well as on the attitude towards mutation and variation.
Akintola, A. (2019). Impact of Culturo-Techno-Contextual (CTC) Approach on Students’ Achievement on Perceived Difficult Topics in Biology. Unpublished research project report for the degree of Bachelor of Science Education, Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos Nigeria
This study investigated the impact of the culturo-techno-contextual (CTC) approach on senior secondary biology students’ performance in two perceived difficult topics- hormones and kidney structure and functions. Two null hypothesis were tested: (1) There is no significant difference between students’ performance on an achievement test in the culturo-techno-contextual approach and traditional method in teaching of hormones and kidney; and (2) there is no significant difference in student’s attitude in using culturo-techno-contextual approach in teaching hormones and kidney. Data were gathered from two senior secondary schools in Lagos State. One schools – experimental, is located at Ojo local government while the other (control) is located at Alimosho local government. This is to avoid contamination of the study through interaction of students in experimental and control classes. The sample was drawn from senior secondary two (SS 2) biology students. A total of 25 students were selected from each school.
In order to collect data for the research question, the following research instruments were used: achievement test (pre-test and post-test); and questionnaire to assess students’ attitude towards the difficult topics selected for the study. Thirty multiple-choice questions were generated 15 questions on hormones and 15 questions on kidney these questions were set according to Peter A Okebukola 20 golden rules for writing multiple choice questions (2015)
A mixed-methods approach-quantitative and qualitative was adopted in this study in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of the problem. In quantitative approach, data is usually collected using instruments like inventories, questionnaires, rating scales and so forth. Such information collected was analyzed using statistical procedures and hypothesis testing. Qualitative approach is one in which the researcher often makes knowledge claim based on multiple meaning of individual experiences constructed with the intention of developing a theory, pattern or both. Both were used to collect data and information gathered was integrated into the interpretation of the overall result.
The research instrument was designed by the researcher. Critical amendments were made by the researcher’s supervisor who is an expert in the field of corrections and valuable suggestions were incorporated into the instruments. The research instrument was subjected to a reliability test using test re-test method to determine its coefficient to measure its reliability, stability and consistency. The researcher established the test-retest reliability coefficient of 0.65.
Two schools were used in this study. One for the experiment while the other for the control. Two topics were selected from the biology curriculum for senior secondary school 2 which are hormones and kidney. The researcher selected those topics because it was part of the topic listed by the chief examiner of education to be among topics that students find difficult in examination. The school for the control group were exposed to learning hormones and kidney through lecture method while participants in the experimental group (E) were exposed to learning hormones and kidney through culturo-techno-contextual method, Great Heritage College Ishasi was used for the control while Bema Comprehensive High School was used for the experiment.
The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics, frequency count, percentages, mean and standard deviation to ensure organization and description of the characteristics of some of the data collected. Chi square was used to test for significant difference between the experimental (CTC) group and the control group in the study at confidence level of 0.05.
On the basis of the results, the null hypothesis which states that there is no significant impact in student’s attitude in using culturo-techno-contexual approach in teaching hormones and kidney in biology was rejected. The major findings were:
- There was significant impact of culturo-techno-contextual (CTC) approach on students’ academic performance in teaching of hormones and kidney in biology.
- There was significant impact of culturo-techno-contextual (CTC) approach on students’ attitude towards learning hormones and kidney in biology.
Ogunbanwo, G. (2019). Relative effectiveness of the culturo-techno-contextual approach on students’ performance in genetics and evolution. Unpublished research project report for the degree of Bachelor of Science Education, Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos Nigeria.
The purpose of the study was to investigate the effectiveness of culturo-techno-contextual approach on students’ performance in genetics and evolution concepts in biology. The study was conducted in Badagry District V and targeted population comprising 60 students selected from two public secondary schools. An achievement test and a questionnaire were used for data collection. Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) was used for data analysis. The study findings suggest that there is a significant difference between the culturo-techno-contextual approach and traditional method in students’ academic achievement in favour of the former. Recommendations were made on how teachers can deploy the CTC approach to improve students’ academic achievement and motivation. It is also suggested that further research should be carried out on the use of the CTC approach.
Okebukola, P.A. O., Onowugbeda, F., Odekeye, T., Agbanimu, D., Peter, E., Ebisin, R. and Awaah, F. (2021). Can the Culturo-Techno-Contextual Approach (CTCA) Dissolve the Barriers of African Students to Learning Difficult Concepts in Biology? Presented at the 94th Annual Conference of NARST, April 7-10, 2021
Since the mid-19th century, the quest for more potent methods of bolstering students’ performance in science has become unstoppable and irresistible. The methods that have dominated the science education literature alert us to the fact that most have failed to realise that culture and context play significant roles in student learning. We must begin to culturally immerse and contextually situate the methods of teaching science. This is the undergirding principle of the culturo-techno-contextual approach (CTCA) experimented with in this study. The study had a survey and a quasi-experimental phase. The survey phase involved 1,493 senior secondary biology students, randomly selected from public and private schools in Lagos, Nigeria and Accra, Ghana. With the emergence of the perceived most difficult topic as variation and evolution in the survey phase, the quasi-experimental phase was initiated. Since random assignment to experimental and control groups was not achieved, analysis of covariance was applied on the achievement scores of the students with the pre-test scores as covariate. The result showed that the experimental and control groups were significantly different (mean score for experimental = 20.18; control=16.08; [F (1, 68) = 15.40; p < .0001] with the CTCA experimental group outperforming the control. The implications for science teacher education and policy are drawn.
Exploring the Efficacy of CTCA in Breaking Barriers to Students’ Learning of Difficult Concepts in Biology
Imole J. Samson, Peter A. Okebukola, Esther O. Peter, David G. Peter, Deborah O. Agbanimu, Fred A. Awaah, Franklin U. Onowugbeda, Adekunle I. Oladejo. Presented at the 2022 International Conference of NARST, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Studies have shown that science in Africa stemmed from external influence and this has led to the inability of science students in Nigeria and Africa to relate with what is being taught in the classrooms. Most concepts in science are abstract, counter intuitive and not consistent with the students existing knowledge translating into the negative attitude and lack of interest students demonstrate towards science subjects which reflects in poor performance of students in these subjects. The study was carried out to proffer solution to this problem through the use of a teaching method that allows for the meaningful learning of science in Africa. The study had a survey and a quasi-experimental phase. The survey involved 1,461 secondary biology students in Nigeria and Ghana. The topic ranked as one of the most difficult was energy flow in an ecosystem. This was selected for the quasi experimental phase. The quasi experimental phase employed quantitative and qualitative data-gathering techniques. One-way analysis of covariance was applied to test for the statistical difference between the two groups. The result showed that the experimental group performed significantly better than their control group counterparts. [F (1,75) = 38.62; p< 0.05]. The implications for the study were highlighted.
Over the last 20 years and in spite of unsavoury economic fortunes, African governments have been taking steps to invest in science education. The thrust of the investment has been on science laboratory upgrade and capacity building of science teachers. Regrettably, these efforts have not translated to significant impact on output variables, notably students’ performance in science. In all countries in the region, the common refrain is the unimpressive performance of secondary school students in science especially biology with the highest student enrolment. This does not bode well for a continent that seeks to be self-sufficient in food and health security by 2063. Attaining this goal is largely hinged on quality science education.
The growing evidence of students’ underperformance in biology is disturbing. Data from the West African Examinations Council show that students hardly attain an achievement profile beyond the 50% mark in all science subjects, much less in biology. African teachers have implemented several teaching strategies in the classroom to improve students learning of biology. Although some of these strategies have recorded a significant difference in the teaching and learning process. Performance in school and public examinations in science especially in biology have not been encouraging (Tema and Mlawa 2010; Umar, 2011; Kiyaga, 2013). In attempting to proffer a solution to this challenge, most education literature on different strategies that could be used to solve this anomaly have failed to recognize that culture and context play significant roles in student meaningful learning of science. This is the undergirding principle of the culturo-techno-contextual approach (CTCA) experimented with in this study and the rationale for the research which is a subset of a larger Africa-wide study on CTCA sponsored by the World Bank.
Research questions: The conduct of this study was guided by the following research questions: (a) What concepts in the new biology curriculum do students find most difficult to learn?; and (b) Will there be a statistically significant difference in the achievement of students taught energy flow in an ecosystem using the CTC Approach and those taught using the traditional lecture method?
Model, Theoretical and Philosophical Framework
What is CTCA? CTCA is a method of science teaching. The approach is an amalgam, drawing on the power of three frameworks (a) cultural context in which all learners are immersed; (b) technology-mediation to which teachers and learners are increasingly dependent; and (c) locational context which is a unique identity of every school and which plays a strong role in the examples and local case studies for science lessons.
This study was built upon psychological and philosophical theories which hinged on the works of Vygotsky (theory of social constructivism and instructional scaffolding,) Piaget’s theory of learning and Ausubel’s theory of meaningful verbal learning and advance organizer. Lev Vygotsky focused on the connections between people and the cultural context in which they act and interact. This fits smoothly with the CTC approach as it emphasizes the need for learners to seek indigenous information from parents, teachers and their colleagues in the classroom thereby improving social interaction. It also fits into the contextual part of CTCA which seeks to relate the knowledge gained with the immediate environment.
The cognitive constructivist theory by Piaget is relevant to this study because it advocates that for meaningful learning to take place there is a need for the students to construct their prior knowledge through personal experience which is the pre-class experience that serves as a building block for teachers using CTC approach. David Paul Ausubel believes that learning of new knowledge relies on what is already known. According to his theory, to learn meaningfully, individuals must relate new knowledge to relevant concepts they already know. This theory also supports the view of CTC approach which emphasizes the need for the inclusion of student’s prior knowledge into educational curricula to enhance effective teaching and learning.
The study had a survey and a quasi-experimental phase. The survey involved 1,461 senior secondary biology students (male= 784, female= 677) randomly selected from public and private schools in Nigeria and Ghana. Data sought in the survey were the topics in biology that students find difficult to learn in the new biology curriculum used in all West African countries.
The instrument used for data collection for phase 1 of the study is the Difficult Concept in Biology Questionnaire (DCBQ) with reliability coefficient of 0.77. It has a three-point rating scale of “very difficult”, “moderately difficult” and “not difficult”. The 19 most difficult topics were identified for the purpose of testing the efficacy of a variety of methods on lowering the perception of difficulty and improving achievement. Data generated were subjected to mean rank analysis. The topic which ranked as one of the most difficult among the 19 was “Energy flow in an ecosystem”.
With the emergence of the perceived most difficult topic as energy flow in an ecosystem, the quasi-experimental phase was initiated. This addressed the second research question of exploring the impact of CTCA on breaking barriers to student learning of the topic. This study employed a mixed methods research design involving the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data. To avoid contamination of the study through interaction of students, it was ensured that experimental and control classes in senior secondary class 2 were far apart and in separate zones in the education district in Lagos State and had not been taught energy flow in an ecosystem. The experimental group comprised 40 (10 boys, 30 girls).There were 40 students in the control group (23 boys; 17 girls). Achievement data were collected through Energy Flow in an Ecosystem Achievement Test (EFEAT). This instrument with reliability coefficient of 0.73, had 40 multiple-choice test items based on three cognitive levels: knowledge; understanding; and application.
Both experimental and control classes were subjected to pretest and posttest using the same achievement measure. Experimental group students were exposed to learning experiences on “energy flow in an ecosystem” using the CTCA for three weeks. In the experimental class, the teacher followed the five-step CTCA protocol which are highlighted below.
- As pre-lesson activity, the teacher requests students ahead of time (about a week ahead) of the topic to be learned in class, in this case variation and evolution to (a) reflect on indigenous knowledge or cultural practices and beliefs associated with the topic or concept. Students should be made aware that such reflections are to be shared with others in class when the topic is to be taught; and (b) using their mobile phones or other internet-enabled devices, search the web for resources relating to the lesson (first technology flavour of the approach).
- At the start of the lesson and after the introduction by the teacher, students are grouped into mixed ability, mixed-sex groups to share individual reflections on (a) the indigenous knowledge and cultural practices and beliefs associated with the topic; and (b) summaries of ideas obtained from web resources. All such cultural and web-based reflections are documented and presented to the whole class by the group leaders. The teacher wraps up by sharing his/her indigenous knowledge and cultural practices associated with the topic.
- The teacher progresses the lesson, drawing practical examples from the immediate surroundings of the school. Such examples can be physically observed by students to make science (or any subject) real. This is one of the “context” flavours of the approach. The teacher sprinkles delivery with some content-specific humour.
- As the lesson further progresses, the class is reminded of the relevance of the indigenous knowledge and cultural practices documented by the groups for meaningful understanding of the concepts. If misconceptions are associated with cultural beliefs, they are cleared by the teacher.
- At the close of the lesson, the teacher sends a maximum 320-character summary of the lesson (two pages) via SMS or WhatsApp to all students. After the first lesson, student group leaders send such messages. This is another of the technology flavours of the approach.
Indigenous knowledge related to energy flow in an ecosystem
In the experimental class, the teacher described energy flow in an ecosystem by citing illustrations of how energy flows from plants to animals in their localities .The teacher started by telling them that in Yoruba land after the farmers must have cleared a large expanse of land, they would go ahead to cultivate green plants. These green plants would trap energy from the sun which they would use to produce their food. Also herbivores such as cow, grasshopper and goat would feed on these plants to get their own energy from the one available in the plants which they got from the sun. Yoruba people would also go ahead to kill some of these animals for consumption, by doing this, some energy present in these animals would be transferred to the consumers (i.e. human beings). This is the indigenous explanation of how energy is transferred or moved among organisms.
Green plants trapping energy from the sun Farmers cultivating green plants
The control class had the same learning experience as the experimental class but without any element of CTCA. All lessons were videotaped for further analysis.
Analysis, Findings and Discussion
On the first research question, the survey results showed that some biology topics which students perceived to be difficult were nutrient cycling in nature; variation and evolution; genetics; energy flow in an ecosystem; nervous coordination; ecological management; regulation of internal environment and tissue and support systems.
Research question two sought to identify whether or not there will be statistically significant difference in the test scores of the group taught using CTCA and those taught using traditional (lecture) method in energy flow in an ecosystem. Having confirmed that the two groups are not significantly different through Levene’s test of homogeneity of variance (F= 1.41; p> .05). The findings from the data analyzed showed that there is a statistically significant difference in the test scores between the groups taught using traditional (lecture) method and those taught using CTCA as the experimental group performed better than the control group. From the analysis of covariance [F (1,75) = 38.62; p< 0.05]. This finding disagrees with that of Owolabi, (2020) but agrees with that of Adam, (2019) and Okebukola et al., (2015). Similar trends of this results were found in Akintola (2019); and Ogunbanwo (2019). In this previous literature, the researchers found CTCA to promote meaningful learning of science concepts.
We hypothesized three factors that could be responsible for the better performance of the experimental group on the concepts of energy flow in an ecosystem. These are related to the unique nature of CTCA model as it is an amalgam, drawing on the power of three frameworks – (a) cultural context in which all learners are immersed; (b) technology and (c) locational context of the school. In implementing the cultural aspect of the CTCA, the teacher asked students to document indigenous knowledge associated with the topic. In doing so, the students were able to easily relate with the difficult concepts as they were able to link most of these concepts to their indigenous knowledge thereby enhancing meaningful learning to take place. (Aikenhead and Ogawa 2007; Duwe and Ogunniyi, 2012).
We also found another interesting factor within the components of CTCA that is deserving of our attention. Lev Vygotsky’s theory of social constructivism emphasizes on the effect of culture and social interactions in contributing to cognitive development. The indigenous knowledge that students brought to the class were obtained from the interaction with parents, their colleagues and community members. This interaction was also observed during the execution of the CTCA model in the classroom. This improved social interaction according to Lev Vygotsky is necessary for meaningful learning to take place.
When students were interviewed after been taught energy flow in an ecosystem using CTCA, randomly selected unnamed students had the following to report:
Kareem (pseudo name) Male, 16 years said “watching some YouTube videos on energy flow in an ecosystem on my phone made me have knowledge of the topic before coming to class”.
Daniella (pseudo name) Female, 15 years “I understood the topic better because I could relate it with the things around me”.
Samuel (pseudo name) Male, 14 years “I learnt a lot during the lesson as the class was highly collaborative”.
Contribution to the teaching and learning of science
In spite of its limitation of small sample size, this study will be useful in improving the understanding and educational performance of the students in science in Africa. It will encourage active participation of the students which will help in meaningful learning and teaching of science. This study will also be important to teachers as it will enlighten them on the use of culturo-techno-contextual approach (CTCA) to effectively teach biological concepts in senior secondary schools in Africa. It will also serve as a foundation for further research on culturo-techno-contextual approach (CTCA) particularly in teaching other science subjects. It will also be important to the curriculum planners as this study will make them see the reason to include in the curriculum the need for teachers to teach science concepts within the context of the learners’ immediate environment.
Implications for equity issues and general interest to NARST members
This study is central to the equity being promoted by NARST. The ultimate agenda of the larger study is to ensure that students from different languages, ethnicities and cultures perform well in science. Since NARST is a worldwide organization for improving science teaching and learning through research, the agenda of this study is well aligned with that of NARST. In addition, the study will also help to contribute to the ultimate goal of NARST which is to help all learners worldwide to achieve science literacy.
This study will be of importance to government, policy makers, educators, parents, students and all stake holders since it essentially proffer solutions to the barriers to meaningful learning of science. Integrating CTCA in science classroom will help to support meaningful learning and cultural sustainability necessary to fulfill agenda 2063- The Africa We Want.
Adamu, U (2019). Potency of culturo-techno-contextual approach on students’ achievement in and attitude towards mutation and variation. (Research report submitted in part fulfillment of the Bachelor of Science Education-Biology), Lagos State University, Nigeria.
Akintola, A. (2019). Impact of culturo-techno-contextual (CTC) approach on students Achievement on Perceived Difficult Topics in Biology. (Unpublished research project report for the degree of Bachelor of Science Education), Lagos State University, Ojo Lagos Nigeria.
Ogunbanwo, G. (2019). Relative effectiveness of the culturo-techno-contextual approach on students’ performance in the genetics of evolution.
Okebukola P.A. (2019). What is culturo-techno-contextual Approach (CTCA). Retrieved from http://ctcaapproach.com/index.php/about-ctca/.
Okebukola P.A.O., Breaking barriers to learning: The culturo-techno-contextual approach (CTCA).
Saanu, T. (2015). Exploration of the effect of culture-techno-contextual approach on the achievement and attitude of students in logic gate. Unpublished M.Ed. project Report, Lagos state university, Ojo, Lagos, Nigeria.