This study investigated the effect of teachers’ use of constructive simulation on students’ achievement and retention in Christian Religious Studies in secondary schools, in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State. The study also considered the influence of gender on students’ academic achievement and retention. The achievement and retention ability of students taught with constructive simulation were compared with that of students taught with conventional lecture method. The study was guided by six research questions, and six hypotheses. A quasi-experimental design, specifically, pre test post-test control group design involving four intact classes were employed. The population comprised of 2,170 JS3 CRS students of 12 State Government co-educational secondary schools in Awka South Local Government Area. A sample of 174 JS3 students distributed in four intact classes, drawn by both purposive and simple random sampling techniques from four co-educational schools took part in the study. The students in intact classes were randomly assigned either to experimental groups (constructive simulation group) or control groups (conventional method group). Two intact classes in two different schools formed the experimental groups and the other two intact classes in two other schools as control groups. Both the experimental groups and the control groups were taught the same topics. The instrument for students’ achievement test in Christian Religious Studies (SATCRS) was developed, validated and used for data collection. The instrument was trial-tested on a sample of 25 JS3 CRS students who were not part of the actual study. The reliability of the instrument was determined using Kudder Richardson

fomula for internal consistency and Pearson Product Movement Correlation Coefficient formula for stability. The reliability value of the instrument was 0.79 and 0.85 respectively. The data collected were analyzed using mean and standard deviation to answer research questions while the hypotheses were tested using analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) at 0.05level of significance. The results of the study revealed that constructive simulation had significant effect on students’ achievement and retention in Christian Religious Studies. Also, the effect of constructive simulation and gender combined on students’ post-test achievement in Christian Religious Studies was significant, however gender and the method had no significant effect on students’ retention in Christian Religious Studies. It implies from the findings of the study that there is need for CRS teachers to adopt the use of constructive simulation in teaching as it proved more effective in improving students’ achievement and retention in Christian Religious Studies. It is recommended that government bodies, stakeholders in education, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) and National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) should organize and sponsor workshops, seminars, conferences or in-service training to train and encourage teachers on the use of constructive simulation as an innovative technique.



Background of the study

 Christian Religious Studies (CRS) is expected to produce a morally literate citizenry that can perceive the religious dimension of social responsibilities in the home, the school and the entire society. The much desired sound moral education of our nation can be achieved when students acquire basic education in Christian Religious Studies before leaving school. The knowledge obtained through sound Christian Religious education will lead to improvement in the moral quality of individual and society as a whole. Christian Religious Studies is a necessary subject for tolerance, peace, national unity and development of a nation. It is implied that for any meaningful growth and development to be achieved, Christian Religious Studies must be given adequate attention (Achebe, 2005).

Christian Religious Studies is one of the non vocational subjects offered at all levels of Nigerian education system. It is an important subject that has positive impact on human life and national development. It is not only important as a school subject but should be seen as a bedrock of moral living and very vital part of life itself (Oduma, 2007). It appears that the value of Christian Religious Studies in the lives of individuals and the society at large inspired its inclusion in school curriculum at all the levels of educational system in Nigeria. Hence, the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004) stressed the objectives of teaching and

learning  CRS  in  basic  education  under  secondary  education.  Some  of



include  inspiring students with a desire for self improvement,



who can think for themselves, appreciate dignity of



values,  fostering  national unity and live as good citizens.

The  current  CRS  of  today  presents  the  curriculum

in themes,

as a

living guide  to individuals. The  themes  can  lead   the  students and teachers  to

discover several Biblical topics at the same time  as they relate  to



(Obinna, Qucoopome & Shyllon, 2000 in Onochie, 2005). This implies that the topics bring together as a whole, and relating to societal values is germane to providing learners at junior secondary school level with functional knowledge to meet the aspirations of the society. If this is to be achieved, CRS must be taught by competent teachers who are knowledgeable enough about the subject as presented in themes. Competent teachers implies teachers that have ability to perform well in teaching to enhance students’ learning process. Competence in teaching embraces combination of knowledge, skills and attitude that can be developed through training, and which are adequate for achieving some specific tasks. Some of these tasks for teacher include understanding of learners’ development, learning problems, classroom management, adequate knowledge of

 subject matter, and use of instructional materials (Olaitan & Agusiobo, 1984 in Okonkwo, 2010). This implies that the competency level of a teacher can be determined by how much the learners have gained from instructional process

In consequence to produce competent teachers for the basic education, the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN, 2004) laid emphasis on the training of quality teachers for effective teaching and learning. The federal and state ministries of education in order to implement this policy on the training of teachers made it imperative that quality teachers should be trained. It is regrettable to note that with the emphasis on the training of quality teachers, the results of students on Christian Religious Studies do not give impression that all is well with the teaching method employed by the teachers.

 The reports of the Examination Development Centre (EDC), in charge of Basic Education Certificate Examination in Anambra State stressed the high rate of failure in CRS, for five years (2007-2011) especially in the theme containing the Epistles. The reports attributed the cause of students’ poor performance to lack of knowledge of subject matter, non commitment and poor methodology on the part of teachers. Alubaleze (2004) posited that poor method of teaching like the conventional method or lecture method is the root factor to students’ poor achievement and retention in CRS. Alubaleze (2004) further explained that lecture method is teacher-centered. Lecture method makes instruction boring and the teacher cannot guarantee carrying the boring students (Nwizu & Nwobu, 2003 in Okeke 2007). The implication is that lecture method makes the teacher active and the learner passive listener in the teaching and learning environment. With the poor performance of students in public examinations coupled with societal vices prevalent in the society, especially among the youths, there is need for instruction to be more effective to enhance students’ academic achievement and retention in the subject as well as discipline leading to values that will make individuals live as good citizens.

 It is expected that with the emphasis on the training of teachers, the level of instruction would improve which invariably would enhance better academic achievement and retention in the subject. Academic achievement is viewed as attainment in a school subject as symbolized by a score or mark on an achievement test (Okoro in Ogbonna 2007). Ogbonna (2007) further explained that academic achievement depends on various factors which include the teacher’s instructional methods, learning environment and the learner. The same factors affect retention of learning. Retention can be defined as learner’s ability to recall facts that have been previously learned. Okeke-Okosisi (2012) referred to retention of learning as learner’s ability to transfer information earlier learned or learner’s ability to repeat performance, or behaviour earlier acquired, elicited after a period of time. It implies that a learner who repeats an acquired information with less error is said to

have retained the learned material. Retention of learning is affected by the method of learning, the degree of reinforcement and learners’ capacity to learn. This entails that the teaching method is expected to simulate students to learn and equally have ability to enforce learning retention. The implication is that evaluation of students’ learning needs to extend beyond post test for a consideration of individual students in terms of their ability to generalize and transfer learning.

 Nevertheless, some factors have been identified to account for students’ poor achievement and retention in Christian Religious Studies as gender. Gender difference is a very strong issue in Nigerian culture. Among Nigerians, there is a general belief that males are superior to females in terms of physique, cognition, logical reasoning and even superior in academic reasoning (Anigbogu, 2002 in Okafor, 2006). Some factors have been identified as responsible for the differences in male and female academic achievement and invariably in retention ability. The factors include sex-role stereo-typing, masculine image of inability to withstand stress and female socialization process. Sex-role stereo-typing appears to be the origin of the difference between males and females in science and arts education (Okeke-Okosisi 2013). The stereo-types tend to place female students at a disadvantage relative to male students in science subjects. In academic performance, male students tend to perform better than females in science, while

female students tend to perform better than male students in liberal arts and social science subjects (Ilojeme, 2012).

 However, some studies have shown contradictory in students’ academic achievement and retention in science and liberal arts / social science subjects which CRS is one. Ibekwe (2005) observed that there was no statistical significant difference in the academic achievement of male and female students in literature in English. The disparity in male and female students’ achievement in Social sciences and Arts subjects has revealed that other factors apart from sex role stereo-typing can affect students’ academic achievement and retention than gender.

This implies that various factors contributed to students’ poor academic achievement and retention in CRS. Opara (2005) posited that though poor academic performance of students in different school subjects may be related to lack of students’ commitment to their studies, lack of interest, inadequate support from their parents and even the government; all that the teacher commonly use is conventional or lecture method, rather than strategies that provide students’ active participation

 This entails that the teacher ought to engage in self - evaluation regarding the quality of instruction. The teacher is required to reflect on his/ her methodology and students’ learning style in order to device a means of making instructional process learner–centred. Hence, any mismatch between teaching and students’ perceptual strength results to teacher’s poor performance and students’

poor academic achievement (Ejide, 2011). It is likely that CRS teachers neither think about the students’ academic performance nor evaluate their method of teaching and learning activities through reflection. Olayode (2012) noted that reflective practice in teaching-learning process has to do with how we teach and learn. It fits in the interpretive view of teaching and learning, a move towards critical thinking of the way we teach and learn. Reflective practice in teaching isa      kind of teaching strategy which has to be viewed in terms of what teacher can do for himself / herself and for the students to ascertain productivity in teaching and students’ learning. In this extent, reflective practice in teaching is a call to combine theory and practice to maintain and sustain teaching profession.

Reflective practice in teaching is characterized by its dynamic process that intends to lead through successive cycles. Neil (2004), Sumerville and Keeling

(2004), Mamede and Schmidt (2004) highlighted reflective practice skills as: involving self monitoring and reflection; active concern with aims, consequences, means and technical efficiency; and cyclical process in monitoring, evaluating and revising practice continuously. Other skills are competence in methods of evidence-based classroom inquiry to support the progressive development of higher standard of teaching; attitudes of open-mindedness, responsibility and whole heartedness; teacher judgment informed by evidence-based inquiry and insight from other research; collaboration and dialogue with colleagues; and creatively mediating externally and develop frameworks for teaching and learning.

The principles imply that a reflective teacher gathers information from classroom activities analyzes and assesses the information. The teacher identifies, explores procedures and compares with those of others, and goes back to the starting point to refine the activities for improvement. Teachers have significant roles to play in the process of teaching and learning to make it meaningful. They are expected to consider immediate aims and consequences of classroom practices. They are expected to be aware that classroom work cannot be isolated from the influence of the wider society and therefore have to consider both areas. They are principally expected to plan, make provision and execute. They are demanded to monitor, observe learners and collect data on the learners’ intentions, actions and feelings. They are also charged to analyze their evidence critically and evaluate it so that they can share and subject it to judgment and decision- making. It may lead them to revise their classroom policies, plans and provision before starting the process again. On this note, they may draw knowledge from colleagues by associating with them, sharing experiences with colleagues and teacher trainees. This may occur in schools, in seminars or tutor-groups and workshops. Bearing in mind reflective practice principles, teachers seem to be more committed to teaching and learning process (Moon, 2004).

It is asserted that reflective practice in teaching rests on constructivism and meta-cognition (Oduma, 2007). It is based on the fundamental principle about sharing authority. Constructivism and meta-cognition motivate the experiences and activities offered to teachers as they review their practices and attempt to change (Okereke, 2010). Constructivism refers to the learning theory which argues that learners generate knowledge and meaning out of their experiences, while meta-cognition refers to the theory that deals with how people think. It suggests that learners build knowledge upon experiences. It tries to explain people’s ability to think about what they are doing and think why they are experiencing it. In teaching and learning process, it is ability to reflect on experiences concerning teaching-learning situations and to learn from them. It requires teachers’ ability to determine how a lesson is going on, where the pitfalls are and how to regulate teaching behaviour while teaching. Constructivism and meta-cognition are often associated with pedagogic approaches that promote active learning or learning by doing; and a variety of methods are based on them (Okereke, 2010).

The methods that rest upon constructivism are referred to as constructive-oriented methods. Some of the constructive –orient ed methods include simulations, games, project method, co-operative learning method, concept mapping and the like. The Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC, 2008 & 2009) suggested that teaching methods should embrace teaching innovations like constructive–oriented met hods to improve teaching and learning. The council pointed out that constructive-oriented methods foster students’ active participation in the learning process. Constructive-oriented methods encourage peer interaction and enhance learning rate than the lecture method (Okereke, 2010). The implication is that the memory of the classroom activities register easily in students’ memory as they interact with their peers. Learning is more meaningful when students are active participants and in the use of constructive-oriented methods, students are said to be active participants (Obiekwe, 2008 & Ogbonna, 2007) Different studies have used constructive-oriented methods in a variety of studies but little is known about its usage in CRS. Okereke (2010) used constructive –oriented method i n teaching Biology, while Okeke-Okosisi (2012) used the method in Agricultural Science. This study considers simulation method which is one of the instructional methods that has its bases in constructivism.

Simulation can be defined as the imitation of some things, state of affairs or processes. It is described as a method of teaching whereby learners are engaged in a world of pretence or imitation (Ndu, 2010). Simulation is a concept in educational process which can be used to show the eventual real effect of action.

The basis of simulation instructional model on constructivist learning theory makes it constructive. Hence, the two concepts, constructive and simulation combine to form the term constructive simulation.

Constructive simulation can be referred to as a process of instruction that spur learners to use experiences to imitate real things, abstracts, state of affairs, characters or processes as closely as possible in producing knowledge. Constructive simulation relies on some guided discovery where the teacher avoids most direct instruction; and attempts to guide the students through questions and activities, to discover, discuss, appreciate and verbalize the new knowledge (Walker, 2008 in Okekeokosisi 2012). It implies that constructive simulation is dependent on learning as a guided discovery.

 In a constructive simulation classroom environment, students are encouraged for free expression, collaboration and exchange of ideas with their peers. In constructive simulation classroom, the students engage in problem-solving provided with prompts. Homelo-Silver (2006) supports the notion that in the process of utilizing hints, students strive to transform experiences into information meaningful which can lead them to achieve the desired goal. Jong (2005) noted that constructive- oriented methods (which constructive simulation is one of them) are active pedagogies that are learner-centred. This implies that constructive simulation provides opportunity to students to develop creative thinking and skills as well as more positive attitude towards learning experiences than lecture method. Students are more likely to acquire critical thinking skills and meta-cognitive learning strategies, such as learning how to interact with peers as opposed by listening to lectures (Hmelo-Silver, 2006). In addition, Homelo-Silver (2006) depicted that constructive oriented- methods should result in positive effects on students’ achievement and retention of information. Constructive simulation activities involve carefully structured learning activities whereby students are held responsible for their contribution, participation and learning. Students interact and learn from more skilled peers. It is unlike lecture method where students are rendered mere listeners. Thus, constructive simulation appears to be activity-oriented method that tries to simulate students to action.

 Since the teaching methods employed in CRS seemed to have denied students active participation in the learning process, the question now becomes to what extent would students perform and retain learned materials when taught CRS using constructive simulation? This gap in knowledge underscores the need to investigate effect of teachers’ use of constructive simulation on students’ achievement and retention in Christian Religious Studies. Hence, a study of achievement and retention in the subject CRS becomes desirable.





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