REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
This chapter presents a review of literature under the following sub-heading
a. Conceptual Framework
i. Experiential Learning and Teaching
ii. Principles of analogy or assimilation
iii. Principles of mental set
iv. Retention of learning
v. Transfer of learning
vi. Life skill development
vii. Gender sensitivity
viii. The experiential learning models and learning styles
b. Theoretical Framework
i. John Dewey theory of experience
ii. Piagetian theory of cogitative development
iii. Kurt Lewin’s cognitive field theory.
iv. Theories of transfer
Related Empirical Studies
Summary of Literature Review
_The term experiential learning in the context of this work can be taken to be a process of human cognition (Fernwick 2000). The root of the word cognition in fact means to learn. Experiential learning is at the core of many teaching and learning strategies. The theory of experiential learning emphasizes the central role of experience in learning process. Thus, experiential is used in this context to differentiate learning theory from both cognitive learning and behavioural learning theories, which tend to emphasize cognition over affect, and behavioural learning theories that deny any role of subjective experiences in the learning process (Kolb Boyatzis and Mainemelis 2000) Experiential learning and teaching approach are anchored on the principles that:
(a) Significant learning takes place if the subject matter is relevant to the present interest of the pupils.
(b) Learning which is threatening to the self (E.g new skills, attitudes, or perspectives) are more easily assimilated when external threats are at minimum.
(c) Learning proceeds faster when the threat to self is low.
(d) Self-initiated learning is the most lasting and pervasive (Rogers 1968; 3). The
implication of the above principles in the teaching and learning process is that all human beings have a natural propensity to learn, the role of the teacher is to facilitate such learning. This the teacher could do through.
(1) Setting a conducive climate for learning
(2) Clarifying the purpose of the learning
(3) Organizing and making available learning resources
(4) Balancing intellectual and emotional components of learning
(5) Sharing feelings and thoughts with learners but not dominating (Rogers, 1968:1).
Against this backdrop, Rogers (1968:1) affirmed that learning is facilitated when:
(i) Pupils participate completely in the learning process and have control over its direction and nature.
(ii) It is primarily based upon direct confrontation with practical, social, personal or research problems.
(iii) Self-evaluation is the principal method of assessing progress or success. Roger however emphasized the importance of learning to learn and openness to change.
In line with the above, Fenwick (2000:4) noted that the experiential learning “places the individual learner as a central actor in the drama of personal meaning making.” As a central actor, the teacher facilitates the learner to reflect on live experiences, such as personal manipulation of learning materials, its interpretations and then generalizes these experiences to form mental structure.
Onwuka (1981:107) opined “through active practice, learners’ movement in the case of psychomotor activities become skillful. At the same time their knowledge grows and they also develop certain activities”. Onwuka further maintained that the skills, the knowledge and attitudes so acquired go together. They are inseparable since skill is necessary to the growth of knowledge, the learner must continually undertake some activities in connection with the subject matter in school. Teacher’s role as a facilitator is to assist his teaching by encouraging activities on the part of the pupils after all, there is hardly a subject without abundant opportunity for practice today in school.
Experiential teaching originated from empiricists theory of knowledge. Empiricism on the other hand originated from the word experience, which is English translation of experiential in Latin. Experiential is Latin translation of emperia in Greek. The basic thesis of empiricism is that legitimate human knowledge arises from what is provided to the mind by the senses, or by introspective awareness through experience. The statement that experience is the source of knowledge means that knowledge depends ultimately on the use of the senses and what is discovered through them. It seems an interesting parallel to note that just as the term “experience” is ultimately derived from the term empiricism, empiricists maintain that all knowledge is derived from experience-sense-experience (Niel, 2008:)
Empiricism is the theory that all knowledge stems from sense-experience and internal mental experience-such as emotion and self-reflections. The empiricist draws his rules of practice not from theory but from close observations and experiments, emphasizing inductive rather than deductive process of thought (Ward, 2008). For empiricists, facts precede theories and it is possible for one to be an impartial objective observer of facts. Empiricists claim that no one could have knowledge of the world unless he had experience and could reason, but this does not mean that either experience or reason by themselves could provide a kind of absolute certainty about the world (Neil, 2008)
In experiential teaching method, the processes make learners active, engaging in confusion, complexity and dealing with ambiguities which are important parts of the learning process. The learning outcomes of this approach include; cognitive elements resulting in an increased awareness, emotional elements producing change attitudes or feelings and behavioural elements which involve changed inter-personal competencies (Schien and Bennis, 1965). Those basic features or attributes that are inbuilt n experiential learning make it differ from other learning methods, such as expository learning. In expository learning, the entire content of what is to be learned is presented in its final form. The learner is passive, reproducing the learning that has been identified by the teacher (Ausebel; 1968). The experiential teaching method is clearly opposed to Akinbobola (2009:3) assertion that “the mode of delivery of physics lesson at senior secondary school level in Nigeria is by expository”. In it, the teacher delivers preplanned lesson to the students with or without the use of instructional materials. The teachers in basic schools are also guilty of the same ugly practice. Through the use of expository method, the teacher’s roles are to give information or knowledge transmission as the main goal. But in experiential education, the focus is on the transactive process between teachers and learners (Fenwick 2000).
Criteria for selecting level of experience
When designing educational experience for purpose of experiential learning method, it is important to consider not only the level of educational experience but also the standard of quality for the experience and learner’s ability to respond. When matching experiences with content, one must establish the range of experientiality for the unit to facilitate the process, Gibbon (1980:2) has adopted this aspect of decision making to the following hierarchy of experiences:
1. Receptive Mode: Experiences or representation of them are presented to learners who remain passive audience throughout. This can be sub-divided into (a) simulated experience and (b) spectator experience.
2. Analytical Mode: Learners conduct field studies in which they apply theoretical knowledge and skill in order to study some event or some aspect of the environment, or solve some practical problems. This is subdivided into (a) exploratory and analytical experience.
3. Productive Experience: Learners generate products, activities and solve problems that are either assigned or are of their own devising. This can be divided into (a) generative and challenge experiences.
(4) Development Mode: Learners Pursue excellence in a particular area such as designing and implementing long-term programes of study. These is divided into competence experience and mastery experience.
(5) Psychological Mode: Learners learn to understand themselves and their relationship with others. They accomplish the task presented at the stage of development towards maturity and make contributions in terms of others. This can be grouped into personal growth experience and social growth experience.
It is good to note that experiences must reflect the interest and expertise of the learners. It should also present a range of activities that reflect the level at which the content is to be addressed, the interest and abilities of learners and the environment which the learning will take place.
The elements of experience refer to the things that make the experience to happen. These include the nature of activities selected, the skills to be applied through the activities and the way in which the activities are facilitated.
Principles of Analogy or Assimilation: One of the basic laws of learning which is in conformity with the principles of experiential learning is the principle of analogy or assimilation. The principle states that when individual is faced with a new situation for which he has no natural or learned response, the response he makes will resemble an earlier response to a similar situation (Chauhan; 1978). The implication of this is that there is a similarity between every new and old experience of a learner, and as such, educators should always lead learners from their known to their unknown. Textbooks, abstractions, and illustrations should always be brought to reflect concrete life for learners; secondly teachers must provide identity between historical event and present day event. This principle is in agreement with the use of unit approach in pedagogy. In unit approach, individual learner makes decisions, grows and develops democratic point of view ((Nwachukwu 1989) (Chauhan 1987). The above principle is in conformity with experiential teaching method because in experiential teaching approach individuals are actively engaged in series of relevant activities using concrete or authentic materials. They make decisions and draw their conclusions based on the activities undertaken. Hence educators who want to adopt experiential learning approach need to understand this principle.
Principle of Mental Set: Another basic law of learning which supports the use of experiential teaching method is the principle of mental set. This principle talks about the pre-disposition to act in a particular way. It is the temporary condition of one’s attitudes, feelings and interests. Its view is similar to Kurt Lewin’s Gestalt field theory of cognitive learning. The principle states that for learning to occur, teachers must prepare learners for various activities in advance(Chauhan 1987, Nwachukwu 1989) Educators can encourage learners to source learning materials (teaching aids) from homes, community or school. In fact, the hallmark of experiential teaching approach is the involvement of learners in sourcing of teaching aids from their various homes. This helps to increase learners’ level of participation, and prepares their mind for the class activities which the teaching aids will be used for. The teaching aids must be meaningful and real. The environment must not be threatening but rather congenial. Learners must be encouraged to feel that they have control over future activities. Teachers should develop in pupils positive attitudes.
Retention of Learning: The purpose of education is to impart knowledge to learners. The knowledge thus imparted is only useful if learners are able to retain them for use in school, outside school and in future life. Presently the greatest tragedy to the education system at all levels in Nigeria is that learners hardly retain what has been taught in school beyond the period of examination. Educators have the onerous task of adopting or devising a pedagogical approach that will enable learners to acquire, retain and transfer knowledge transmitted in school to the wider society for use in dealing with every day problems. (Nwachukwu: 1989)
This discussion will border on factors that enhance retention and those that lead to forgetting. The discussion will examine how experiential learning will assist in elimination of facts that are responsible for low retention of knowledge acquired by pupils in schools especially in basic science.
Oladele (1987:103) had identified the following kinds of remembering:
(a) Recognition: This includes the recognition of the faces of people, painting, musical composition; pattern of physical arrangement which have previously registered on one’s sensory receptors.
(b) Recall: Restatement of something learnt in the past. We recall something even when it is not seen but was presented to the senses in the past.
(c) Reproduction: One recognizes a basic scientific law so well, because it was learnt very well.
(d) Performance: Habits learned or skills acquired are performed by an individual because it was properly learned or acquired.
Strategies for Facilitating Retention
Psychologists such as Unachukwu (1989), Chauhan (1978) and Cliford (1981) have suggested some strategies which classroom teachers should adopt to facilitate retention of learned materials by pupils. These are as follows:
1. Over learning: If a subject matter is well learned, retention is enhanced. Over learning is a term used to describe practice that continues after a perfect recall has been scored (Unachukwu 1989). To improve retention, over learning is essential.
To enhance over learning teachers should provide learners opportunity to practice the activity with materials. In this way what is learned becomes part of the learner. Experiential learning provides a perfect opportunity for over learning to take place, since it involves pupils practice what they learn in order to discover facts and confirm or refute laws and principles.
2. Meaningfulness and Organization of subject matter
According to Unachukwu (1989), retention is enhanced if materials are made to reflect things that learners can easily come in contact, or things that affect learners in real life. It is also necessary that materials are simple, sequential and logical. This is very essential in teaching science in basic school. Abstract concepts must be demonstrated with concrete objects, while teaching proceeds from simple to complex ideas. This will enhance the flow of ideas. For example, the knowledge of air will facilitate the learning about wind. This will be achieved through the adoption of experiential learning method in instructional delivery. This is because the method emphasizes learner’s previous experience, sequential progression from known to unknown, learners’ active participation and the use of authentic concrete objects are essential in instructional delivery.
Learning is retained more if what is learned is associated to a concept that is well known to learners. This is in conformity with the stimulus response (S-R) theory which says that learning is associative. (Unachukwu1989). Here what is meant is that learning is related to another earlier/previous experience. That is, relating one thing to another. The moment one of these two things is seen, the other can easily be recalled. In other words one becomes a cue to the recall of the other (Chauhan 1987). Experiential teaching method also provides opportunity for association. This is because of the use of concrete object as teaching aids. In the application of experiential teaching methodologies, emphasis are laid on teaching aids that are sourced from learners’ environment. This makes it possible for learners to be familiar with the teaching aid. As such, the learners easily come in contact with the materials on daily basis. Any moment a child sees a concrete object which was used to demonstrate/teach a particular topic in school, he/she will recall the knowledge that the topic imparted.
4. Learning by Practice
This method is also known as learning by doing. In this method, the learners are encouraged to participate actively in the learning process and the experiences acquired will be remembered for a longer period (Unachukwu, 1989). This practice is the core of experiential teaching. Through practice with concrete materials learners construct and reconstruct meaning which is life long and transferable from one situation to another. If for example, a child is guided to find out the characteristics of living and non-living things, the chances of the child recognizing all living and non-living things any where he sees it are very high. If on the other hand, a child participates in conducting any experiment in a subject matter, such child can hardly forget it. Indeed, learning by practice is the best way to learn as it imparts knowledge which is life long to learners.
5. Use of Mnemonic Devices
According to (Unachukwu 1989), the mnemonic devices are individually formulated abbreviation used by learners to aid recall of major points. Mnemonic devices are also used to learn materials that come close to meaningless materials. This is useful in the area of science subjects as formulas are represented with such devices. For example, H2SO4, HCl, CO2.
Imagery (AUDIO-visual Aids): Audio-visual Aids are mostly materials that are used to appeal to the senses of sight and sound of learners. These materials appear in various forms. They include radio, television, tape records etc. There is no point emphasizing the obvious fact that effective use of these materials as instructional materials in the class-room aids retention. The reasons these materials are needed in teaching is that there are people who can see but cannot hear well, while some other people can hear well but cannot see. This therefore means that for audio-video aids to serve properly, there should be joint use of the materials. Audio-video should be well prepared (Unachukwu 1989). This enhances retention of learners. Therefore if educators want to enhance retention in learning, they should encourage the use of this method.
This is a method of continuously rehearsing what was learned. This rehearsal could be done by heart or aloud by the learner. Learners can also recite individually in groups. Therefore, to encourage learners to retain what they had learnt, teachers should organize them in groups or encourage individual rehearsal of what they learnt.
Building blocks Psychologists have generally acknowledged building blocks as a method that enhances retention of learning. One way of doing this is to use Advance Organizer (Unachukwu 1989). Advanced organizer according to Unachukwu (1989:200) means that if the teacher teaches in advance of the actual lesson the main ideas of that lesson”. This helps students in many ways as well. It enables them point out the similarities between what they already know and what is to be learnt.
The implication of all these methods to the educational system is that Educators (teachers) should understand the teaching method which will lead to the adoption of these strategies that facilitate retention. In fact the process of education will be meaningless if children do not retain the knowledge transmitted in school. That is why the use of experiential teaching method is being recommended. The strategies discussed above are similar with the process of experiential teaching method. Educators must strive at fashioning out strategies that will enhance retention of knowledge transmitted in school. This will enhance transfer and application in the context outside the learning environment.
6. Transfer of learning
The essence of any form of education (formal or informal) is to equip the learner with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enable the learner to adapt and survive in the society. Formal education becomes irrelevant if the knowledge transmitted to those who submit themselves to it cannot be used to solving the problems of learner outside the school environment. It will be absurd situation if what children were taught in formal school had no relevance outside the context of the school (Nwachukwu 1989). Therefore, to make sure that the knowledge transmitted in schools are useful in overcoming the challenges of the society, educators must emphasize on strategies that enhance transfer of learning. Children are educated to prepare them for living. They are also educated to enable them acquire values and deep sense of morality. Based on those expectations, and in line with the implicit faith the society places on the efficacy of education, one should expect that all school learning should have a positive carry-over effect on challenges or problems in society. That is why government spends large percentage of her annual budget in education.
Knowledge transfer implies carrying knowledge across contextual boundaries (Fernwick 2000). To Chanhan (1978:200) knowledge transfer is “the application or carryover of knowledge, skill, habits, attitudes or other responses from the situation in which they were initially acquired to some other situation for which they were not specifically learned.” From the above therefore, achievement in any school subject can only be adequately measured in relation to the extent to which learners are able to utilize the knowledge acquired in school to solve their daily problems or life challenges. Teachers and curriculum planners have the grave responsibility of ensuring that the teaching method for use in teaching and the curriculum content make provision for transfer of learning. Psychologists on their own have identified three possible knowledge transfers. They include positive transfer, negative transfer and zero transfer (Nwachuku 1989). If knowledge in basic science and technology enhanced understating a concept in health education, positive transfer has taken place. If the same knowledge has inhibited learning in another subject area, it is negative transfer. But if it has neither enhanced nor inhibited acquisition of other knowledge or skill then it is zero transfer.
In transfer, there are three types of transfers these include: sequential, lateral and vertical transfers. Each of these may take place depending on the nature of its task, its levels of difficulty and the conditions which result in transfer (Nwachuku 1989).
Lateral transfer involves using knowledge gained to solve the same level of task of equal difficulty in another situation. Vertical transfer occurs if knowledge acquired is used to solve a complex problem from the same knowledge area. This implies that there is a movement from lower level to higher level of difficulty. (Chauhan 1978)
Indeed transfer is critical to learning, in that, if there is no transfer, there is hardly any learning, because the essence of learning is for the acquisition of knowledge, and skills needed to solve problems in life. Experiential teaching approach guarantees transfer of learning.
Life skill: These are the basic skills or techniques which individuals require to cope effectively in life and for every day functioning (UNICEF, 2001). By definition, experiential learning is seen as a process through which a learner generates knowledge, skills and value from direct experiences (Houle 1980). The skill may be vocational skill or life skills. Skill is an indispensable component of learning such that any form of education that does not incorporate skill development or acquisition is grossly inadequate. Skills are indispensable to the growth of knowledge. At the basic school level, knowledge in science and technology should impart basic life skills to learners, most especially those that relate to science process skills. This will enable learners develop the needed skills to cope in a society dominated by scientific and technological innovations and skills in doing further science. Typical examples of skills needed here are, perseverance, close observation, curiosity, testing, precisions in use of instruments, measurement and accuracy in interpretation. Children are empowered when they can exercise age-appropriate control, make choices that impact themselves, their resources and participate in the society. Life skills when appropriately mainstreamed into relevant subject matters contributes to young people’s empowerment by helping them to understand their rights and responsibilities while building their skills to understand and benefit from opportunities around them, UNICEF (2013). Life skill gives rise to critical thinking. This means that any child that acquires relevant life skills in the course of doing science must weigh every decision, viz-a-vis the merits and demerits of the usage of the knowledge acquired. The child must consider the impact of the application of the knowledge to himself and the larger community.
Life skills on the other hand are seen by World Health Organization (WHO, 2001;4) as “the abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands of every day life”. To UNICEF (2001:7), life skill means “a behaviour change or behaviour development approach designed to address a balance of these areas; knowledge, attitudes and skill”. Life skills promote mental well being of and competencies in young people to enable them face the realities of life. Life skill include, skills in problem solving, critical thinking, creative thinking, coping with stress and emotions (UNICEF, 2001). Well-motivated teachers through the use of certain method and tools could develop these skills in learners, which enables learners change from passive recipients of knowledge to active participants in the learning process (UNICEF, 2001). Life skills are not only indispensable in developing learners’ interest in doing science but are necessary in dealing with the realities of life. Educators should be cognizant of this important point and plan all basic science and technology lessons in such a way that each unit of instruction contains relevant life skill component. It is important to note that Education is not complete if it does not impart relevant life skills to its clientele. These life skills are very essential and are considered as major results/out-comes of quality education (science or art). In most developed educational settings such as U.S.A, United Kingdom, Canada, life skills are strongly emphasized as it is a means to empower young people to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. Science as we know being critical to the social and economic wellbeing of every individual should promote the development of life skills right from the formative level of education. Science education that does not include the requisite life skills in every unit of course may lead to children acquiring scientific knowledge which may turn to be destructive as the recipient of the knowledge may put the knowledge into wrong usage. It is therefore necessary that experiential teaching method which emphasizes the acquisition of skills could be used in the teaching of Basic Science and Technology. The major task before the teacher in employing the method is to carefully guide the learners so that the skills that will be emphasized in the course of instruction will be those that are useful to the development of the learners themselves and the society at large. Indeed, it is evident that the world at present has gone scientific. Social and economic lives are becoming more complex. It is becoming more important to gain scientific skills that will help young and adult people become competent and confident in achieving results to the best of their abilities. Therefore, a pedagogical approach that is suitable in equipping people to adapt to this present challenges is the one that equips learners with life skills in addition to imparting knowledge to the learner about the subject matter. Experiential teaching method is one of those teaching approaches and educators should encourage teachers to adopt and extensively use it in not only teaching of science and technology but all other subjects taught in basic schools. Through life skill education, children acquire a greater sense of belonging and confidence, their ability to take positive actions and make important decisions in their lives are enhanced. It enables to make better career choice in life. When life skills are built into the teaching of basic science and technology, children are placed in a better position to make positive career choices in sciences. This becomes obvious as UNICEF (2013) had stated that the definition of life skill includes a range of skills and knowledge. Essential in its definition are the personal, interpersonal and cognitive psychosocial skills that enable people to interact appropriately, manage their own emotional states and make their own decisions and choices for an active, safe and productive life (UNICEF 2013). Life skill gives rise to critical thinking. This means that any child that acquires relevant life skills in the course of doing science must weigh every decision, viz-a-vis the merits and demerits of the usage of the knowledge acquired. This could be achieved through the use of experiential teaching method in its delivery. Experiential teaching method brings to bear the creativity and ingenuity in learners. This is so because it challenges learners to discover fact about issues through the use of their sense or reasoning.
In a bid to providing equal opportunities to both male and female learners to fully participate in basic science or other subjects in school, using the experiential teaching approach, educators (teachers) should be gender sensitive.
Gender sensitivity in instructional delivery refers to the use of non-sexist expression. It refers to the selection of teaching materials that do not portray gender discrimination. Such teaching materials include: story illustrations, textbook illustrations etc. it extends to the non-assignment of responsibility to a particular gender, if on the other hand teachers emphasize or de-emphasize any gender, it will limit the extent to which the de-emphasized gender will succeed in the course of instruction, especially in science course. This issue has become necessary since we are living in a society that believes that science and all science allied professions are not meant for girls.
It is against this backdrop that Njoku (2006:16) had observed that “strong gender biases pervade science and technology (S&T) curricular used in Nigeria basic and senior secondary schools”. The biases according to him are in terms of choice of drawings, or pictures of illustration of S&T activities, language of expression used in S&T books, teachers’ choice of activities used in science teaching. He lamented that girl’s interest and daily experiences are rarely considered for inclusion in the S&T books. It is evident as was observed by Okeke and Rufai (2003:5) that “teachers’ teaching styles, attitudes, interactions, expectations and even the task they assign such as male and female leadership positions, work to reduce girls participation in class and eventual achievement”. If the above claim is true, it then means that if such ugly practices are not checked, teachers may extend it to this experiential method of instructional delivery. This will further deepen girls’ disadvantaged position in the study of basic science. Any discrimination in providing any type of education (science or art) as is in the case of boys and girls cannot be accepted as it cannot be justified. It constitutes breach of fundamental human right.
Gender response pedagogy must be adopted and used by teachers. Gender responsive pedagogy refers to the specific learning needs of girls and boys…in the process of lesson planning, teaching, and classroom management and performance evaluation (ADEA, 2006).
Participation in the context of this study refers to involvement. This means involving pupils adequately in science class room instructional process. Low or total none involvement of pupils in science delivery process is the bane of science instruction in Nigeria as was reported by some science education researchers.
Science is referred to as a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method as well to the organized body of knowledge gained through such research (Wikipedia, 2012). The scientific method according to Harlen (1992:8) refers to “the first hand use of physical and mental skills to generate and test reliable knowledge and generalization”. The skills involved in doing science is called the “process-skills”. The process skills involve process such as observation, question raising inquiry, hypothesizing, predicting, planning, experimenting and interpreting of observation. Science also involves using the knowledge that has been generated through the process skills to create and continually refine testable models of nature that help us to describe, explain, predict and to conceptualize observable phenomenon of nature (Harlen 1992). The implication of the above facts of science is that science is an activity-based subject. As an activity based discipline, children involved in the study of science are expected to be involved deeply and at all times in carrying out activity, asking questions while carrying out the activities and giving explanations on the outcome of the activities carried out. By so doing that children will study science with understanding. But contrary to the above stated approach in effective teaching/learning of science, Education science researchers have independently decried the none participation (involvement) of children in any doing activity in the science classes. For example, Omotayo and Olaoye (2008) had noted that one of the allegations against the poor quality of science instructions in Nigeria is the “total lack or insufficient participation of students in the learning process. Nworgu and Nwazojie (2003:13) had on their own lamented that “the didactic method which teachers currently employ in teaching primary science emphasizes rote memoration and regurgitation of facts. Pupils’ activities are given less emphasis”. Ling and Boo (2007:2) on their own stated that “the teaching of science in primary schools is often didactic. It is not surprising that pupils learn science concepts by rote---- there is often lack of understanding of concepts and principles”. The implication of the above observations is that if the teaching approach employed in teaching of science and technology is not changed from the current didactic to an activity-based, such as the experiential teaching approach, learners in Nigerian basic education will continue to perform abysmally in the study of Basic Science and Technology.
Participation (involvement) fosters commitment, ownership and interest. Therefore if children are to show sense of commitment and interest in the study of science, they must be involved in the process of generating ideas, explanation of facts and experimenting. They should be given tasks to carry out both in and outside the class room, while their teachers will facilitate the process. The class room science teaching approach must be such that is constructed in a way that brings children to the highest level of involvement (participation). This is what could bring about deep-level-learning. The adoption of Experiential teaching approach in class room science delivery will be a panacea to the total lack or insufficient participation of students in the learning process as was observed by Omotayo and Olaleye (2008).
Ajiboye and Ajitoni (2008:59) had observed that” children learn best by being interested fully in their own work; by seeing themselves; by doing themselves; by puzzling themselves; by verifying their own suppositions; by experimenting themselves; by drawing conclusions themselves on the strength of evidence which they have collected themselves”. Children could make mistakes which they then could rectify themselves in the light of new information and evidence which they have uncovered themselves (Omotayo and Oladeya 2008). For this to occur, an activity-based teaching approach such as experiential teaching method should be used in teaching/learning in the class room. This is because this teaching approach fosters participation (involvement) in class room activities. An involved person narrows his/her mind or attention to a particular activity that he is involved or participating. Involvement goes along with strong motivation, fascination and total implication: there is no distance between the person and the activity, no calculation of the possible sacrifice. Furthermore, there is an openness to relevant stimuli and the perceptual and cognitive functioning has an intensity, lacking in activities of another kind (Leavers 2002). Involvement or participation gives rise to state of flow in children. The state of flow according to laevers( 2002:13) is “sought stream of energy felt through the body” people actively seek this “sought-stream of energy”
Indeed, young people or children usually find it in play (Laevers 2002). This therefore demands that the teaching approach in school should be the type that involves play method. Experiential teaching approach therefore is the most suitable teaching approach especially for teaching of science and technology as it makes teaching/learning to be fun for learners. Infact, if we want our children to develop and become science literate, we cannot do without adopting Experiential teaching approach in teaching science and technology in basic schools as it fosters involvement (participation). The satisfaction that goes along with participation (involvement) stems from the facts that it arose exploratory drive in children. Exploratory drive is the interest which learners (children) develop that pushes them to get better grip on reality, the intrinsic interest in knowing how things and people are, the push to experience and find out more about things. But teachers and Educators should understand that involvement (participation) is only meaningful if the activity and materials in use are age appropriate and match the capabilities of the children. Indeed, If we want to achieve government’s objectives in basic science and technology for children, we must implore teachers to start using the experiential teaching approach, in teaching of science and technology since it will guarantee pupils participation in instructional process.
(Laevers, 2002) had suggested that teachers who use experiential teaching
approach in the class room should increase their pupil’s (Learner)
Supplying stimulating intersections or open impulses that engender a claim of actions in children like; suggesting activities to children.
Offering materials that fit into an on going activity.
- Inviting children to communicate
- Confronting them with thought provoking questions and giving them information that can capture their mind.
- Being sensitive to the basic needs of the child. This includes; needs for security, for affection, for attention, for affirmation; for clarity and for emotional support.
- granting children autonomy.
This means to respect children’s sense of initiative by acknowledging their interest.
* Giving them room for experimentation
* Letting them decide upon the way and how an activity is performed and when a product is finished.
* Implicating them in the setting of rules and the solution of conflicts
* Granting children autonomy.
This means to respect children’s sense of initiative by acknowledging their interest.
* Giving them room for experimentation
* Letting them decide upon the way and how an activity is performed and when a product is finished.
* Implicating them in the setting of rules and the solution of conflicts.
Indeed, teachers should use the experiential teaching approach to develop children skills in using science process skills; the process skills will make children participate (be involved) in science delivery process. This is quite necessary as the science process skill is the driving force in effective class room teaching-learning process.
Experiential Learning Models
A philosophy in any subject matter is only useful if it can be translated into action. If it cannot be translated into any action, it is useless; so also is the case with Dewey’s theory of experiential teaching approach. Itin (1999) had stated that “one step in explicating the philosophy of experiential education is through developing a model of the process”. According to him, all models are by definition, idealized visions or representations that help one examine the key principles within a theory. The purpose of designing any model is to demonstrate or illustrate graphically the interrelationship between the principles.
The intent of this model of experiential teaching approach is to provide the teachers and other readers with a holistic picture of how the philosophy might look in practice (Itin 1999).
Davis’ Model of Experiential Learning
Davis (1993) in his Conceptualization of the Experiential Learning model, looks at it as the transactive process between teacher and learners. Here, teaching in this model is defined as interaction of the student and a teacher over a subject. As a transitive process which his model portrays, the teacher brings information and so also the learner. Both of them bring information to the process. The teacher and the learners not only interacts but also exchange knowledge. This means that learners learn from the teachers and teachers also learn from the learners. Similarly student learners learn from the environment, but they also affect or change the environment. The educational process does more than take place within a setting. It interacts and transacts with numerous environmental aspects (Itin 1999).
The environment does not only refer to the immediate place where the teaching is taking place, but also the wider society including its socio-political and socio-economic sub-sectors, the entire learners in the class, and any other systems that impacts on the teaching learning process (Itin, 1999).
The Diamond Model of Experiential Learning
_There is also the Diamond model of experiential teaching approach. The Diamond model emphasizes four principle system and the transactive process between them. This transactive process which is part of the experience is between the four principle system (teacher, learner, subject and learning environment). The core of this diamond model is a teaching process which marks a shared concrete experience. The teacher trys to encourage the transactive process. That is how the experience is used to guide the educational and process.
The Diamond Model of the Philosophy of Experiential Education
In experiential teaching, experience plays vital roles in the learning process. Experiential learning describes the type of learning whereby learners are provided with the chances to acquire and apply knowledge and develop skills in a relevant setting. This means that learners get direct involvement with actions or activities that lead to knowledge acquisition. It was based on the above consideration and the belief that knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience that David Kolb in 2000 designed his own model of experiential teaching. The David Kolb’smodel portrays two related modes of grasping experiences. Concrete Experience (CE) and Abstract Conceptualization (AC). He then classified another two modes of transforming the experience as Reflective observation (RO) and Active Experimentation (AE). Focusing on the above, Kolb designed a four-stage learning cycle.
The four-stage learning cycle by Kolb (2000)
According to the learning cycle, immediate or concrete experiences are the basis for observation and reflections. The reflections are assimilated and sieved out into abstract concept from which new implications for actions can be drawn. These implications can be actively tested and serve as guide in creating new experiences, (Kolb Boyaltus Mainemielis: 2000). The model therefore suggests that to undertake learning requires specific abilities. For example, in grasping experience, some people perceive new information through experiencing the concrete, tangible, felt qualities of the world, relying on our senses and immersing oneself in concrete reality. Others tend to perceive, grasp, or take hold of new information through symbolic representation (abstract conceptualization) (David Kolh et al 2000).
In transforming or processing experience some people tend to carefully watch others who are involved in the experience and reflect on what happens, while others chose to jump in and start doing things. The watchers favour reflective observation while the doers favour active experimentation. Each dimension of learning process presents us with a choice. Moreso, human beings are naturally equipped with hereditary or with our past life experiences and the demand of our present environment, we develop a preferred way of choosing. To solve the conflict between concrete or abstract and between active or reflective, we resort to patterned characteristic ways. This is what is called the learning styles (David Kolh et al 2000).
The learning styles can be broadly classified into four groups. They include:
Diverging: The Diverging style’s dominant learning abilities according to Kolb et al (2000) are concrete experience and reflective Observation. People with this learning styles are best at viewing concrete situations from many different angles or points of view. They look at things from many perspectives. It is labelled “Diverging” because a person with it performs better in situations that call for generation of ideas, such as brain storming session (Kolb et al 2000). People with diverging learning style are characterized by having interest in broad cultures and like to collect information. Research according to Kolb et al (2000) shows that they are interested in people, sometimes imaginative and emotional. In schools, people with diverging style enjoy and favour working in group. They like listening with open mind.
Assimilating: For this group, their dominant learning abilities are Reflective Observation (RO) and Abstract Conceptualization (AC). (Kolb etal 2000). The people who possess this learning style are good at understanding a wide range of information and processing it into a concise and logical form. They are mostly in ideas and abstract concepts. The assimilating learning style is critical for efficiency in information and science careers. In schools especially at the basic level, children with this style prefer reading, exploring analytical models and having time to think things through (Kolb etal 2000).
Converging: Children with this learning style like to experiment with new ideas, simulations, laboratory assignment and practical applications. This learning skill is important for effectiveness and efficiency in technology careers. The converging learning style is a combination of Abstract Conceptualization and Active Experimentation (AE). In fact the people with this style perform well with finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They demonstrate strong ability in solving problems and making decisions based on finding solutions to questions and problems. Indeed they prefer to deal with technical tasks and problems rather than interpersonal issues (Kolb etal 2000).
Accommodating-this learning style is a combination of concrete Experience and Active experimentation. Children who have this learning style have the ability to learn from” hand-on” experience. According to Kolb et al 2000:6) People with this learning style “enjoy carrying out plans and involving themselves in new and challenging experiences”. They rely heavily on people for information when solving problems. In adult, this learning style is important in action-oriented careers such as marketing. In schools, children with this learning style work more with others in order to get assignment done or to do field work and also to test out approaches to completing project.
Research studies as was reported by Kolb et al (2000) have shown that there are some adaptive competencies that are associated with the four learning styles. The accommodative learning style is associated with acting skills; The Diverging learning style is associated with valuing skills. The assimilating learning style is related to thinking skill, while the converging learning style is associated with decision skills (quantitative analysis, use of technology and Goal setting) Kolb; 2000).
The description and explanation of the learning styles are further shown in table below.
Table 2: Learning Styles
Learning style Learning characteristic Description Converger Abstract conceptualization + Active Experimentation ( Strong in practical application of ideas.
( Can focus on hypo deductive reasoning on specific problems.
( Unemotional Diverger Concrete experience + reflective observation ( Strong in imaginative ability.
( Good at generating ideas and seeing things from different perspective
( Interested in people.
( Broad cultural interest. Assimilator Abstract conceptualization + reflective observation ( Strong ability to create theoretical models
( Excels in inductive reasoning.
( Concerned with abstract concept rather than people. Accommodators Concrete experience + Active Experimentation ( Greater strength in doing things.
( More of risk taker
( Performs well when required to react to immediate circumstance.
( Solve problems intuitively. Kolb and Fry on learning styles (Tennant 1996).
From the table 2, we can deduce that convergers are good at experimenting with new ideas, simulations, laboratory assignment and practical application. The Divergers on the other hand are good at listening with open mind and receiving personalized feedback. They also prefer to work in groups. The assimilators are good at science carriers and on information. In school, such learners prefer reading, lectures, exploring analytical models and having time to think things through. The accommodators are effective in action-oriented carriers; they can do field work and test out different approaches to completing a project.
_Processing: In the application of experiential teaching approach processing plays vital role. Luckner and Nadler (1997) stated that processing is designed to encourage individuals to plan, describe, reflect upon, analyze and communicate about their experience. Therefore processing according to them can be viewed as the driving force behind the experiential learning cycle, much like the sun’s energy drives the weather cycle of the earth. Processing can occur prior to during, and after the experience. Those teachers who become skilled in the experiential learning activities provide their learners with avenues to bring their thoughts, feelings, insights, metaphors, and behaviours patterns form the unconscious level to the surface (Luckner and Nadler 1999).
Processing in experiential learning model by Luckner and Nadler 1997
It is obvious from the foregone discussions on the models of experiential teaching/learning presented that in each of the models experience plays a vital role in the application of the experiential teaching model as a pedagogical tool in class room interaction. It is also pertinent to note that each of the models portrays the role of the learner as being vital in the teaching/learning process. This is not the case with traditional teaching approach where the learner remains passive and commits knowledge already packaged in final form to memory. The models of experiential teaching/learning emphasizes the need to engage learner in activities and views teaching learning as a transitive process between the teacher, and the learners. The models also shows that learning occurs as a result of interaction between learners and teachers over the subject matter. It shows further that there is interaction between the learners and the learning environment. If the models of experiential teaching are adopted, it will facilitate learning in learners that will be real, permanent and transferable to situation outside the learning environment as the learners will be practically involved in discovering facts about the subject matter.
The major feature of the models is the role of the teacher. His role is central to the transmission of knowledge as he is responsible for presenting opportunities for the experiences. He directs the nature of the experience that will occur, he helps learners utilize these experiences, he establishes the learning environment. It is also the teacher who places boundary on the learning objectives; he shares necessary information that will facilitate the experience to take place. Therefore, teachers have knowledge which is valuable and learners want and require the knowledge. The models impel teachers into facilitating the experiential learning process for students. (Itin 1999).
From the models presented, the learners are not passive, the learners actively engage in creating with the teacher the educational process. The learner is challenged to move beyond what he/she already knows which forms his/her initial experience. It is important to note that neither the teacher nor the learners dominate the process, the teacher and the learners both bring their skills, talent efforts and other resources to the educational process. This is what empowerment based education is all about. In empowerment based-education according to Shor (1992:17) “is student centered, but not necessarily student directed”. Finally, the model shows that teachers and learners create educational process through their interaction and transaction.
The information in the Kolb et al’s model of experiential learning is highly enriching. Educators are presented with ample opportunity of understanding their learners’ learning styles in order to offer them career guidance. It is equally important to note that of the learners themselves discover their learning style and its implications on carreer decision or choices, they will be in position to make informed decision adequate on selection of careers choice in life.
Therefore the application and understanding of the use of experiential teaching approach will have far reaching effect in the educational system, based on the above model of the approach by Kolb. There is compelling need that educators should adopt it as a teaching method not only in teaching basic science and technology but all other subjects taught in Nigerian Basic Schools.
Experiential Learning Theory
The experiential learning theory (ELT) by Kolb provides a holistic model of the learning process, which is consistent with what we know about how people learn. Experiential learning theory is based on Dewey’s philosophical pragmatism, Lewin’s social psychology and Piaget’s cognitive developmental genetic epistemology. To Kolb, Boyatzis and Mainemielis (2000) experiential learning views learning as the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experiences. In line with this observation, Kelly (2007) observed that Mezirow, Freire (2000) and others had stressed that the heart of all learning lies in the way we process experience in particular and, our critical reflection of experience. They spoke of learning as a cycle that begins with experience continues with reflection and later leads to action, which itself become concrete experience for reflection. The views of those scholars helped to show the way the experiential teaching approach if adopted and utilized will help to enhance pupils’ achievement in Basic Science and technology.
Indeed, current theory and practice have recognized experiential learning to predominantly constitute reflective, construction of meaning, with particular emphasis on critical reflection and dialogue (Fenwick 2000). Perhaps it is important at this point to discuss some of the educational theories of learning upon which experiential learning is anchored.
John Dewey’s Theory of Experience
Among the notable empiricists is John Dewey, whose version of pragmatism is known as instrumentalism (Ward, 2008). John Dewey is regarded as the modern father of experiential (progressive) education. Dewey’s Major concern was to link experience with reflection, which essentially means linking undending with doing or participation. According to Itin (1999:92) It is impossible to simply know without doing and impossible to fully understanding without doing?
Dewey said that an educator must take into account the unique difference between each learner. Each person is different genetically and in terms of past experience. Even when a standard curriculum is presented, using established pedagogical method, each learner will have a different quality of experience. Thus, teaching and curriculum must be designed in ways that allow such individual differences (Ward 2008). For Dewey, the one way delivery style of authoritarian schooling does not provide a good model for life in a democratic society. Instead, learners need educational experiences which will enable them to become valued, equal and responsible members of the society. He however cautioned the interpretation of the term “freedom” as freedom in its entirety is not the solution. He rather affirmed that learning needs a structure and order, and must be based on a clear theory of experience, not simply the Whims of teachers or learners (Ward 2008). Thus, Dewey proposed that education should be designed on the basis of a theory of experiences. We must understand the nature of how humans have their experiences in order to design effective education. In this respect, Dewey’s theory of experience rested on two central tenets i.e. continuity and interactions. Continuity: Dewey argued that human are sensitive to (or are affected by) experiences. Human beings survive more by learning from experience after they are born than do many other animals that rely on pre-wind instincts. In humans, education is critical for providing people with skills to live in the society. Dewey maintained that we learn something from every experience, whether positive or negative and one’s accumulated learned experience influence the nature of one’s future experience. Thus every experience in some ways influences all potential future experience for an individual. Therefore, continuity refers to this idea that each experience is stored, carried on into the future, whether one likes it or not(Ward 2008).
Interaction: According to Dewey’s postulation, interaction builds upon the notion of continuity and explains how past experience interacts within the present situation to create one’s present experience. Dewey’s hypothesis is that your current experience can be understood as a function of your past (stored) experience. Any situation can be explained in profoundly different ways because of unique individual difference (Ward 2008). This is important for educators to understand. While educators cannot control learners past experiences, they need to understand those past experiences so that better educational situations can be presented to the learner. Ultimately, all the teachers have control over are present situations. The good teacher with good insight into the effects of past experience which learners bring with them better enables the teacher to provide quality education which is relevant and meaningful for the learner (Ward 2008).
The implication of this theory of experience in teaching of basic science through experiential teaching approach is that learners should always be provided opportunity to be actively involved in the learning process. Materials must be provided in the classroom, and learners should be guided to manipulate the materials in order to find out facts about concepts being thought. Their participation will help to construct, reconstruct or deconstruct beliefs or myths which they hitherto had prior to learning. The facts that arose from the classroom interactions help to build up children’s experience for future life and learning activities. In addition, participation may facilitate learning because learners may have been involved (past experience) in similar activity either in school or in the community. Experiential teaching approach is orderly planned and sequential. Tyler (1971:85) identified planned “sequential practice” of what is being learned as a key element of learning system. The method offers learner opportunity to learn by practice. Dewey (1938:132) stated that “… All principles by themselves are abstract. They become concrete only in the consequences which result from their application”. This assertion is in line with Brookfield (1983;113) definition of experiential learning as “a method which reflects a desire to gain knowledge and skills”. Experiential learning provides learners opportunity for practical application of theory, the application provide knowledge and skills that are pervasive, permanent and life long. From the above discussion it is obvious that if experiential teaching approach is adopted as a teaching approach in teaching basic science and technology in schools, learners will have the opportunity to get involve in practical aspect of the learning in addition to theoretical aspect of it. This will lead to the pupils acquiring knowledge about science that will be long lasting, pervasive and permanent. This is the only way that the goal of government in introduction of Basic science and technology in the Basic school curriculum will be achieved.
Piagetian theory of Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget studied the development process of understanding knowledge and working of the child’s mind. He proposed that cognitive development proceeds through an orderly sequence of stages. His main concern was the study of how intelligence develops and the laws which govern this development. For Piaget, intelligence is the interaction between the individual and the environment, thus creating adaptation. He maintained that the functional process of intelligence consists of assimilation and accommodation. When a child tackles a new situation, he naturally goes about it in ways familiar to him, trying to understand the new situation in relation to what he had already known. According to Igboabuchi (1989) and, Chauhan (1989), assimilation is therefore the process whereby the individual gradually comes to include the new information acquired into his present thinking by adjusting his scheme of thinking so that the new one can be included.
Accommodation on the other hand is a process where an ‘old scheme (or way of thinking about something) is modified in order to adjust to the new information. (Igboabuchi 1989) Thus in intelligent act, the individual will assimilate information into his thinking structure and at the same time accommodate this structure to deal more appropriately with the reality. Adaptation occurs when assimilation and accommodation are balanced. Piaget believed that schemas (cognitive structure) exists in primitive form at conception and progressively develops during the life time in certain systematic ways. Therefore, in seeking to explore and understand the world around him, perpetual functional process will generate mental structures (or overall picture) about how things fit together. These mental structures develop and change as the child grows. Igboachi (1989) Piaget identified four stages of these mental structure developments.
Each stage has a peculiar way of organizing information or experiences. The four stages are as follows: Sensori-motor stage, pre-operational stage, concrete operational stage and formal operational stage.( Igboabuchi, 1989)
A. Sensori-motor stages: This starts from birth to the age of two. The child is in pre-nursery classes.
B. Pre-operational stage: This starts from ages two to four years. The child at this stage is in nursery class.
C. The concrete operational stage. This starts at the age of eleven (11) years
The concrete operational stage
Concrete Operational Stage according to Chauhan (1978:82) refers to “that stage of cognitive development when the child is able to direct his attention away from the static conditions and can focus on the whole set of successive changes that occur in the process of transformation”. This means that the child can reason well. This stage starts from age 7-12. the child at this stage can do “grouping” (Chauhan, 1978). Grouping is a term which piaget had coined to describe a set of operations which a child at this stage can undertake (Chauhan 1978). At this concrete operational stage, the child finds it difficult to go beyond concrete situations and generalize what was learned in one situation to a new situation. (Igboabuchi 1989). At the concrete operational stage, what the child undertakes and operates with is the real, he/she does not comprehend the potential. Here, the child begins to learn concepts such as number, order (in sequence) and measurement. This means that such children can undertake addition, subtraction, multiplying and dividing. During the period of concrete operations, there are some logical inconsistencies in the child’s thinking. Piaget calls this “syncretism” (Chauhan 1978). At this period a child can now understand or recognize whole no matter the manner and ways parts of the whole are arranged or re-arranged. For instance, if water is transferred from a large cup to a small cup the child will still recognize that the volume has not changed. The major achievements at this stage according to Igboabuchi (1989:84) “are decentering, conservation and reversibility”. In fact at this stage the child can think logically.
Children in this stage are in basic school and only very few will be in secondary school. Teaching here requires enough use of teaching aids to help appeal to learning senses and make lessons real. Here the use of experiential method of teaching will facilitate the development of both small and large muscles as children will continuously be engaged in the manipulation of the teaching aids provided in the class. Children should be encouraged to participate actively in all class activities as this will help develop their senses of smell, sight and in some cases taste. This is because participation (involvement) in events makes children active. It creates satisfaction. This satisfaction that goes along with participation stems from one source; the exploratory drive, inquisitiveness, the need to get better grip on reality. The intrinsic interest in how things and people are the urge to experience and figure out. Their affective and psychomotor domains will also develop. This is the hallmark of experiential learning. The experiential teaching method should be combined with dramatization, experimentation, and demonstration techniques. Also, there should be extensive use of illustration and interesting stories in the classroom during all instructional delivery. Basic science and technology should be taught solely through experiential learning while the teacher encourages the pupils to experiment.
The implication of Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development to learning is that teachers should try to find out what learners already know prior to the learning period. This is due to the fact that the way the child approaches the new learning situation will have bearing on the learners’ previous knowledge (old experience). If what the child already knows is related to what is to be learned, the process of new learning for assimilation will be facilitated. If it does not relate to what he had known, learning will not be enhanced very fast. The teacher who applies the experiential teaching methods can effectively achieve the above goal. This is because the teaching method builds on the past experience of learners in the presentation of new (present) experiences. More so, in line with the principle of the experiential teaching method, learners should be provided with learning materials that are appropriate to the Piagetian mental stage of the child. The teacher through facilitation should guide learners to find out fact about the topic for accommodation in their scheme. The learning materials must be adequate and preferably sourced from the learners’ environment. Teachers in Basic Schools should as well determine the piagetian mental age of children, so that they will know the appropriate teaching method to employ most especially in presentation of facts to learners. Furthermore, the knowledge of the mental stage of the learner shows that the material, the task to be assigned and the level of participation of learners should vary among learners. Moreover, to teach basic science and technology in basic schools, teachers must provide concrete teaching/learning aids (materials) to learners. This is because learners are at the concrete operation developmental stage. Ideas should be presented one after the other. If for example, a teacher is teaching about flowering plants, he should not combine the lesson with topics on vegetative plants. If he does, the children will get confused. Concrete objects must be used as teaching aids. Topics that are abstract should not be taught in basic science and technology and if it must be taught at all, concrete objects should be used to illustrate or demonstrate the effect of such topics. Such concepts include air, wind, and energy. If such abstract concepts are not illustrated with concrete object; the lesson becomes meaningless to learners at such mental stage Experiential teaching method makes learning real and addresses the learning needs of learners, as learners come face to face with real life challenges/problems. The major task of the teacher is to appropriately match each task with materials that will reflect life situation and the mental stage of learners as specified by piaget theory.
The major limitation of this theory is that human beings have individual differences; the mental development of children of the same chronological age may not be at exactly the same piagetian development mental stage. It is note worthy that Basic Science and technology is a subject that should be practical oriented. This becomes more obvious when the subject is taught to children that are still within the Piaget’s concrete operational state. To effectively teach the subject so that it will make meaning and as well bear the desired results, experiential teaching approach must be employed by teachers. This will help correct the faulty approach currently employed in teaching the subject which Nworgu and Nwazojie (2003:13) Lamented that in it “pupils’ activities are given less emphasis”. While Ling and Boo (2007:3) states that it makes pupils view science and technology as “pieces of information and do not see the big picture of a unit of learning”. If the experiential teaching approach is adopted by teachers in the teaching of science and technology, children will start to apply what they are taught in their science and technology lessons in their everyday activities. Therefore basic science and technology will not be made alien to pupils as was observed by Omotayo and Olaleye (2008:2) when they lamented that the current teaching approach makes ‘science alien rather than being tool for industry”.
Jerome Bruner, an American Educational psychologist developed a theory of intellectual development. His theory favoured the use of discovery approach to learning (Igboabuchi 1989). This discovery approach to learning is what experiential teaching approach emphasizes.
Bruner’s theory of cognitive growth shows that the child’s intellect develops in a sequential order or stage. This stages were labeled as presentation’s by him. (Igboabuchi 1989). The stages are as follows:
1. Enactive representation:
2. Iconic Representation:
3. Symbolic Representation:
Enactive representation falls within the early childhood. This is between the first two years of the child. This is the time the child gains knowledge by means of his actions or activities. (Igboabuchi 1989).
Iconic representation: At this stage, the child’s central focus is on concreteness. This stage is similar to piaget’s concrete operational stage. In this stage whatever is presented to the child must be concrete for the child to grasp and make meaning out of it. This means that concreteness not abstract conveys meaning to the child.
In this stage according to Igboabuchi (1989:86) “their (children’s) system of thought depends mainly on visual organization. The visual images aid the development of mental structures. The images formed help the child to engage in logical thinking”. Therefore, to teach a child that falls within this iconic stage needs presentation of concrete object. To achieve this, a teaching approach that encourages use of authentic or real object must be the most desired, such method must encourage hands-on and minds-on, it must be an activity-based teaching approach.
Bruner identified two major terms that characterizes stages of learning. These are
(a) Concept formation- This refers to the process of primitive categorization of objects. (Chauchan 1978)
(b) Concepts attainment. The number of dimensions or specific attribute values of concepts that are known to the subject before hand and hence he is properly set to find out the definite attributes of a concept. (Chanhan 1989)
According to the theory, there are three types of concepts
(3) Relational concepts
The theory posits that the variety of concepts differ from individual to individual depending upon his environment, intelligence and language ability. The formation of concept by individuals is cumulative. The concept formed in individual’s later life also is determined by the early experiences of the person. Therefore the early experiences are very important and play important role in the cognitive development of the child in later life: The concept attainment of children begins with concrete and real objects in the children begins with concrete and real objects in the child’s environment.
The child explores his physical environment and through the process of observation, imitation and conversation with older people he builds many concept (Chanhan, 1978).
Bruner’s theory have implications for Educators, especially the teachers. These implications according to Chauhan (1978) and Igbobuchi (1989) include:
(1) Educators (teachers) must provide direct experience of concepts of object taught to learners. This idea is consistent with the Philosophy guiding the application of experiential teaching approach. Included, experiential teaching approach emphasizes that materials for use in teaching should be sourced from the locality of the learners. This helps the learners to recognize the material and as well identify and independently utilize it in their homes. Moreover, direct experience gives first hand knowledge of the objects because first hand experience leaves better image of the object. (Chauhan 1978).
2. Use of teaching aids is very important. They help to appeal to perceptual senses while teaching. Experiential teaching approach also emphasizes the use of teaching aids. In the method, children are provided with authentic materials in the class room, while the teachers’ role is to facilitate the process of meaning making from the materials.
3. Use of Discovery approach and problems solving is essential in learning. This is because learners develop autonomy and self reliance and what is learnt is not easily forgotten. This is also encouraged by the experiential teaching approach. In it, learners are presented with real life problems. This helps learners to develop skills in solving similar problems outside the class room environment. It helps to build the self esteem of the learners.
4. New ideas are not easily assimilated by the mind, if they are not associated with the previous learned concepts. This is also the hallmark of the theory of experiential teaching. The method emphasizes previous experience. It was also developed based on Dewey’s theory of experience (Continuity and interaction). Therefore teachers should take cognizance of this. They should try to find out what the learner already knows in relation to the subject matter, so as to know the type of experience to provide to learners in order to facilitate learning of new concepts. If there is no link between what learners already know (Previous experience) and what is about to be learned (new experience), effective learning can hardly take place. Therefore experiential teaching approach is the most appropriate method to teaching based on Bruner’s theory of spiral curriculum.
Igboabuchi (1989:88) had noted that “to instruct someone in a discipline is not only a matter of getting him to commit results to mind. Rather, it is to teach him to participate in the process that makes possible the establishment of knowledge”. The above view is strongly supported by the proponents of experiential teaching approach, as the method emphasizes participation or involvement of learners in discovering facts about a subject matter. The approach believes that learning occurs through linking of understanding with doing. To do this, learners are involved or made to engage intellectually, emotionally, socially and practically in an uncertain environment where he/she may experience success, failure, adventure and sometimes risk taking. In the process, the learning most times involves interaction between learners, learners and educators, learners and environment. The educator’s roles according to Itin (1992:93) “includes selecting suitable experiences posing problems. Setting boundaries, supporting learners, insuring physical and emotional safety, facilitating the learning process, guiding reflection and providing the necessary information”. Bruner’s theory that emphasizes learning by discovery supports the science method as Wikipedia (2008:4) had defined science as “a reasoned-based analysis of sensation upon our awareness”. As such, the teaching method that is most effective in the study of since must be such that involves observation of natural phenomena, or experimentation, analyzing and predicting future events. Therefore, Bruner’s theory provides basis for the adoption of a teaching approach that will enhance the learning of science and technology at all levels of education. Such teaching approach must be activity-based and must challenge learners to effectively engage their sense of reasoning in discovering facts for themselves. Experiential teaching approach possesses all the features that the Bruner’s theory and science method require. Therefore, Educators should take advantage of this and adopt it in the teaching of science, mostly at the basic education level, as the foundation laid at this stage will affect positively or negatively the study of science at other levels.
Kurt Lewin’s Cognitive Field Theory and Motivation
Kurt Lewin’s field theory has its roots in Gestalt theory (Chanhan (1978). A Gestalt is a coherent whole. It has its own laws and is a construct of the individual’s mind rather than reality: for Kurt Lewin, behaviour was determined by totality of an individual’s situation. In the field theory, a field is the totality of co-existing factors which are conceived of as mutually interdependent. Individuals were seen to behave differently according to the way in which tensions between perceptions of the self and of the environment where the individual is located (Chauhan1978). Cognitive field theory on the other hand lays emphasis on cognitive structure or perception of the total field by the individual. From the theory, Lewin established that patterns of human behaviour are regulated and directed by cognitive structure which the individual develops in the course of his experience. Behaviour therefore is a function of the field that exists at the time the behaviour occurs. In the field theory, Lewin proposed that tension within the organism is created by disequilibrium within the life space, which the individual wants to release through activities (Chanhan 1978. Those activities, which help the individual to release tension, are called to have positive valence and those, which have opposite effect, are
said to have negative valence. Tension persists till the goal or intention is completed. Lewin proposed two types of needs; genuine needs and quasi-needs(Igboabuchi 1989).
Genuine needs arise from the psychological condition of the organism, such as hunger and taste. Tensions arising from intentions, acts of will, etc or even less arbitrary commitments of the person are called quasi-needs. Individuals have characteristic structure of needs, which creates tension and the organism in order to reduce tension is activated. The desirability of an activity is described by Lewin as Valence. Force is the tendency to engage in it. Valence helps to account for choice but force may be more useful for speed or persistence of behaviour. When a need arises, there will arise a force or a field of forces, signifying a valenced activity. If the individual has no need then the environment registers no valence for him nor does it generate any force for him. In the application of the cognitive field theory emphasis is laid on present experiences on the motivation of the Learner. Also, there is emphasis on the past experiences of the individual. Past experiences are very crucial but the cognitive theory focuses on present experiences of the individual. The importance of Kurt Lewin’s Field theory to education is that educators should try to know the learner from the learners’ own point of views. He should start from where the learners’ perceptions are; and not where the perceptions of the educators happen to be (Igboabuchi 1989)..
Secondly, Educators should set goals and purposes for learners. Individual goals should be set. Goals according to Lewin’s field theory create tension, which is reduced by action on the part of the learners. Goals activate the learners. More so, since environment determines the bahviour of an individual, school environment should be conductive for learning. Furthermore, educators should explore the immediate and concrete experiences of the learners, so as to determine the type of learning materials to be provided to learners. To this Nwachukwu (1989; 215) inferred that “perception of structure, the use of memory and previous experiences are the key factors in insightful learning. The emphasis is on restructuring of present field in order to extract the important elements.”
Again, the theory posits that learning is a process of interaction between an organism and its environment. Exploratory action, problem solving, creativity are all-important dimension of learning. This implies that children should be encouraged to explore the world as much as possible, ask questions, show excitements and express doubts. Experiences along such lines equip them to grow up as complete human beings(Nwachukwu 1989). This will help to develop skills which are indispensable to growth of knowledge in the learner. Learners through this process will acquire skills to test sciences laws, discover new ones, and challenge science laws that are inconsistent with facts that arise from experiments conducted. The above features are consistent with experiential teaching. This is contrary to other forms of learning, such as rote, which is meaningful where comprehension is tested, or expository learning, where the entire content of what is to be learned is presented in its final form. In both cases, the learner is passive, reproducing the learning that has been identified by the teachers (Ausubel 1968). It is in line with the above consideration that experiential teaching approach is being advocated for use in teaching of not only science but other subjects in our basic schools. This will enable the children to interact with the teaching/learning aids which the children will contribute to source from their environment. Experiential teaching will also develop in children the needed skills to explore their environment, ask questions and express doubts in situations that are inconsistent with facts on ground. This approach will develop the science process skill in the young learners and will lead to greater understanding and achievement in Basic science and technology.
Theory of Transfer
In an attempt to explain factors that influence learning transfer, psychologists propounded the following transfer theories: Generalization theory, theory of identical elements, formal discipline, theory of transposition. These theories are also consistent with the experiential teaching approach theory.
1. Generalization Theory: This implies the ability to state a relationship between two or more concepts (Chauhan 1978; Nwachukwu 1989). If a child learns a concept and is able to transfer its attributes to a new situation, which did not play a part in the original learning, the implication is that the child has generalized. If the human person did not have the capacity for generalization, he would have to learn the reaction to each stimulus with each new day. Experiential teaching approach enhances knowledge transfer through generalization by linking activities in school and home and with even past experiences.(Fenwek; 2000). It is evident from the theory that if experiential teaching approach is adopted by teachers in Basic Schools to teach basic science and Technology, children will learn to generalize knowledge or skills acquired from their science classes. This is the only way the knowledge they acquired will be useful to themselves and the society.
2. Theory of Identical Elements: This theory believes that transfer only occurs if there are identical elements present in both situations. (Chauhan 1978) The elements may be facts, skills, or methods. Fact may be colour, length, number, height, etc. skill includes; football playing, driving, playing guitar. while method may be effective way of teaching a concept, or problem solving. These mean that the curriculum should focus on the society so as to enable it impart knowledge that will be appropriate in solving the contemporary issues. Experiential teaching method employs proffering solution to real life problems in school. This enables learners to solve similar problems at homes. Experiential Teaching approach will therefore apply this theory of identical element to impart knowledge in science and technologies that will assist children solve contemporary problems within the learners’ category and ability.
3. Formal Discipline: This theory focuses on the mind. It believes that the learning/training the mind receives through education would have automatic transfer effect on out-of-school situation and on practical problems associated with daily existence. (Nwachukwu 1989) The theory emphasizes on the need to provide hard intellectual work to the learner to train his mental faculties (Nwachukwu 1989). From the above foregoing theories, it implies that education is sterile where there is no maximum provision for transfer of learning to occur. Educators have the responsibility to facilitate, direct, moderate, and guide the learning process to possess the much needed transfer effects. Transfer can be enhanced by the acquisition of ability of learning to learn.(Fenwick 2000) This enables the learner to discover creative ways of solving variety of problems. Moreover learners can discover variety of ways of solving problems only through active involvement in construction and reconstruction of meaning. They should be involved in all aspects of classroom activities. This will enable them develop the skills in solving problem which will later be transferred to out-of-school/classroom. Active participation in classroom activities is only guaranteed by the use of experiential teaching method. If a child is taught personal cleanliness using the method, the child should be able to practice regular brushing of mouth, hand washing before and after eating, or after visiting of toilets and at all other critical times. A child who learnt factors that supports combustion, should apply the technique at home while boiling water or lighting a match. Educators should avail themselves the knowledge, which those theories of transfer present in order to develop in their pupils the strategies to transfer all knowledge transmitted in the classroom to the wider society. The curriculum and teachers’ choice of instructional delivery approach must make provision for transfer of learning to occur. Experiential teaching method presents educators with maximum opportunities to ensure that knowledge transfer occurs. Educators should utilize the opportunity offered by the adoption and utilization of this teaching approach in order to ensure that children transfer knowledge acquired in classroom in Basic Science and technology lessons to the wider society. This is the only way Basic science and technology will become useful by serving as tool for industry and solution to problems.
Theory of transposition: This theory is based on the Gestalt theory of learning. This theory of transfer of learning states that transfer of learning occurs because of perceptual similarities between situations and that it is in the form of generalization that concepts or insights that are developed in one learning situation are usable in others (Chanhan 1978) Transposition has also been called pattern of experience. Based on the Gestalt’s theory of cognitive development, to learn is to form or to complete a Gestalt pattern or configuration which has meaning. The processes of the mental operations involved are as follows.
* There is grouping, re-organisation, and structurization of materials
* Process of inner relatedness of form and size.
* Inner structure
* Consistent thinking
This theory is in line with the experiential teaching theory as both of them consider past experiences in one situation enhancing learning in the new environment. Secondly, the theories consider processing of inner structure. This occurs through reflection on both the past and the present concrete actions under taken. By consistent thinking, the learner reflects to relate past and present events.
Theory of learning to learn: Improvement in learning ability by individuals or learners results if the individuals practice a series of tasks of a related or similar task regularly. For example, if pupils regularly practice classification of living and non-living things each time topic related to classification in the class room with the teacher using authentic objects, the pupils can master classification of objects so well that they can easily classify any other object other than living and non-living things both at schools and their homes. Moreover if learners solves problems related to velocity regularly for some days, they will master it so well that they will not only solve problems relating to velocity but they become progressively more efficient in it and can solve related problems in acceleration and can know their differences with speed. The progressive improvement is brought about by a type of transfer known as ‘learning to learn”. Learning to-learn ranges from rote memory to problem solving. The similarity or relationship involved appear to be learning general approaches or modes of attack, becoming familiar with situation and learning related classes of materials (Chauhan 1978). This therefore means that teachers can foster transfer of learning in their learners by providing them opportunities to constantly learn or practice learning how to learn. For this to occur, teachers must adopt an activity based teaching approach such as experiential teaching method in instructional delivery. Experiential teaching approach is unique and can foster learning-to-learn as it encourages learning through play using real or authentic objects that learner can easily locate in their local environment
Review of Empirical studies
A number of studies have been reviewed for this study. Rachael Mabie and Matt Baker (1996) carried out an experimental study using experiential teaching approach with two urban inner city Los Angeles Schools in United States of America (USA). One of the schools was in East Los Angeles and the other was in South Central Los Angeles. Five fifth grades, sixth grade or fifth/sixth combination classes participated in the study.
These groups were randomly assigned to the following treatments:
(a) A ten-week garden project consisting of a fifth/sixth combination class and a sixth grade class (56 students).
(b) A ten-week series of three short in-class projects (including bread baking chick rearing and seed germination for two of the fifth grade classes (57 students) and
(c) One control group, a fifth/six combination classroom that received no treatment (13 students).
The treatments (gardening projects and short- in – class projects) were developed for integration into a 10- week instructional unit in science. The teacher of the control group did not include the specific food and their competencies in the curricular. Gardening instruction was structured as 15-20 minute session of lecture, discussion and demonstration in the classroom, followed by group gardening activities. Lessons were one hour each week for the ten-week period. Three days (one day per week) were each spent one each of the short, in-class project (bread baking, chick rearing and seed germination). Emphasis was placed on observing each project as it progressed, recording observations, making predictions and discussing outcomes.
The data collection involved researcher observation of students’ written responses to series of questions on pre-test and post-test instrument developed by the researchers and reviewed for validity by a panel of experts. The instrument was designed to find out how much children knew about where food comes from, their level of awareness of careers in agriculture and environmental significance of agriculture. The instrument was pilot-tested with fifth graders at another inter-city Los Angeles School. The K-R20 reliability co-efficient was 0.74. The data were analyzed using the SPSS+PC Statistical package.
The result disclosed that the learners participating in the study knew very little about food fibre system before completing a ten-week series of the experimental activities. The learners’ knowledge increased through participation in the activities. For example, 69% of the control group participants 45% of garden group participants and 42% of short project participants, said that agriculture was interesting on the pre-test. On the post-test, the percentage of yes respondent in the control group declined to 54% and increased to 83% in the garden group and 85% in short project group. The students showed little understanding of the food and fibre system in their state. On pre-test, 42% of control group students 25% of garden group students and 36% of short project students knew that California was their nation’s leading farm state. On the post-test 50% of control respondent, 78% of garden respondents and 78% of short project respondents were aware of their state’s status in agriculture. The students’ knowledge increased through participation in the activities. Many more were able to identify related careers. The students went from knowing very little to becoming quite knowledgeable. Based on this research, the researcher therefore recommended that extension professionals should assist teachers in introducing experiential activities into their curriculum. Secondly they opined that it is critical to ensure that today’s youth grow up with basic understanding of food and fibre system. People should be capable of making educated decision on issues in the voting booth as well as in their personal lives, starting in kindergarten and continuing through higher education. Finally, they stated that none use of experiential learning method makes subject matter seem to loose the qualities that make it exciting.
This study is considered relevant to the present study mainly because it shows how much knowledge learners can gain by being involved in practical activities that bring discovery of knowledge. It also shows that science will be best taught through experiential teaching methods, as is advocated by the researchers. The above study is also considered relevant to this present study because just like the participants were able to identify careers in agricultural science because they were taught with this method, experiential teaching method will enable learners become aware of careers that exist in sciences if the teachers adopt experiential teaching method for the teaching of science in the schools.
In another related study, Richardson (1994) conducted a study to determine best learning preferences by specifically targeted Extension audiences in eleven (II) North Carolina counties in United State of America (USA).
Agents from each of the II counties selected an applicable program for their county and developed educational program objectives and a list of clientele targeted to receive the specific information. The program ranged broadly from those focusing on water quality, community leadership development, to feeder cattle conditioning programs. Seven people who participated in the program in each of the II counties were randomly selected from county list; and were subsequently interviewed by the extension agents in those respective counties.
To determine the single most preferred way of learning by targeted clientele, they were given the choice of hearing, seeing, touching/feeling, doing, tasting, smelling and discussion. Among these options, the respondents indicated an overwhelming preference for “doing”
Learning method % Preference
In another question, clientele were asked if there are any combinations of learning methods that help them learn better. In their responses, the preferences were strongly focused on combination of methods that allow them to gain interactive sensory experience when learning. These findings indicated that 74% preferred some combination that allows them to “do” what they were being taught. Preferences for combinations that include being able to “see” what is being taught were indicated by 64.9% of clientele. Also 35.1% preferred a combination of delivery method that allows them ‘discuss” the information they are receiving.
When clientele were asked why they preferred a combination of learning modes, their responses indicated that the learning process was positively enhanced. Their responses to why they preferred the combination include the following;
(a) “Combinations make learning easier and faster”
(b) “Helps for better and longer retention”
(c) “By using all senses, can gain more knowledge”
(d) “Helps to discuss, then do”
(e) “If I can see it done, I learn it”.
To confirm the consistency of the responses to the test items, Richardson administered the same instrument to a group of new workers during their orientation training. In their responses to the single most preferred mode of learning, agents even indicated stronger preference for “doing” or performing 80.7% seeing 16.6%, Discussing 3.2% Hearing 0%, Touching/feeling 0% tasting 0%. On combination of modes of learning that were most preferred, the new group (agents) was similar to the earlier responses. However there was an even greater preference for discussion to be included in the combinations. Seeing/Doing/Discussing had 37%. Hearing/ Smelling/ Tasting/Discussing has 22%, seeing/Doing had 18.6% Hearing /Seeing/ Feeling/ Smelling/Tasting/Discussing/Doing had 7.4%. Hearing/seeing/doing had 7.4%, doing/discussing/3.7, doing/seeing/discussing/touching/feelings had 3.7%. From the above, all the new agents preferred combinations that include “Doing”. When the two studies are compared, it is obvious that there is a parallel between those two different groups of people. They agreed that learning experience should include opportunities to “do” “see” and “discuss” the information presented. The results from the above studies led the researcher to recommend that extension education programs should include foremost, experiential or “doing” opportunities. The learning process is further enhanced by providing opportunities for learners to see and discuss the information.
The above study by Richardson is considered to be relevant to the present study on the effect of experiential learning on pupils’ achievement in basic science. This is because the study showed how relevant or helpful the experiential learning can be to any form of learning, be it that the learning is done either in the formal school system or in the informal system. The study further revealed that the method enhances retention, logical presentation and presents learners opportunities to practice what they have learned in new situation (transfer of learning). Since the study of science involves testing, asking questions, comparing observation etc. which culminate in “doing” and seeing”, it therefore means that pupils’ achievement in science will increase if the subject matter is taught with a teaching method that has the same process.
Grisoni (2002) conducted a research on the use of experiential method in instructional delivery. The objective of the study was to check his projected assumptions about the use of experiential learning in Bristol Business School London, United Kingdom. In a bid to conduct the study, he made comparisons of his personal Espoused theory about experiential learning with the organization’s (Bristol Business School) theory in use. Semi-structure discussions were used to gather data from staff and students of the institution.
The gathered data were later content analyzed and were grouped together. More so, his major sources of basic data were,
1. Personal Espoused theory and theories in use
2. Organizational Espoused theory and theories in use.
In comparing his personal Espoused theory and theories-in-use, he discovered that there are contradictions between the two sets of theories, which indicate tension between conscious and unconscious processes. While espoused theories are the conscious expression of value theories-in-use are his personal unconscious enactment of them.
The data gathered from the semi-structured discussion was content analyzed and the findings were grouped together under the following
( Different understanding of the term experiential learning
( Roles and relationships between staff and student
( Experiential learning is non-academic
( Experiential learning as an inefficient and costly method of learning
( Experiential learning is seen as a resource intensive learning strategy.
From the foregone observations, the researcher concluded that experiential learning was being used in different ways by wider range of staff of the school than anticipated. There was an appreciation that experiential teaching could provide more effective learning for students but was countered by argument about resources constraints and fears about staff competence. In the light of the above, the researcher recommended that there is need that a broader application of the approach as a pedagogy requires considerable staff support in redefining the roles of teachers as facilitators of learning.
The above study is considered relevant to the present study; firstly, the findings show that fear by teachers to adopt new teaching method/approach which will help to improve pupils academic achievement is the same both in developing and developed countries. It further showed that resource inadequacy, which hampers implementation of innovative educational programs, is not limited to developing countries. Moreover, the teaching method explored by the study is the same as the one currently being studied.
Finally, it was further discovered from the study that if the teachers overcome their perceived fears and adopt the method, experiential teaching approach is the most effective and will be preferred to other teaching methods.
Ajiboye and Ajitoni (2008) conducted a study on the effects of full and quasi-participatory (experiential) learning strategies on Nigerian Senior Secondary Students’ environmental knowledge implications’ for classroom practice. The study determined the effects of two models of participatory (experiential) teaching models; the full and quasi participation on secondary school students’ achievement in selected environmental issues and concepts. Secondly, the study also examined effect of group size and academic ability on subjects’ knowledge of the environmental concepts.
Three hundred and sixty senior secondary two (SSII) students from nine (9) secondary schools in Ire Podun Local Government Area of Kwara State constituted the subjects of this study. The selection of the nine (9) schools was based on stratified random sampling. The study adopted a pretest, pos-test, control group, quasi-experimental design, using a 3x2x2 factorial matrix. Randomly selected intact SSII class was involved in the experiment. Six of the nine schools were randomly assigned as experimental group and three as control group. Out of the six treatment schools, three were assigned to full learning participatory learning strategy (FLPS) and three to quasi- participatory learning strategy (QPLS). Also three used small groups (4 students) and three used large groups (8 students).
Four instruments were used in the study. General Aptitude Test (GAT), Participatory Learning Guide (PLG), Environmental Education Model (EEM); and Knowledge of Environmental Concept Test (KECT).
The GAT which is a 50-item multiple choice test was designed by the researchers, has a reliability index of 0.86 using K-R 21 formula. The GAT scores were used to classify subjects into three academic ability groups of high, average, and low. Also KECT is a 30-item multiple choice test designed by the researcher based on the environmental concepts taught the pupils. It has a reliability index of 0.92 using the K-R21. The Participatory Learning Guide (PLG) and the Environmental Education Model (EEM) were the experimental materials or stimulus instruments for the study. The Teacher Instructional Guide (TIG) was the guide for the co-operating teachers in the full and quasi-participatory learning groups. The conventional lecture method (CLM) group was allowed to work in the conventional mode.
The full participatory and quasi participatory learning strategy guides were a 3-hour and 20 minutes session of five periods each, split into three separate sessions, of eight minutes for each of the first and second sessions and forty minutes for the third and last session. Students were assigned to a four-member group for small group and eight-member group for large group.
The participating teachers in the study were those who had at least a university degree preferably B.Ed. in any field, since environmental education cuts across many disciplines. Also the teachers were those with a minimum of five years post-qualification experience. All the subjects for the study were pre-tested using the instrument. Teaching in both the experimental and control group were carried out for three period (sessions) of 200 minutes (80+80+40 minutes) per week for six weeks. The data collected were analyzed using Analysis of co-variance (ANCOVA) to test the hypothesis and differences among groups, using pre-test scores as covariates.
The result of analysis of the data shows that there is a significant main effect of treatment on variation in students’ knowledge of environmental concepts. The data also reveals significant main effect of group size and academic ability. Specifically, the quasi-participatory group obtained a mean of 54.56, the full participatory had a mean of 52.40 while the conventional had a mean of 51.75. To determine the source of the observed significance, a post-hoc analysis was carried out using the Scheffe, multiple ranges. The outcome of the analysis shows that quasi-participatory learning strategy differed significantly from the full participatory learning group and the conventional lecture method-group.
However, the difference in the mean scores of experimental group I and the control group is not significant. This shows that the quasi-participatory learning strategy (QPLS) is best suited to enhance the academic achievement of senior secondary schools students’ knowledge in environmental education. It was also observed that the differences between the mean scores of subjects on the small and large groups were significant for the experimental group and control groups.
This study is considered relevant to the present study mainly because the teaching strategy explored by the study is the same with the teaching subject the present study is set to explore its effect in the teaching of basic science.
Secondly, the study explored small group of four members, which is also part of the design of the present study. Furthermore, the subject area used by the study is taught in basic schools as basic science which is the subject area this study is based. The above study is also considered relevant to this study because, the challenges of large class and poor teacher preparations in the study area are similar to those in the area where this present study was conducted.
In another related study, UNICEF, UNESCO and the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) (1997) conducted an assessment of learning achievement of basic four pupils in Nigeria on some basic subject area, of which basic science was one. The study was designed to identify competencies within specific knowledge domains such as basic science which a child who has been exposed to four years of basic schooling should have acquired within the dictates of curricular demands. Twenty-two thousand, two hundred and fifty two pupils (22,252) made up of twelve thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven (12,777) males and nine thousand, three hundred and one (9,301) females pupils while one hundred and seventy four (174) unidentified pupils (those who did not indicate their sex) were sampled across the country for the study. The instrument for collection of data consists of forty-five multiple objective test items constructed by the team of researchers that were involved in the study. The reliability co-efficient of the instrument was 0.81 using the K-R21 reliability co-efficient. The data collected were analyzed. The result indicated that the national mean score of pupils in basic science was 32.77 with the standard deviation (SD) of 18.19. The scores were further broken down. It was further discovered that females had a national mean score of 32.96 with SD of 18.29, while males had a mean score of 32.73 and SD of 18.10. The above score made the researchers to draw the conclusion that the performance of Nigerian basic school pupils who have completed four years of basic education indicates that the level of attainment in basic science is very low. They also noted that girls performed slightly higher than boys, as against the generally held belief that science is more suitable for males than females.
The above study is considered relevant to this present study because it showed the low level of attainment in basic science in Nigerian basic schools by pupils, which therefore necessitated the need for an urgent search for solution. This present study is part of the response for the search for solution to arrest the ugly situation. Furthermore the study focused on basic science, which is also the focus of the present study. Finally the study area of the above research cuts across the whole country including the area where this present research is centred.
Turesky and Wood (2010) carried out a study to determine how Kolb’s conceptual framework can aid reflection on teaching, based on the experiential teaching model designed from Kolb’s experiential teaching model.
In a bid to conduct the study, the following questions were posed and served as guides for the study.
1. How might Kolb’s theory of experiential learning be used as an interpretive framework for analyzing students’ work in terms of their leadership development?
2. How might the analysis of students’ work inform and improve teaching?
3. What strategies might be created to promote students’ growth as leaders by encouraging them to build on dominant learning modes while also strengthening less developed ones?
Two students’ papers which focused on their own leadership experiences were selected as samples for the study. In order to generate data for the analysis, the researchers structured the assignment around Kolb’s modes of experiential learning, feeling, watching, thinking, and doing. They closely analysed the two sampled female student’s papers. Because the papers involved writing narrative accounts of experience in the work place, the researchers wanted to track how students cast themselves as protagonists, facing something they do not totally understand, that intrigues them, that made them realize that they lack certain leadership skills. In order words, they provided the students the opportunity to use Kolb’s framework as they reflected back on their lived experience in leadership. They also wanted the students to analyze and reinterpret that experience through the Kolb’s four modes in order to learn how they were learning and operating as leaders and to imagine ways they might learn and operate more successfully in the future.
In generating information from the work, the researchers analyzed the work by reading and re-reading them, using the constant-comparative research. Together they formed a community of interpretation, checking and re-checking their understandings as they emerged. They thoroughly considered every aspect of the students papers by identifying in the narrative involvements, the abstract, orientation and complicating actions to (coda) These helped them determine which Kolb mode(s) each student used to explain her predicament and her work to resolve it. The evaluation segment helped identify whether or not the student drew from alternative modes in analyzing the experience, imaging alternative responses and gaining insight for future work.
The findings from their study, generated potential strategies to nurture students growth as leaders. Secondly, the study made them became increasingly adept at analyzing students’ stories from this perspective. Specifically, the study revealed that Kolb’s theory of experiential learning as an interpretive frame work for analyzing students’ work in terms of their leadership potential made the researchers become more deliberate as teachers, about analyzing students’ strength and weaknesses. This made the researchers develop assignments that were tailored to their students individuals leadership development needs. The study also made the researchers to know that as teachers, utilizing Kolb’s theory of experiential learning as interpretive framework for analyzing students’ work in terms of their leadership potential will make them know their own strength and weaknesses as experiential learners. Hence it makes teachers know who their students are as learners and then extrapolate from that as teachers what they can do to improve their teaching.
This study by Turesky and wood (2010) on how Kolb’s conceptual framework can aid reflection on teaching is considered relevant to this study; firstly, the topic of the study which was determing how Kolb’s conceptual frame work can aid teaching is all about the use of experiential teaching approach, which is also the focus of the present study. Secondly, the study revealed that the experiential teaching approach can be used to teach other subjects, outside the teaching of basic science and technology which is the focus of the present study. Therefore, if it is adopted as teaching approach in schools, it can be used to teach art related subjects.
Furthermore the findings in the study showed that experiential teaching approach helps the teachers to evaluate both the learners and teachers themselves. Teachers can use it as an effective instrument for self evaluation. It therefore shows that the method can lead to enhanced professional development of teachers.
Akiubobola (2009) carried out experimental work on enhancing students’ attitudes towards Nigeria senior Secondary school physics using the co-operative (experiential), competitive and individualistic learning strategies. The study determined if there is a difference in the attitude of physics students who have been taught with comparative, competitive and individualistic learning strategies. The study also determined if there would be a difference in the attitude of male and female students taught with co-operative (experiential) competitive and individualistic learning strategies. Two hypotheses guided the study.
In a bid to carry out the study, the researcher adopted a quasi-experimental design. All senior secondary School two(SS II) physics students in all the 13 co-educational schools in Ife South Local Government area of Osun State Nigeria formed the population of the study. The size of the population was 680 senior secondary two (SS II) physics students. A random sampling technique, through the use of balloting was carried out to select three co-educational secondary schools. One intact class from the participating schools was randomly reflected and the three infact classes were randomly assigned to treatment groups. Students Attitude Towards Physics Questionnaire (SATPQ) was the instrument used for data collection. This instrument used to measure the attitude of physics students towards the learning strategies was developed by the researcher. Content validity of the items was assessed at the time they were developed by an educational psychologist and two physics experts. The SATPQ comprised 25 items on four (4) rating scale responses. The responses, strongly Agree (SA) disagree (D) Agree (A) and strongly Disagree (SD) were respectively assigned value point 4,3,2,1 for positive statements and in reverse order for negative statements.
The instrument was trial-tested to establish the reliability of the instrument in the school not used for the main study. Cronbach Alpha was used to obtain the reliability co-efficient of the instrument. The instrument had an internal consistency of 0.86.
Research assistants who were regular teachers in the schools were used to teach the topics. This research Assistants were given special training on how to teach the concept using various learning strategies. The use of the research Assistants also helped to control teacher quality variable. Students in the co-operative (experiential) learning group were taught in small heterogeneous groups of level. different ability. Each group was made up of 3 students. Students in the competitive group were also divided into groups. Questions in the form of quizzes were asked of each group in order to determine the winning group. The best group was given a prize at the end of each lesson. Students in the individualistic learning group completed their activities individually. The concept was taught to the groups for four weeks. The SATPQ was administered at the end of the treatment. Analysis of co-variance was used in testing the hypothesis formulated at P<0.05 alpha level.
The result of the analysis of hypothesis one indicated that a significant difference exists in the attitude of students taught physics with co-operative (experiential), competitive, and individualistic learning strategies. Students showed more positive attitude towards competitive than individualistic strategy. Also student showed more attitude towards co-operative (experiential) than competitive learning strategy.
The result of the second hypothesis indicated no significant difference in the attitude of male and female students taught with co-operative, competitive and individualistic learning strategies. The above results therefore made the researcher to conclude that using co-operative learning strategy will enable the students to understand, enjoy and create more positive attitude towards physics, so that teaching it will become more rewarding to teachers. Also, co-operative learning strategy does not discriminate against gender.
This study is considered relevant to this present study which is on the effect of experiential teaching approach on pupils’ achievement on basic science and technology for so many reasons. These reasons include the fact that the teaching method used which is co-operative is an activity-based and is also an aspect of experiential teaching approach, which is the focus of this present study. Small groups were used for the study, the same small groups were used in the present study.
Secondly, the study focused on physics which is an aspect of Basic Science and Technology. In fact physics is studied as basic science at the basic level of education.
Furthermore, it has been reported that students poor attitude and performance in physics at the senior secondary level is due to the poor foundation laid at the basic level. This poor foundation gives rise to students developing poor attitudes towards all subjects related to basic science and technology at higher levels of their educational pursuit. It therefore means that if co-operative learning strategy which is an aspect of experiential teaching strategy improved attitudes of students in the study of physics, experiential teaching approach will also improve pupil’s attitude in the study of basic science and technology which will culminate in improved performance by pupils.
In another related study, Yuan Ling and Hong Kwen Boo (2007) conducted a study on the effectiveness of concept mapping (A participatory and activity-based-teaching method) as a revision tool in enhancing pupils’ learning and understanding of primary science concepts. This research study was conducted in Singapore.
The research study was a quasis experimental study. The research design of the study was evaluative. This facilitated gathering of empirical data and also helped the researchers in making valid statement about the effect of concept mapping on pupils’ understanding and learning of science. Classes gifted and mainstream pupils were selected and assigned two groups. A the pupils were subjected to two groups. All the pupils were subjected to take a pretest to the topic. Pupils in the experimental group were continuously exposed to concept mapping as a learning and revision tool in concurrence to the topics taught. Secondly, pupils constructed a concept map in groups of four for the concept lists provided by the teacher. Pupils from the control group outlined the summary in points form for the same topics taught. Thirdly, pupils from both groups took the post test of the topic and their results were analyzed in a quantitative analysis. The above procedure was repeated for each of the topics covered in the first term for both the gifted and mainstream pupils. Pupils’ results in the first continual assessment and mid year exam were also compared in an attempt to check on the validity of concept mapping in enhancing the retention of concepts over four months. A total of one hundred and eight(108) pupils selected from all boys school cum gifted education centre receiving the top 1% of boys from the primary three gifted steaming test in Singapore were randomly selected for the study. All the pupils were from primary four. The experimental group, which was a randomly selected gifted and main stream pupils (N=16, N= 40 respectively) were expected to create a concept map at the end of each of the topic taught. The control class of the gifted and main stream Pupils (N=15, N=57 respectively) outlined a summary of the same topics on heat and at plants parts in team 2. Main stream pupils covered the topic of matter in team 1 and the topic of water in team 2.
To ensure the test validity and comparability of the pre and the post tests for each topic, a table of specification was drawn up to facilitate the crafting of questions to involve the same concept and process skills for the topic tested for both the pre and post tests. Multiple choice questions amounting to five marks were selected to remain in line with the learning objectives of each topic for the pretest. Selected questions were crafted to test pupils’ application and linking of concepts. A parralled set of questions was selected for the post test. A panel experts comprising of National Institute of Education professors validated the test items, they prepared a model answers and the marking scheme before finalization of both pre and post tests. 30 minutes were allocated for the pre and post tests respectively. The pupils were expected to finish both the multiple choice tests and open- ended questions for each topic.
The data collected were checked and analysed with pair sample t-test. The null hypothesis were tested using the analysis at 95% confidence level. The results from the analyzed data showed that there was a significant difference between the two groups. The significant difference was in favour of the experimental group. This made the researchers drew the conclusion that the use of concept mapping as a revision tool enhances concept learning in primary science.
This study is considered relevant to the present study on the effect of experiential teaching approach on pupils’ achievement in basic science and technology because the subject which the study was focused was the same with the subject focused on in the present study which is primary science. Secondly the finding of the study showed that the use of traditional method of science instructional delivery which has led to pupils poor achievement, in basic science and technology which in turn necessitated for a search for an alternative teaching approach is the same in Singapore just as it is in Nigeria. Furthermore, the teaching approach used in the study was an activity based participatory approach experiential teaching approach, is also activity-based participatory teaching approach. Again, the participants in the study were primary school pupils. The same primary school pupils are the subjects (participants) in this present study. The study involved arranging children in groups (small groups of four pupils), this present study also arranged the learners in similar small groups, with each group comprising of 3-5 pupils. Therefore if concept mapping teaching approach had enhanced retention and achievement in primary science in Singapore, experiential teaching approach will as well do the same to pupils in Nigerian basic schools.
In another related study by Omotayo and Olaleye (2008) on affective science teaching method to enhance qualitative science education in Nigeria, carried out in Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. The researchers sought to investigate the performances of students in cognitive and affective scientific aptitude test, at the upper Basic Education in Nigeria. Integrated science which is now studied as basic science and technology was the subject selected for the study.
Four hundred students were sampled from twenty junior secondary schools in the state. Two hundred of the sampled students were males while the remaining two hundred were females. Moreover, twenty students were sampled from each of the randomly selected schools. Three research questions and there null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study.
Furthermore, the researchers’ choice of research design was a quantitative survey research. They visited the schools themselves and administered the questionnaires and collected the data from the responses on the questionnaires.
The instrument used for data collection was tagged Cognitive And Affective Domain Aptitude Test (CADAT). The instrument was adapted from a standardized test by National Science Teachers Association Maryland U.S.A, but revalidated. The instrument contains 20 items, 10 items tested the cognitive aptitude while the other 10 tested the affective aptitude in integrated science education acquired at the upper Basic Education Level (JSS).
The data collected was subjected to computer analysis using SPSS 12 statistical package. Two variables isolated for analysis were cognitive scientific aptitude test scores and affective scientific aptitude test scores of respondents. The histogram graph of the data plotted for normal distribution showed that the variables were skewed. After transforming the data to Log10, the same skewness was still observed. Further comparison was done on the difference between the two sets of data, using t-test paired sample and independent sample. The results of the study showed that:
- there is a significant difference between cognitive and affective achievement of students in science at junior secondary schools in Nigeria.
- There is no significant difference in science between male and female in cognitive achievement.
- There is no significant difference between male and females in affective achievement.
From the above findings therefore, the researchers concluded that;
- Employing affective science teaching models would enhance more permanent commitment to science learning by students
- Engage students with more pragmatic activity based practical approaches to science instructions without altering the concepts.
- Treat both male and female students as equal sources of intellect by engaging them in same task of science based practical activities in and out of the class room.
- Accept and use large volumes of recommendation made available in literature on affective orientation.
The above study is considered relevant to this work which is the effect of experiential teaching approach on pupils’ achievement in basic science for the following reasons, firstly, the subject area in the study was science. This present study on the effect of experiential teaching approach on basic science and technology is also focused on science. Secondly, the study was necessitated by the poor performances of students in the junior secondary schools in Nigeria which was due to teachers usage of traditional teaching approach. The present study on the effect of experiential teaching approach on science and technology was also necessitated by the same problems. The two studies were attempts made towards finding solution to them.
Furthermore, experiential teaching approach is concerned with the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of learners. Therefore affective science teaching is a component of experiential teaching method. It means that if affective science teaching method is effective in teaching of science in Nigerian schools, experiential teaching will be more effective since it takes care of the remaining two domains instead of only the affective learning domain. Finally, if strong foundation is laid at the Junior level of the basic Education system, performance at the higher level will improve.
Summary of Reviewed related Literature
In this chapter an attempt has been made to review literature or works that are related to this study. This was carried out under conceptual, theoretical, and empirical reviews.
Under conceptual framework: the concepts reviewed include; experiential learning, principles of analogy or assimilation, principle of mental set, retention of learning, transfer of learning, life skill and gender sensitivity and the experiential learning models.
In theoretical framework, theories reviewed include; John Dewey’s theory of experience, Piagetian theory of cognitive development and the theory of transfer of learning. Furthermore, related empirical studies were also reviewed.
In all, a search through these several literature or works related to this study which is the effect of experiential teaching approach on pupils’ achievement in basic science and technology supports the adoption of experiential teaching approach in teaching because the method involves a conscious desire by educators (teachers) to create learning opportunities by engaging pupils in doing that results to construction (idea formation) and reconstruction (dropping initial views) of meaning/knowledge. This is opposed to conventional/traditional teaching approach where learners are passive and are expected to commit to their mind knowledge that have been packaged in its final form.
Those reviewed literature showed that experiential teaching approach is unique in the sense that it imparts to learners knowledge and skills that are lifelong and essential in adapting to and survival in life. The processes employed by the method are inquiry and discovery. These are also the methods employed in effective study of science through science process. Hence, the two (experiential teaching method and science) have direct relationship or correspondence. Effective study of science cannot be carried out through rote learning method currently in use in schools.
Specifically, the empirical studies reviewed showed the need for the adoption of experiential teaching approach not only in the study of science but in other subjects taught in Nigerian schools. This is due to the benefits that learners will derive from the use. One of such benefits is that learning is made real and is relevant to the needs of learners. It will also impact adaptive skills to learners.However, the empirical related works reviewed further showed that even though the method is age long, there is dearth or scarcity of studies carried out in this field in Nigerian basic schools and technology. As it was clearly shown that the method could work effectively in areas like environmental education and agricultural science, it will also work in basic science. In fact, no known study on the method has been carried out in Ebonyi State of Nigeria. As a result of this, the present study is designed to fill this gap and generate interest in further research in this area using this method.