1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM
Critics of public education have argued that many Nigerian students do not possess the depth of knowledge or skills to assure either personal life success or national economic competitiveness (Akpan, 1996). A particular concern of the critics has been the apparent inability of many students to engage in complex problem-solving activities and to apply school knowledge and skills to real-life problems in workplace settings (Akpan, 1996). What teachers and schools face is a fundamental redefinition of what it means to be a student or a teacher and what it means to learn or to teach. Educators are confronted with a paradigm shift in teaching and learning which is driven by the increasing anomalies of the current educational system (Kim, 2002). High drop-out rates, low skill and knowledge levels among many students, low levels of student engagement in school work and poor international comparisons suggest that the current educational paradigm is weak or inappropriate. Educators must understand that changes in students’ outcomes must be supported by parallel changes in curriculum and instruction. However, it is apparent that many of today’s teachers are caught in the midst of a change for which they may not have been professionally prepared (Dogru and Kalender, 2007). Many teachers were educated in the classrooms where the role of the student was to memorize information, conduct well regulated experiments, perform mathematical calculations using a specific algorithm and were then tested on their ability to repeat these tasks or remember specific facts. The ideas which are central to an education which defines competence as the ability of the student to apply knowledge and skills to unfamiliar problems are not new. These ideas were found in traditional apprenticeship programs, where daughters and sons learned life sustaining skills from parents and they were central to the successes of all traditional peoples. Theorists in cognition, curriculum and instruction (e.g. Di Vesta, Vgotsky, Von Glaserfed, etc.) are now providing the underlying rationale and language for discussing this fundamental change in teaching and learning which is at the heart of the current school improvement agenda. Constructivist theory provides a framework through which the emergent ideas about teaching, learning and assessment can be unified (Young and Collin, 2003). The difficulty and challenge confronting classroom professionals is that the reform strategies in curriculum, instruction and assessment organized around the theory of “constructivism” are informed by different assumptions and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and about the human capacity to learn than are traditional classroom practices (Kim, 2005). Additionally, the conventional teaching method of teacher as sole information-giver to passive students appears outdated. In a study carried out by (Colburn, 2000) on undergraduates in a large lecture hall setting, it was found that only 20% of the students retained what the instructor discussed after the lecture. They were too busy taking notes to internalize the information. Also, after a lecture has passed eight minutes, only 15% of the students are paying attention, no link between former present schools.
From the research questions raised, four hypotheses will be tested at 0.05 level of significance.
Ho1: There is no significant difference in achievement test scores between students instructed with constructivist-based teaching strategy and those taught using Conventional classroom teaching method.
Ho2: There is no significant difference in achievement test scores between male and female students instructed with constructivist-based teaching strategy.
Ho3: There is no significant difference in achievement test scores between students of high abilities instructed with constructivist-based teaching strategy and those taught with traditional classroom teaching method.
Ho4: There is no significant difference in the achievement test
scores of students of low ability instructed with constructivist based teaching strategy and those taught with traditional classroom teaching method.