1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Science has contributed in no small measure to the development and comfort of the modern world. Belzewki (2009) stated that for any nation to attain the status of self-reliance, science must be an important component of the knowledge to be given to all citizens of that nation irrespective of race, creed or sex. Indeed, science is recognized as the foundation upon which the bulk of the present day technological breakthrough is built. Shaibu (2008) expressed the opinion that Nigerian citizens should pursue science, technology and mathematics education (STME) to prevent Nigeria from being perpetual slave to the developed world. The prestige and political power of any nation also resides largely in its level of scientific performance.
Consequently, the pursuit of science as an imperative endeavour for achieving prosperity and advancement is conspicuous in the national development plans of many developed and developing nations. According to Aliyu (2014) one of the aims of the National Policy on Education (FME, 2009) is to equip students to live effectively in modern age of Science and Technology. This underscores the importance to our economic life and explain why the government through the ministry of education is showing much concern for science education through making good policies that will promote the teaching and learning of science.
Science education researchers like Lawal (2011) and Ajaja (2013) pointed out that the performance of science students in Nigerian schools still leaves much to be desired right from primary school through secondary school to the tertiary level of education. A general review of Nigerian students‘ performances in Biology in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) from 2010 to 2015 revealed fluctuations and down-ward trends in students‘ performance (Table 1.1 and 1.2).
Biology as one of the science subjects taught in Nigeria senior secondary schools, is a popular science subject of choice among students. According to Bichi (2008), the popular nature of Biology among the science subjects at Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) is attributed to it being softer and relatively easier to learn than chemistry or physics. The word biology is of Greek origin, coined from ‗bios‘, meaning ‗life‘ and ‗logos‘ meaning ‗the study of life‘.
Biology is conceptualized as a unique life subject, which deals with animate and inanimate objects, including their structures, functions, growth, origin, evolution and distribution. According to Ahmed and Akinbobola (2011), Biology is designed ultimately to educate individuals who may or may not pursue biological related careers, but could at least acquire the knowledge as prerequisite for pursuing careers in science related disciplines. This includes medicines, pharmacy, nursing, agriculture, forestry, biotechnology, nanotechnology, aquaculture, genetic engineering and many other areas.
Academic performance was defined by Oludipe and Oludipe, (2010) as the exhibition of knowledge attained or skills developed by students in a subject designed by test scores assigned by teachers. However, science education researchers like Lawal, (2009) and Lakpini, (2013) found that the persistent low academic performance in Biology at Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) is attributed to teachers instructional strategy among others.