1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Over the years, several methods, techniques and strategies have been used in the teaching of Basic Science in Nigerian classrooms for better delivery of the contents, concepts, principles and philosophies of the Basic Science subject. Majority of the activities carried out are teacher-centered (lecture method) instead of student-centered (guided discovery method) and this in turn affects how students understands the subject, as well as the overall students performance in Basic Science. Although previous researchers have revealed that most of the methods, techniques and strategies used by Nigerian teachers in teaching of Basic Science subject in the classroom are not stimulating enough to stir up students inquisition and curiosity to ask why, how, where and when a particular answer or solution is arrived at. The students are more of passive listeners during the period the class goes on and definitely, this will in no way instill confidence and as well as the ability of the students to engage in rational thinking, thought provoking discussions and argument on the whole process of arriving at the solution to the problem. For students to be able to be confident and independent of themselves there is need for responsibilities to be placed on each and every one of them so as to make them value the importance of every decision and choices made to arrive at any plausible solution to a problem. This can be made possible by the teachers assigning tasks that will spur-up the students’ curiosity to engage in critical and rational thinking so as to arrive at the solution and at the same time will help in building the student’s scientific personality.
The concept “reflective thought” was introduced by John Dewey in 1910 in his “How We Think”, a work designed for teachers. Dewey admitted a debt to both his contemporaries in philosophy, William James, and Charles S. Peirce. Dewey’s most basic assumption was that learning improves to the degree that it arises out of the process of reflection. As time went on, terminology concerning reflection proliferated, spawning a host of synonyms, such as “critical thinking,” “problem solving,” and “higher level thought.”
Reflective practice is a disciplined inquiry into the motives, methods, materials, and consequences of educational practice. It enables practitioners to thoughtfully examine conditions and attitudes which impede or enhance student achievement. Reflective teachers are of many things, amongst
(1) Are responsive to the unique educational and emotional needs of individual students;
(2) Question personal aims and actions; and
(3) Constantly review instructional goals, methods, and materials (Pollard & Tann, 1987).
The paradigm of reflective practice is hardly a new one. In his seminal work, ‘How We Think’, Published in 1909, John Dewey explained the concepts of reflective thinking and teaching….
(Must evaluate the potential solutions to the problem in light of existing information, information that may be incomplete and unverifiable? Reflective thinking requires the continual evaluation of beliefs, assumptions, and hypotheses against existing data and against other plausible interpretations of the data. The resulting judgments are offered as reasonable integrations or syntheses of opposing points of view. Because they involve on-going verification and evaluation, judgments based on reflective thinking are more likely to be valid and insightful than beliefs derived from authority, emotional commitment, or narrow reasoning (Dewey, 1933, 1938). (King and Kitchener, 1994, p. 6-7) John Dewey and King and Kitchener propose that individuals engage in reflection when they encounter problems with uncertain answers. When no authority figure has an answer, when they believe no one answer is correct, and when the solution cannot be derived by formal logic. The uncertainty or the belief in uncertainty is the essential requirement in this case for reflective thinking to occur. An individual must acknowledge that some problems may not be solved by one absolute truth
1.2 THE STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The overall performance of Nigerian students in Basic Science has not been at its best over the years, mainly because the methods, techniques and strategies used in teaching the subject are not that stimulating and scientific enough, and this has led to students’ poor performance in the subject. There is no denying the fact that the aforementioned factors militate against optimum students’ performance in the Basic Science subject in the Nigerian classrooms. Most of these methods only spoon feeds the students with answers and solutions to problems while denying them the knowledge of the processes that led to the answers and solutions. Also majority of the class activities are teacher-centered instead of being student-centered. This will only make the students a shadow of their teachers instead of them becoming a reflection of pure knowledge. For the students to be more confident of the knowledge they seek to acquire, there is need for task that will spring-forth rational reasoning and reflection to be assigned to the students.
Therefore, this research work will look into how the Reflective thinking strategyeffects students’ performance in Basic Science and also whether students that are exposed to the reflective practice approach perform better than those that are not exposed to the practice.
1.3 THE PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
This research project work is to find out the following;
1. To identify how ‘Reflective thinking strategy’ affects students’ academic performance in Basic Science.
2. To establish If ‘Reflective thinking strategy’ and its practices can make students understanding better the principles, concepts and contents of the Basic Science subject compare to other teaching strategies and methods used in the teaching of Basic Science.
3. To determine whether the performances of students who are exposed to the reflective practice approach (deep approach) and those who are not (surface approach), significantly differ in their academic performances in Basic Science.
4. To determine each of the four stages of ‘Reflective thinking strategy’ on overall students’ academic performance in Basic Science.
5. To establish reasons why ‘Reflective thinking strategy’ should be exposed to students of Basic Science by their respective teachers in their respective schools.
1.4 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study on “The effect of Reflective thinking strategy on students’ achievement in Basic Science in Nigeria classrooms” intends to identify the important role the‘Reflective thinking strategy’ plays on students’ academic performance and what the students stand to benefit if exposed to the reflective thinking practice.
This research will also benefit the Education Ministry, Schools and Teachers by offering a teaching method that has been found to involve all levels of Bloom taxonomy and secondly the research will highlight the advantages a reflective practitioner has over a non-reflective practitioner.
On the whole, this research project work will emphatically bring to the knowledge of the public that the teaching of Basic Science is expected to lay a sound basis for scientific and reflective thinking so as to create a radical change in teaching strategy from chalk and talk science teaching to enquiry.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTION
1. Does Reflective thinking strategy have any effect on students’ academic performance in Basic Science?
2. Does Reflective thinking strategy make students understand better the principles, concepts and contents of the Basic Science compared to the traditional teaching method (lecture method) that is generally used in the teaching of Basic Science in Nigeria’s classrooms?
3. Is there any difference in the mean-score performance of students that are exposed to Reflective thinking strategy and those who are not in Basic Science?
1.6 FORMULATION OF HYPOTHESIS
This hypothesis would be tested in this study:
There will be no significant effect of reflective thinking strategy on the academic achievement of students exposed to reflective thinking strategy, and those not exposed to the strategy in the teaching of Basic science.
1.7 SCOPE AND DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This research project work was carried out in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area of Lagos State with a population of about 3 million people. The scope of this study was strictly confined to methods and strategies used in the teaching the subject, its effects on students’ academic achievement and also ways of encouraging students’ to engage in reflective thinking.
This research work was highly limited by some factors. The problem of finance, non-conformity of people, lack of textbooks and finally the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) strike all militated against this research project work.