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1.1   Background of the Study

One of the specific goals of secondary education is to inspire students with the desire to achieve excellence as well as improve self (Federal Ministry of Education 2004). For students to be inspired, teachers require some measures of creative processes that can elicit or induce students’ active participation through the mode of teaching, resource materials used and other teaching and learning factors. It is therefore imperative for teachers to use instructional materials that appeal to the sensory stimuli of learners. Eddie, (2001) maintained that there has been a lot of concern about the performance of students in various school subjects over the past years. Several reasons have been given to be responsible for this but the instructional processes prevalent in the last decades may account for their shortcomings. This is because the teaching-learning processes involve the use of instructional materials to enhance effective learning. Researchers have proven that effective learning results from effective teaching. If learning does not take place, then teaching is a failure (Nkang, 2003). To curb this, the use of instructional materials other than textbooks and verbal presentations has gained grounds in the educational practice and has been strictly guided by the content of the curriculum and teacher’s teaching technique or method.

        Instructional materials on the other hand are as old as human beings. During the primitive age, shells, seeds, sticks, cowries, stones etc formed counters while the rock surface formed the board; sharp edged pebbles, stones and sticks were used as pens. Even roots of plants, herbs, leaves and fruits provided some indelible liquid used as ink for teaching-learning processes. Biblically, The Ten Commandments given to Moses by God were written on rock surface for the Israelites to study. Instructional materials can therefore be defined as resources or teaching materials which the teacher utilizes in the course of presenting a lesson in order to make the content of the lesson understandable to the learner. They represent all the alternative channels of communication, which can be used to compress and present information in a more vivid form to learners (Onyejemezi, 2004).

The use of instructional materials in teaching and learning according to Yusey, (2005) assists in performing such role as:

  1. Offering a reality of experience, which stimulates self-activity on the part of the students;
  2. Supplying concrete basis for conceptual thinking;
  3. Providing experiences not easily secured by other materials thereby contributing to the efficiency, depth and variety of learning;
  4. Developing continuity of thought; and
  5. Supply of necessary basis for developmental learning hence making learning more permanent.

Etim (2006) supported that students understand and learn faster if concepts and ideas are presented in forms familiar to them. The teacher therefore needs to seek better and more life-like realistic, functional and significant problem-solving activities for the learners to sustain their arousal, zeal and interest. Theses problem-solving activities will equally help the teacher to cope with students’ learning disabilities. Instructional materials will make a tremendous enhancement of lesson impact if intelligently used (Maduabum, 2001). Although every subject requires specific resources for quality academic performance among students, physics appears to be one subject that could not be taught effectively without the use of specialized instructional materials. The instructional materials in this case can be the use of picture charts, three dimensional models, hands-on-research and audio-visual materials.

Physics is a core science subject which deals with quantities, their units of measurements, instruments of measurements and calculations. It enables us to understand our environment very well, it’s due to the study of physics that we know about the eclipse which occurs in the universe and many other things. It is a pre-requisite for some courses like medicine, Engineering and environmental sciences etc. It helps us to solve some problems like eye defects and many others. It is through physics that we study about eye defects and the lens with which to correct such defect. This is to say that the study of physics helps to solve our sight problems.Passive learning through lectures and textbooks reading may not provide a lasting understanding or interest in this subject of study. For secondary school students learning physics instructional materials could help them connect to the object of study, and students’ participation may increase (Ugwu, 2005).

Poor performance in science subjects where students obtain low or fail grades (D7, E8 and F9) and its’ effect on the economy of the country has been the major concern of science educators, educationists and other institutions directly connected with the educational sector over the years. This has led to the setting up of committees severally by the West African Examinations’ Council (WAEC), Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN), Federal Ministry of Education and other different non-governmental bodies like UNESCO, Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) among others to curb this menace. Researchers have indicated that the poor performances observed is as a result of student’s lack of understanding in different subjects and difficult concepts such as physiology, medicine, physiotherapy, engineeringetc in physics due to the teachers’ ineffective teaching process (WAEC Report 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2001).

This has become a problem that needs to be tackled because if it persists, more students will shy away from Physics as a course of study. This will reduce our society to a people devoid of useful and witty inventions aimed at solving socials problems. It is therefore based on this that the relevance of using instructional materials in teaching-learning processes to enhance students’ academic excellence inspired the researcher to conduct this study to find out how instructional materials can affect the students’ academic performance in Physics in senior secondary schools in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

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