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The Importance of Learning Materials in the Learning Process Essay

INTRODUCTION

The chapter presents the background information, statement of the problem, study purpose, objectives, and hypotheses to be tested, scope and lastly the significance of the study regarding the impact of using instructional materials in enhancing student’s performance in sciences within selected secondary schools in Luwero District.

1.1 Background to the study

In secondary schools and other educational institutions worldwide successful teaching and learning is measured by academic performance. Academic performance refers to how well a student meets standards set out by education ministry and the institution itself. Academic performance is as a result of psychological, socio-economic and environmental factors (Syed & Raza, 2006). It relates to a number of interacting factors among which is ethnicity, gender, age, learning abilities, learning support, motivation of learning and achievement as reflected by Patricia et al, (2006) and is very much dependent on the type and location of the institution as well as the socio-economic background (Yvonne & Kola, 2001).

In Uganda following the launching of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in accordance with the government White Paper on Education to provide ‘free’ education to a maximum of four children from each family which later changed to all children of school-going age (Opolot-Okurut, 2002), the student’s academic performance began to be compromised due to a high number of students joining secondary as a result of pupil enrolment figures increases from nearly 2.5 million in 1996 to nearly 6.8 million in 2000 (Ministry of Education and Sports, 2001).

This increase was mainly due to the backlog of school age children who had not been accessing school and were now being able to do as noted by Aguti (2002). In order to enable eligible primary school graduates enrol in tuition free secondary and vocational training institutions, Uganda extended the Universal Primary Education programme by launching the Universal Post-Primary Education and Training programme in 2007 which increased Senior One enrolment by 33% between 2006 and 2007 (Bugembe, 2011). Though the Ministry of Education and Sports early acknowledged that due to the massive increase in enrolment figures in schools without commensurate expansion in facilities and teachers could have compromised the quality of education (Ministry of Education and Sports, 2002).

The launch of Universal Secondary Education which sought to improve access, quality and relevance of post-primary education has led to a decline in performance of students in 2010 compared 2009 (Naturinda, 2011). This is blamed on challenges such as inadequate classroom space, shortage of qualified teachers and instructional materials (Bugembe, 2011). There emerging questions regarding unanticipated consequences of shortages of textbooks, classrooms and teachers (Murphy et al., 2002), which have had important implications for quality of public education in Uganda.

The available school libraries are unable to provide reading materials to the “newly literate” as a major roadblock in the fight against illiteracy (Parry, 2004). It’s currently accepted that many secondary schools in Uganda lack the necessary performance requirements due to inadequate funds and even poor facilities as noted by Namirembe (2005) prompting a study regarding the impact of using instructional materials in enhancing student’s performance in sciences within selected secondary schools in Luwero district.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Despite government efforts and various interventions by policy makers and implementers to ensure the delivery of quality education in Ugandan secondary schools, academic performance especially in science subjects remains poor. The situation remains alarming despite the important development role played by science. While both the White Paper on Education and the National Development Plan (2010) for 2010/2011 to 2015/15 focus on the promotion of science subjects as the way forward for the development of the country, poor performance in science subjects remains a challenge. Instructional materials are widely regarded as a key component of Science instruction because most sciences are activity based explorations into the natural world. It is widely accepted that science is better taught using the discovery method that is guided or unguided inquiry or the experimental method.

Students are always encouraged to discover for themselves through spontaneous interaction with the environment. The use of this method is based on student participation and involves amongst others identifying problems, posing relevant questions, performing efficient and effective experiments and making judgment and interpreting data. Students therefore learn to discover, learn from discovery and learn by discovery which is possible when the teacher uses instructional materials. This requires a high level of interaction between the teacher, the area of study, available resources and the learning environment. Activity based learning makes the subject matter more comprehensive, minimizes forgetting and is more likely to lead to transfer of knowledge and to acquire favourable attitude towards a particular science subject and learning in general.

Students can easily progress from elementary to advanced learning. Therefore students are likely to be highly motivated, score highly on tests, gain critical insight and participate in out-class study. Therefore, achievement and skills improve when science is taught in activity based curriculum that is possible when the teacher uses instructional materials hence the need for the study investigating the impact of using instructional materials on enhancing students’ performance in sciences in selected secondary schools in Luwero District.

1.3 Purpose of the study

The study is geared towards investigating the impact of using instructional materials in enhancing students’ performance in sciences within selected secondary schools within Luwero district.

1.4 Specific objectives

Specifically, the study will seek to address the following objectives; i.To establish the different instructional materials in the different schools within Luwero District. ii.To examine the need for instructional materials are used in the different schools within Luwero District iii.To analyze the effect of the instructional materials have on the academic performance of students in the different schools within Luwero District

1.5 Research questions

1.What instructional materials do the different schools have within Luwero District? 2.Why are instructional materials used in secondary schools within Luwero District? 3.What effect does the use of different instructional materials have on the academic performance of students in the different schools within Luwero District?

1.6 Research Hypothesis

Ho: There is no relationship between the availability of instructional materials and students performance in sciences H; The use of instructional materials in teaching does not affect academic performance of students in sciences.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The study is geared towards investigating the impact of using instructional materials in enhancing students’ performance in sciences which selected secondary schools in Luwero district located in the central region of Uganda. The study will limit itself to establishing the different instructional materials, factors influencing their use and their availability in the different schools within Luwero District, examining the need for instructional materials are used in the different schools within Luwero District and analyzing the effect the instructional materials have on the academic performance of students in the different schools within Luwero District

1.8 Significance of the Study

The findings of this study are meant to be of importance to the stakeholders in the following ways: The Head teachers of the different schools are to benefit by learning the impact of using instructional materials on their students’ academic performance. This would provide an opportunity to head teachers to improve on their level of performance in schools through lobbying for more instructional materials in schools. To the teachers, the findings of this study are hoped to be of use in helping them realise the importance instructional material areas that need review as well as the weakness in the teaching and learning to improve pupil’s academic performance.

The results of this research are meant to benefit the Ministry of Education through enabling them adjust and learn more on the problems facing schools as per the instructional materials are concerned in the country. To the researcher, the results of this study are meant to enable him meet part of the requirements for the award of Masters’ degree in science education. To scholars, the results of this study are meant to add knowledge or ideas to the already existing knowledge in the field and stimulate further research in this area.

1.9Conceptual Framework

Figure 2:1 Conceptual Framework (Source: The Researcher for the purposes of conceptualizing the study) From Figure. 2:1, it is expected that through the use of instructional materials such as Text books, Equipments & Reagents, specimen, chalk, computers and charts, students’ academic performance viewed in terms of improved learning, improved teaching and hence improved grades would be realized. However factors like school policy, government policy & funding, number of students in a school, parents and teacher qualities treated as moderating factors help to enhance or retard the impact made by the instructional materials in enhancing students’ academic performance.

1.10Definition of the key terms:

Instructional materials: These are materials that are used to aid a teacher in the transference of information to the students. Students: Any individual attending studies in an educational institution at secondary school level. Academic performance: Refers to how students deal with their studies and how they cope with or accomplish different tasks given to them by their teachers as measured at national level. Science: subjects like chemistry, Biology and Physics taught at secondary level of education in which tasks are examined after being taught.


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